Daily Fantasy Basketball is one of the most action-packed daily fantasy sports out there as players have possessions every minute that lead to a high and low score. Additionally, players touch the ball more often and earn points for a wide variety of stats.
Here are several main points that will help you succeed in daily fantasy basketball:
Matchup: Like any other fantasy sport, you’ll see one player matchup on a given night. There are stats that measure a player’s defensive ability in the NBA, such as his isolation defense, his pick and roll defense, and even his post defense (basically DVP). Obviously, you’ll want to pick offensive players who are going up against a bad defender. For example, he may be hesitant to pick a PG against Chris Paul because he’s a good defender, but if he has a center against Nikola Vucevic, then he can give him a production boost. Honestly, this is probably the most important thing because it will protect that player for most of the game and directly affect how well that person will do.
Blast Factor: This is a big part of everyday fantasy basketball that a lot of people don’t realize. In basketball there are many blowouts. This causes many starters to sit in the fourth quarter, limiting the number of minutes they will play during the game. You want guys who play the most minutes because it maximizes their value. If you’ve said Russell Westbrook against the 76ers, you really have to think twice. Sure, he’s going to put up some nice stats on his minutes, but if he only plays 28 minutes instead of 38, you’re basically cutting his production by 25%. Looking at the Vegas lines for the game is very helpful for this because you get an idea of how the experts think the game will go. Injuries aside, there’s nothing worse than losing players in blowout games.
Expected Points/Pace: Another big part of basketball is the pace of play and the expected points within a game. Naturally, some teams are more defensive and like to play in midfield, while others are very offensive and love to play fast breaks. You want to target guys in games that move as fast as possible. There will be more shots leading to more points, more misses leading to more rebounds, more baskets made leading to more assists, and less structure leading to more steals and blocks. One thing to watch out for is Vegas lines again because of its over under for points in the game. For example, let’s say Rockets vs. The Warriors have 212 points in the over-under while the Pacers and Hornets have a 180-point line. You’ll want to target the guys in that first game due to the reasons listed above. They also track stats like how long teams typically take to shoot and how many possessions they have per game.
Injuries – Again, just like any sport, you need to look at injuries and see how they will affect a game. Many times, you can get bench players cheaply, who will play starting minutes. Guys who are cheap and play a lot of minutes are hard to find, so if you can find replacements for injuries, they’re usually a good bet. The problem with the NBA is that injury notices usually go out 10-15 minutes before game time, while in the NFL it’s 1.5 hours before kickoff and in baseball it’s several hours before game time. It is critical to always review the last 10-15 minutes to check for injuries and make sure everyone is playing. Also, this can be critical for guys who are second and third choices on their teams. If a really good player gets hurt, then his production will take a nice hit and in turn become more valuable.
cash games vs. GPP Players (Tournament): This is a big difference when making teams for basketball. Usually in tournaments, look for players who get about 5 times their value for any site. For cash games you generally need between 4 and 4.5 value players. Basically this means if a guy costs $10,000 then he needs to hit 50 points for a tournament and 40-45 for a cash game. A big part of reaching that value will be the minutes and the usage rates during those minutes. Guys who have a high usage rate don’t need as much time because they have the ball in their hand more often. Players with a lower usage rate will likely need more minutes to reach their value, unless they can help or recover a very high rate. I like the guys with the highest usage rate for tournaments because they have a much higher chance of scoring a ton of points, where the guys with lower usage rates and play more are safer picks and are more likely to hit their value night after night. Also for tournaments, you’re going to want guys who aren’t too possessed most of the time. Sure there may be a stud that you must have and it’s owned by 30% of the people, but it’s all about getting players who own less than 5% to do well. If they can, then you are much more likely to be successful in the tournament.
Streaks – This is also a big part of basketball because it often determines how many people will pick a player. If a player has a hot streak of 2-3 games, their Ownership % will skyrocket, while if a player struggles for 2-3 games, their Ownership % will plummet. Going back to my earlier point about tournament players, those cold streak types are the ones that are sometimes targeted, where vanishing the popular player is sometimes the best option. For cash games, you usually want to play a guy on a hot streak because he’s only competing to beat half the field, so risking fading a popular play is too risky.
Miscellaneous – This is more if you want to spend a lot of time and effort on your research. One thing I know people are looking into is referees. As in any sport, they have a huge impact on the game and can put people in foul trouble or put people on the line. If you are picking star players you might be better off looking for referees who call more fouls per game, compared to if you have a player guarding a star player in that game you might want to avoid it. This goes into the matchup, but some guys have favorable matchups, but only fight certain teams. James Harden comes to mind against the Clippers during the regular season. He had Reddick/Barnes guarding him, which isn’t that great, but he rarely got any value against them. Back to back is also important to consider because a guy can play, but he won’t play as much. Looking at little things like that is really important and the key to being successful.