Although you would not know from reading my articles, (fantasy tennis can be exhausting!) daily fantasy during the French Open is alive and well as Draftkings continues to post solid $15 GPPs with $40,000 prize pools. Most of these French Open fantasy slates have been a regular minefield, with tons of sizable underdogs pulling upsets and plenty of crazy fantasy performances in the 80-90 range that were essential for a top finish. While I definitely will not promise that your studs will not get upset or that your core plays will break the 80 mark, I can at least share some of my favorite plays to help navigate through the assured craziness of tomorrow’s huge contest.
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Format: (Draftkings Salary, American Betting Odds as of publication)
Novak Djokovic ($11,400, -10000)
Everybody loves a good smash spot, and Djokovic is in one as usual. On sportsbooks, Djokovic is being priced as short as a -50000 favorite with a projected match game total of a mere 25.5 games. This checks out to a median fantasy outcome of about 80 points easily, which is a ceiling outcome for most other players on this slate, and the overwhelming favorable odds of victory ensure an enormous floor. I could dig further into the players themselves and how Galan is not technically that bad or how that really does not matter against a player as good as Djokovic, but that really does not matter. Djokovic stands alone as the top play on the entire board, and I will actively be making room for his salary to get those easy points into my lineups.
Stefanos Tsitsipas ($10,600, -900)
First, let me make this clear: Tsitsipas is not in a Djokovic-like spot. I do not recommend him as a pivot over Djokovic or playing him in as many lineups as Djokovic. Rather, he is a guy to play if you just cannot make the salary for Djokovic work in a particular build, or if you want to go with a “stars and scrubs” type build and roster them both. He is still one of my favorite expensive plays on the board, but just bear in mind there is a huge difference between numbers 1 and 2.
Tsitsipas entered the French Open with a 26-7 record and 1.31 dominance against rank 10-100 opponents over the past year, clearly backing up his reputation as easily a top 10 if not top 5 player in the world. He draws a tolerable matchup in the form of Aljaz Bedene, who went 11-7 and a 1.11 DR under the same conditions. (Both players are surface-neutral when it comes to playing on clay, so their stats can be taken at around face value here.) Overall, Tsitsipas clearly controls his destiny in this spot. He is the way more talented player and has the ability to close this up in 3 tidy sets more often than not for a great score. However, there is enough of a fail case here that we cannot ignore: Tsitsipas not playing his best tennis.
Tsitsipas has had some baffling performances this past month. He barely beat Munar just a few days ago, and infamously blew a match against Coric last month in the US Open in a spot he was heavily favored in. This is not something we can count on enough for Bedene to be more than a hail mary dart throw, but it is enough of an issue that we have to realize we are taking a risk that the Tsitsipas we want does not show up. Play Tsitsipas and play him a lot. He is a good play with a very real shot at an 80+ performance. Just do not get the impression he is untouchable like Djokovic.
Christian Garin ($7,900, -120)
Jamming in ridiculously favored elite plays like Djokovic and Nadal has been one of my favorite things to do this week. However, a close second is capitalizing on the slow-as-molasses court conditions by going overweight on clay courters. And boy, I have got a clay courter for you in Christian Garin.
Garin’s numbers for the year (against rank 10-100 opponents) entering the French Open were a mere 14-11 with an even 1 DR. This does not quite do Garin justice, as he is only about a scratch ATP player on hard courts. On clay, he has been excellent to the tune of a 9-1 record and 1.09 DR, which include titles in Rio De Janeiro and Cordoba in the spring. While he started a little slow during his return in August, he has put up some really solid performances since then. He seems well positioned to perform like his springtime self.
You may look at Khachanov and figure that he is a tough opponent and will make this hard for Garin. You would be right. Khachanov is a real solid player and a contender for the top 10, but he’s no Tsitsipas. His yearly marks include a 19-14 record and 1.08 DR, which are actually a little better than what Garin posted for the year. However, we have to take the clay into account here. He does not play as much on clay as Garin nor does he have the numbers on clay like Garin. Khachanov is arguably the better overall player of the two, but when we consider the major advantage Garin gets on the slower surface, Garin deserves to be favored and probably by more than a coinflip as well.
Garin is already a solid play as a -120 favorite for a very affordable salary, but when we consider the favorable conditions, he is arguably a great one.