Guide to Playing DFS NBA on DraftKings and FanDuel
Daily Fantasy Basketball contests will kick off early along with the NBA season, as commissioner Adam Silver has moved up Opening Night to it’s earliest date ever (Tuesday, October 17) in an effort to limit back-to-back sets on the schedule. And with that, we’ll enjoy the massive prizepools of DFS NBA.
This is pretty straightforward on FanDuel, where you’re asked to fill two spots at PG, SG, SF, PF and use one C while staying under a $60k salary cap. On DraftKings, many players have dual positional eligibility (PG/SG for example) and can fit in multiple spots. In addition to a “Starting 5” (PG, SG, SF, PF, C), you’ll also have one Guard slot where either a SG or PG can be slotted, and one Forward spot where at PF or SF can be used. There is also a Utility slot where you can use any player in the player pool for a total of 8 players (PG, SG, SF, PF, C, Guard, Forward, Utility). DraftKings has a $50k salary cap.
DFS NBA Contest Strategy
In DFS NBA, perhaps more than any other sports, it’s important to distinguish between safe plays and risk-reward options that can pay off in tournament formats. There are certain unreliable players – whether because of their shot selection, injury history, or inconsistent playing time – that are simply too risky to use in “Cash Games” i.e. 50/50, H2H and Double-Up contests.
Players that come with obvious risk or face a tough defensive team in a perceived bad matchup are still worth using in “GPP” (Guaranteed Prize Pool) formats, and sometimes poor perception of that player can actually make them a fantastic tournament option on larger slates because their ownership rate will be so low.
Cash Game Plays in DFS NBA are usually determined based on playing time. In the NBA, minutes are king, as a player obviously can’t produce FPs from the bench. Starters that see 30-37 MPG are very valuable in these contests, but it’s still important to note their level of production on a Per 36-minute basis. There is also no penalty for missed shots on DraftKings or FanDuel, so star players on a team with few other options (read: Russell Westbrook from last year) can become volume-based monsters that are almost assured to produce.
GPP Strategy in DFS NBA is often about thinking one step ahead. If there’s a player returning from injury that’s yet to have a big game, or a young stud that’s slowly breaking into the rotation, you can take a chance on them before they have a breakout performance. Yet most winning GPP lineups aren’t comprised solely of risky options. Rather, they contain a mix of “safe” or “chalk” plays that everyone is using based on obvious circumstances and plus matchups with a few of those high-risk, high-reward players that are sure to be lightly owned because of their playing style, lack of consistent playing time, or matchup concerns.
So how do you know what is a plus matchup and one to avoid?
Both main DFS sites will tell you what the opposition ranks in terms of FPPG allowed to a position, but that’s only the basis for strategy. You should consider individual matchups, coaching style and game flow when choosing the right stars for your lineups, and Vegas lines can be a very helpful tool in that regard.
Each game will have a line – i.e. Warriors (-14.5) if they’re heavily favored – and an Over/Under based on what the folks in the desert think the point total will be. A low Over/Under in the NBA is usually between 185 and 200 points, while potential shootouts can range between 210 and 235 points, as was the case with several Golden State Warriors games last year.
The point total should indicate if this is an offense-friendly game to target, while the lines are important to consider in GPP formats, because if the Warriors are favored to win easily for example, then their starters could be resting in the fourth quarter instead of accruing FPs to the end of regulation (and beyond at times) like stars in much closer contests.
Vegas lines can help you determine which games you want to target and ideally, which games will go down to the wire or into overtime to help your high-priced players truly maximize value.
It’s not enough to simply target games with high Over/Under totals. The Warriors are an intriguing team to target offensively of course, but if the line isn’t close, their starters might only see three quarters of action. However, if the line is close or you believe the game will stay competitive, then you can “Stack the Game” by not only using Warriors stars such as Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, but using the best players on the opposition as what we call “Correlation Plays.” The theory behind this is the thinking that Damian Lillard or Russell Westbrook would have to score around 40 points individually to match the Warriors ridiculous output and keep the game close.
In cash games, you can stack players on the same team with a PG/F or PG/C combination, but you should still be wary of the possibility of a blowout. Nothing is more detrimental to an DFS NBA lineup than a high-priced player sitting out the fourth quarter, yet at the same time, nothing increases the value of a low-priced “punt play” more than the possibility of playing 10-15 minutes in the second half of a blowout where defense is optional.
While it’s tempting for new DFS NBA players to try to win big, it’s important to check that temptation to a degree by earning steady returns in cash game formats.
Unlike NFL DFS, this is a true grind with contests nearly every night, and it’s important that you maintain your bankroll on DK and FD so that you have the ability to play tournaments and gun for that big payday.
A 60-40 split in terms of Cash Game and GPP lineups usually pays off in the long run, but it is worth throwing each Cash lineup into a very cheap GPP ($1 or even $0.25 entry) in the hopes that everything goes right to the point that your lineup happens to hit close to “The Nuts,” i.e. the best lineup possible under the salary cap.
Stay abreast of injury news on twitter leading up to tip-off and as always, check www.playpicks.com every morning for a breakdown of DFS NBA action and contests.