5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/13/19
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
When it's time to start building DFS tournament 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 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. The Usual DFSuspects, if you will. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, we will also uncover a Keyzer Soze of the night -- a player that looks helpful on the surface but is not what he appears as we dig deeper.
Let's look at plays for each position on Wednesday's FanDuel main slate.
Kemba Walker ($9,000) - Except for a revenge-game dud against the Charlotte Hornets, Walker is on a streak of at least 42 FanDuel points in seven games. His opportunity is back into elite territory, as he ranks second in minutes per game (33.7), third in usage (29%), third in fantasy points per game (40.4), and fourth in fantasy points per minute (1.21).
There is no better individual matchup for Walker than against the Washington Wizards and Isaiah Thomas tonight. Thomas has the worst defensive rating among ALL players in the NBA, not just guards. He allows 124 points per 100 possessions, which is three points higher than the next closest point guard. In fact, Washington has three of the four worst individual defender ratings in the entire league (Thomas, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant), so the Wizards as a team are just not showing up on defense each and every game.
If Bradley Beal and company can somehow keep the game close, Walker has the opportunity to post his highest score of the season.
D'Angelo Russell ($9,200) - Russell is the Golden State Warriors offense right now, and likely will be for the foreseeable future. He hasn't scored less than 30 real points since before Halloween, and now trails only James Harden, Joel Embiid, and Kawhi Leonard in usage on this slate. Even with Draymond Green available in his last game, Russell's usage was an unbelievable 40.7% as he attempts to drag his team to a few wins (at least before management shuts him down with some mysterious ailment to ensure he can't).
For as stout as the Los Angeles Lakers have been against opposing frontcourts (they rank first in points allowed to both power forwards and centers), they have been much more penetrable on the perimeter. The Lakers allow 48 and 41 points to point guards and shooting guards, respectively, while allowing under 40 to both power forwards and centers.
Jaylen Brown ($7,200) - Remember that atrocious Washington Wizards defense from above? Let's go right back to the well with Brown, who is averaging just shy of 44 FanDuel points per game in the two games since Gordon Hayward went down with an injury. In fact, Brown joins teammate Kemba Walker as two of the top ten players in the NBA in offensive rating over the past week, and -- not surprisingly -- his two highest game scores this season have come in that time frame.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4,200) - This pick might be slightly more chalky than I am typically comfortable with. Still, the combination of price and opportunity makes Jefferson a player you must consider tonight.
Thrown into a huge role as the Toronto Raptors try to navigate life without Serge Ibaka, Jefferson responded with 30 FanDuel points in 28 minutes against the fifth-toughest team in the league against power forwards. With only a two-game sample on the season, we can't be guaranteed anything in terms of minutes and usage, but Jefferson will exceed value with even 20 FanDuel points tonight and will unlock the potential for other high-priced studs in your lineup. It certainly helps that the Portland Trail Blazers have been the second-worst team in the league against power forwards this season, allowing over 53 FanDuel points per game to the position. He is a worthy roll of the dice in a slate with so many spend up options.
Montrezl Harrell ($8,000) - I learned recently that it is now a requirement that you include at least one player who is playing the Houston Rockets when writing a DFS tout article. They take away your laptop or something if you don't.
Stacking players against the Rockets this year has been a printing press as they rank near the bottom of the league in every significant defensive metric: they rank 20th in defensive rating, 18th in rebound percentage, 21st in opponent's field goal percentage, 24th in opponent's three-point percentage, 26th in opponent's points per game, and are bottom-ten in FanDuel points allowed to shooting guards, small forwards, power forwards, and centers. Part of these eyesore numbers has to do with the Rockets' fast pace (107.8 - first in the league), but that only helps the opposing offense in regards to more possessions per game.
Harrell, despite coming off the bench, is crossing the 30-minute threshold almost every night at this point and ranks fourth among all centers on this slate with a 23% usage rate. The Los Angeles Clippers have an elite 115-point implied total tonight, so there should be plenty of offense available for Harrell, Kawhi Leonard, and Louis Williams.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Draymond Green ($6,700) - When you recommend that a player like Trae Young will have an off night on the road against a tough Denver Nuggets team, and he proceeds to have the second-best game of his career (at least according to Game Score), you get a little gun shy about the next night. Such is DFS, I guess.
I have slightly more confidence in Green struggling tonight, only because it is becoming clear -- even in a small sample -- that Green is a player who excels in the floor-spacing, movement-based, reactionary system built by Steve Kerr utilizing Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Thrust into more of the spotlight with those two players injured, Green is averaging only 27.4 FanDuel points per game in the early going, and even that is held up by one 53-point performance. Without that outlier game, Green would be averaging only 22 FanDuel points per contest.