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.

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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!

THE CORE

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.

Aaron Gordon is listed as questionable tonight. Mario Hezonja, Jonathon Simmons, and Jonathan Isaac would continue to see the biggest upgrades if Gordon sits out another game.

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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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

  • mataug21

    No thanks on the Spurs. Wtf was Pop doing last night. I know he pulled all the starters after 4 minutes but even after that they didn’t get normal run. It’s like he didn’t want to show his hand to a team he might meet in the playoffs.

  • Dr3ambash3r

    Hey meansy I am on a streak and I am going to say it is all because of your articles! Once again I appreciate the time and effort you make. Anyways do you think the minutes and scoring rebounding outputs Brewer is doing is just a fluke? Or is he cash viable?

  • meansy53

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    @mataug21 said...

    No thanks on the Spurs. Wtf was Pop doing last night. I know he pulled all the starters after 4 minutes but even after that they didn’t get normal run. It’s like he didn’t want to show his hand to a team he might meet in the playoffs.

    Yeah I am not quite sure what was going on there. They are in danger of not even making the playoffs, but maybe Pop knew they had little chance of beating the Rockets so he is saving up for tonight. As a guy who had three of them last night, I am not happy with them either!

  • meansy53

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    @Dr3ambash3r said...

    Hey meansy I am on a streak and I am going to say it is all because of your articles! Once again I appreciate the time and effort you make. Anyways do you think the minutes and scoring rebounding outputs Brewer is doing is just a fluke? Or is he cash viable?

    Nice work man…keep it up!

    I have no clue what to make of Brewer honestly, as I have obviously been on the wrong side of him the past three games.

    A lot of his production is actually coming from scoring, which is a weird thing to say for a guy who hasn’t averaged more than 5 points per game over the last four or five seasons. That can be traced directly to his true shooting numbers, which have been 69%, 76.1%, and 72.2% the past three games. His career % is 50.1%.

    So I don’t think that is sustainable at all, but there is something to be said about him getting so many good looks close to the basket due to who is he playing with.

    I will say that I am not going to consider him in cash games, but I have obviously missed the boat on him thus far. I certainly don’t want to talk you off of him if I am just way off on my analysis here.

  • Dr3ambash3r

    I have missed the boat also on Brewer. Anyways any love for Jokic tonight? Or even Randle? How do we feel about these 2 in cash tonight?

  • noheartanthony

    @meansy53 said...

    Yeah I am not quite sure what was going on there. They are in danger of not even making the playoffs, but maybe Pop knew they had little chance of beating the Rockets so he is saving up for tonight. As a guy who had three of them last night, I am not happy with them either!

    Pau guaranteed 40 tonight with no ownership after he burned everyone last night.

  • Mwex3

    Meansy – As always, thanks for all of the help. Anyone stand out for you on Charlotte with the pace up against NO?

  • rhayter

    I’m landing on Deandre Jordan or Dwight Howard at Center in cash games right now. Deandre Jordan has been in great form lately, has 15+ rebounds in 6 straight games and facing the bulls who are giving up the 2nd most FPs to Centers lately, is he the play tonight?

  • gswenson0607

    I was also sunk by the spurs. Feel your pain Meansy lol. Is it viable to spend down at both PG spots today? Finding that I can either spend down at both of those or spend down at C with Gortat or Noel 🤢🤯

  • Clecavs

    Who are you seeing as the best value as of now?

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    @Dr3ambash3r said...

    I have missed the boat also on Brewer. Anyways any love for Jokic tonight? Or even Randle? How do we feel about these 2 in cash tonight?

    There are several other options I’d rather spend up on than Jokic. I do think Randle is viable though.

  • meansy53

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    @Mwex3 said...

    Meansy – As always, thanks for all of the help. Anyone stand out for you on Charlotte with the pace up against NO?

    Not really. Maybe Dwight if spending up…not someone I am actively targeting though. Batum would maybe be viable on another slate, but I’d rather just save the $500 and play one of the Denver guys.

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    @rhayter said...

    I’m landing on Deandre Jordan or Dwight Howard at Center in cash games right now. Deandre Jordan has been in great form lately, has 15+ rebounds in 6 straight games and facing the bulls who are giving up the 2nd most FPs to Centers lately, is he the play tonight?

    I don’t mind either of those guys as cash game plays and also don’t really have a preference one way or the other.

  • meansy53

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    @gswenson0607 said...

    I was also sunk by the spurs. Feel your pain Meansy lol. Is it viable to spend down at both PG spots today? Finding that I can either spend down at both of those or spend down at C with Gortat or Noel 🤢🤯

    Yeah I think it is viable to spend down at both PG spots…I have tinkered with that strategy on several of my builds.

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    @Clecavs said...

    Who are you seeing as the best value as of now?

  • Mviola24

    So as safe as lebron is.

    Wats a better pair

    Brow and brewer

    Lebron and green.

    Perfect pairing together. Or dabble in both.

  • meansy53

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    @Mviola24 said...

    So as safe as lebron is.

    Wats a better pair

    Brow and brewer

    Lebron and green.

    Perfect pairing together. Or dabble in both.

    I will take the second one for cash games.

  • Clecavs

    Thoughts on center for cash? Looks gross if you’re not spending up

  • meansy53

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    @Clecavs said...

    Thoughts on center for cash? Looks gross if you’re not spending up

    Yeah I might just go Gortat

  • marbles63

    Really enjoy your insight Meansy, better SF/C cash pairing, MKG/Turner or Warren/Gortat?

    Also, more pure FD points tonight at C Gortat or Noel?

  • meansy53

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    @marbles63 said...

    Really enjoy your insight Meansy, better SF/C cash pairing, MKG/Turner or TJ Warren?

    Also, more pure FD points tonight at C Gortat or Noel?

    Warren/Gortat for me (I prefer Gortat to Noel)

  • Clecavs

    Mudiay/Beal/Gortat or Dorsey/G.Harris/M.Turner for cash?

  • meansy53

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    I don’t think I can do Mudiay in cash due to the overall Knicks situation, so I will go with the second one.

  • marbles63

    Thanks Meansy-I noticed Millsap didn’t make your top 8 CVR at PF. Is he cash viable?

  • meansy53

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    @marbles63 said...

    Thanks Meansy-I noticed Millsap didn’t make your top 8 CVR at PF. Is he cash viable?

    Yes, he/Kuzma is in my current lineup as my last piece right now actually.

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