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Exploring The Basics of NBA DFS Strategy

You enjoy watching the NBA and maybe you play in a seasonal fantasy basketball league. I am right there with you. But what if you want to take things to the next level?

How to play NBA DFS
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S – Boston Celtics Larry Bird and Philadelphia 76ers Julius Erving ca. 1986

Luckily we have Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) to help you do that. But you can’t expect to roll right in from your seasonal league, even if you are a perennial winner, and begin cashing instantly. There is a lot more to it than even simply having knowledge of the player pool. DFS advice means more than just knowing who to target.

Let’s be honest here. If you are here reading this article you know your hoops. You don’t need me, or anyone else for that matter, to tell you who the superstars are. That much is common sense. But it’s a lot more complex than that. Let’s jump into how one should go about the process of building a DFS lineup.

The only natural place to start is the beginning. Before you even look at the slate of that night’s games and the accompanying player pool, what site are you playing on? Each DFS website has their own scoring system, salary cap, and roster structure. Whatever decisions you make will be based on this. 

Next is contest selection. Do you want to enter a Guaranteed price pool (GPP) tournament or a 50-50? 

You might hear GPPs referred to as lottery tickets because in a sense that is what they are. The majority of the prize pool is heavily weighted towards the first few places and the larger the pot, the more entrants there are. For obvious reasons breaking through and really bringing home the cash is not easy. This is where all of the excitement is though so by no means am I going to tell you to avoid these contests. Just be aware that they are often not the smoothest roads to profitability. 

The NBA is a superstar league and you aren’t going to win a GPP without them. It’s all about the upside here and you need the 70- or 80-point performance they could potentially bring. But it’s not just upside from your superstars. You need it from each and every roster spot. The player that normally averages 30 or so DFS points per game; he needs 50. The unknown bench player with 15 points per game, give him 35. 

All that sounds great, but how? You need to keep an eye on the news. Watch the news as if your life depends on it, because it does. Any injury news is a nugget that can’t be ignored. Don’t just jump into rostering any bench player who is elevated into the starting lineup due to injury but each of them should be evaluated. We need players who had previously been experiencing success and who are in a strong position to build on that production, now just with increased minutes. 

Match-ups are important but not as important as overall team trends. Studying the betting lines clue us in as to where we can expect to see the most points scored and how we can each game to transpire. This is the best predictor of DFS success. 

Another GPP strategy to use is often referred to as stacks. You find a high scoring matchup to exploit and go from there. But since said matchup is beneficial from a DFS perspective it is something to capitalize on with multiple players from the same team. If the point guard is going to reach double digits in assists there will be another player on the receiving end of those points so why not have both ends of the exchange. You can also choose one particular high scoring, close game to stack as you will benefit from a high pace of play and lots of offensive activity. 

To take down a GPP you sometimes need to look past the obvious. Instead of stacking the highest scoring game on the slate move down to the second or third choice and maybe take the superstar who isn’t as obvious a play. Above we talked about targeting players heading for an increased role due to injury. This is generally not a secret so there will be little differentiation in rosters. Take the contrarian route to another worthy choice even if it is not the one that jumps off the page initially. 

Pivoting to 50-50 tournaments though takes that last paragraph and throws it out the window. Since there is no upside to placing first, you just need to be in the top half of the contest, don’t take chances. Go with the group when it comes to ownership as stability is the name of the game. Augmenting your GPP plays with 50-50 entries helps to preserve your bankroll and keep you in the game longer while ultimately being more profitable. Essentially it subsidizes those shots at the mammoth pay days.