3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 8/6/20

Deandre Ayton should be able to take advantage of a porous Pacers frontcourt today. Who else should we target in tournaments?

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 Thursday's FanDuel main slate.

Projected Chalk

Taking an early peak at numberFire's oddsFire page, the first game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings has the highest total listed on the board, although I am sure the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets will have something to say about that whenever we learn about any rest situations in that game for the Lakers off a back-to-back and the status of a questionable Russell Westbrook.

The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers aren't far behind, however, and they carry plenty expensive players themselves, making this seem like a slate that is perfectly suited to a stars-and-scrubs type of build based on potential injury news.

We already know Jimmy Butler will be out, opening up cheap Miami chalk again, especially if Goran Dragic also sits. Depending on the news surrounding Malcolm Brogdon (questionable, neck) and Westbrook (quad issue), we may see cheap options like Aaron Holiday or Austin Rivers and Danuel House Jr. fill out rosters around the high-dollar plays.

When this type of roster construction becomes common, the easiest way to differentiate is to focus on a mid-range, balanced build to your roster. It's never fun fading the likes of James Harden and Luka Doncic, but if the cheap chalk doesn't hit, you will be sitting pretty.


C.J. McCollum ($7,300) - Typically a matchup against the Denver Nuggets would be a no-go for just about anyone. But with Jamal Murray still banged up and the Nuggets without Will Barton and Torrey Craig, they are just a different team in the bubble defensively.

To that point, for the season, the Nuggets have a 109.3 defensive rating, well within the top half of the league. In their last three games, that number plummets to 117.8. They are allowing 8.5 more points per 100 possessions during the restart thanks in large part to their top defenders being on the bench.

McCollum should be able to take advantage today at a very reasonable price. He is averaging 42 FanDuel points per game on 19 shots per game in his last three as the Portland Trail Blazers have surged to the second-best offensive rating of all teams in the bubble since the restart.


T.J. Warren ($8,800) - The question for tournaments that hovers over Warren is will anyone pay for him at this price tag? His price is now 47% higher than when he arrived in Orlando on the back of 64.3 FanDuel points per game in the bubble.

Against the Phoenix Suns and without Domantas Sabonis and with Malcolm Brogdon dealing with a neck injury, I see no reason why the blazing hot start won't continue. The Suns are in the bottom half of the league in FanDuel points allowed to shooting guards, small forwards, and power forwards -- so wherever Warren is slotted, he should have a plus matchup.

The Suns also present the perfect alignment of factors for DFS players as they are a top-10 team in pace (9th on the season, 6th in Orlando) and a bottom-12 team in defensive rating this year. For sites that have posted odds, this game has a low three-point spread, so hopefully that materializes on Thursday.

Hopefully the price tag and the other strong game environments keep people away from Warren today, although just some simple FOMO might draw people to him, so check projected ownership before the slate lock.


Deandre Ayton ($7,500) - On the other side of that game, we should not overlook Ayton at the center position.

As our own Elisha Twerski pointed out, the Indiana Pacers are allowing 70.1 FanDuel points per game to centers since arriving in Orlando. Our projections have Ayton at 42 FD points on the day, putting him as the second-best point-per-dollar play at the position.

On the season, Ayton averages 13.9 points in the paint per game, good for seventh in the league. This should mean he can feast against the Pacers, who have allowed opponents to score almost at will in that area over the last three games. Indiana gives up the fourth-most paint points of any team across the last three.

Myles Turner is putting up the worst defensive rating of his career this season, and with no Sabonis or Goga Bitadze in there to back him up, centers are exposing him for his defensive shortcomings.