3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/26/20
"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 Wednesday's FanDuel main slate.
Luka Doncic ($10,000) - With all eyes pointed towards the strong plays with the San Antonio Spurs tonight, it only makes sense to run it back with the highest projected point guard on the slate. Although we sometimes balk at a five-figure price tag, Doncic is the cheapest he has been since November 18. Why? I have no idea, since he just came off scores of 46, 62, and 61 FanDuel points in his last three full games. Over the last 10 games, Doncic ranks second in the NBA in both offensive rating and usage, so concerns about lingering injuries or matchup are just a distraction.
The Spurs continue to struggle against opposing point guards, allowing the eighth-most FanDuel points to the position on the season. This also includes allowing the second-most three-pointers and forcing the second-fewest turnovers. Doncic, who is top 10 in the NBA in both three-pointers attempted and total turnovers, should automatically benefit from the loose backcourt defense played by DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray, who both rank in the bottom 15% of guards for defensive rating this season.
Doncic has clear triple-double upside in a game with a tight four-point spread, so as you fill in your Spurs tonight, don't forget to complete the stack with Luka.
Tobias Harris ($6,600) - Two days ago, Harris went from listed as doubtful to 44 FanDuel points in less than 12 hours, throwing the entire slate on its head. He justifiably gets a small price bump against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, but it's clearly not high enough considering both the matchup and Ben Simmons still being on the shelf. On Monday, Harris tore up the Atlanta Hawks -- who allow the most FanDuel points to small forwards -- and tonight he gets the Cavaliers, who give up the second-most FanDuel points.
With Simmons off the floor this season, Harris averages almost 2.5 more fantasy points per 36 minutes. This falls directly in line with his recent trends, which show that Harris is averaging 3.7 more fantasy points per game than his seasonal number. With Simmons out for the foreseeable future, and Josh Richardson still underperforming, the offensive load is going to fall squarely on Harris and Joel Embiid. We have both projected as top-two plays at their position on this large slate.
Thomas Bryant ($3,900) - We all have the NBA DFS mantra drilled into our brains by now: Minutes Equal Money. Well, with Bryant tonight, we are really hoping the minutes come his way, because if they do, the money will follow.
Bryant, admittedly, has only played an average of 15 minutes per game since his return from injury, but before the absence, he played at least 23 minutes in four straight, averaging 34 FanDuel points per game. With Davis Bertans extremely questionable, minutes could flow to Bryant in an ideal matchup for a player with his skill set.
The Brooklyn Nets are the second-best matchup for centers in the entire league, behind only the Hawks, and they allow over 58 FanDuel points per game to the position. The Nets and Washington Wizards both play at a top-10 pace, and this game is second on the slate with a 233.5 implied total. Bryant, despite limited opportunity, still ranks top 10 in both effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage among centers, spotlighting the fact that he plays an efficient brand of offensive basketball when he is on the court.
Our projections believe Bryant will have roughly 20 minutes of opportunity tonight, and the production will follow, coming in at over 5x his salary. At $100 less than chalky Jakob Poeltl, Bryant is a cheap pivot in a much better matchup.