5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/15/19
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Malcolm Brogdon ($8,200) - Get your Indiana Pacers ready for tonight. It's not a question of if you will have any, but rather how many. Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are on my shortlist of core players today as they battle the Houston Rockets in a pace-up dream with the Rockets also shorthanded. It looks like Houston will be missing Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, Danuel House Jr. and they might also rest Russell Westbrook, so there just aren't many available bodies to try to slow down Brogdon.
Even when teams "slow down" Brogdon, he finds a way contribute. In a recent two-game stretch in which Brogdon shot 7 for 25 (28%), he still averaged 30 FanDuel points per game thanks to his contributions in assists, rebounds, and steals. Fortunately for tonight, we have a $1,000 discount off his peak salary from 10 days ago. At almost a 29% usage rate and 1.28 fantasy points per minute, Brogdon's fingerprints should be all over this game, one in which the Pacers have a 111.0 implied total.
Donovan Mitchell ($8,600) - On FanDuel, I can only the assume the combination of James Harden and Bradley Beal will take up one shooting guard spot in more than 60% of lineups tonight. Typically when managers spend $9,000-plus one of two spots, they will look to spend down on the other. Assuming this is true, Mitchell should have low ownership compared to other cheaper two guards. This is situation to exploit as Mitchell is in an elite spot tonight.
Mitchell is second to only Harden and Beal at the position in usage rate and minutes per game, and the Utah Jazz (ranked 25th in pace) get to face off against the Memphis Grizzlies (6th in pace). The Grizzlies also allow 52 points per game to the shooting guard slot, sixth worst in the Association. Mitchell has kicked things into another gear lately, averaging 26 points, almost six rebounds and five assists across his last five games.
Jonathan Isaac ($7,100) - Truthfully, this game doesn't interest me greatly, but Isaac is somehow managing significant fantasy output this year without putting the ball in the basket as much as you would expect from a top-level fantasy producer. How does a player averaging only 12 points per game score 33 FanDuel points per night? On the defensive end.
Isaac is averaging 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 2.8 blocks per game this season -- career highs across the board. Crossing 30 minutes per game for the first time in his career, Isaac is being asked to play the role of perimeter defender as Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Evan Fournier handle the scoring load. Likely matched up against DeMar DeRozan tonight, he should be able to defend a large percentage of the San Antonio Spurs' usage, increasing his chances of maintaining elite statistics on that end.
Blake Griffin ($8,000) - We should get Griffin back in action tonight after he sat out the Detroit Pistons' last game in an effort to slowly bring him back after injury. I like the soft landing spot here as the Charlotte Hornets allow the eighth most points to the power forward position and rank 29th in the league in rebound percentage.
After Griffin posted 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists in only 24 minutes, it is clear the Pistons want to get him involved right away. If he is able to play a few more minutes tonight, a double-double is certainly within reach against PJ Washington, a below-average defender.
Joel Embiid ($11,000) - The masses will likely flock to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andre Drummond again at the high end of the position and drop down to Sabonis or Rudy Gobert if they want a discount at center. That could leave Embiid and his 33% usage rate (tops among centers) and 1.68 fantasy points per minute (also a positional best) as the odd man out.
Often thought of as an elite defender, Steven Adams of the Oklahoma City Thunder has dropped to 20th in defensive rating among centers who are playing at least 25 minutes per game. Really, you could have Hakeem Olajuwon back there and Embiid would find a way to produce -- he ranks in the top five among all centers in usage rate, rebound percentage, and assist rate.
Keyser Soze of the Night
DeMar DeRozan ($7,800) - As mentioned above, Jonathan Isaac is displaying some lockdown defense against opposing small forwards this year. In fact, the Orlando Magic are the third best team against the position through the first three weeks of the season, allowing only 34 fantasy points per game to small forwards.
DeRozan on his own has been disappointing recently. He has fewer than 30 FanDuel points in four of his last seven games and is seeing his lowest usage rate since 2012. DeRozan also is logging his lowest minutes per game since his rookie season, so it seems as though the San Antonio Spurs are keeping him fresh for the long season ahead.