3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target 3/11/20
"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.
Buddy Hield ($5,600) - While Hield has not seen more than 26 minutes in a game since before the All-Star break, this late night matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans seems to be one where the Sacramento Kings will need all the points they can get against an uptempo, elite offense.
Enter Buddy Hield, who never found a shot he didn't like and has taken double-digit field goals in all but two games this season. His tendencies to dominate on offense, especially now that he is leading the second unit, have allowed him to score more than 25 FanDuel points per game in eight of his last 12, as he has hovered around the mid-$5,000s during that time.
In his last meeting with the Pelicans, he scored 42 FanDuel points on 20 shots taken, and that is exactly the type of game the Kings will need out of Hield tonight
The Kings get a 20-spot pace bump tonight, leading to Sacramento's projected total being eight points higher than their season average. With a spread that is only 1.5 points as of Wednesday morning, and the highest projected total of the night, this projects to be a back and forth contest with plenty of offensive firepower. Hield certainly will be a part of that equation, as he has increased his usage over the last six games to an elite 29% coming off the bench, three points higher than his seasonal rate of 26.3%.
Christian Wood ($7,900) - Wood is the walking definition of last man standing for the Detroit Pistons tonight. Detroit listed seven players on their Tuesday night injury report, including recent addition John Henson, who is out with a left ankle sprain. He will be needed to carry a significant share of the offensive load if the Pistons have any hope of staying close with the Philadelphia 76ers tonight. Lately, though, Wood has been up to the task.
In seven of his last eight games, Wood has a usage rate of at least 22% and is averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds per night during that span, also racking up 14 steals-plus-blocks for good measure. It's weird to look back and see that Wood was priced under $4,000 as recently as the end of January, but his amazing play in the last six weeks certainly justifies the bump. In fact, in his last 10 games, only one other player in the entire NBA has performed better than their seasonal average than Wood, who is scoring FanDuel points at a rate 59% higher than his year-long average.
The matchup against the 76ers is not an easy one, as they allow the fourth-fewest FanDuel points to the power forward position and second-fewest points to centers, but with Jordan McRae being the only other Pistons player averaging over 20% usage in their last three games, Detroit is counting on Wood for the vast majority of their production on both ends of the floor.
Cody Zeller ($4,300) - In a game sure to set the NBA back to levels of offensive ineptitude not seen since the 1994 NBA Finals (when the Houston Rockets won game one 85-78), can we actually find anyone worth rostering on the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets?
It looks like Bam Adebayo might be a usable piece, especially if Jimmy Butler misses the game. Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier might give us some juice after their strong performances on Monday, albeit in double overtime against the Atlanta Hawks. But don't just smash the 'X' button on Zeller until you consider one number: 25 minutes.
For Zeller, 25 minutes on the court is the tipping point. In his last eight games of more than 25 minutes, he averages 34.1 FanDuel points per game. In his last eight under that number, it is only 19.7. We know that Zeller started on Monday night, and the Hornets plan to rotate Zeller and Bismack Biyombo in several game stretches, so monitor news closely tonight. Given the opportunity, however, Zeller has been able to perform well above his listed price tag tonight.
As referenced above, this isn't the most appealing game on paper, with a 211 total and the Hornets only projected to score just over 100 points tonight. But Zeller is the slightly better rebounder and has a better overall +/- rate than Biyombo, so Charlotte may want to use his large frame to defend Adebayo. At just $4,300, Zeller is cheap enough to take a shot in some of your tournament lineups at close to zero ownership, especially as it allows flexibility throughout the rest of your roster.