3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on Tuesday 5/4/21
"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.
Tuesday's slate is a small seven games, but we should still 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.
Collin Sexton ($8,500) - It's getting harder and harder to decipher who will be chalky plays early in the day for NBA slates, but the best I can tell today is we should consider the healthy players on the Sacramento Kings, LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and the cheap Detroit Pistons who actually play as popular spots. But a sneaky play tonight might be pivoting to Sexton instead of players like Paul George and Josh Jackson.
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to be without Darius Garland, and with Matthew Dellavedova and Dylan Windler out for the season, the Cavs' backcourt continues to be paper-thin. With so much talent missing, Sexton has been making the most out of his increased opportunity. If you look at his production without Garland, Dellavedova, and Andre Drummond on the court this season, Sexton gets a huge usage spike (31.7%, a 2.6% increase) and massive bumps in points and assists per 36 minutes.
Granted, the Phoenix Suns are a very tough matchup and this looks like a potential blowout with the Suns as 12.5-point favorites. But the Suns rank exactly middle of the pack against point guards in their last 15 games and Sexton extinguished the Miami Heat (third-best team against point guards this year) for 48.8 FanDuel points three days ago in identical circumstances. Usage and opportunity can outweigh a tough matchup and that's exactly what we have with Sexton tonight.
Brandon Ingram ($7,300) - This is the night to buy the dip on Ingram. After only managing 25.4 FanDuel points last night against these same Golden State Warriors, Ingram and the whole New Orleans Pelicans team will be out for revenge tonight in the rematch.
Even at his upper mid-range salary, Ingram comes in as numberFire's best point per dollar play at the small forward position tonight. We project him for 38.1 FanDuel points, easily passing 5x value as he looks to exploit the uninspiring wing players available for the Warriors. With Kent Bazemore in the starting lineup, the Warriors have dropped to seventh-worst against opposing small forwards in their last 15 games (45 FanDuel points per game).
While Stephen Curry's play may have teams "terrified" lately, this game environment shouldn't worry anyone looking to roster Ingram at small forward. Both the Pelicans and the Warriors rank top-six in pace their last 10 games, and the Pelican's offense has been humming of late, rising all the way to number nine on the year in offensive rating.
With Buddy Hield gaining a lot of interest at just $7,000 tonight, I'll be scrolling up slightly to lock in Ingram in this heavyweight rematch tonight.
Khem Birch ($6,000) - Yikes. Center is a mess tonight. All the studs are not available to us, leaving Bam Adebayo as the highest-salaried big man at $8,300 and the only center over $7,000 tonight. With Adebayo and likely Richaun Holmes ($6,600) looking popular tonight. I'll look to chase the recent minutes and production from Birch, who is being gifted a long leash since joining the Toronto Raptors.
Barely making it off the bench in Orlando behind Nikola Vucevic, Birch's production as almost a fantasy point-per-minute producer was hiding in plain sight. Finally unleased with Chris Boucher injured and Aron Baynes now president of the DNP-CD club, Birch is not giving away his shot.
Birch is at 32 minutes per night over his last six and is putting up a stat line of 13 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal per game in that span. That'll certainly pay the bills at just $6,000 and should serve as an easy path to at least 5x value even in a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. If the Raptors end up missing more of their key players, Birch's opportunity would look even that much better.