FanDuel NBA Core Plays: Tuesday, March 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 great STLCardinals84 takes the reigns.
Tuesday, March 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) George Hill, PG, Cleveland Cavaliers – $4,700
Be prepared to roster a bunch of Cavs today, as they have the perfect combination of elite matchup and depleted roster.
The matchup part is easy. I have talked about using players that are facing the Suns what seems like every slate they have been on, as they are last in defensive rating and playing at one of the fastest paces in the league (currently third). The Cavs team total of 118.5 is not only the highest on this 11-game slate (still missing totals in three games), but it is also 8.5 points higher than their season average (110). That differential is also the most on the slate. Did I mention that we want to target some Cavs?
As far as their roster goes, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love continue to be out. However, what you may have missed if you took the weekend off is that Rodney Hood (doubtful) and Cedi Osman (out two weeks) should/will also be out for tonight.
A thinned out rotation obviously means more minutes to go around. And for Hill, that should mean a much safer route to his normal allotment of minutes, which we haven’t always been able to say in his short time with Cleveland.
(A quick aside to talk about the Cavs game on Sunday…)
Hopefully we have a bunch of game log watchers tonight, because the performances on Sunday from a lot of these Cavs (Hill, Green, Clarkson, etc.) does not look good if you just look at the box score. However, Coach Lue threw in the towel at the 6:30 mark in the fourth quarter with the Cavs down 21. So the starters (LeBron, Hill, Green, Smith, Nance) cost themselves quite a bit of court time, which obviously resulted in some underwhelming fantasy performances.
(…ok, back to Hill)
Hill himself was on pace for about 33.5 minutes on Sunday. Against a team that is also dead last in defensive efficiency against point guards, I will gladly take those kind of minutes at this price tag in cash games. Despite him burning all of you several times in the past I’m sure, I think he is a great place to start for our builds tonight.
(Tournament pivot: A good tournament pivot on the other side of this matchup (probably more for large field tournaments until the minutes increase a little more, although the game logs might convince you otherwise) is Shaquille Harrison. Watching him in that OKC game last week, the guy definitely looks like he belongs in the league. The usage was way up last game since the Suns were down some key bodies, but this guy still has some profit potential tonight because of a cheap price tag and his ability to stuff a stat sheet. I feel pretty confident in saying that absolutely no one will play him tonight, and he has already shown he can get you to 30 FanDuel points in limited minutes due to his ability to rack up steals. I think he is absolutely worth a flier if you are making a bunch of lineups tonight.)
2) Larry Nance, PF, Cleveland Cavaliers – $7,800
Moving right along with our Cavs exposure is Mr. Nance.
All of the same things we just said about the Suns up above apply here to Nance. He too was a victim of limited minutes in the game on Sunday, as he was headed for about 33 minutes before he got pulled out.
For a guy who has thus far gotten 1.2 FanDuel points per minute with the Cavs, 32-33 minutes at $7,800 looks great for cash games. And that doesn’t factor in the efficiency boost he should get in this elite matchup. We know the Suns play fast and are an awful defensive team. They are also bad against centers, ranking 24th in defensive efficiency against that position. And perhaps the best part about the matchup is that no team gives up more blocks to centers than the Suns. The next closest to their 170 is the Nets at 153.
I know there is still some sticker shock here (I get it too), but the guy has been an extremely safe play in the four games that Thompson has been out. I have no problem plugging him into one of my power forward spots tonight.
(Tournament pivot: His availability is in question tonight, so we obviously have to pay close attention to that throughout the day. But I love Aaron Gordon as a tournament pivot for the exact same price tag. We said this exact same thing last Wednesday on Crunch Time. These two guys were the same price tag; Nance made sense as the cash game play and Gordon was a great tournament pivot. Gordon went on to only score a few more FanDuel points than Nance, so it ultimately didn’t make too much of a difference either way. However, ownership on the two tonight should be drastically different. Nance should have big ownership with the Cavs being somewhat shorthanded and having the highest team total. Gordon will have a ‘Q’ next to his name all day and has a terrible matchup. As a result, ownership should be minuscule on Gordon tonight. Obviously put a big ol’ X over this section if he gets ruled out again, but I’d have a decent amount of exposure in tournaments if we get word he is playing tonight.)
3) LeBron James, SF, Cleveland Cavaliers – $12,500
I have to imagine you saw this one coming, right? I shouldn’t have to tell you why LeBron makes for a great play tonight in this matchup. As I am sure you have heard by now, the only time he has scored below 50 FanDuel points since the big trade day was when he put up “only” 49.9 in 28 minutes against Detroit. The floor is absurdly safe here.
So we might as well just talk briefly why I prefer him over Anthony Davis, who is only $400 more. The past three games for AD could not be more symbolic of him as a fantasy player. In the first game against the Kings, he left early with an ankle injury (hello low floor, nice to meet you). He sits out the next game against the Wizards with that ankle injury, but not before trolling the DFS community first by “trying to convince the coach he could play.” Then, in the most recent game, he returns from the injury by dropping a ho-hum of a triple-double on points, rebounds, and BLOCKS en route to 79.7 FanDuel points (what up ceiling).
Would I disagree with you if you prioritized AD over LeBron tonight as your big spend? Not at all. LeBron hasn’t topped 63.9 FanDuel points in that stretch of games yet (although I could see a 70 burger tonight in this matchup). And with how thin the margin for error is in cash games these days, there is definitely a case to be made for targeting higher ceiling guys in your lineups.
But the safety of LeBron tonight is just too much to pass up if I am paying this kind of price tag. If it were against almost any other team, the discussion might be a little closer for me. But I want as much Cavs exposure as I can get tonight, so LeBron’s rock sturdy floor makes too much sense if I am paying for a stud tonight.
(Tournament pivot: The obvious tournament pivot here is the aforementioned Anthony Davis. There is a very real chance that DFS owners side with LeBron over AD tonight due to the Cavs team total, which is something you should be taking advantage of in tournament formats. I will save us all the time of talking about AD’s ceiling; a simple click of the game log will do just that. If you see that LeBron is going to be wildly more popular than AD tonight, you should be going way overweight on the Brow in tournaments.)
ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS
This game being in Phoenix doesn’t make me worry too much about blowout risk despite the Cavs being -7. Furthermore, the Suns should be healthy tonight, with Booker, Warren, and Jackson all expected to play. And like we always say, we would rather have exposure to the team that is doing the blowing out instead of vice versa. So I am not worried about having three Cavs in cash games, and I am not opposed to dropping in a fourth if the situation calls for it.
INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, and Dwight Buycks are all listed as questionable. The matchup is very difficult against the Jazz, but James Ennis and Luke Kennard would see decent bumps here if all of these guys sit out tonight.
The Spurs need to be monitored on the second night of a back-to-back. Is LaMarcus Aldridge playing? Is Pau going to rest or be limited? Are any veterans going to rest with them clinging to their playoff lives? The matchup is great against Orlando, so hopefully we get clarity here during the day.
Enes Kanter is listed as questionable. When he sat out on Sunday, Luke Kornet started and played 33 minutes en route to a big fantasy game. Kyle O’Quinn backed him up, played 21 minutes, and also had a great game. Both would see nice bumps versus Dallas tonight if Kanter sits out again.
Jarrett Allen is listed as questionable. I have no idea what the Nets will do if he sits out tonight. I can’t imagine that guys like Jahlil Okafor and Timofey Mozgov would play enough minutes to be fantasy relevant. Perhaps the best DFS upgrades go to guys like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Quincy Acy.
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