3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 8/3/20

Welcome back, NBA! For the next several weeks, we get the bubble-wrapped version of the top 22 teams in the association as they look to finish up the 2019-2020 season.

When it's time to start building DFS tournament lineups, especially for NBA, 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 the 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 of that night's games. 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.

With a maximum of eight games per night from now until the end of the season, it will be even more important to determine where we should differentiate against the field.

Let's look at plays for Friday's FanDuel main slate.

Projected Chalk

We are living in a whole new NBA world we are living in when a late-season matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers has a game total of almost 230. After the first weekend, it's clear the players are running these games like glorified playground scrimmages and the totals are soaring.

At first glance, I predict a lot of ownership will trend towards the track meet between the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans that is approaching a 240 game total. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. should once again be popular.

In addition, it looks like we are going to have the opportunity to play some extreme Indiana Pacers value against the extremely horrific Washington Wizards defense on Monday. Look for rosters to showcase plenty of the Holiday boys (Aaron and Justin) as well as plenty of T.J. Warren after his 50-point outburst on Saturday.

What do we do to pivot away from this chalk? Let's find out.


Jimmy Butler ($8,200) - It has certainly been lost in the insanity of this NBA season, but Butler is quietly having what can only be described as an MVP-type season.

Only six players in the league average at least 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists per game, including Butler. He supplements those totals with career numbers across the board. This season he has tallied his best assist rate, rebound rate, free throws per game, and points in the paint total of his career.

He has made a point to focus his game closer to the basket and is shooting only 2.1 three-pointers per game, his lowest since 2012. This shift has led to a more efficient game, giving him his second-best true shooting percentage of his career.

With a tough matchup against the Toronto Raptors and Morant sitting there at $600 cheaper, I do not imagine much ownership will flow towards Butler. Invest with confidence, however, as we project Butler for the second-most FanDuel points among guards on the slate.


Tobias Harris ($6,800) - You gotta love it when a player goes off for 46 FanDuel points and then gets a $300 salary decrease. Harris is severely underpriced today and may go overlooked with all the stud forwards on the slate.

As noted in this column many times, the Spurs are bottom 10 in both defensive rating and rebound percentage on the season, and play at a top 15 pace on the season -- and top-five pace since the season restarted.

What was interesting in Harris' first game back was the eight three-point shots he put up. He only had three games earlier in the season that matched or exceeded that number so it will be interesting to see if that's a trend that continues.

If so, he has the perfect opponent this afternoon. The Spurs allow their opponents to make 13 three-pointers per game at a 37.4% clip, both sixth-worst in the league, DeMar DeRozan is an awful individual defender so if that becomes Harris' one-on-one matchup, the sky is the limit.


Derrick Favors ($5,100) - We could make the case to go right back to Jakob Poeltl after he busted on Sunday and fouled out in about five minutes, but his price has shot up $2,300 since his first bubble game and is no longer a strong value and faces an even tougher defensive assignment with Joel Embiid.

Favors offers serious salary relief off of the popular centers today -- Embiid and Nikola Jokic at the high end and Jonas Valanciunas in the mid-range. While Valanciunas should be extremely popular and a great play in his own right after he rediscovered what it means to play decent basketball against the Spurs, I'm looking to the other side of the matchup with the highest total on the slate.

It's a little known secret that the Grizzlies allow the ninth-most FanDuel points to centers on the year according to Basketball Monster, including the fourth most of all teams remaining in the bubble. The Grizzlies rank no better than 14th on the season in defensive efficiency, rebound percentage, and defensive rebound rate, while also allowing opponents to score the fifth-most second-chance points this year.

Our projections have Favors right around the 5x value line today in only 22 minutes on the court. If he can play closer to the 29 minutes he logged in his first game back, Favors should soar past that number.