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Comparing Draft Kings and Fan Duel in NBA DFS

March 10, 2020, Los Angeles, California, U.S: Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James (23) passes the ball during an NBA basketball game between Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Ringo Chiu/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

The research is done. You went through all the necessary steps and have the slate dissected from every possible angle. Bankroll management is in play and you have decided on the correct mix of GPP and 50-50 tournaments. 

At this point though your work isn’t done. There is one final piece regarding DFS basketball that can’t be ignored. Ultimately the game is played the same regardless of where you enter your lineups, and the DFS advice is tailored in that way, but we can’t forget the fact that the two main sites are different and there are slight tweaks that we need to be aware of. It isn’t prudent to blindly set the same lineup across both Draft Kings and Fan Duel. In fact in some cases I’m not even sure it’s possible. 

I’m not looking to go through and highlight all of the specifics as to how these sites operate, but instead the intention is to focus on the differences between the two platforms and how they need to be taken into account. Let the below serve as your reminder that DFS is not strictly based on your knowledge of the player pool as game theory is not something to be overlooked. 

Earlier I touched on the fact that generally lineups from one site to the other don’t translate smoothly. For starters we are operating under completely different parameters. Draft Kings has a salary cap of $50,000 and that is for eight players while Fan Duel gives you $60,000 to work with and that is for nine players. It goes without saying that the salary structure is based on those components and it reflects per player costs of $6,250 and $6,667 between the two sites. One interesting exercise is to track the costs of players between the two sites as it sometimes brings buying opportunities to the forefront. 

When it comes to positions Draft Kings is also a lot more liberal which gives you greater freedom in compiling your roster. That roster consists of a point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, center, and then a guard, forward, and utility player. What perhaps is even more interesting is the positional eligibility available to you as it is a lot vaster and allows you greater freedom with a lot of players having the ability to slot in at multiple positions. 

That flexibility goes away on Fan Duel as you are required to start two at each of the first four positions along with one center. There is no utility position or broad guard/forward spot and the limits placed on determining eligibility are a lot stricter with the majority of players available in just one spot. 

Those are the major structural differences but Draft Kings offers an additional half a point per three-pointer made along with .05 more points for each rebound. Fan Duel is more aggressive when it comes to steals and blocked shots offering an extra point for each of those while also deducting an extra half point per turnover. 

We are generally guilty of focusing on the core stats (points, rebounds, assists) but the Draft Kings scoring forces you to take a closer look at those who do damage from behind the arc while Fan Duel reminds you not to forget about blocked shots and steals. 

A more additional scoring item is the 1.5 points Draft Kings awards for a double-double along with three points for a triple-double. It may not seem like much but when you are pushing for that cash line, every little bit helps. 

At this point the majority of DFS players have a general idea as to how the scoring works across the industry but it is easy to overlook the differences between the two sites as it is not a one size fits all. Don’t make the mistake of jumping from site to site without factoring in the scoring variations.