3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on Friday 4/23/21
"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 on the small side with seven games, but we should still 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 ($10,000) - This definitely looks like a spend-up night at point guard on this slate. And while many rosters will still feature Russell Westbrook against Oklahoma City Thunder or Kyrie Irving as the lone superstar playing on the Brooklyn Nets, Curry against the Denver Nuggets presents just as good of an opportunity.
Curry finally cooled off on Wednesday, putting up "only" 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists, snapping a streak of 11 games with at least 30 points. But if you think Curry is going to shoot 28% overall or 14% from three again tonight, I don't know what to tell you. Even the best have off-nights, and I'm willing to bet that course-corrects very quickly against the Nuggets.
In their past seven games, the Nuggets have plummeted to a bottom-10 team against opposing point guards. On the season, they rank sixth in the fewest FanDuel points allowed to point guards, but the loss of Jamal Murray has taken a toll on the perimeter defense. In fact, in that seven-game span, no other team allows more actual points to point guards than the Nuggets at 28.8 per game. Denver is allowing opponents to shoot over 38% from three in their last five, which might as well mean 60% if you're Steph Curry.
There's no way I am fading Curry tonight after one poor shooting game.
PJ Washington ($6,500) - In tournaments, we sometimes have to play risky games with our lineups, and if you want to go Washington's route on this slate, you might end up playing one of the riskier games in the NBA right now. It's called Predict Charlotte's Frontcourt Rotation.
If you win the game, you get mega-minutes Washington who has played more than 31 minutes in four of his last seven games and averaged 37.25 FanDuel points per game in those four. But if you lose, you get minor-minutes Washington who played fewer than 24 minutes in three of his last seven and averaged only 13.3 FanDuel points in those games.
The matchup tonight is a great one, so if we can guess right here, it could be well worth the $6,500 it will cost to roster him.
Bringing back Kevin Love to play mid-20s minutes every night has not helped the Cleveland Cavaliers' frontcourt defense in the slightest. Over their last seven games, the Cavaliers allow the fourth-most FanDuel points to opposing power forwards (on the season they allow the seventh-most). Both of these teams, in fact, are bottom-12 in the NBA in defensive rating over their last seven games.
This is definitely a keep-up-with-the-news situation on Washington tonight, and if the clues point to him playing low minutes, you can just pivot to Love or Darius Bazley in the same salary range.
Bam Adebayo ($8,500) - Whenever Jimmy Butler plays for the Miami Heat, we generally see a much lower roster percentage for Adebayo, which makes sense because Butler demands the ball so much on offense, and there is a smaller offensive pie for the rest of the players to share. But just like we saw on Wednesday, fading Adebayo tonight just because Butler plans to play would be a huge mistake.
In their game two nights ago against the San Antonio Spurs, Bam was just 2.7% rostered, and he proceeded to smash for 51.1 FanDuel points at just $7,700. This type of situation is perfect for tournaments. He got the necessary salary hike in this game tonight against the Atlanta Hawks, but will he get the bump in roster percentage? Likely not, with Nikola Jokic and several value centers plays standing out on this slate.
It will also be important to watch the news in this game to determine whether or not Clint Capela plays; he is currently questionable. Capela has the best defensive rating and net rating on the Hawks and anchors the defense that is top 10 in rebound rate and opponent field goal percentage this year. If Capela is replaced in the lineup by literally anyone else, it should be an open runway for Bam to dominate in this one.