FanDuel NBA Core Plays: Tuesday, February 13th
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.
Tuesday, February 13th
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) Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks – $11,800
We have a handful of studs that we can target tonight on FanDuel, but Giannis is the clear-cut top guy for me.
The Bucks are getting one of the best matchups on the board tonight against the Hawks, as Atlanta ranks 26th in defensive rating. And while they aren’t exactly one of the fastest teams in the league (14th in pace), it is still a pace-up game for Milwaukee (24th in pace). That has resulted in the Bucks having the biggest projected point differential (3.3) between their team total (107.8) and season average (104.4) of any team on the slate as of now.
The micro matchup is very much in his favor too. Atlanta ranks 21st in defensive efficiency against power forwards and dead last against small forwards. You really only see one guy who even has a shot at slowing down Giannis when looking at Atlanta’s roster, and that guy is Taurean Prince. And Prince has a -1.01 defensive real plus-minus on the season, which has him ranked 74th out of 86 small forwards. That would cause all sorts of matchup problems elsewhere for the Hawks though, so you could even see Ersan Ilyasova try to guard Giannis. Insert monkey covering eyes emoji.
We definitely can spend for at least one stud on FanDuel tonight. Giannis is that guy for me, and he will be the first guy I am plugging into my cash game lineup.
(Tournament pivot: LeBron James gets the worse matchup tonight against the Thunder, so I expect DFS owners to definitely click the Greek Freak’s name before they select The King. And I doubt many will pay up for both at small forward (although I do love that idea assuming Giannis isn’t too chalky). So I think that will leave LeBron with much lower ownership than Giannis. However, the Thunder’s defensive numbers are ridiculously good with Andre Roberson on the court (96.4 defensive rating in 1,037 minutes) and equally bad with him off of the court (107.7 defensive rating in 1,719 minutes). That 107.7 defensive rating would tie them for 22nd overall on the season. So there is some hidden upside here from LeBron that projections might not reflect just yet. And it goes without saying that the whole team (including LeBron, of course) looked revitalized last game. LeBron only posted a ho-hum 41.6% usage rate and 58.3% assist rate in his 28 minutes of blowing out the Celtics. I would be loading up on The King in tournaments tonight if you aren’t pairing him with Giannis in cash games.)
2) Dejounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs – $5,500
Murray appears to have recovered from his sprained left ankle, as he played 28 minutes last night against the Jazz. So unless we hear news to the contrary, I expect him to be starting at point guard again tonight for the Spurs. And that makes Murray one of the better sources of salary relief on the slate believe it or not.
Point guard continues to be one of the best places to attack the Nuggets, as they rank 29th in defensive efficiency against that position. The macro matchup is good too, as the Nuggets rank 22nd in defensive rating. And like most games for the Spurs, this will be pace-up as well.
Murray has basically been a 1.0 FanDuel points per minute guy this season, so we just need about 25 minutes out of him tonight to look good for cash games. And that is usually where he falls lately (at a minimum) in the games he starts, with some upside in the 28-30 range too.
In the toughest back-to-back in the NBA (at Denver), there is obviously risk here. But so far, it appears there is going to be risk with any player around this price range or below. So taking that into consideration, I have no problem taking on a little bit of risk with a guy in this good of a matchup.
(Tournament pivot: I would have absolutely no problem pivoting to Jamal Murray in tournaments. He has had two brutal fantasy games in a row and now gets a matchup with the Spurs. I highly doubt he garners any attention on this slate. But we have seen this story with Jamal before. The usage fluctuates wildly with him. However, when he bounces back, he bounces back in a big way. In mid January, he put together two straight games of 6.2 FanDuel points and 9.1 FanDuel points. He followed that up with a 47-spot and a 52-spot. The guy is streaky to say the least. You definitely want to be on that high side of things when no one else will be on him, and that is probably going to be tonight.)
ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS
I am leaving this at two guys for now in hopes that we get some sort of Spurs news during the day, because that kind of directs the next move here. If we get word that Pau Gasol is playing, we have to fire him up at center again for only $6,000. My thought process is that they suit him up again tonight since he has a long All Star Break to recuperate, but I don’t think I can plug him into cash games without some sort of confirmation that he is available.
If they sit Pau out, then Davis Bertans becomes a lock-and-load at one of your power forward spots. You can probably make the case that he should be manning one of those spots regardless, as he is going to have to play a lot of frontcourt minutes again tonight without LMA.
After figuring out how you are going to handle the Spurs, the next move is to figure out if you want to pay for another stud. James Harden probably draws some Jimmy Butler defense, so I am not exactly sure we want to allocate $11,300 of our funds to Big Game James. I know I talked about LeBron being a great tournament target, but I think pairing him with Giannis is definitely a viable cash game strategy as well at a terrible small forward position.
INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
The Spurs are on the second night of a back-to-back in their final game before the All-Star Break. LaMarcus Aldridge has already been ruled out for tonight. Will any other Spurs rest? Tony Parker? Pau Gasol? Danny Green? Manu Ginobili? Considering this is a late west coast game, it could cause all sorts of problems for cash game roster construction.
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