One of the reasons folks love daily fantasy basketball is its high degree of predictability with regard to scoring. NBA games occur more frequently than NFL games. There’s a lot more data to support each player’s average fantasy points per game (FPPGs). If you roster Kyle Lowry, you can have confidence that his production will be consistent with his track record (barring injuries, of course).
A higher degree of scoring predictability won’t, by itself, guarantee your success in fantasy basketball. After all, your competitors enjoy the same advantage. Since everyone has access to the same data, your competitive edge is going to come from your research and draft strategy.
The following guide will help you to develop a winning approach. If you’ve never played daily fantasy basketball or you have limited experience, read through it carefully. It’ll lay the groundwork for creating lineups that crush your competitors.
Build Your Foundation Around Solid Scorers
At FanDuel, you’ll need at least 275 points to come close to cashing. At DraftKings, you’ll need at least 250. Those numbers represent the floor at each site. You may end up in a payout position with fewer points, but it would be a fluke. Compare Fanduel vs Draftkings NBA scoring here.
With those target scores, you can figure out the average number of points each person in your lineup needs to produce. FanDuel gives you a $60,000 budget with which to draft 9 players. Each player thus needs to log an average of 30.56 points (275 divided by 9). DraftKings gives you $50,000 to draft 8 players. Each player at DK needs to produce 31.25 points.
Value plays a major role in fantasy NBA contests, regardless of whether you’re playing in large-field tourneys or head-to-heads. You’re essentially paying for points. Each dollar you save by drafting a low-salary player gives you another dollar to spend on a top-tier scorer. I’ll give you several actionable tips for finding low-salary, high-value players in a few moments.
But first, it’s important to realize that you need two or three elite scorers in your roster. You’ll pay higher salaries to draft them, but they’ll form the backbone of your lineup’s production. That’s why identifying good values is so important. You need financial flexibility to roster those few top-tier players.
Note that scoring doesn’t necessarily mean buckets. An elite player can produce a large portion of his fantasy points through rebounds, assists, blocks and steals.
Maximize The Number Of Minutes Played
Minutes are everything in fantasy basketball. A mediocre player who plays an entire game can easily outscore a phenomenal player who warms the bench during the second half.
More minutes equals more fantasy points.
The challenge is to identify players who are likely to log a high number of minutes. If you can do so on a consistent basis, you’ll gain a major advantage over other team owners. Here are 3 quick tips you can use tonight to maximize the number of minutes played across your lineups.
#1 – Check Out Each Player’s Game Log
Both FanDuel and DraftKings make this easy. Simply click on a player’s name while building your roster. A pop-up box will appear containing details (news, stats, etc.) about that player.
At FanDuel, click the “Game Log” tab. At DraftKings, click the “10-Game Log” tab. At both sites, you’ll see a table of data. The number of minutes played is listed in the third column from the left.
#2 – Check Out The Injury Log
Look at the most recent injury report. (It is updated in real time.) Focus on starters scheduled to play that evening.
When a starter suffers an injury – a sprained ankle, a strained groin, etc. – that causes him to miss a game, his minutes go to his backup. If you have the backup player in your lineup, you’ll benefit from his production.
#3 – Review The Evening’s Matchups
An uneven matchup between two players could result in the disadvantaged player being replaced with someone who’s expected to be more effective. For example, suppose the Miami Heat start LeBron James. James is a big target. There aren’t many players who can guard him effectively on the wing.
You’d want to research who is scheduled to face him that evening. If that player is poorly-suited to guard James, ask yourself who the coach might put in his place. Then, roster the replacement. That allows you to exploit his minutes played.
Each additional minute on the court represents an opportunity to rack up more fantasy points.
6 Tips For Finding Great Value In The NBA Ranks
I mentioned earlier that your ability to identify good values – i.e. high-production, low-salary players – has a big influence on your success in fantasy NBA contests. After you roster a few elite scorers, you’ll want to focus on finding lower-salary bargains.
Here are a few ways to do that…
#1 – Look For Promising Matchups
First, note the position matchups that are scheduled for that evening’s games. Then, research how the opponents in those positions fared against each other in previous confrontations.
If a player has performed extremely well against his scheduled opponent in the past, he’s likely to produce more points than his average FPPG. That detail may not yet be reflected in his salary. If it isn’t, take advantage of the opportunity.
#2 – Choose Younger Players Over Veterans
Guys who have spent the last ten to fifteen years in the NBA have created expectations regarding their point production. Fantasy players know what to expect from them. That means those players’ salaries are unlikely to hide undiscovered value.
Younger guys offer more opportunities. With shorter track records, expectations regarding their production are less certain. That being the case, there’s a much better chance their performances on any given night will outstrip the expectations reflected in their salaries.
#3 – Identify Backups To Injured Players
We touched on this above. When starters get injured, their backups get a lot of unexpected court time. The key is that that added court time – remember, more minutes equals more fantasy points – isn’t always built into their salaries.
Check the NBA injury log right before the night’s first tip-off. You’ll sometimes see starters benched due to last-minute sprains, strains, and torn muscles. That should prompt you to take a closer look at their teams’ depth charts to find their backups.
#4 – Identify Backups For Predicted Blowouts
If one team is expected to destroy another team, the favored team’s coach will often pull his starters. There’s no reason to leave them in, unnecessarily tiring them out and risking injuries, if their backups can lock down the game.
Surprisingly, expected blowouts are not always reflected in the salaries of the favored team’s backup players. You can often draft those players at salaries that are lower than appropriate given their increased court time.
#5 – Who’s On A Hot Streak?
Drafting players on hot streaks isn’t exactly an earth-shattering epiphany. A streaky player is more likely to perform at the top of his game, regardless of the sport (at least, until his streak comes to an end).
But hot streaks have a bigger influence on point production in daily fantasy basketball than in other sports. The better a player performs, the more minutes he’s likely to play. As we already covered, more minutes translates into greater production.
It’s tempting to assume streaky players always come with high salaries. But that’s not always the case. A lot of fantasy team owners are cynical, assuming a player’s hot streak will eventually end. They often stay away from such players so they can avoid getting caught in the inevitable downturn.
That tendency sometimes depresses salaries, creating bargains in the process.
#6 – Use Point Multipliers To Identify Value
Get familiar with the amount of cash you need to spend to lock down production from players at different tiers. That will help you to avoid overpaying for points.
Here’s are a few rules of thumb:
You’ll typically need to pay 25% (in thousands of dollars) of a first-tier player’s FPPG. For example, Kyle Lowry’s salary at FanDuel is currently set at $9,700. His FPPG is listed at 39. Twenty-five percent of 39 is 9.75. Hence, you shouldn’t pay more than $9,750 to add him to your lineup.
Plan to pay 23% of a second-tier player’s FPPG. For example, the Lakers’ Nick Young is listed with an FPPG of 19.6. Twenty-three percent of 19.6 equals 4.5. You shouldn’t pay more than $4,500 (which happens to be Young’s current salary).
Based on current listings at FanDuel, expect to spend 50% of FPPG for bottom-of-the-barrel (i.e. third-tier) players. That should give you pause. You can occasionally find good values in the third-tier ranks. But it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. You’re more likely to overpay for production.
Most of your high-value plays are going to come from the second-tier.
To recap, minutes played and low-salary, high-production value plays … those are two of the most important elements to creating winning NBA lineups at FanDuel and DraftKings.
But we’re just scratching the surface. In the days to come, we’ll cover defense and position, fantasy site scoring systems, and how to analyze the NBA schedule. We’ll also look at draft strategies according to contest format as well as how to use variance in NBA contests to your advantage.
Stay tuned for more actionable tips that will help you win real cash prizes in fantasy basketball at FanDuel and DraftKings.
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