NBA DFS Beginner Guide

Written By PlayPicks Staff on December 29, 2014 - Last Updated on June 27, 2018

Now that Football season is over it is time for us to turn our Daily Fantasy attention over to the NBA. We strive to be a part of your daily research for all your DFS needs and to that end we have revamped our NBA cheat sheet to make it more easily readable and usable for our followers. We pride ourselves on providing some of the best free content available on the Web for your DFS needs and today I am going to outline our cheat sheet for you and explain how it can help narrow down your list of potential plays and lead to real dollars flowing into your pockets. We will be posting a daily breakdown of the matchups along with our analysis of some top plays for the biggest game slates of the week.  We will be highlighting some of the top values and plays on Draft Kings and FanDuel since those are the two highest volume sites most people play. Of course a big part of NBA DFS is late breaking news, so while this chart will give you a good idea of some of the top guys based on recent performance and match ups, you still need to vigilant checking twitter for any late scratches or additions to line ups so please check out our twitter widget to help you monitor the latest injury news for NBA action. Due to the nature of the news flow and the late announcements of players in and out, there is really no way to update all these numbers in real time to account for the changes, so make sure you stay on top of those and mix in some of the late value guys with the top plays we outline here.




We broke down our cheat sheet and consolidated the information to give you a one page easy to read guide for DFS NBA. Each position has its own page and is broken down into site specific data for FanDuel, DraftKings, and Fantasy Aces respectively. For ease of use the color coding points out which guys are good plays. The Greener the box the better the value and the red boxes are the ones you want to try and stay away from based on our criteria. Each Site has players broken down into seven statistical categories we use when building our Daily Fantasy NBA rosters. The first column is projected points. We use a proprietary algorithm that accounts for the projected over/under, usage rates, and performance to date in order to project a raw scored based on expected minutes. This is the foundation of our numbers. Once we have those projections we convert them into a score for that site based on the scoring system they use. That value is the number you see in the first FPts Column listed under each of the three sites. The second column marked $$$ is how much that player cost today for the site in question. The third column is the APP or amount per point calculation which basically takes our projected score and divides it by the price today to give you an idea of who the best value is for your fantasy dollars. Again here the idea is the greener the square the better the value proposition is for that player. The Redder the square the worse it is.


The next two columns are our match up columns. They are DvPS (DvP Season) and DvPL5 (DvP last 5 games). We take these numbers into account when figuring our projections, but it is still nice to know which players have match ups against the teams that give up the most to those positions. You may notice our DvP numbers differ slightly from some other places you look and we can explain that for you here. Many times DvP numbers are straight comparisons based on the listed position for each player on each site. For example a guy like Pau Gasol plays a lot of PF when Noah is in, but when Noah is out he moves to C and guards the opposing 5’s on other teams. Therefore to get a true value of DvP for a position, it would be a blend of Noah and Gasol defense. Well when both are back in the lineup than we want to know which is the weaker defender and who we should be attacking with our plays. In order to do this we adjust the positions on a daily basis before calculating the DvP to account for things like this. It also accounts for defensive assignments as well. For example a team like Memphis has two bigs in Gasol and Z Bo. Z Bo tends to play more of the inside post game many linear thinkers would associate with a Center. Gasol has a very unique skill set that has him playing away from the basket more often despite being listed as the Center. To counter this, many teams will play the more athletic PF they have on Marc Gasol and leave the Center to guard Z Bo at PF. If you do not account for this switch it will skew the numbers of not only the past performance, but also today’s match up. We see something similar with the Bulls vs. Cavs game played recently. Noah was doing a good deal of chasing Love on the perimeter. Pau was left inside to deal with a Varejao or a Tristan Thompson now. This is another example of a C playing a PF and a PF defending a C which would throw off the numbers if not recognized. We have not been 100% accurate on our predicted match ups, but we have been right more often than wrong, which makes the system a little more real to life than a straight listed position projection. It does not completely solve the problem as we can not be 100% sure, but we @PlayPicks watch a lot of NBA basketball and take copious notes on match ups like these to help give us an edge. That edge is one we will be passing on to you in the form of our numbers here. The big thing we look for in our analysis of the DVP numbers side by side is any changes in recent games. If a team normally defends a position well and than all of a sudden it lights up green we need to understand why. For some cases like the Spurs recently without Kawhi Leonard we can understand easily that the reason the L5 is greater than the Seasonal number has to do with him being out. While this is easy to understand the application of it means that you can find some sneaky value using a SF against the Spurs while others are harping on the bad DvP number they use which is on a seasonal basis and not reflective of the type of defense that player will see tonight. Other times the differences can be explained by a string of tough match ups. If you are a PG and get stuck defending Westbrook, Curry, Lilliard, Ty Lawson, and Derrick Rose in five consecutive games, than there is a good chance you will see your L5 number above your seasonal. We will try to point these situations out too, because sometimes the reason is just that you had to guard five of the best PGs in the league over that stretch and we all know the way those guys have been playing lately that keeping them under 40 Fantasy points is a victory in itself.


The last two numbers we include are two I lobbied hard for and they are value numbers. We break value down into two categories: ValS (Seasonal Value) and ValL5 (Last 5 Value). I use these numbers in two ways. Whenever a player has a seasonal number that is above his last five, it says he has been underperforming. This is when I look deeper into why, because it could be a function of a change in the rotation or it could be a good time to buy low on a player who is due for a bounce back. Many times guys in this category will also have a price drop associated with their declining output, so it’s a good way to find some guys who may be bounce back candidates tonight. If I see this situation accompanied by a green box in the APP (average points per $$) column than I get excited. It usually means an overlooked player at a discount that has a high chance to out produce his recent numbers. You need to be careful though and look at the situation closely. Derron Williams is one of those players that qualifies here, but until he gets the Lion’s share of the minutes back from Jarret Jack and stops coming off the bench as the sixth man playing less minutes than he was originally it is still a dicey play. The numbers would point to exactly the situation I outlined above, but unless you hear news of him getting his full allotment of minutes back, it’s not recommended to chase those points. It is however a very contrarian way to play a GPP roster which could pay off huge if today is that game. It works the opposite way for a guy like George Hill from the Pacers who is coming back from injury. Hill has been eased back into the rotation and is seeing a few more minutes every game. His averages are still low based on his playing time being low in the first few and he is a good candidate to outperform in the future as he gets closer to his usual 30 minutes a game. Knowing some of these little inconsistencies allows you to better interpret the numbers, which do not account for some of these things. A guy like CJ Watson looks great on paper here, but we all know his playing time is being cut by the Hill Situation, so tread carefully and do your homework.




Starting tomorrow we will be bringing you an analysis of our numbers that highlight some of the best plays we like based off our system. We will be breaking them down based on site, positions, and cash/tournament plays. For now give the sheet a look and the guidelines here a second read so you have a better idea of what to look for and how to use these numbers going forward. We have been using this system and tweaking it since the beginning of basketball season with some nice success. We felt with football ending and our attention shifting over to NBA full time, it was the perfect moment for us to revamp it and roll it out. We use it as a daily reference guide to help us narrow down our plays to a short list and we think in time that many of you will do the same. The numbers are updated daily and the analysis will be available on all large slate NBA days for you to use as a starting point for your research. Remember as always that the nature of NBA means last minute injury news always creates and destroys value, so monitoring twitter and using our twitter widget of up to the minute news is still going to need to be a part of your research. Mixing in those late breaking value guys with some of the studs we can outline in good match ups is what has helped us cash in some of the biggest prize pool tournaments to date including the Crossovers and Slams on a weekly basis. Thanks for giving our newly revamped NBA page a look and be sure to check back tomorrow for the analysis of our numbers along the lines of what we did with the FanDuel Ownership article for you during NFL DFS season.

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