3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/20/21
"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.
Wednesday's slate is a robust 10 games (after one postponement), so we should have plenty of opportunities to differentiate off of the chalk plays of the night. Let's dig in to see where we can pivot.
Gary Trent ($3,600) - With the news that C.J. McCollum will be out multiple weeks with injury, many DFS players flocked to Rodney Hood who has been inserted in the starting lineup for the Portland Trail Blazers. But another beneficiary in terms of the minutes and usage left behind by McCollum (who was averaging 34 minutes and a whopping 28.3% usage rate) will clearly be Trent, who has excelled with increased opportunity.
At a salary just above the FanDuel minimum, it is time to roster Trent now before the salary increases based on increased opportunity. Trent has already scored more than 22 FanDuel points five times this season and now gets to match up with a Memphis Grizzlies squad in a game with a strong 221.5 implied total and a tight 1.5 point spread.
Before the Blazers were blown out by the San Antonio Spurs on Monday, it was clear they plan to utilize an eight-man rotation with McCollum out. That means an easy 26-30 minutes per night for Trent and rostering him will provide instant leverage on a much chalkier Hood.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,000) - Aldridge has been the definition of a tournament play this year, especially evidence by his last four games. He has FanDuel point totals of 31, 8, 12, and 41 in that span and it is becoming increasingly maddening to try and predict when Aldridge will have one of his strong games.
What that trend has done, however, is drop his salary to $6,000 -- his lowest number of the season. His salary is below other frustrating players like Marvin Bagley III, Blake Griffin, and Aaron Gordon, but Aldridge's matchup tonight gives him the edge in this salary range of forwards.
The Golden State Warriors now rank bottom ten against both power forwards and centers this season, as the defensive presence that was supposed to be there from Draymond Green and James Wiseman hasn't quite materialized in the early season. Assuming Aldridge can score at his typical rate and get his rebounding back on track (LMA averages two rebounds per game in his last three, and seven rebounds per game in the three games prior), this should be a track-meet matchup that should produce plenty of DFS-viable plays.
Deandre Ayton ($6,700) - Most of the elite center plays are on the slate tonight, as DFS players have a tough choice between Andre Drummond, Nikola Vucevic, and Joel Embiid at the $10,000 salary range. An immediate way to be different tonight would be to drop down to the mid-range salary of Ayton who is playing some of his strongest ball of the season recently.
If you take out the January 11 blowout against the Washington Wizards where the Phoenix Suns were never in the game, Ayton averages 16 points and 13 rebounds per game in his last six games, also chipping in several blocks and steals on the defensive end.
The Suns get a massive pace-up spot tonight as Phoenix ranks 28th in pace on the season while the Houston Rockets rank 12th in the league. The Rockets have also been severely short-handed recently after trades and injuries and have dropped to a bottom ten rank for FanDuel points allowed to centers on the season. In addition, Houston allows the third-most points in the paint this year to opponents at over 49 points per game so Ayton is set up well here to pay off his salary.