3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/17/20
"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 look at lower-owned plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Let's look at plays for Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Kyle Lowry ($8,400) - With so much top-end talent at the point guard spot tonight, and then Ja Morant and Malcolm Brogdon available in elite spots at the lower end, Lowry at an odd price in the mid-$8,000's will likely slip through the cracks.
All Lowry has done through this latest rush of Toronto Raptors' injuries is average almost 43 FanDuel points per game over his last 14 contests -- including never having a game below 31 FanDuel points. That kind of consistency shouldn't go overlooked when considering a player like Lowry for cash games or tournaments. He has shown 53-to-55 point upside in that span, as well, but considering his play in the past month, he should not have problem reaching 5x value for tonight's salary.
The Raptors will also get a huge 12-spot bump in pace playing against the Washington Wizards. As you might expect, the Wiz are horrible against every position, and point guard is no exception. They rank bottom 10 in most statistical categories, and as a team, Washington allows their opponents to shoot 49% from the floor -- worst in the league. Lowry's shooting has been solid this year (he is averaging his third-highest true shooting percentage in his career), and it doesn't appear the Wizards roster anyone who can slow him.
Carmelo Anthony ($6,200) - Small forward on this slate is essentially play Pascal Siakam and then cross your fingers. Since we have to roster two on FanDuel, I'm pushing my chips in with Anthony. The game environment looks strong with a lofty 228.5 total, and the spread is fewer than eight points against the Dallas Mavericks.
More than the game situation, however, the Mavericks provide an interesting matchup for Anthony. We know his production comes solely from points and rebounds. 'Melo has a combined 10 assists (including eight in one outlier game), zero blocks and four steals over his last five games, so he is not contributing in those areas. Fortunately, the Mavericks struggle against small forwards in the strong aspects of Anthony's game. Dallas allows 20.7 points per game to small forwards (11th most) and also allows 9.3 rebounds per game to the position, which is the most in the league.
Overall, the Mavericks allow the second most FanDuel points to the position, putting Anthony in position where his strengths directly align with the Mavericks' weaknesses.
Jonas Valanciunas ($6,500) - Valanciunas is the very definition of a tournament option. He has a range of FanDuel points from 19.2 to 61.3 in his last four games, showcasing both his floor and ceiling within the span of a week. There are, however, some things we can count on in a game-by-game basis.
First, he is going to play into the mid-20s in minutes. We know this. He has played only two games since the start of December in which he was able to scratch out 30 minutes. We also know the usage will be there. With Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid likely out tonight, J-Val has the highest usage of any center on the slate, and he averages the second most fantasy points per minute (1.29).
This game looks to be another fun track meet tonight. The Grizzlies play at the third fastest pace in the league, and this one has a 228.5-point total. The Cleveland Cavaliers give up the fifth most FanDuel points to centers, as Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love continue to struggle defensively.
Wearing Vancouver throwbacks tonight inside @FedExForum vs the Cavs. Go @memgrizz! pic.twitter.com/WUzrNYlvfH
— Vince Ford (@VinceFord1) January 17, 2020
All this plus Valanciunas channeling some Big Country Reeves in the throwback jerseys tonight, and we can only conclude that a ceiling game is coming for the Memphis big man.