3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 4/9/21
"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 contrarian plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Friday's slate is a reasonable nine 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.
Stephen Curry ($9,600) - Pairing the high-end pair of Russell Westbrook and Trae Young tonight may be a very popular move tonight. Considering their recent play and respective game situations, each have smash potential tonight. But with how much value is sure to open up between now and slate lock, I am looking into potentially double-tapping the Wizards- Warriors game and spending up on both point guards and finding spend-down spots elsewhere.
This game qualifies as a true late-night hammer as the last game to tip off and offers a game total that's about to cross the magical 240 implied total in betting markets, meaning we should get as much exposure to this track meet as we can. It's not often we get a matchup of the two teams who are first and second in pace in the NBA, and the Washington Wizards are bottom-five in defensive rating just to top it off.
We are all familiar with what Westbrook has done lately with Bradley Beal on the shelf, but we shouldn't overlook how dominant Curry has been in the four games since he returned from injury. Curry is just a shade under 50 FanDuel points per game in those last four and posted a 33% usage in that span, 3% higher than his season numbers. He has an ideal matchup tonight even if he has to chase Westbrook all over the floor. The Wizards allow the third-most FanDuel points to point guards in their last 15 games (52.3) and allow the position to score more than 26 points per night.
Christian Wood ($7,800) - I'll admit at the top here, Christian Wood is one of my man-crushes. He is one of the more underrated big men in the NBA, he was my first NBA TopShot purchase, and -- most importantly -- he should be the primary offensive weapon for an undermanned Houston Rockets team tonight.
John Wall has already been ruled out of the game this evening against the Los Angeles Clippers, and with four other Rockets rotation players sitting in this one, there should only be an eight-man rotation for Houston, which would allow Wood to at least match the 37 minutes he played against the Dallas Mavericks two nights ago.
Those minutes are important, as Wood has evolved into a 1.27 fantasy points per minute producer this year, which is roughly what someone like Zion Williamson produces. When Wood has played this season with Wall, Eric Gordon and the traded James Harden all off the floor, his usage is an elite 28%, and he averages 42 FanDuel points per 36 minutes, per RotoGrinders' CourtIQ tool.
At just $7,800, that kind of production will easily reach value for us, and numberFire's projections back it up, ranking Wood as the second-best point-per-dollar play among all forwards tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($11,100) - Over $11,000 for Towns? It's true, and this is only the second time all season he has been over $11,000 in salary on FanDuel, but looking at his current run of production, there's just no way he can be less. Towns has scored under 50 FanDuel points just twice in his last 12 games as he molds back into the primary offensive option with Malik Beasley hurt and D'Angelo Russell on a mid-20s minutes limit.
What's most interesting about his hot streak is Towns ranks outside the top-20 in usage over that span. He is simply getting it done all over the court, averaging 29.0 points, 3.2 three-pointers, 12.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.1 blocks in that stretch. Towns has been a one-man wrecking crew who has earned every dollar of salary you will need to pay tonight.
I definitely understand the strong appeal of playing the Dueling Nikolas tonight (Nikola Jokic at a comical $10,100 and Nikola Vucevic at $9,900 against the Atlanta Hawks), so I just don't know how many people are mentally prepared to cross the $11,000 barrier with Towns.
Add in a tough Boston Celtics team who allow the 11th-fewest FanDuel points to centers this year, and many may see this as a stay-away spot. But I'm going to get plenty of exposure to Towns, who is top-five in the NBA in scoring and rebounding over the last 12 games. I'm banking on the hot streak continuing.