NBA is one of the more popular games in daily fantasy, and DraftKings offers various contests and prize pools. DraftKings has been known to push the creativity of contests, and we have seen that over the last few seasons. We have started to see single-game slates, and also tier contests that already hold a preselected pool of players to choose from without having to worry about a salary cap. You still have your cash games or tournaments to choose from, and DraftKings was the first to bring in a three entry max contests, which has taken off in popularity. With a focus on leveling the playing field, DraftKings has offered more to the casual player over the last season or two.
Contest selection is an important part of DFS to understand. Cash games are simplified as double-ups, head-to-head, or smaller leagues, where close to 50% of the field will win. GPPs, or tournaments, are larger field, where anywhere between 20-30% of the field pays out. Distinguishing the type of player you are can help narrow down the strategy you use on a nightly basis. Cash game strategy will be covered down below, but the overall process is going to limit your risk and shoot for safer players, while tournaments you want to take a bit more risk to beat the field.
DraftKings has a few unique scoring rules that differ from sites around the industry. They reward you for players getting a double-double or triple-double. While the bonus isn’t substantial, it is a nice added piece if you rostered a player racking up one of those two stats. Three point shooters also have a slight advantage, adding on .5 fantasy points when making a three point shot. This is in addition to the three points already given. Volume three point shooters have a bit more weight on DraftKings.
Turnovers might be the biggest difference between the industry scoring and DraftKings. Instead of -1 for a turnover, it only goes down as -.5. We have often seen players rack up turnovers, depleting what could have been a good night. John Wall is someone that comes to mind, averaging nearly four turnovers per game in his career. The NBA Fantasy World changed a universal scoring of three fantasy points for an individual steal or block, when before it was two. DraftKings did not adjust, and kept it at two. This is another big difference between the industry, where more weight can be put on blocks and steals elsewhere.
Late swap has been a hot topic around the industry for a while now, and in NBA you often are dealing with injury reports and late scratches well into the evening. Sites have tried to adjust to this in various ways, but late swap can also be used in tournaments, which helps more skilled players. DraftKings had late swap for the first few seasons, then got rid of it, and now it is back again. Late swap is ultimately a way to try and avoid a player being ruled out after lock, which would sink your lineups without having a chance.
DraftKings offers a unique way of building a lineup, with your traditional starting five, a forward, guard, and utility spot. They also will designate players that have multi-position eligibility. There are many ways of building a lineup, with game stacks, stars and scrubs, and going balanced. We have seen them all be successful, and every slate will setup your strategy differently. One of the biggest perks in my opinion is the ability to roster more than one center, which can’t be said on a site like FanDuel. Centers offer up some safety as well as upside, with them being closer to the basket for more efficient shots, and the ability to rack up blocks and steals. You also do not have to force in two of the same position if that position is weak on a given slate.
What Stats To Look For?
There is more to just looking at a player scoring 20 points per game and calling him a good fantasy player. It starts with minutes. Minutes correlate with fantasy production, and of course you have to be on the court to generate fantasy points. We aim for starters that are playing above 30 a night. You can also have some bench players get 20+ minutes a night, and be effective for their price, but over 30 is your general number to shoot for. After getting a hold on minutes, a usage rate should be your next look. Usage rate is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a while he is on the court. Overall this shows how a player is used compared to the other four on the court. For example, Russell Westbrook has often been at the top in terms of usage, likely going over 30%. Usage will also correlate with fantasy points, and Westbrook has shown that averaging over 45 fantasy points per game in the last two seasons.
You can tune into the basic stats like rebounds and blocks as a good indicator of production, but minutes and usage is generally the best starting point. Looking for teams that allow a specific stat more often in addition to minutes and usage research will lead you to the correct plays. Fantasy points per minute (FPPM) is a good collection of those stats rolled into one, showing you their fantasy worth which is what you are after.
Using Injuries To Your Advantage
The NBA injury reporting can be troubling to follow at times, but it can also lead to a lot of value. If a starting player sits out for a game, you will have a cheaper option filling in. You will also have a shift in usage for other starters. This can lead to a secondary player having a bigger outing, or a value off the bench picking up where they left off. There are various tools now around the industry to show where the usage and minutes will go, if say Joel Embiid was to sit out for a game or two.