3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/13/21
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
How many times have we been burned by the chalk in NBA DFS?
When it's time to start building GPP 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 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 -- the usual suspects -- of that night's games. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, this column will look at lower-owned plays that help you gain ownership leverage against the competition.
Tuesday's slate is down to seven games (the NBA has postponed three games on the schedule), so we should still have plenty of opportunities to differentiate off of the chalk plays of the night. Let's dig in to see where we can pivot.
Buddy Hield ($5,000) - If I'm being honest, Hield is one of my least favorite players to roster in DFS. I never seem to be on the right side of his good games. But when his salary gets to the point where it is lower than Hamidou Diallo and the same as Talen Horton-Tucker, we need to think about how to fit him into our lineups.
Despite bouncing between 16 and 32 FanDuel points all season long, Hield has an opportunity to blow past those numbers with the Sacramento Kings playing the turnstile defense of the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers offer up the perfect combination of poor defense (ranked 23rd in estimated defensive rating) and up-tempo play (7th in estimated pace) that DFS managers look for.
The Kings are also banged up right now with Richaun Holmes, Tyrese Haliburton and De'Aaron Fox all nicked up with various nagging injuries, which should lead to more opportunity for Hield. All of Hield's relevant numbers across the board are down this year (usage rate, true shooting percentage, PER), but much of it can be attributed to a 72% three-point attempt rate when his career average is just 51%. Tonight, that may work in his favor, as Portland allows top-10 rates in both three-point attempts and makes this season.
In the game with the highest implied total on the night (236.5, and there isn't a close second), I want pieces of this contest. Hield provides an entry here at a salary that is too low -- he is the second-best point-per-dollar play among all guards, according to numberFire's projections.
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000) - With Trae Young off the board and both LeBron James and Anthony Davis battling injuries (and each other for usage), there are really three players who can potentially reach the 80-FanDuel-point games we want to finish at the top of tournaments. Both Luka Doncic and Kevin Durant seem to be chalky plays tonight considering the missing pieces on their teams.
First, the Bucks are on the road, where they are just 2-3 on the season compared to 5-1 at home. Even without any team carrying a homecourt advantage, the strangeness of the season and the restrictions on movement and travel complicate things for the road team.
Second, the new-look Pistons lineup they should roll out tonight has the highest net rating of any group of five they have experimented with this year. The group clearly has their struggles offensively, but their 96.2 defensive rating would be best in the league if it qualified.
If we can get near a full game from the Greek Freak, we know what he is capable of. He leads the entire slate with 1.62 FanDuel points per minute, so if we can get just 32 minutes in this one, he has the potential to the slate-breaker we need in our lineups.
Mitchell Robinson ($6,000) - With Robinson tonight, it's all about the baseline with his defensive stats. He has been a monster on that end of the court recently, averaging four stocks (steals-plus-blocks) per game in his last six. That's a floor of 12 FanDuel points before we even start counting points and rebounds. Throw in averages of 10 points and 8.5 rebounds over that span and you're looking at a floor of around 33 FanDuel points.
Tonight's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets tonight aligns very well with Robinson's game. The Hornets have the fifth-worst rebounding rate in the league and allow five blocks per game to their opponents. All this leads to allowing the most rebounds to the position (19.47) and over 53 FanDuel points per night to opposing centers.
Expect Robinson to continue to dominate on the defensive end tonight -- I'm penciling him in for 12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.