3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 4/14/21
"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.
Wednesday's slate is a massive 11 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.
Bradley Beal ($8,500) - Looking at the slate tonight, even with 11 games on tap, it's clear this matchup between the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings is going to get a lot of traction. I'm trying to think of who will be the most contrarian from that game, and I keep landing on Beal -- especially considering the up and down nature of his recent play.
With possibly Buddy Hield and Richaun Holmes out of this game, all of the upper-range options should be mega-chalky. De'Aaron Fox, Russell Westbrook, Harrison Barnes, and perhaps even Hassan Whiteside all look to be strong plays, but I'm hoping the 36 minutes and 48 FanDuel points that Beal put up two nights ago against the Utah Jazz can kickstart him back into gear like when we were routinely paying $10,000 for his production.
You can't find a position that the Kings defend well -- much like the Wizards, which is what makes this game so attractive -- but they are especially bad against opposing shooting guards. Sacramento allows the third-most FanDuel points to the position, including the most actual points per game (24.7). Beal should be able to sleepwalk his way to 25 points in this one, so if he can just throw in a few assists (Kings allow the third-most to the position) or steals (Kings allow the eighth-most), we're looking at an easy 5x in value when others might be stacking this game elsewhere.
Christian Wood ($7,500) - Over the whole season, Wood's opponent -- the Indiana Pacers -- looks rather intimidating defensively. They rank 13th overall in defensive rating and rank top five in both steals and blocks per game this year. But that masks many of the defensive struggles the Pacers have experienced over the past couple of weeks, as they deal with the absence of Myles Turner (injury) anchoring the frontcourt defense.
In their last four games, the Pacers drop all the way down to 26th in defensive rating and rank 27th in rebound rate. The bonus for the Houston Rockets tonight, however, is the Pacers are playing at the fastest pace in the league in that span, as well (105.6). Lots of possessions against a bad defense? DFS gold.
When evaluating the myriad power forward options available tonight, many might see that little red "5th" under opponent rank and shy away, choosing to spend up instead. But at a salary of $7,500 and coming off a monster 50.5-FanDuel-point outburst against the Phoenix Suns, Wood is definitely worthy of a roster spot.
Wood may be listed at power forward on FanDuel, but we know he plays center. That's good news for Wood catching an undermanned Pacers squad. They have allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to the position (64.39) in their last seven games.
Nikola Vucevic ($9,100) - Anyone interested in serving up a little dish of revenge narrative on this Wednesday slate? We've got a lot of studs in good spots tonight at the center position, but the matchup for Vucevic against his old team, the Orlando Magic, might be the best one.
Since the trade deadline, the Magic can barely be described as an NBA team. They keep flip-flopping back and forth with the Oklahoma City Thunder as to who has the worse offensive rating (which makes sense considering they hardly have any NBA-caliber players left), but they have been even worse on defense. In their last six games, the Magic are dead last in defensive rating (124.7), which is three points worse than any other team in the Association.
Meanwhile, Vucevic continues to flourish with the Chicago Bulls. He is putting up 45.6 FanDuel points per game over his last six contests, even with Zach Lavine playing out of his mind during that same span. With Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid at high end of the salary spectrum and Jonas Valanciunas and Bam Adebayo a couple thousand below them, Vucevic looks mighty appealing on an island in the $9,000 range, and his salary is $800 less than it was just five days ago.