FantasyDraft 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 preseason maestro you all know and love, Allan Lem, 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) Larry Nance, PF/C, Cleveland Cavaliers – $13,100
The Cavs are in a fantastic spot tonight, 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 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, Nance, 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 Nance)
Nance was headed for about 33 minutes on Sunday before he got pulled out in that fourth quarter. For a guy who has thus far gotten 1.2 FantasyDraft points per minute with the Cavs, 32-33 minutes at $13,100 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 prioritizing him in cash games 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 at a very similar price tag. We said this exact same thing last Wednesday on Crunch Time. These two guys were priced just about the same; Nance made sense as the cash game play and Gordon was a great tournament pivot. Gordon went on to only score a few more FantasyDraft 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.)
2) Brook Lopez, C, Los Angeles Lakers – $11,400
The minutes have been extremely steady as of late for BroLo. Over the past three games, he has played 34, 32, and 33 minutes. One of those games was against this same Nuggets team, so there shouldn’t be much worry that the minutes get cut out from under him due to the matchup against a versatile Nikola Jokic.
This amount of minutes is obviously a big deal for a guy who produces at his level when he is on the court. This season with the Lakers, BroLo has gotten about 1.1 FantasyDraft points per minute. So I feel like BroLo is still safe for cash games even if Luke Walton decides to cut back the minutes to the mid 20’s for whatever reason (because he is Luke Walton). On the flip side, there is plenty of room for upside still if those minutes stay around where they have been the past three games.
This is another great game to target, with a 230 over/under and a tight spread (Denver -2). The Lakers are projected to score about 5.8 points more than their season average. The micro matchup against Denver is neutral (middle of the pack against centers), so that won’t deter me from targeting Lopez.
On a slate that is (as of now) lacking viable cheap plays that you have actually heard of, it makes sense to at least lock in this mid tier price tag on Lopez for cash games.
(Tournament pivot: BroLo makes a little more sense for cash games in this price range because of the game environment, so I would look to a guy like Jonas Valanciunas as a tournament pivot. And he is absolutely viable in cash games too if you don’t mind embracing a little blowout risk. At this price tag, there is all sorts of upside almost regardless of where the minutes fall due to how bad Brooklyn is against centers. And if Jarrett Allen misses the game tonight? Yikes. If this game can somehow stay close, allowing JoVal to get some normal run, the upside is mammoth. He might be my favorite tournament target on the entire slate tonight.)
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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