3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on Wednesday 4/28/21
"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 large 10 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.
C.J. McCollum ($7,700) - It's looking like it will be Paul George, Jordan Clarkson, and Marcus Smart versus the field tonight if early roster percentage models are to be believed. Each of these shooting guards are missing major usage rate pieces from their teams tonight and look to be in excellent spots.
But these popular plays hide the fact that McCollum has been one of the most productive shooting guards for more than a month and inexplicably received a $900 salary drop since his last game. I guess back to back games of 30 FanDuel points is driving the drop, but considering he was below 35 FanDuel points just twice in his previous 16 games, I think we can safely assume those are a fluke.
Through a strange quirk in the schedule, McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers will be playing the Memphis Grizzlies for the third time in four games, and McCollum has already torched Grayson Allen and the Grizzlies for 27 and 22 actual points in the first two matchups.
But even if you don't want to trust recent history, look at the game environment for the confidence to lock in some of these players. The implied total (239 points) is the highest on the slate, and the spread (Memphis -1.5) is the lowest tonight. It doesn't get much better before the first whistle blows, so there should be plenty of fantasy goodness to spread around for both of these teams tonight.
Brandon Ingram ($8,000) - DFS managers are likely to be all over Jaylen Brown again tonight after he exploded for a slate-high 65.7 FanDuel points. He should be missing the same teammates and is in just as good matchup tonight. Similarly, Joe Ingles has over 30 FanDuel points in six of his last nine games and now has plenty of court time coming with no Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley tonight.
Moving off of those two plays will be awfully tough tonight, but Ingram can provide a dollar-for-dollar pivot in a sneaky good matchup if you are looking to fade the masses who will blindly lock in Brown.
I didn't expect the matchup against the Denver Nuggets to be one I would target, but digging into recent results, it seems the Nuggets have struggled defending the small forward position since they inserted Aaron Gordon into the starting lineup. Over their last 15 games, the Nuggets allow the sixth-most FanDuel points to small forwards (44.87) and their opponents' fastbreak points, second-chance points, and points in the paint have all ticked up as well.
We know Ingram's floor in any given game is going to be 30 FanDuel points. He hasn't scored less than that in more than a month. But he has also flashed 40-plus upside, reaching that number in five of his last nine games. Zion Williamson has just as strong a matchup tonight and is dominating the ball lately, so 45 FanDuel points for Ingram isn't the safest proposition to lock in, but in this tight matchup with a 229.5 implied total, it's a good roll of the dice.
Andre Drummond ($6,900) - Even with Anthony Davis' minutes starting to ramp up, it seems we are going to get a healthy dose of Drummond at least until LeBron James comes back from injury next month. Locked into minutes in the high-20s, it seems we can begin to rely on the fantasy stats piling up for Drummond, something that was never a given during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Over his last five games, Drummond has been right around 28-30 minutes per game, as Montrezl Harrell has seen fewer minutes and Marc Gasol has become the odd man out among big men on the Lakers. During that span, Drummond has posted 38 FanDuel points per game, albeit with a high of 50.3 and a low of 27.6. Tonight's matchup with the Washington Wizards looks like a good opportunity for the high end of that range to show up.
On the season, the Wizards are first in pace and 22nd in defensive rating. And while they may be on a hot streak offensively the last couple of weeks, their defense has not shown much improvement over the last 12 games. Washington has allowed the eighth-most points per game (115.8) in that span, including over 53 FanDuel points per game to opposing centers.
Considering just about every center you would ever want to play in DFS is on this slate, and given the volatile nature of Drummond's production, this play is probably best suited to a large-field tournament. But if you need salary relief at the center position as a way to differentiate, Drummond in a strong matchup might just fit the bill, and he shouldn't have much problem reaching 5x value at a salary below $7,000.