FanDuel NBA Core Plays: Thursday, March 15th

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 great STLCardinals84 takes the reigns.

— Click here for DraftKings Core Plays —

Thursday, March 15th

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) Noah Vonleh, PF, Chicago Bulls – $3,600

We will start out with the best salary relief play on the slate, albeit one that won’t get you too excited to roster.

Vonleh will continue to draw the start at power forward in the absence of Lauri Markkanen, and Coach Hoiberg said that he wants to get most of his guys between 26-28 minutes. In a similar spot on Tuesday, Vonleh grinded his way to 21.4 FanDuel points in 27 minutes despite shooting 3 for 11 from the field.

That 0.8 FanDuel points per minute rate is right on par with what it looks like this season with the Bulls. The matchup isn’t ideal because of how slow Memphis plays, but they are actually a bottom 10 defense in the league. So at 26-28 minutes again tonight, Vonleh’s salary relief is a great way to start our builds.

(Tournament pivot: Ersan Ilyasova is an interesting tournament pivot at $3,900. Since he is a reserve (albeit a key one now) on a good team with a deep frontcourt, he is basically never owned. You always can get him at 1%-2% ownership on any slate assuming the Sixers frontcourt is fully healthy. With the price tag this cheap, however, you have a few outs to him getting you to a great spot in tournaments. One way is for him to see the minutes extended past the 20 or so he gets most nights. Maybe it is foul trouble. Maybe it is a blowout. Or maybe he just performs exceedingly well in his initial rotation(s). That last one is your next out. If he has an efficient shooting night while pulling down a lot of rebounds, you really don’t need much else from him due to how cheap he is. We saw a game a few nights ago where the minutes got pushed to the mid 20’s, and he dropped 37.1 FanDuel points. I definitely like this play more if you are entering a bunch of lineups in a large field tournament, but I wouldn’t hate it either if you put him on one lineup in a 3-max.)

2) James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets – $11,300

When it comes to which stud to pay up for, I have no problem taking this discount on Harden.

Both Anthony Davis and LeBron James are priced at $12,500 tonight. AD gets a matchup against the Spurs, a team that is second in defensive rating, fifth in defensive efficiency against centers, and plays at the second slowest pace in the league. In that matchup, I think I would rather attack AD in tournament formats.

LeBron gets a matchup against Portland, a team that is seventh in defensive rating, middle of the pack in defensive efficiency against forwards, and plays at the 13th slowest pace in the league. The lack of opportunity cost at small forward has me at least considering LeBron at small forward. But do I want to allocate that much of my salary cap to him in a less than ideal spot? Probably not.

That leaves Harden, which I am perfectly fine with anyways in this matchup against the Clippers. I know the Rockets are double digit favorites, but they also have the highest team total on the slate (117.8) by more than four points. This is actually a nice pace-up game for the Rockets (14th in pace), as the Clippers play at the league’s sixth fastest pace.

And even though MDA has been better lately about managing the minutes of his guys, he still has a longer leash than most. He has been trying to keep Harden around the 34-35 mark lately (Harden is perfectly fine tonight in cash games if we see those minutes), but we have seen those tick up on occasion in close games. So it is nice to have a little hidden upside here just in case the Clippers can keep this one close.

Lastly, I am not crazy about the other options at shooting guard either, which results in Harden making even more sense as one of the guys to plug in here. As far as the three studs go on FanDuel tonight, Harden is my guy.

(Tournament pivot: Despite the difficult matchup, I still think Anthony Davis is the high end pivot in tournaments. My hope is that DFS owners see him as an okay play in projection models and that one of his worst games in this crazy stretch lately (that wasn’t a game he got injured in) was against this same San Antonio team (“only” 47.5 FanDuel points). But this guy’s ceiling is like no other, regardless of what team he is playing. That is especially true on a site like FanDuel that gives you +3 for steals and blocks. Hopefully the ownership remains tame on the Brow tonight, because he can still drop an 80-burger tonight like it’s nothing.)

3) Myles Turner, C, Indiana Pacers – $6,800

Almost all of my early builds have me plugging in Turner at my center spot today. I think he is one of, if not the, best point per dollar plays at the position. So for now, I am going to leave him in here. However, I know roster construction can get weird on FanDuel with one little piece of news and only being able to roster one center, so this is subject to change.

What we do know though is that Domantas Sabonis has been ruled out for tonight’s game. Trevor Booker is also questionable. So once a guy who had all kinds of volatility in the minutes, Turner’s should be pretty darn safe tonight (assuming he doesn’t get into foul trouble). Low 30’s minutes at the least seems very realistic for tonight’s game, and I think there is upside for a whole lot more.

Turner has had one of the most up-and-down seasons I can recall. From a fantasy perspective though, a lot of that volatility has been tied to his minutes. And we already addressed there should be some stability to those. He has still gotten 1.1 FanDuel points per minute this season, which is right in line with what he did last season. And the recent form is great too if that is something that you are into, as he has averaged 34 FanDuel points over his past six games.

The matchup brings a little bit of concern, being that Toronto is fourth in defensive rating and 10th in defensive efficiency against centers. However, I think Turner can still have success against JoVal and the other Toronto bigs with his ability to draw them away from the basket. I think Turner makes for a great play tonight at $6,800.

(Tournament pivot: We will go back to the same guy we put in here on Tuesday, and that is Jusuf Nurkic who absolutely destroyed the Heat. Nurkic has been an equally volatile option this season, and again, most of it is tied to his minutes. When he sees the minutes get up to 30ish, we often see performances like we saw on Tuesday. And now he gets to face an undersized Cavs team that is rolling out Larry Nance as its center. Nurkic is still only $6,600 on FanDuel, which means he has all sorts of profit potential if he can stay on the court.)

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS

I honestly don’t have too much to add here. After a wild four-game slate last night, this seems like a run-of-the-mill nine-gamer tonight. Of course, this is the NBA, so who the heck knows what the slate looks like by the time lineup lock rolls around.

INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR

Dwight Buycks and Reggie Bullock are questionable for tonight’s game against the Nuggets. If they both miss, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard probably get the biggest bumps here, but they are far from being guys we must have in cash games.

Tyreke Evans is questionable for tonight after missing the past several games. If he plays, it makes the Memphis backcourt situation even messier.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is questionable and the status of Lance Thomas is up in the air as well. If THJ misses the game tonight, Troy Williams is probably the biggest beneficiary followed by the three point guards (Mudiay, Burke, Ntilikina). Courtney Lee probably sees his minutes managed no matter what.

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

  • NotoriousNoahT

    Weird last couple of nights, hoping to bounce back strong!

  • meansy53

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    @NotoriousNoahT said...

    Weird last couple of nights, hoping to bounce back strong!

    Agreed. I have been cold the last few cash game slates…and last night was frigid! Bouncing back in a big way tonight though.

  • B_Heals152

    • Ranked #83

      RG Tiered Ranking

    Last two nights awful for me as well. I find it interesting Klay Thompson does not see a point per minute boost with Curry and Dray out. In fact, he regresses .03 per minute. I like Ball, Rozier, KCP, Durant, Randle, and then there’s the plethora of value options at power forward tonight (JJ, Bam, and Bell). Boston as a whole is tricky because we have to project which players can hit value in a situation where FD has priced all of them up (Rozier, Tatum, Morris, Horford, Monroe, etc). Center is tricky, and Boston news could shed some more light later. My early lean is BroLo, but do not feel certain about him yet. Tons of value for a 4 game slate.

  • Clecavs

    Definitely has been a weird week but it happens in DFS. Wanted to thank you for all of your insight. I think this article and Crunch Time are a fantastic add to the site and your cash game mindset is second to none.

  • Mwex3

    Meansy – We been right there with you sharing the pain these past few nights. Center appears to be extremely thin tonight. Depending how news breaks, it appears there there is a path to take with the $5K and below guys to consider. Do you have an early preference on the position?

  • meansy53

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    @B_Heals152 said...

    Last two nights awful for me as well. I find it interesting Klay Thompson does not see a point per minute boost with Curry and Dray out. In fact, he regresses .03 per minute. I like Ball, Rozier, KCP, Durant, Randle, and then there’s the plethora of value options at power forward tonight (JJ, Bam, and Bell). Boston as a whole is tricky because we have to project which players can hit value in a situation where FD has priced all of them up (Rozier, Tatum, Morris, Horford, Monroe, etc). Center is tricky, and Boston news could shed some more light later. My early lean is BroLo, but do not feel certain about him yet. Tons of value for a 4 game slate.

    Klay is so dependent on his teammates to get him good looks, that his shooting % drops drastically when some of them don’t play. So despite his usage going up, you don’t see much change from a fantasy perspective.

  • meansy53

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    @Clecavs said...

    Definitely has been a weird week but it happens in DFS. Wanted to thank you for all of your insight. I think this article and Crunch Time are a fantastic add to the site and your cash game mindset is second to none.

    Thanks Clecavs! We will get back on the right track tonight…

  • meansy53

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    @Mwex3 said...

    Meansy – We been right there with you sharing the pain these past few nights. Center appears to be extremely thin tonight. Depending how news breaks, it appears there there is a path to take with the $5K and below guys to consider. Do you have an early preference on the position?

    It really depends on where else you spend on this slate. I am waiting to see what nuggets of news we can get out of GSW after shootaround in order to determine how I want to attack their cheap value.

    It all comes down to how they want to guard Randle. Casspi at the three with Durant at the four lineups have worked before in this situation, but I don’t think they want either of those guys guarding Randle for a good chunk of the game.

  • Jonascstreet

    Hey meansy awesome article again, I have a couple questions…
    1.) Can you pay up for Rozier/ Ball, the only reason I see playing ball is that he will more than likely be matched up with Cook, which seems like an excellent postion…
    2.) How far do you have the Dukies going in the tourney, also where is the RG tourney at… need one of those!!

    Thanks again!

  • meansy53

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    My initial builds did not involve Ball at my other point guard spot. I do like him tonight though, just couldn’t quite squeeze him in.

    I will probably homer the Dukies into the Final Four in my bracket, but they have been too volatile this year for me to get too excited. They have the talent and the coaching to make a run though! Hoping it is 2015 all over again…

  • Jonascstreet

    I understand, I’m a KU fan so I’m still trying to relive that 2008 run, what about a Morris/Morris stack for GPP’s? lol Or if you had to pick one who do you pick?

  • B_Heals152

    • Ranked #83

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    Wow the C’s are going to be massively undermanned tonight. Thoughts on their front court with Horford out? Also, Theis a key rotational big for them was lost for the season with a knee injury recently. Only leaves Baynes, Morris, and Monroe. Also, with Klay Thompson ruled out almost half of the shooting guard pool is out with injuries! I have no idea who to pair with KCP. A healthy body would be a good start. Need to figure out how GS’s rotation looks tonight. Durant may score 90 fantasy points tonight!

  • meansy53

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    @Jonascstreet said...

    I understand, I’m a KU fan so I’m still trying to relive that 2008 run, what about a Morris/Morris stack for GPP’s? lol Or if you had to pick one who do you pick?

    I pick Marcus if I have to pick one.

  • meansy53

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    @B_Heals152 said...

    Wow the C’s are going to be massively undermanned tonight. Thoughts on their front court with Horford out? Also, Theis a key rotational big for them was lost for the season with a knee injury recently. Only leaves Baynes, Morris, and Monroe. Also, with Klay Thompson ruled out almost half of the shooting guard pool is out with injuries! I have no idea who to pair with KCP. A healthy body would be a good start. Need to figure out how GS’s rotation looks tonight. Durant may score 90 fantasy points tonight!

    If I have to pick one Celtic big, I go Baynes. My builds as of now have me spending up on Vuc at center due to me liking the value elsewhere better.

  • Dr3ambash3r

    Hey meansy how do you feel about paying up at C tonight for cash games (meaning Vucevic)?

  • meansy53

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    @Dr3ambash3r said...

    Hey meansy how do you feel about paying up at C tonight for cash games (meaning Vucevic)?

  • Clecavs

    Lonzo/Tatum/Baynes or T.Johnson/Vuc?

  • Mwex3

    Two players that we could consider in our cash lineups if we felt more sure of their health would be Iguodala and Kuzma. Would you mind offering a perspective on where you stand regarding these two guys considering the health concerns that might limit their minutes?

  • Clecavs

    T.Johnson/Hezonja/Vuc ^

  • meansy53

    • 328

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    @Mwex3 said...

    Two players that we could consider in our cash lineups if we felt more sure of their health would be Iguodala and Kuzma. Would you mind offering a perspective on where you stand regarding these two guys considering the health concerns that might limit their minutes?

    They said Iggy is for sure playing now, so he can be considered in all formats. Kuzma is still questionable, so I can’t roll him out in cash games with that status.

  • meansy53

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    @Clecavs said...

    T.Johnson/Hezonja/Vuc ^

    I can’t take anymore Mario heartbreak, but I also am probably paying up at center tonight AND love T Johnson as PG2. So take that for what it’s worth.

  • NotoriousNoahT

    It’s always a great night if you get to roster Swaggy P!

  • marbles63

    I hear ya on Mario, ughhhh! More raw points Bam or JJ?

  • Clecavs

    Any love for Tatum at SF2?

  • meansy53

    • 328

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      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

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    @marbles63 said...

    I hear ya on Mario, ughhhh! More raw points Bam or JJ?

    If Bam gets his normal minutes, him. JJ is probably a touch safer.

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