DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Wednesday, December 6th
Andy Means will be bringing Premium subscribers his top cash game plays and tournament pivots to build around. A former Duke basketball walk-on and now top-ranked DFS player, Andy will take an in-depth look into each of his core plays, and then blend it all together from a roster construction perspective. On weekends, the preseason maestro you all know and love, Allan Lem, takes the reigns.
Wednesday, December 6th
For those that read this article last year, welcome back. For those that are new, thanks for reading! Here is a quick review of what I am trying to accomplish with NBA Core Plays.
First and foremost, the Core Plays I reference below are for cash game formats (e.g. 50/50, H2H, double-ups). They are the players I think you absolutely must have in your cash game lineup(s) on that day’s main slate. There is a ton of great DFS information available nowadays. However, it can also be difficult to comb through all of that information and know whom exactly to put in your lineup. After reading a lot of articles and listening to a few podcasts, you suddenly are left thinking that there are 20 guys you should be putting into your cash game lineup (“Player X is an elite play!”; “Player Y is perfect for cash games!”; “Player Z is viable in all formats!”).
My goal with this article is to actually prioritize all of those viable plays. So the first player you see listed below is who I think is the most important. The second player listed is the second most important and so on and so forth. I will usually provide 3-5 players each day. While some (or all) of the plays may seem obvious, we still want to make those plays and let our opponents be the ones to make the mistakes. Not building around this core set of players, in my opinion, is a recipe for an unprofitable night.
Since I know a lot of DFS players only play tournaments, I also provide tournament pivots off of those Core Plays. I usually try to have the pivots be from the same position, same game, or same price range. The Core Plays will usually see some of the highest ownership on the slate, so how you mix them into your lineups for tournaments is up to your own personal tournament strategy.
IMPORTANT: I will make every effort to update this article as news breaks until approximately one hour before rosters lock. So please check back throughout the day as I update my Core Plays. However, if time is tight, I will forego the analysis here and only update my tags on LineupHQ. I plan to keep the tags updated on LineupHQ all the way up until lineup lock, so always make sure to check there first. Remember, what may be a great play at 2:00 PM is not always a great play at 7:00 PM. To get my most up-to-date thoughts on the slate before lineups lock, be sure to tune into Crunch Time. Kevin Roth and I will go live thirty minutes before lineups lock, and you can watch right there in LineupHQ as you build lineups.
If you aren’t already doing so, give me a follow on Twitter. I won’t answer too many specific DFS questions (in order to protect you, the Premium subscribers), but I absolutely love just talking hoops. Let’s get to it!
1) DeMarcus Cousins, PF/C, New Orleans Pelicans – $11,300
Another night with Anthony Davis sidelined means another night jamming in Boogie in our cash game lineups. In my opinion, this price tag is still just a tad too cheap for life without Davis, which makes him a must-play for me in cash games.
For starters, this is one of the best games to target on the slate. It has the second highest over/under (218.5) and a tight spread (New Orleans -5).
We know by now that Boogie sees a nice usage bump with no Anthony Davis, so there isn’t much need to dive into that again. The Pelicans get a great matchup against a Denver team that ranks 21st in defensive rating. And the eye test tells me that there is not one player on the Nuggets that has the bulk to come close to slowing him down on the block.
There is a plethora of elite forward and center plays on this slate. Due to multi positional eligibility, we should have no problem getting in the guys we want. Boogie is the safest bet for fantasy points on this slate, so I will be locking him into cash games.
(Tournament pivot: The tournament pivot here is to go down to the guy who will be guarding Boogie a lot tonight, Mason Plumlee. I really, really want to be able to trust Plumlee enough in cash games at this price tag, but the foul trouble risk may be too much to take on for me. Plumlee is going to look like a great point per dollar option tonight in his own right due to the minutes we should be expecting him to play, but those minutes could get cut quickly if Boogie gets him into foul trouble. However, if he can somehow keep that in check and get his minutes around 30 like he saw two games ago, there is a lot of profit potential still left in this tag. The Nuggets will need all of the minutes they can get out of Plumlee to try to defend Boogie, so I like the upside if he can keep himself on the court.)
2) Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, New Orleans Pelicans – $6,600
It is going to be tough not to get more Pelicans exposure tonight in the way of Jrue. He absolutely exploded last game but only saw the price tag come up $300.
This may seem like chasing points, but in actuality the rates see a little bump with Anthony Davis out of the mix. Check out the comparison of his seasonal numbers compared to the past two games.
Season: 36.5 minutes per game, 21.1% usage rate, 22.4% assist rate, 6.7% rebound rate
12/02/2017 vs. Portland: 37.75 minutes, 22.4% usage rate, 25.6% assist rate, 6.9% rebound rate
12/04/2017 vs. Golden State: 38 minutes, 27.9% usage rate, 17.7% assist rate, 8.7% rebound rate
It is tough to glean too much from two games, but it is safe to say he sees bumps across the board.
Now he gets a matchup against a Nuggets team that ranks 21st in defensive rating and 23rd in defensive efficiency against opposing backcourts. All of this leads to Jrue just being too cheap and a plug-and-play for me in cash games.
(Tournament pivot: I like bringing it back in tournaments on the other side of this matchup with Will Barton. The Nuggets rely a ton on his playmaking now with Jokic unavailable. That leaves us with extreme safety in minutes and a nice spike in the usage rate. The price being this high should keep enough people off of him on a ten-game slate, which is exactly what we are looking for in tournaments. We have already seen him flash 50 DraftKings point upside on a handful of occasions this season. Tonight could be another one of those nights, and we could also be getting him at some depressed ownership.)
3) Rajon Rondo, PG, New Orleans Pelicans – $5,500
Three Pelicans baby! I am not sure if you knew this or not, but the lower half of a pelican’s bill can hold up to three gallons of water. It’s stomach can only hold about one to one and a half gallons. It is actually the Nuggets who will need water tonight though because they will be so tired from giving up so many buckets. Ok, I will stop.
Let’s run the same comparison with Rondo that we just did with Jrue.
Season: 23.6 minutes per game, 15.2% usage rate, 42.54% assist rate, 8.3% rebound rate
12/02/2017 vs. Portland: 28 minutes, 15.8% usage rate, 46.9% assist rate, 11.1% rebound rate
12/04/2017 vs. Golden State: 28 minutes, 14.6% usage rate, 49.9% assist rate, 9.9% rebound rate
Rondo is a rather low usage guy to begin with, so the obvious bumps for him here come with the assists and rebounds.
And Rondo of course gets the same matchup as Jrue, a Nuggets team that ranks 21st in defensive rating and 23rd in defensive efficiency against opposing backcourts. Considering it looks like we have a competitive game here and the Pelicans have the second highest team total on the night, I have no qualms about playing three of them in cash games. Rondo is the next man in for me from New Orleans.
(Tournament pivot: I will again bring it back on the other side here in tournaments with Jamal Murray. He dropped 44.50 DraftKings points a few games ago in 33 minutes, and there is no reason to think he can’t do the same thing tonight. The Pelicans are actually worse defensively against opposing backcourts than the Nuggets, ranking 26th in defensive efficiency against them. I love Murray in tournaments on his own or as part of game stacks.)
ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS
I will answer the most popular question today and say, yes, I do think you can play four Pelicans in cash games too. E’Twaun Moore looks mighty appealing at only $4,200. There are enough viable, cheap value plays that roster construction doesn’t appear to be too difficult tonight on DraftKings. There are a handful of good center plays again tonight, but they aren’t as much of a priority for me as they have been on previous slates.
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