3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 4/26/21
"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.
Monday's slate is a massive eleven 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.
Darius Garland ($7,600) - Trying to read the tea leaves tonight, it looks like Russell Westbrook ($11,200) and Tyrese Haliburton ($6,100, way too low) will be two of the more popular guards tonight, so trying to find someone in the middle of those salaries in an elite matchup should be our target for this slate. I really like the way Garland is playing aggressively with Collin Sexton out of the lineup recently, and he provides just the sort of sneaky-good matchup that will keep his roster percentage down.
Garland is playing his best, sustained stretch of ball this season, and the salary just hasn't caught up with his production and circumstances yet. It's not just the 40 FanDuel points per game over his last seven that makes him attractive tonight. More importantly, he is playing 35.7 minutes per night, dropping under 34 minutes only once in that span.
As mentioned above, the Toronto Raptors are sneaky bad against opposing point guards right now. They allow 47 FanDuel points to the position in their last seven games, including 27.9 actual points per game, fourth-worst in the league. The Raptors are on the front end of a back-to-back tonight, so don't be surprised if they pull their "injury management" shenanigans for this one. If that's the case and we get the Toronto B-team tonight, it will be all systems go for all Cleveland Cavaliers players.
Michael Porter Jr. ($7,400) - It is really is disappointing that it took a season-ending injury to Jamal Murray for Porter to really start taking off this season, but as DFS players we have to be focused on the slate in front of us, and it sure looks good for the prospects of another Porter smash game tonight.
He has been absolutely on fire the last two games, averaging 49.9 points against the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors over the weekend. At first glance, a game against the Memphis Grizzlies might not look like the most appealing matchup, but this ain't your father's Rise-And-Grind, half-court plodding team of yesteryear. This team allows the third-most FanDuel points to the small forward position this season and ranks eighth in the NBA in pace in 2020-2021.
Porter's usage rate is up to 22.9% over his last nine games, several ticks up from his 20.7% rate on the season. His offensive rating, assist rate, effective field goal percentage, and true shooting percentage are all also up in that span as Porter takes on role of Robin to Nikola Jokic's Batman. It's clear the Denver Nuggets will need Porter's offense moving forward, and so far in the short audition, he is certainly delivering.
Bam Adebayo ($8,500) - I'm seeing a projected total of 205.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook for this game between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls. If anyone wants to take the under in that game, please hit up my DMs. I'll give you good odds. I don't see any way this game falls below that number and would likely still bet the over if the total approaches 210. And if I'm right about this being a more high-scoring affair than is projected, one of the primary beneficiaries will be Adebayo against a truly awful frontcourt defense and individual defender.
Yes, the Heat rank in the top ten for the season in defensive rating, but the Bulls have dropped to 20th overall in the category and are now up to 12th overall in pace this year, despite Zach LaVine missing the past couple of weeks. When you whittle down the defensive numbers to just the frontcourt, it begins to look even worse for the Bulls. In their last 30 games, Chicago ranks fourth-worst against opposing centers, allowing 59.43 FanDuel points per game.
Nikola Vucevic has had to scratch and claw to work his way up to 20th among centers for real defensive plus-minus this year, but it hasn't stopped the Bulls from allowing 49.8 points per game in the paint to opponents, fourth-worst in the association.
Assuming Butler doesn't want to do absolutely everything himself against his old team, there should be plenty of opportunity for Adebayo to continue his hot streak. He is at more than 45 FanDuel points in four of his last five games and should provide plenty of value as a similar salary pivot off of Rudy Gobert ($8,100) who looks like he will be popular tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves.