3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 3/6/20
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Markelle Fultz ($5,000) - With Evan Fournier out for an extended period of time, Fultz is going to get his chance to showcase the offensive talent that made him the top overall pick a few years ago. With Fournier, D.J. Augustin, and Jonathan Isaac all off the court, Fultz's usage jumps over 6% per 36 minutes to an elite 26.1%. There aren't many $5,000 players you can find with a starting role and a usage rate over 26%, and only Fultz can say he gets the best matchup of the night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Magic are projected to score 118 points tonight, more than 12 points better than their season average, completely due to the fact that the Timberwolves defense has been a complete joke lately. In their past 10 games, Minnesota has the worst defensive rating in the league as well as the fastest pace in the league. That's the dream combination for DFS purposes, and it has showed in their (lack of) defense against opposing point guards. In the past month, the Timberwolves have been the most generous defense against points guards, according to Basketball Monster.
We have Fultz projected for a tournament-approved 5.83 FanDuel points per thousand dollars tonight, coming in at 29 points in 32 minutes. There is no shortage of top point guard talent on tonight's slate, but as a spend-down pivot at low ownership, Fultz gets my click.
Julius Randle ($7,600) - Ho hum, another six-game stretch averaging more than 43 FanDuel points per game for Randle. That's nothing new for the Tournament Plays favorite, as he has scored under 33 FanDuel points just once since Christmas and has flashed 45-60 point upside three times in his last nine games. In those games, he has also failed to log a double-double only two times, scoring 9% over his season average in that time, including 15% higher over his last five.
Despite several strong individual defenders, the Oklahoma City Thunder have slipped recently in many categories. They now rank in the bottom half of the league in rebound percentage, opponent points in the paint, steals per game, blocks per game, and opponents field goals made per game. With a relatively low implied total tonight, this game should go overlooked compared to the track meets in Washington and New Orleans, setting up another slate where Randle goes terribly under-owned as the undeniable stud of the New York Knicks.
Myles Turner ($6,000) - Over the past month, only the Atlanta Hawks have been worse against centers than the Chicago Bulls, according to Basketball Monster. It remains to be seen how Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr. can potentially improve their frontcourt defense over the last quarter of the season, but there doesn't seem to be an elite big man defender on the Bulls roster presently -- certainly not one who has the size to match up with Turner.
With all of the injuries that have hit the Indiana Pacers this week (their latest report listed six players from questionable to out, including Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb as OUT and T.J. Warren as Questionable), Turner has an opportunity to smash on offense against the suspect Bulls defense. In a stat I had to triple check to make sure it was correct, Turner's usage jumps 8.5% per 36 minutes, and his FanDuel points soar 15.64 points higher per 36 minutes when Brogdon and Warren are off the floor. It's a small sample of only 80 minutes this season, but it gives us a glimpse of the upside Turner can display when two of the top usage players on the Pacers are off the floor.
We know Brogdon will be out tonight, so if Warren misses the game as well, it is going to be time to fire up the Pacers cheap value as well, as well as all the Domantas Sabonis and Turner shares you can fit in your lineups. Sabonis is certainly going to be chalky tonight, but I think we can look to Turner for lower ownership with strong center plays like Nikola Vucevic and Hassan Whiteside on the slate.