FanDuel NBA Core Plays: Friday, January 12th

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.

— Click here for DraftKings Core Plays —

Friday, January 12th

UPDATE – 3:07 PM EST

The Stephen Curry news doesn’t really move the needle for me from a Core Plays perspective. Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green are all cash viable. But if spending up at small forward, I prefer LeBron James over Kevin Durant.

Also, I have added in Will Barton as a Core Play with Gary Harris ruled out.

1) Dragan Bender
2) Clint Capela
3) Chris Paul
4) Will Barton

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!

THE CORE

1) Dragan Bender, PF, Phoenix Suns – $3,500

For how well FanDuel has done this season with their NBA pricing, we have seen some slippage lately. That is definitely the case here with Bender remaining minimum priced despite the fact he is starting tonight with Marquese Chriss unavailable (hip injury).

Bender is by no means an elite fantasy point per minute producer (0.6 per minute rate this season). However, he is looking at a ton of minutes tonight with the aforementioned Chriss out and Josh Jackson doubtful. At the bare minimum price tag, all we need are a lot of minutes for him to be fine for cash games. We will absolutely get that tonight due to the Suns being down a few bodies.

And zooming out a little bit, the game environment here looks great. This has the highest total on the board tonight (226.5), and the Suns are “only” seven point underdogs. Bender is the perfect way to get cheap exposure to this game, and the rest of the DFS industry will feel the same way. It is safe to say that Bender will be the chalkiest of the chalk.

(Tournament pivot: I think a tournament pivot here in this game is to go on the other side to P.J. Tucker. With the Rockets down a few frontcourt bodies, Tucker is going to have to play a lot of time at the four tonight. And while he is a low fantasy point per minute producer, he is also the bare minimum on FanDuel tonight. He has shown on several occasions this season that he can get you mid to upper 20’s FanDuel points. In the best game environment on the slate, I like him a lot for tournaments on his own or as part of HOU/PHO game stacks.)

2) Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets – $7,600

Capela is another way to get access to this elite game environment, but that definitely isn’t the only reason we want to target him tonight.

Capela is such a good fantasy point per minute producer (1.3 per minute rate this season) that he usually crushes his salary whenever he gets upper 20’s or lower 30’s minutes. However, for a variety of reasons, we don’t always see that (which is evident by his season average of 26 minutes per game).

However, it doesn’t appear as though Coach D’Antoni has much choice tonight. Both Nene and Tarik Black have already been ruled out for tonight’s contest. That means the only body available to take backup center minutes tonight is Ryan Anderson. As a result, it would shock me if Capela doesn’t at least play low 30’s minutes tonight.

And if that alone wasn’t enough to sell you, this is about as good of a matchup as Capela can get. The Suns play at the third fastest pace in the league and are 28th in defensive rating. A few more spots each way and we are looking at the holy grail of matchups.

This is one of the few nights on FanDuel where the center position in cash games is crystal clear. Lock in Capela and don’t think twice about it.

(Tournament pivot: I get the sense that Capela will be chalky tonight, so there is definitely merit to going way up or way down the pricing spectrum to differentiate yourself at the center position. However, if staying in this price range, I like going back to Kevin Love tonight. As I will discuss shortly with LeBron James, I like this as a bounce back spot for the Cavs tonight. And as it concerns Love, the Pacers have been one of the worst teams in the league this season at defending opposing centers. After last night’s effort and being in the same price range as Capela, no one will touch Love tonight. I think he makes for a great tournament play as a result.)

3) Chris Paul, PG, Houston Rockets – $10,800

I think we have a HOU/PHO trifecta in Core Plays tonight because Chris Paul is the next guy I want to spend my money on.

Elite game environment? Check. Phoenix one of the best matchups a team can get? Yup, just discussed it. And for CP3, we get to add in the “Phoenix is dreadful against point guards” kicker. Against that position, the Suns are 29th in defensive efficiency.

We have already discussed several times in this space how much the rates go up for CP3 with Harden unavailable. And while this price tag might be deemed efficient against most any other team, this is the Suns we are talking about.

As a result, I think CP3 is one of the best places to allocate your funds on this slate. Yes, there is some blowout risk anytime a team faces the Suns. However…

a) It is only a seven point spread on the road.
b) If they are going to blow out the Suns, chances are it is on Paul’s shoulders.
c) Coach D’Antoni only pulls starters very late in games and only if it is an extreme blowout.

I am locking in CP3 into one of my point guard slots unless the slate gets turned on its head later in the day due to news.

(Tournament pivot: I like LeBron James as a play tonight in a vacuum but am unsure if I will be able to afford him in cash games. If that remains the case, I think we should be loading up on him in tournaments tonight. I have two very simple reasons for that. The first isn’t exactly based on math. The Cavs sucked last night; absolutely awful performance. Teams go one of two ways when games like that happen, and there is no way I expect LeBron to let it go down the negative path. All hands should be on deck for them tonight. The second reason is that Myles Turner is out for this game, which means the Pacers have ZERO rim protection. I love the game of Domantas Sabonis, but he is going to offer little to no resistance at the rim. The same goes for Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson. Hopefully some more cheap value opens up later in the day to make it easier to fit LeBron into cash games. But regardless of what route you go in that format, I recommend an overweight approach in tournaments.)

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS

I am going to spend much of the day trying to figure out how to comfortably fit in LeBron into cash games. But if I can’t, there is definitely merit to going balanced with the rest of roster construction. And there are a handful of other great plays in the HOU/PHO game to the point it will probably be a very popular game stack in all formats tonight.

As we saw on Wednesday though, the news cycle can make a lot of these words moot. Hopefully that isn’t the case today because I feel great about this slate as it stands right now.

INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR

Stephen Curry is questionable with an ankle injury. If we get word he sits out, Kevin Durant would obviously get a huge bump.

DeMarre Carroll is questionable again for tonight. If he is unavailable, the Nets wings all get bumps but nothing that would reach must-play territory.

Anthony Davis is listed as questionable. All of the normal Pelicans get bumps if he sits again, albeit in a difficult matchup against one of the league’s best defenses.

Meet the Experts Content Posting Times

About the Author

  • Andy Means (meansy53)

  • Andy Means, aka meansy53, was a walk-on with the esteemed Duke University basketball team for three years before graduating in 2004. He has a Masters in Accounting from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and has been playing DFS since 2014 – professionally since 2016. He is a featured contributor for RotoGrinders who has qualified for multiple live finals and has been a consistent top-ranked Grinder.

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Comments

  • Dr3ambash3r

    Would you say Jeff Teague is cash viable tonight in cash?

  • meansy53

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    @Dr3ambash3r said...

    Would you say Jeff Teague is cash viable tonight in cash?

    No. The matchup is obviously good, but there is no way to trust that he gets the necessary minutes to be a good play. He only got 25 in his first game back, and he probably needs mid to upper 30’s to be a decent play in my opinion.

  • Stilleyes

    That’s B2B massive blowouts for Cavs on the road. I live in Indy and am a huge Pacer fan, but I am seriously concerned about getting pounded tonight by an angry Lebron and entire Cavs team. I wish Lance was cheaper though because he gets fired up playing LeBron. Maybe he’ll blow in his ear or kiss him on the cheek tonight.

  • meansy53

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    @Stilleyes said...

    That’s B2B massive blowouts for Cavs on the road. I live in Indy and am a huge Pacer fan, but I am seriously concerned about getting pounded tonight by an angry Lebron and entire Cavs team. I wish Lance was cheaper though because he gets fired up playing LeBron. Maybe he’ll blow in his ear or kiss him on the cheek tonight.

    Yeah, if nothing else, love this game as a sneakier game stack than the chalky HOU/PHO.

    What part of Indy do you live in? I grew up on the northeast side (Lawrence North alum) and lived downtown on Mass Ave from like 2006 to 2015. I miss Indy!

  • Dr3ambash3r

    With the news just coming out about Gary Harris being ruled out does this make Will Barton a core play for you? And if not do you think he is cash viable?

  • Stilleyes

    @meansy53 said...

    What part of Indy do you live in? I grew up on the northeast side (Lawrence North alum) and lived downtown on Mass Ave from like 2006 to 2015. I miss Indy!

    I currently live in Camby which is SW right near Mooresville. I grew up on the Westside. Ben Davis High School. Mass Ave. is really growing and changing. Its the place to be these days. I own a small construction business so I am all over the city all the time. Other than the out of control violence, Indy is a great city. Gentrification is in full force in surrounding downtown areas as there is a ton of money being dumped into these areas seemingly because Gen X and Millenials all want to live near downtown. The older I get, the further from the city I’m trying to get. If you make it back to Indy, I’ll buy ya a beer and we can talk hoops. Anyway, about the Pacers game stack, I love it myself, what do you think about Collison at 5k on fanduel. I don’t generally like rostering him, but seems like a solid play tonight at his current salary and with what I expect to be a fast paced high scoring affair

  • meansy53

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    @Dr3ambash3r said...

    With the news just coming out about Gary Harris being ruled out does this make Will Barton a core play for you? And if not do you think he is cash viable?

    Yes, just tagged him in LineupHQ.

  • meansy53

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    @Stilleyes said...

    I currently live in Camby which is SW right near Mooresville. I grew up on the Westside. Ben Davis High School. Mass Ave. is really growing and changing. Its the place to be these days. I own a small construction business so I am all over the city all the time. Other than the out of control violence, Indy is a great city. Gentrification is in full force in surrounding downtown areas as there is a ton of money being dumped into these areas seemingly because Gen X and Millenials all want to live near downtown. The older I get, the further from the city I’m trying to get. If you make it back to Indy, I’ll buy ya a beer and we can talk hoops. Anyway, about the Pacers game stack, I love it myself, what do you think about Collison at 5k on fanduel. I don’t generally like rostering him, but seems like a solid play tonight at his current salary and with what I expect to be a fast paced high scoring affair

    I think Collison is viable in both formats tonight, although I personally don’t plan on playing him in cash games. It is for sure a great price tag though.

  • gswenson0607

    LeBron/Booker/Rubio or Durant/Middleton/Dinwiddie?

  • meansy53

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    @gswenson0607 said...

    LeBron/Booker/Rubio or Durant/Middleton/Dinwiddie?

    That is a tough one, but I lean the first one. Mainly because I prefer LeBron/Booker to Durant/Middleton.

  • oneder

    Lots of good studs tonight. Are you favoring CP3 and Lebron over Durant and Giannis in cash games?

  • meansy53

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    @oneder said...

    Lots of good studs tonight. Are you favoring CP3 and Lebron over Durant and Giannis in cash games?

    Yes I am. Still trying to figure out if I can comfortably fit in LeBron.

  • icecase88

    Beasley/Kanter or G. Green/Capella for FD GPP? Kanter at $5300 vs KAT seems to cheap and with built in upside

  • meansy53

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    @icecase88 said...

    Beasley/Kanter or G. Green/Capella for FD GPP? Kanter at $5300 vs KAT seems to cheap and with built in upside

    That first one sounds good to me for GPP. The second one will have way higher ownership for sure.

  • luke12345

    It feels like if you want to fit lebron in and feel safe with cp3 you gotta go down from booker. :(

  • luke12345

    CP3/Schroder/Barton/Bazemore/James/Tucker/Bender/Anderson/Capela. zero salary left on fd. Do you think doing something like this where we drop down from booker is a bad idea tonight?

  • meansy53

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    @luke12345 said...

    It feels like if you want to fit lebron in and feel safe with cp3 you gotta go down from booker. :(

    You hit the nail on the head there. Not sure that is something I want to do!

  • lolAdvantage

    Hey meansy,

    I am trying to jam Lebron in my cash lineups, but it leaves me with 3600 for a PG, what do you think is the best option? I am thinking Livingston or Calderon, maybe Canaan or Ian Clark?

  • meansy53

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    @luke12345 said...

    CP3/Schroder/Barton/Bazemore/James/Tucker/Bender/Anderson/Capela. zero salary left on fd. Do you think doing something like this where we drop down from booker is a bad idea tonight?

    If you want LeBron, that lineup looks the path you need to take.

  • meansy53

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    @lolAdvantage said...

    Hey meansy,

    I am trying to jam Lebron in my cash lineups, but it leaves me with 3600 for a PG, what do you think is the best option? I am thinking Livingston or Calderon, maybe Canaan or Ian Clark?

    I’d go Livingston if that is the route you are taking.

  • Dr3ambash3r

    How do you feel about Oladipo tonight against the cavs?

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