Half time for NBA DFS and the break is almost over. Before we get back to the Daily Grind of figuring which studs to pair with which value plays, Let’s take a minute to look back and see what knowledge we can gain from the first half of the year in order to help us build more wining rosters from here on out. We have some tips and some theories we will throw out to you guys based off our notes and research. We have some site specific suggestions and some player notes to pass along. Let’s get down to business:
We can start with the site I know best. There’s some things I noticed about DK GPPs I think can help anyone hoping to take down a tournament. I looked at rosters over the last 30 days on DK for large prize pool GPPs with a minimum of 4500 entries. I only used the tournaments I entered myself from my history, but that was a diverse set of tournaments ranging from $2-$200 buy ins with stops at every level in between. Here’s some of what I noticed:
- The Guard spot on winning GPP rosters is most often populated by PGs. We all know the volatile nature of SGs. They rely heavily on actual points scored and 3pt shots to make value. This spot on winning rosters has been covered with players like Zach Lavine in a spot start at under $4K. Langston Galloway playing 30 minutes when bursting onto the scene for $4300. A $6000 Jarrett Jack, A $3500 Starting PG named Beno Udrih, JJ Barea at $4800, and Jordan Clarkson more than once at under $5000. There were a few rosters who had a Chris Paul or Kyrie Irving in that spot, but they all had one expensive PG and one high scoring value guy. I say most, cause we did have a 40 point Danny Green in a G spot and some others with Harden at SG and another high priced SG stud in the guard spot, but the predominate amount of winners had a stud PG and a value guy. This tells me the guy I should be putting in the G Spot on DK is a cheap PG I think can go for over 7 times value. It also makes some intuitive sense as you would assume a PG scores more based on his ability to get points, assists, steals, and even a few long rebounds. Most SGs literally have one skill and it’s scoring. Even on a bad shooting night a decent PG at a low price can get you a good score. It’s almost never been done by a SG on a bad shooting day, so keep that in mind when building your rosters.
- The F spot should be a PF. The main exception to this rule I noticed over the last 30 days is Josh Smith, who is listed as a SF. For anyone who has watched Houston recently though he is playing a PF role. This is important, because my argument for using PF over SF in the F slot is all about rebounding. The PF position accounts for more rebounds per person than the SF slot. The margin is almost 4 rebounds per game above the average player at that position. While 3 pointers and assists are up for the SF over the PF position, it is not by a large enough margin to offset the rebounding edge. SFs average less than half a steal more per game and PFs average less than 1 more block, so the defensive edge is very slightly in favor of PFs as well. Scoring at the PF position is also higher than scoring at the SF position on average. Yet the prices of the guys just below elite are very close at both spots. The Elite PFs are even cheaper than the Elite SFs as well by a few hundred bucks. Overall the PF position is a higher scoring one and the prices are equal to the SF position or below. Going strictly by the numbers the case is clear you should roster 2 PFs or guys expected to play that role. It also makes some sense if you think about it as well. Guys like Zeller (Cha), Humphries (Was), West (Ind), Sully (Bos), Ibaka (OkC), and Thad Young (Minn) have all been in the F slot of big winners. Catching a big game from one of those guys at $4000-$6400 helped a few people win some big prizes.
- The Util Spot should be a PG or a C. It’s entirely possible to win with any position here. There was a Harden/Henderson combo with 2 PGs and 2 PFs and there was a Serge Ibaka Util spot that had Josh Smith at the F spot. These are not hard and fast rules here, but more often than random chance would suggest we see that spot owned by a PG or C on top scoring rosters. Whiteside/Ajinca, Vucevic/DeAndre, Bosh/Whiteside all helped people take a top spot in recent games. So did MCW/Jack/Steph, Russell/Steph/Rose, Clarkson/Galloway/Smart, and Kyrie/Lavine/Galloway. Both the triple PG and double center rosters have won more than their fair share of big prizes. I’m not saying you have to build rosters this way, just keep in mind that more winning GPP rosters are done like this.
- As for Game types on DK, we also wanted to pass along another interesting find. The cash line for multi entry 50/50s is higher than the line for single entry. It makes sense if you assume the better players who score highly more often are the ones firing more than one bullet into these and running trains. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, so do not get me wrong. I am simply pointing out if you are a guy who does not run those trains and only enters a few 50/50s per day the easier way to cash more often based on the numbers is in the single entry ones.
Earlier in the season Aces NBA was a little soft. The 50/50s were very beatable and the GPPs and Qs seemed softer than equal price points on DK or FD. That has since changed with the influx of quality players chasing the live final. Kudos to Aces for attracting the attention of the DFS world. I really do enjoy playing on that site, but it’s been noticeable that the scores and competition are improving. There’s less dead money per tournament and there’s sharp players galore over there. Winning a seat on Aces to the live final is truly an accomplishment at the moment, because you see some of the best names in DFS in that $109 Q weekly. Even in the 15/25 man satellites you recognize more than 75% of your opponents by name. It’s no longer a walk in the park to win a satellite into the big Friday tourney. We do have some advice for those chasing it though.
This is a very logical argument to make here, but the reason many have had success in the satellites, but not the Q is due to roster construction. To come in the top 5 of a 25 man tourney or the top 3 of a 15 man $22 buy in, you need to build a roster avoiding landmines. A score in the low 300s will win you a cheap seat to the big dance on most nights. A solid value based cash game approach works more often than not in these games.
The scores needed to get a ticket increase as prize pools and entries do, so to win a seat in the 50 man satellites you needed to step up your scores a little more. To ultimately cash in the $109Q a paltry 300 likely doesn’t do it. In order to get a seat you need to get away from avoiding the landmines like you do in a satellite to win your ticket. You need to remember this is a 200-300 person GPP and play it like you would on any other site. Try to squeeze in that extra stud, look for the top value guys on the day, and still round that out with high upside mid tier priced options if you want to win. While taking Frazier and Exum to fit in Westbrook might be a little too risky for a satellite ticket, it makes perfect sense in a Q. In fact if you don’t do it you will likely not differentiate yourself enough to get there. Mispriced stars with good upside on Friday’s have gone off over 40% owned in some of these spots on Aces. Almost all the time it is a guy in the $4700-$5400 range. Someone who fits nicely into a roster of household names. If you were so inclined to find a way or two to get some stars in the roster it has an added bonus of likely being a low owned route to use. Low ownership with huge upside is what we look for in our swerves on every other site, but for some reason I notice the Paul, Westbrook, Durant, Lebron crowd on Aces tends to go off lower owned than on FD or DK in a given night. Again here it doesn’t mean every time it will work, but if you are looking for the way to get the most points that the least number of people will also have to win a big tourney, this is the way to build those large field rosters. The Cash Game type approach may get you to the ball on time Friday night, but if you do not want that coach to turn back into a pumpkin, take some more chances and get that live final seat we are all chasing.
Two small observations about FanDuel is really all I have today, but never the less they are both patterns worth noting. The first one is a good way to differentiate your rosters is paying up for two guys at the same position. On most winning roster that position was PG. PF was also represented a few times as well, but let me explain why it pays to pay up for two studs here. Think about the monster scores put up by guys like Westbrook, Paul, Wall, Lilliard, Kyrie, and Steph Curry so far this season. If you catch a pair of 60 point games like many did with Steph/Westy or Lilliard/Kyrie, or Paul/Westy there is 120+ points you get out of the position. It leaves you $40,000 to fill out a roster of 7 guys that need to average about 30+points to place you in the top 100 of a 25000 person field if you can do it. This might sound like a daunting task, but if you find one good value guy around $4000 that can get you close to 30 it’s not hard to roster 6 guys at about $6K each with 30+ point upside to round out that roster. It’s easier to find Centers and PFs in that price range or below who can get you those points than it is to find PGs on most nights. That is why the way to differentiate yourself and improve your winning odds is to roster two stud PGs. Most people will spend up on two or three stars a night, but they often do so at different positions. It’s rarer to see someone put such a large portion of their salary cap on two guys at the same position and look for value everywhere else, but it has paid off more than chance alone would suggest.
This brings me to my second point that so far we have seen a ton of lower cost value dominate winning rosters at the SG, SF, and Center spots. It seems the mid tier here is providing better value than the elite options and more often. That’s not to say a Harden, KD, or Boogie has not been a key to victory on different nights, but there’s more top dollar for dollar plays coming out of the mid tier than the top. Guys like Giannis, Eric Gordon, Kris Middleton, Hassan Whiteside, Brook Lopez, Wes Matthews, Mason Plumlee, Chandler Parsons, Kevin Martin, and Tyson Chandler have all helped people win GPPs by throwing up 40 spots for around $6000 or less. It’s rare to see a guy below $7K go off for 40+ at the PG spot, but it seems we have a SG or SF in that price range score that many nightly. This only helps strengthen the argument for paying up at PG in my view, because you can get those other points from people at other positions. While you may miss out on a Harden gem or a Lebron monster game here and there, the winnings from the big score can help you weather the storm. If mid tier guys are outperforming their salaries more often at SG, SF, and C than at PG, why would you not take the guaranteed PG points and work from there?
The one exception to this rule seems to be PF. At PF we have seen some value plays really bring some outsized returns. In the last weeks guys like Josh Smith, Jason Smith, and Nene Hilario have all thrown up some huge scores on the points per dollar scale. Having one of these guys gave you the salary relief to pair them with an expensive option above the $6500 mark like a Pau, Z Bo, LMA, or even cheaper mid tier options like a Jared Sullinger or David West and get close to the max score at the position. While most other positions I would argue the way to go is mid tier I have seen quite a few value PFs go off for big games.
In summation of the research, it appears the best way to give yourself a max chance to take down a FD GPP is to pay up for two solid PGs above the $7500 range, pair them with four mid tier options at SG and SF($5-$6K), add in a upper middle priced Center ($6-$7000), and then take a stud PF with a punt PF. Again this is not always the winning combination, but it puts you in the best chance to cash highest.
As for game selection, we noticed one big difference we wanted to mention. It pays to enter 50/50s earlier in the day. The competition is softer and the average scores needed to cash are lower by about 6 points. Many more people will set and forget line ups earlier in the day. On one snowy day in NYC last month we had the Knicks and Nets games both canceled around 2 PM. Despite the early notice we still saw players from both teams rostered in multiple 50/50s that filled before noon. Whether people set them and forget them or did not have the time to come back and change them before lock, if you are someone who is by your computer from 630-7pm EST than you are at a huge advantage over your competition. We all know how important late breaking news is, but even the stuff not known at 2 PM that is known at 5 PM is enough to give you an edge. If there’s 20% of rosters dead in an early 50/50 or even a GPP that fills early, than you have rake covered by those dead rosters and put yourself in a +EV situation. Making this little change in when you enter small fields that fill quickly could be the difference you need as an above average player to make yourself more profitable. If you are able to slowly trickle your at risk money into these throughout the day you will quickly see the difference, especially at the $5 and below levels.
If you look at the averages for the first half of the season, you will notice the scoring goes along with what we have been saying all along. If you look at the top scoring positions or more accurately the worst scores on a DvP ranking, you will notice the most points given up are at center which has the highest highs, the highest lows, and the highest overall point averages allowed of any position. This shows us there is validity to the thought process that the Utility spot on DK belongs to a second Center. The average scores for the PG position are second on the chart and the only one within 10% of the center number at the top end. PFs follow in third and then there’s a big gap down to SG and SF which are both 20% below the Center spot and over 15% below PFs in third. This validates our findings that the most common way to win is using a second PG and a second PF in the G and F spots on DK. It also means your Util spots on Aces should probably be populated with those two positions most often as well. In fact I would go so far as to say a great way to create a unique roster with the most upside is to roster three centers together in the C and both Utility spots. Very few think of doing it, so it also has the benefit of being a way to an original roster.
At this point in the season we should also start to realize teams we should be targeting against and teams we should be avoiding. The same goes for what positions on those teams we should attack and stay away from. Here’s some of the ones I have been tracking closely on both sides of the fence.
- Wing Players against the Clippers have been good all season. The numbers have been worse lately so it’s become an even better idea to start looking at their opponents first.
- Big Men against the Celtics are worth a look. This was very true earlier in the year when the Celts were playing at a higher pace. Recently it’s mostly only at the Center spot as the PF defense is now showing as one of the best recently.
- Philly is not the fantasy playground it was last year anymore. Check out the season long numbers and you may think I am crazy, but look over the last month and they have been one of the best in the league against the guard positions. You can still dominate them with a good center against Noel or Simms defense though, so that is in play and one of the first spots I look at daily.
- Orlando Magic defense is epically bad. Lately they have been downright horrible. Over the last month all five positions are showing up Green meaning its an elite play against option. The only season long number that isn’t horrible is at SG where Oladipo is a solid player on both ends. Everywhere else guys are outperforming their season long numbers against Orlando.
- The Wizards and the Grizzlies are lock down defenses. You should think twice about playing anyone against these teams. The numbers are so red it’s like looking at a big stop sign. Washington has struggled recently with PGs and SFs, but they are still one of the 8 best in the league vs. every position. They used to be top 5 everywhere, but at SG, PF, and Center I would not try it. Against PG, PF, and Center the Grizzlies are lock down and you should avoid guys at those positions at all costs.
- The Lakers are easily the worst team in the league vs. PGs and you should target all PGs against them.
- The Miami Heat pace is also a killer to the opposition. The numbers for the teams playing them are off the charts low. It’s less of a matter of great defense then it is of slow pace and less possessions. Either way though they are a clear stay away for fantasy purposes.
- Forwards against the Nuggets are almost must starts this year and lately that is even stronger. They play at a high pace and you should always look at their opponents.
- Guards and Centers against the Kings are definitely worth a look. The higher pace lately Is also a plus, so look for their opponents. It seems their defense against forwards is nearly elite. This may be a combination of teams attacking through the guard and center spots due to soft defense combined with some solid defense against forwards. The path of least resistance is what makes the most sense, so stick to the guards. While centers tend to do well against a lazy boogie cousins, they also tend to get in foul trouble guarding him, so be careful.
- The Minnesota bad DvP numbers seem to be turning around. There was a point a month or so ago when Minnesota was playing every game in the 120s and you could start the whole team they were going up against. With everyone now back to full health and the bench much deeper they have become a tough opponent to score on. PF is the only spot still showing up very Green and you should take note of it now. Let others roster guys against Minny and Philly and find out the hard way.
- The Brooklyn Nets can’t guard wings anymore. With the trio of Jack, Williams, and Johnson seeing more floor time together the SG/SF defense has become horrible. They have been bad against SG all year, but now SG and SF are going off against Brooklyn. They have been the second worst wing defense next to the Clippers recently. The saving grace for them is that they play at a slower pace than LA, but you can not go wrong taking either position against those two teams.
These are just some of the things we have noticed and look for when we make our rosters. Every game is different, so do not ignore injury news and Vegas lines in your analysis as well. When all those things are favorable and you get one of these match ups though it is a great time to pounce on it.
Hopefully you guys are able to take a few things away from our HALFTIME REPORT to help you make better line ups and cash more often in the second half. I’ll be back on Friday with our Daily Analysis off the SHEETS. There’s a lot of money left to be won in NBA DFS and less and less chances with each passing day to do it, so let’s finish strong. I am hoping to see some more of those thank You tweets for helping our readers take down some GPPs.