3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/25/20
"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 Tuesday's FanDuel main slate.
Lonzo Ball ($6,500) - Ball has been the model of consistency over his last 11 games, essentially since Zion Williamson entered the New Orleans Pelicans' lineup. During that span, Ball has scored between 31 and 47 FanDuel points in every game, yet has seen his price drop from $7,000 since the streak began. In what is projected to be the most high-profile and highest-scoring game of the night (by a wide margin), I'm looking at Ball to serve up a stellar fantasy line, with a little bit of revenge narrative baked in to make it that much sweeter.
Ball has consistently produced strong fantasy lines despite scoring more than 16 real-world points just once in that stretch. In the new Zion-featured lineup, he has accepted his role as distributor and on-the-ball defender, evidenced by his 38% assist ratio and 103.7 defensive rating (his seasonal averages are 32% and 110.2, respectively). He has become the do-everything-but-score piece of the rotation, which is what suits his game best. With the Los Angeles Lakers ranking in the top 10 in most points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game to the point guard position, this high-paced game environment sets up very nicely for Ball.
Harry Giles ($4,000) - On a slate lacking some of the true, chalky value plays we have seen over the last couple nights, Giles gets the nod for being our projected best point-per-dollar play of the night. But it's not just that he is cheap that makes him an outstanding pivot play off of the Jayson Tatum and Anthony Davis chalk tonight, Giles' recent play combined with the weak interior defense of the Golden State Warriors is what seals the deal.
Finally given minutes and opportunity, Giles has excelled in the past couple weeks. He has scored slightly more than 57% more FanDuel points in his last five games than his season average, including 35 FanDuel points against a Los Angeles Clippers team that just shut down Jonas Valanciunas last night. Fortunately for Giles, he shouldn't find near that level of resistance against the Warriors. As a team, the Dubs allow the 11th most FanDuel points to the center position and the power forward position, including almost 30 rebounds per game combined to the two frontcourt spots.
If Draymond Green ends up missing this game, the Warriors would be missing their best interior defender, too, and would likely replace him with Eric Paschall, who allows four more points per 100 possessions than Green does. If news comes out that Green is out, play Giles with confidence in a game with a solid 226.0 total.
Steven Adams ($6,500) - Adams might be slightly chalky as a mid-range pivot off of the expensive Nikola Jokic and Hassan Whiteside plays tonight, but his game against the Chicago Bulls should be off the radar compared to better environments tonight, likely somewhat depressing ownership. Despite the low 217.0-point total for this matchup, Adams walks into an exploitable environment coming off some of his best performances of the season.
Adams is riding a four-game double-double streak while also adding four combined steals/blocks per game and never scoring fewer than 35 FanDuel points in that span. At this rate of production, a 5x score is almost a given at $6,500, and a ceiling is there for a lot more considering the matchup. The Bulls remain one of the five worst teams against centers this season. They allow the fourth most points, 11th most rebounds, and most blocks per game to opposing centers -- all while ranking 21st in opponent points in the paint allowed. Adams makes his living in the paint, scoring almost 82% of his points in that area.
With all of the injuries to the Bulls, I don't see anyone who can legitimately hope to stop Adams from imposing his will down low tonight.