5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/12/19
"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 also uncover a Keyzer Soze of the night -- a player that looks helpful on the surface but is not what he appears as we dig deeper.
Let's look at plays for each position on Tuesday's FanDuel main slate.
Mike Conley ($6,800) - Fellow point guard Kyrie Irving loves offense -- he is ranked eighth-best in offensive rating among guards. He also hates defense apparently -- Irving ranks eighth-worst in defensive rating among guards. Come on down, Mike Conley.
Against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, the Utah Jazz have the second-highest implied total on the night (113), and face a team ranked 22 spots higher in pace. If that wasn't enough, the Nets allow almost 30 points and 10 assists per game to point guards and have the sixth-worst defensive rating in the league. After a rocky start to the season where Conley admitted he was having trouble adjusting to his first new team in 13 years, he is averaging 30 FanDuel points per game over his last six, and that includes a 5.7-point dud against the Los Angeles Clippers. At $6,800, I would prefer him in my roster over any of Ricky Rubio ($7,700), Chris Paul ($6,600), or Goran Dragic ($6,200).
RJ Barrett ($6,900) - The real question in tournaments is, do you want to eat the Buddy Hield ($7,000) chalk with De'Aaron Fox out of the game or risk moving off. There are certainly options at the high end (Devin Booker, Donovan Mitchell), but if you need a dollar-for-dollar move, might I suggest RJ Barrett in a major pace up game against the Chicago Bulls?
There is no way around it, Barrett has struggled in his past two games, averaging 14.6 FanDuel points per game. But Barrett still averages the second-most minutes per game at the position and carries a strong 23.5% usage rate. A matchup against the Bulls can remedy a lot of Barrett's recent struggles as he matches up with Zach LaVine (bottom 25% individual defender) and a team that allows more than 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 three-pointers to the shooting guard position this year.
Chandler Hutchison ($3,600) - Let's save some money with a small forward who has seen his minutes increase in each game he has played since returning from injury and will likely get another start with Otto Porter out for this game. As with many nights, on Tuesday, small forward is LeBron James and a bunch of question marks, so spending down here makes the most sense.
Hutchison is one of our top point-per-dollar plays at the position tonight as he matches up against a New York Knicks team that allows the fourth-most actual points to the small forward position this season. Hutchison -- thanks to injuries -- has seen his minutes, usage, and FanDuel points rise in each of his three games this season and looks in line to play at least 25 minutes against the Knicks with Porter hurt and Shaquille Harrison out of the rotation.
Kevin Love ($8,500) - Love gets a gift tonight in Philadelphia by facing the Philadelphia 76ers without Al Horford, who will be out for rest purposes. We get a gift of his price dropping to $8,500 after a few lackluster performances when his price tag averaged over $9,000 in his last five games. This is the matchup to take advantage of the price discrepancy.
The 76ers are the second-toughest matchup for power forwards on the year, led by Horford, who is a top-12 forward in the league in individual defensive rating. With Horford removed from the equation, however, and Joel Embiid preoccupied with Tristan Thompson, Love should have the ability to improve on his already stellar 19.1% rebound rate and 64.6% true shooting percentage.
Nikola Jokic ($9,000) - After Friday's recommendation, you know I really want to put Rudy Gobert here against the Nets. But I don't want to get too predictable, so we shift to an equally appealing matchup for Jokic against the hapless Atlanta Hawks.
Matched up against Alex Len, the multi-faceted aspects of Jokic's game should really shine tonight. Len is just a below-average individual defender, but where his deficiencies really show is in rebounding. Len is fifth-worst in defensive rebounding percentage and overall rebounding percentage among centers with at least 15 minutes per game. The Hawks as a team are the fourth-worst in the league in rebounding, and truly have no one who can match up to the size and spacing problems that Jokic presents. This looks to me like one of those 16-point, 10-assist, 15-rebound games that we saw so often last season from Jokic. He is also averaging his best assist-to-turnover ratio of his career, strengthening the case to pivot off the center chalk tonight in favor of the affordable Nugget.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Trae Young ($9,600) - Let's be clear, Young is going to have at least 35 FanDuel points tonight. He is too involved in the flow of the offense and plays too many minutes to argue otherwise. Young has played seven full, healthy games this season, and has more than 50 FanDuel points in five of them. He is now priced to where he needs to reach 50 points to reach 5x value, and I just don't see it happening in an extremely tough matchup tonight.
First, the Denver Nuggets play at the slowest pace and have the fourth-best defensive rating in the league. From a micro-perspective, the Nuggets are the eighth-best team in the league, allowing only 43 FanDuel points to point guards per game. Jamal Murray rates as the 10th-best individual defender among all guards and owns the 10th-best total individual defensive win shares among guards. Any time you proclaim one of the league's best is going to bust, it's asking for trouble, but this more of a "prove it to me" game for Young. If he shows he can overcome the pace, defense, and altitude and post 50+, he officially becomes matchup-proof in my eyes.