3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 4/7/21
"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.
Wednesday's slate is a reasonable nine 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.
Luka Doncic ($10,300) - With James Harden confirmed out and Bradley Beal looking very iffy for tonight's game, I can only imagine the number of rosters that will include Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. In the upper range, that leaves Doncic out in the cold, but at his lowest salary in three weeks and in an incredible matchup, he should be part of your plans.
Doncic has been just merely great in his last four games and not mega-star elite. He averages 45.5 FanDuel points per game in his last five since missing a couple of games due to injury. But considering we saw three games north of 60 FanDuel points in the six prior to him getting hurt, Doncic has left DFS managers somewhat wanting in late March and early April.
That changes tonight. The Houston Rockets have been downright terrible versus points guards all year, allowing 49 FanDuel points per game to the position, good for eighth-most in the league. But in their last five games, the Rockets are putting up a defensive rating of 121.6 per game. That's about four points per game worse than the Sacramento Kings, who have the worst defensive rating over the entire season.
In that span, the Rockets' opponents are shooting better than 50% from the floor and better than 41% from beyond the arc, and they are scoring 122.6 points per game. I know a tank when I see one, and this is certainly a tank. Doncic gets back into elite territory tonight with at least 60 FanDuel points.
Jayson Tatum ($8,800) - I think I am going right back to the well again on Tatum even in a "meh" matchup against the New York Knicks with only a 212.5 implied total. He only delivered 33 FanDuel points last night against the Philadelphia 76ers, but he looks to be in an even better spot this evening and we can chalk up last night to another weird performance that shouldn't carry over.
According to Rotogrinders' game-flow tracker, Tatum had a 10:03 span in the first half where he did not score a single fantasy point. That's almost impossible to do for a player like Tatum and should not continue over tonight. Add in that the Celtics threw the white flag and started subbing people out with three minutes left in the fourth quarter and Tatum missed some significant opportunity in the game last night.
Tonight, he will still be without Evan Fournier but will also be missing Kemba Walker. Walker has been eating into the usage on the first team lately (he took 14 shots last night), so his absence should benefit players like Tatum and Jaylen Brown tonight.
Clint Capela ($10,400) - Let's see, Wendell Carter Jr. should be popular with Khem Birch out and the Orlando Magic facing the Washington Wizards. Nikola Jokic should be popular with the third-highest salary among centers tonight at $10,300 (Let's be clear. There is no universe where Jokic should have the third-highest salary among centers on any slate). Karl-Anthony Towns might have small forwards guarding him tonight in Indiana if Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis miss their game, so that should lock him into a lot of rosters.
For some differentiation, I am feeling good about Capela tonight, in spite of the high salary tag. Capela gets to go up against a Memphis Grizzlies squad playing their second game in as many nights. And for the same reasons we liked Bam Adebayo yesterday (who smashed the Grizzlies for 53 FanDuel points), we can look towards Capela.
Capela is on a streak of eight double-doubles in his last nine games, and is chipping in 2.5 blocks per game for good measure. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are allowing 27.4 points, 15 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game to opposing centers in their last 15 contests, contributing to the second-worst defense against the position in that span. With John Collins still on the shelf tonight, this looks like a matchup where Capela can exploit the frontcourt weaknesses of Memphis all night long.