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.
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.
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) 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
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.
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