3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/7/20
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Trae Young ($9,700) - Just like Gordon Hayward, I have a "lot of nagging things" to worry about on this slate. Most pressing is what to do at point guard considering the plethora of options all up and down the price spectrum. You have Damian Lillard ($9,400), Ben Simmons ($8,800), and Young all in good spots at the high end and Kendrick Nunn ($4,600), Reggie Jackson ($5,700), and Ishmael Smith ($5,200) all with the opportunity for high ceilings at the low end. My tournaments builds are leading me towards one cheap point guard, and one high-priced option -- and for me, that option is Trae Young.
At $9,700, Young is the most expensive point guard of the night, plus he faces a tough matchup with the Boston Celtics who allow the second-fewest FanDuel points to the position. This makes him the perfect pivot for me off of a cheaper Simmons, who is traveling after playing 42 minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. While Simmons does get a pace bump against the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, it is Young's game environment that is most attractive. The matchup with the Celtics currently sits at a slate-leading 234 implied total.
Not much more needs to be said about Young's ceiling in this spot. He carries the second-highest usage on the slate and has the second-highest projected ceiling of any player in action, both behind only James Harden. Imagine a lineup where you start with 150 FanDuel points from those two players. Tonight's immense value opens up that possibility.
Sekou Doumbouya ($3,700) - Christian Wood got a huge price spike after news of the Andre Drummond trade broke, jumping from $4,500 to $7,300 as he is now firmly entrenched in a starting role (or at least 30 minutes per night). What the loss of Drummond also does is free up a player like Doumbouya to play major minutes at power forward without Wood soaking up some of his time on the court. At least for tonight, the Detroit Pistons should be without John Henson, so the 96 front-court minutes will only have three legitimate bodies to fill them, and Thon Maker is one of them.
Doumbouya's price actually went down $100 since his last game, and he enters tonight as one of the cheapest starters on the slate projected to see more than 20 minutes. Is that minutes number sustainable? Well, in two of his last three games with Drummond on the floor, he played more than 26 minutes, and with that major force in the middle missing, Detroit will need all the big bodies they can find for a matchup with Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, and Danilo Gallinari. With so much cheap value on the slate tonight in alternate Pistons, and other teams such as the Celtics the Hawks, and potentially the Dallas Mavericks, ownership should be low on a player like Doumbouya.
If you want to pay up for the elite guards and centers on the slate tonight, Doumbouya is the perfect tournament dart throw to make that happen.
Hassan Whiteside ($8,300) - We saw last night the destructive force that Whiteside can be as he dropped 59 FanDuel points on the San Antonio Spurs last night (including 17 points and 23 rebounds on only 15% usage!). With Deandre Ayton likely to be over 50% ownership in all formats (we also saw what star big men can do to the new mini-Rockets), and in a tough head-to-head matchup with Rudy Gobert, ownership on Whiteside will likely dip, despite the $400 price drop from the last slate.
Ignoring Whiteside tonight will be a mistake. Over his last five games, he has been racking up FanDuel points at a pace 11% higher than his seasonal average, partly because he is averaging the second-most minutes in his career, at almost 31 per night. More than that, however, Whiteside is a top three true center in offensive rating this year on the back of the highest true shooting percentage of his career and second-most points in the paint over his eight seasons. At a $500 discount from Ayton, our projections have Whiteside with more FanDuel points than Ayton tonight, and look for him to be top seven in both FanDuel points and points-per-dollar at the position.