3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/6/20
"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.
Jrue Holiday ($7,100) - You will see a theme today that the tournament selections are way too cheap for the role and matchup in their respective games.
First up is Holiday, who has been priced all the way down to his lowest salary of the season after a couple lackluster performances where he did not top 23 FanDuel points. I'm throwing those box scores in the trash, though, because Holiday only shot 8 for 28 in those two games but still had a 26.4% usage rate. His four games prior, he averaged 46.9 FanDuel points, and all of those games were with Zion Williamson on the court.
What Zion does while he is on the floor is create an entirely new efficient offense and defense for the New Orleans Pelicans. Holiday is Exhibit A in this scenario.
On the season, Holiday averages a 108.6 offensive rating (where a higher number is better) and a 111.4 defensive rating (where lower is better). In his last six games, Holiday has improved to a 113.3 offensive rating and a 106.6 defensive rating, dramatically shifting both rates. Over the span of Zion's first six games, the rookie ranks as the fourth-best forward in defensive rating and fourth in pace -- essentially becoming the tide that raises all Pelicans boats on both ends of the floor.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,600) - This is what rock bottom officially looks like for Aldridge. After not scoring more than 23 FanDuel points in three of his last four games, Aldridge has also dropped to his lowest price of the season and is now only $400 more than a player like Marcus Morris, for example. In those three games. Aldridge's usage never topped 16%.
But I'm also not putting too much stock in these games as in two of them he faced top-10 defenses against power forwards (the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors) and the third was his first game back from a thumb injury.
It's possible he is still battling the effects of that injury, but you couldn't script a better spot tonight for Aldridge to start turning the ship around. He travels to the Portland Trail Blazers -- the team where he spent the first nine season of his career -- who have supremely struggled against the power forward position, allowing the second-most FanDuel points to the position. That's usually what happens when you have Carmelo Anthony as your primary defender.
I was surprised when I saw this game has a strong 230 implied total tonight, with only a 3.5 points spread, but it only adds more fuel to the fire that this will be a game worth some exposure.
I expect a little something extra in the tank for Aldridge tonight as the San Antonio Spurs try to break out of their season-long funk. Our projections agree, as we currently have Aldridge as a top-five point-per-dollar play among all positions on the slate.
Dwight Howard ($4,400) - Alright, hear me out on this one because I realize it is a tough sell. The Lakers are going to be the first team to face the new-look Houston Rockets, who have fully embraced the small-ball, everyone-shoots-threes movement. The Rockets have Tyson Chandler and Isaiah Hartenstein on the roster, but I would be surprised if the two of them combine for more than eight minutes tonight.
This is going to be a problem for the Rockets when Anthony Davis and Howard are on the floor at the same time. Can Howard guard the three-point line? Heck, no. But there are going to be plenty of roll opportunities and defenders sliding off Howard to deal with Davis and LeBron James tonight, leading to ample opportunity for points in the paint.
Speaking of points in the paint, the Rockets allow the seventh-most the league. Why is this a problem? In 2019-2020, Howard is averaging his highest percentage of points in the paint in his career. Almost 80% of his points are scored in that area, as he has redefined his game in the twilight of his career to be a stationary player.
The Rockets also struggle on the boards, and that was before trading Clint Capela and his 13.8 rebounds per game. As a team, they rank only 22nd in defensive rebound percentage, leading to them allowing the sixth-most second-chance points in the NBA.
Howard is actually producing at a level greater than one fantasy point per minute this year. If he can get minutes in the low 20s tonight (which he has done 7 out of his last 11 games), he provides terrific salary relief value that allows you to get all the elite guards and forwards you can roster.