3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 3/3/21
"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 main slate is back to a large 10 games, so we should be able to find plenty of options to differentiate off of the night's chalk plays. Let's dig in to see where we can pivot.
Donovan Mitchell ($8,200) - Let's see...James Harden against the Houston Rockets. Kyle Lowry and Dennis Schroder as the last offensive men standing. De'Aaron Fox without Tyrese Haliburton's usage in the way. Stephen Curry against Damian Lillard's defense. LaMelo Ball matched up against the G-League team known as the Minnesota Timberwolves. There are so many potential chalky options at guard that it's possible none of them have overwhelming roster percentage numbers when the slate hits.
That's a nature of a 10-game slate, but how about pivoting to a shooting guard option that is likely to be on very few rosters tonight? Even with Mike Conley back in action, Mitchell has been on a tear lately, scoring at least 42 FanDuel points in five of his last seven games. But it hasn't just been his typical scoring that has carried him. Mitchell's assist rate has shot up to 29.8% in his last seven games, much higher than his season average of 25.9%. In addition to averaging over 25 points per game, he has also been at 6.4 assists per game in that span and has a higher assist rate than Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and Lonzo Ball, to name a few.
Mitchell gets Simmons' Philadelphia 76ers tonight, and they have been simply abysmal against opposing shooting guards. The 76ers allow the fourth-most FanDuel points to two-guards, including the second-most actual points and forcing the third-fewest turnovers. In addition, the Jazz get a major pace bump tonight when they face Philadelphia who rank seventh in pace on the season (Utah is 18th).
Norman Powell ($6,800) - Small forward tonight is so ravaged by injuries and rest candidates that the chalky plays are likely to be Brandon Ingram and Kelly Oubre just by default. But if other DFS players load up heavily on Lowry for the Toronto Raptors, I will have no issue pivoting to Powell who was straight balling even before half of the team was benched due to COVID protocols.
Stepping up once OG Anunoby went down with an injury, Powell averages 32 minutes and 23.7 points per game in his last six, and now the Raptors will be without a total of 48.8% usage rate without Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam on the floor tonight. Powell is going to be called on to contribute all over the court with big minutes tonight as the Raptors will likely be down to only nine healthy bodies at the game.
FanDuel Sportsbook -- likely due to all of the missing Raptors -- lists this game with only a 6.5-point spread, a number that would assuredly have been higher if Toronto was at full strength. The tighter spread means a greater likelihood we see a full complement of minutes from Powell as he and Lowry will have to carry the team on their backs.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,700) - Center is tricky tonight as three of the top four stud options (Embiid, Vucevic, and Capela) all have matchups against top-eight teams against centers this year. Embiid and Vucevic are likely matchup-proof at this point, but the easiest matchup of the night and the best path to elite usage is clearly with Towns.
Without D'Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, Towns is being called upon to handle the bulk of the offensive load and he has responded with 49 FanDuel points per game in his last seven contests. Over the past two weeks, his fantasy points per minute, usage rate, and defensive rebounding rate have all gone up and should continue to remain at elite levels as long as Towns serves at the focal point of the offense.
I love the game environment here tonight as several sites have this one listed with a one-point spread and a total of 232 points. Both teams are also in the top-12 in pace this year and are in the bottom-ten in defensive rating. In a potential shootout with limited offensive options for Minnesota, I plan to load up on Towns tonight.