3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/5/20
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
When it's time to start building DFS tournament lineups, especially for NBA tournaments, the fundamental choice to make is whether or not to buy into the chalk plays of the slate. More than any other sport, the popular plays in NBA are popular for a reason. Where we often get into trouble in tournaments, however, is when we begin to blindly trust a slate's chalk.
This regular piece will focus on tournaments looking through the lens of the projected chalk plays -- the usual suspects -- of that night's games. The Usual DFSuspects, if you will. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, we will look at lower-owned plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Let's look at plays for Wednesday's FanDuel main slate.
Ja Morant ($6,900) - I think we will see rosters with a lot of exposure to Trae Young, Reggie Jackson, and Chris Paul tonight, not to mention the cheap point guard plays that have opened up today due to injuries and the mega-trade last night. Morant is at the price where if owners want to spend this amount, they will likely gravitate towards Spencer Dinwiddie at $7,000 against the Golden State Warriors. He is at the lowest price we have seen in a month despite the fact that he has seen at least 24% usage in eight of his last nine games and could potentially be without Jonas Valanciunas tonight in a game environment with the second-highest implied total on the board (228).
In his rookie season, Morant has been the engine that has driven the Memphis Grizzlies to the cusp of breaking many of the franchise's scoring records. As the season has gone along, the Grizzlies have been more and more comfortable with increased minutes for Morant and he is now hovering right at 30 minutes per night. What makes this so attractive tonight is the combination of a seasonal 26% usage rate, plus Morant is top 12 in pace among all guards with at least 30 minutes per night (103.63). At an average of 34.26 FanDuel points per game over his past six, the confidence level is high that Morant will meet or exceed value at his discounted price.
John Collins ($8,100) - A lot of eyes will be on the big men from the other side of this game with the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves, with rosters most likely running it back with Young. That makes Collins a logical piece of your tournament puzzle and someone you will want to roster considering the incredible context of this game. Not only do both of these teams play at a top seven tempo this year, they both rank in the bottom 10 in rebound percentage and bottom 15 in defensive rating. This game is projected for 10 more points than the Grizzlies/Mavericks game and has the second smallest point spread on the slate.
The loss of Robert Covington will be a major blow to the already sketchy Timberwolves defense. Among all Minnesota players with at least 20 minutes per game, Covington ranked second in rebound percentage, second in blocks, and first in steals and steal percentage. He was also the best on the team at preventing opponents from grabbing offensive rebounds, of which Collins averages almost three per game. If the Timberwolves try to mitigate this by putting Karl-Anthony Towns on Collins, it could be a long night for Minnesota. Towns has the third-worst defensive rating of any center with at least 25 minutes per game.
Rudy Gobert ($8,200) - We already knew Gobert was a defensive savant before this season. His multiple defensive player of the year awards prove that. He is backing that up this season by averaging a career-high 14.5 rebounds and chipping in two blocks per game while also still ranking in the top five for center defensive rating. What is becoming more and more clear, however, is this is also Gobert's breakout offensive season. He now ranks fourth among all centers for offensive rating (114.3, far and away, a career-best), he is averaging the best effective field goal percentage and a true shooting percentage of his career and has the second-highest usage rate in his seven seasons.
I am not sweating a matchup at home against the Denver Nuggets and Nikola Jokic. Gobert just ripped this team up for 44 FanDuel points six days ago in Denver and now the Nuggets are traveling to Utah on a back to back. Surprisingly, the Nuggets allow centers to score the second most actual points per game this season at 23.56 and also have allowed the sixth-most points per game in the paint in their last three as they struggle to find interior defensive help while missing Mason Plumlee, Paul Millsap, and Michael Porter Jr.. The Utah Jazz last played four days ago and should be ready to push the pace against a Denver squad that unsurprisingly has its worst defensive rating when coming off of zero days rest.