Fading the Chalk: Don't Fade James Harden

My name is Andy, and I am a freelance writer and restaurant manager that works crazy hours and uses DFS as a way to escape from the stress that comes with my jobs. I’m certainly not a pro, but I have been a profitable player over the past few years, and getting up early to blog about my process is one of the best ways that I have found to fight depression and anxiety. If you’d like to talk about writing, barbecue, sports, or life in general, hit me up on Twitter: @EasyMoneySelby.

With only three games to pick from again, these Thursday night slates seem to be getting less and less fun every week. But I look at DFS like I used to look at the daily crossword puzzle back in college, it’s just a part of my routine and I’m going to do my best to figure out even the lame slates.

Let’s take a look at the horrible job I did attempting to solve last night’s puzzle.

My Lineup: The Three Stud All-Stars

The big debate for me yesterday was whether the combination of Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, and Kevin Durant could outscore the combination of James Harden and any one of those three. At first, I thought Harden and Curry was definitely the way to go, but I eventually talked myself into the advantage of having three studs instead of two.

Either way, I knew I was going to need some value plays, and guys like Bryn Forbes, Danny Green, Austin Rivers, and Jakob Poeltl fit the bill nicely. From there, I just spread my remaining salary across two PFs to end up with Serge Ibaka and Paul Millsap.

I didn’t love anything about this lineup heading into the night, but I figured anything could happen on a short slate and having three studs would protect me and at least keep me in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately, fading a 50% owned James Harden when he goes off for 80 points digs a pretty big hole.

The Expert Lineups

BigPapaGates was in the money in the $100 Single Entry with this lineup that paired James Harden with Nikola Jokic. Then he went cheaper at SF with Rudy Gay and OG Anunoby and rolled with the cheap guards I liked up top along with Fred VanVleet. That gave him enough salary to finish with Draymond Green and Serge Ibaka.

CSURAM88 paired James Harden with Kawhi Leonard, but was also able to fit Nikola Jokic by going super cheap at PF with P.J. Tucker and Jonah Jerebko and then finishing out with three cheap Spurs.

Hoop2410 was also in on pairing James Harden with Kawhi Leonard, but he stepped down to Willie Cauley-Stein at C. That extra salary allowed him to move up to guys like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, but none of those guys were all that helpful.

Moklovin was one expert that took a shot at fading James Harden, but he also wanted the value guys at PG, so he paired Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant at SF and then went up to Nikola Jokic at C.

The AndyBowsers Slack Tournament

The amazing lineup award of the night went to Scripps, who proved that you can fade a James Harden night and still make money. The trick for him was to have Jamal Murray, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Jokic. Add in Draymond Green and all of the popular value guys and this lineup was set to cook even without Chef Harden.

The Big Takeaway

There is no set approach to building single entry tournament lineups, but when the majority of the best tournament players in the world paired James Harden with Austin Rivers at SG, went cheap with Fred VanVleet and Bryn Forbes at PG, and paid up for Nikola Jokic at C, that’s probably what I should have been doing too.

I actually said at the time that fading James Harden was the definition of “getting too cute,” but I went ahead and did it anyway. I also allowed myself to get locked in on Jakob Poeltl as a core play. That wasn’t smart. I’m better than that.

Fortunately, we get to take another shot at putting together the DFS puzzle tonight with a brand new 10-game slate in front of us. Let’s get to work on that research, and I’ll be back here tomorrow with another edition of Fading the Chalk.

Did you play the NBA slate last night? How did you do? Did you fall into the traps of playing guys who didn’t produce? Or did you crush and find yourself up at the top of your contests? Either way, leave a comment and let me know what went into your process!

About the Author

  • Andrew Selby (AndyBowsers)

  • Andy is a restaurant manager that fell head-over-heels in love with the DFS world from the minute he opened his FanDuel account back in early 2015. Since he is also an accomplished freelance writer, it was only a matter of time before those two worlds collided. He currently writes a daily blog called Fading the Chalk where he breaks down his own lineup decisions along with the lineups of some the best in the business.


  • CJtheGrump

    Well… On DK I didn’t see a way to fit in Derozan, Harden, and Jokic. I played Harden, but I also played the Revenge-a-palooza. The Spurs side of that (Derozan) was the way to go as far as the starters were concerned. Both Leonard and Danny Green (0/7!!!) were pretty big disappointments. Delon Wright turned out to be good because blowout.

    Leonard didn’t kill my lineup. PJ Tucker did. Mr -.5 points for the first 10 minutes. I was on him as a heavy minute play that wouldn’t necessarily kill the lineup. Then again, not playing Leonard would have freed up some room to not have to look to Tucker. Definitely caught his floor game.

  • CJtheGrump

    I’m curious, do the pros you reference enter multiple lineups?

  • jimfred82

    • Blogger of the Month

    That Harden fade was looking pretty good at half, because I had him and was kind of ready to mail it in. But, yeah…. it’s pretty crazy. He’s kind of going on one of those runs that Westbrook had a few years ago where it’s really scary not to play him, which makes the game a lot trickier than it normally is.

  • War_Paint

    I faded Harden and got crushed, obviously. As the poster above noted it was looking good at half-time, but getting up this morning to see the final results was a hard slap in the face to start the day with :(

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