With the high volume of games, the NBA provides one of the best opportunities daily fantasy sports has to offer.
Not only that but the fact that there are fewer players to evaluate than, say, football, for example, gives everyone a more level playing field and a shot at winning money.
Though it all falls under the umbrella of daily fantasy, the strategies employed when playing the NBA must be different than those used when playing the ever-popular NFL.
In this article, I’ll go over the 5 tips you need to keep in mind when building your NBA DFS roster.
1 – Know the Scoring Rules
Unlike the NFL scoring – which is mostly consistent even if there are a few slightly different variations – NBA daily fantasy scoring rules can be all over the map.
Whereas in the NFL, you’re mostly looking to find out whether or not scoring is full, half, or no-point PPR, the NBA has a wide range of combinations that can dramatically impact the way you draft your team.
While points are always valued, different contests place a different weight on rebounds, assists, steals, or even combinations of different stat categories. In all cases, it’s necessary to know exactly where your points are going to be coming from in order to put together the best roster for that particular contest.
Another aspect of point-scoring differences to keep in mind is the variations between the two main DFS platforms, DraftKings and FanDuel.
One example that illustrates the differences in scoring systems and why it’s so important to be aware can be seen when you look at how each platform handles “milestone bonuses.”
If you’re unfamiliar, milestone bonuses are extra points awarded when a certain “achievement” (for lack of a better word) happens within a game.
In the NFL, this can be 300 yards passing or 100 yards rushing or receiving. In the NBA, this can be extra points tacked on for a double-double or a triple-double.
Additionally, things like turnovers have a different impact on each platform. FanDuel docks 1 full point for a turnover, whereas DraftKings only takes away a half-point. When it comes to choosing your point guard, this could be valuable information.
Another critical scoring difference to consider is the three-point value on each platform. On FanDuel, a three-point basket counts as just the three points it’s worth on the real scoreboard. However, on DraftKings, players are awarded an extra 0.5 points for a made three-point field goal.
The main takeaway here should be that it’s always important to double-check the scoring settings before drafting your lineup.
When the difference between winning and losing is just a matter of a couple of points, every little bit matters.
2 – Check-in on Sportsbook’s Odds
Traditional sports betting clearly has many differences when compared to daily fantasy, but there’s still valuable information to be gained by looking at what Vegas has to say about certain matchups.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which real NBA teams win the games on the court – it all comes down to scoring. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to check out what the over/under number is at the sportsbook.
Those who frequently bet totals in any sport are well aware of Vegas’ prowess in picking this particular number. While they don’t hit every time, it’s the best information out there to determine how the game will play out in terms of the number of points scored. No prediction model is ever perfect, but the oddsmakers in Vegas come close.
So, where does this come into play in terms of DFS strategy? For the most part, it’s the most useful when you’re trying to decide which player or players to pick when you’re stuck between choices. If the over/under on the Mavericks game is 210, and the total on the Nets game is 235, that might indicate that you’re better off taking Kevin Durant than Luka Doncic on that particular night.
Regardless of whether you use the information directly in the decision-making process, looking at what the oddsmakers are predicting for a given game should always be part of your pre-draft routine. This can give you the edge you need to take your performance to the next level.
3 – Play the Trends With Middle-Tier Players
More than any other sport, many NBA players go through dramatic hot and cold streaks throughout the course of the season. If you’re able to find players – especially second-tier, lesser-known players – you can use the trends to your advantage.
Whereas most of the best players in the league are going to get their minutes, the same isn’t always the case for the rest of the team, especially bench players. With that being said, when a sixth or seventh man on a team’s roster is having a good week offensively, it can impact the amount of time they have on the court significantly.
The best way to do this is simply to go through the game logs of the players who you’re considering drafting that come with a mid-range price. Most experienced daily fantasy competitors would agree, this is where you win or lose a contest.
Everyone’s top players will typically perform, everyone’s cheapest players will contribute marginally, but the middle-tier players could go either way on a given night.
Of course, looking at the matchups is still an important step when making a pick, but if you’re between two choices, go with the hot hand.
4 – Consult the Experts
If you’re new to daily fantasy, you need to understand that there are aspects of the contests that you’re only going to learn with time. With that in mind, it can be extremely beneficial to utilize the resources at your disposal. In this case, I’m referring to websites where “expert” players lay out their advice regularly.
Even if you don’t follow exactly what they say, getting more information is always better than settling for trusting “what you know.” In fact, you might discover that some of the nuances of daily fantasy differ from other types of sports betting you’ve done in the past.
Once you have several dozen contests under your belt, you may not need to rely on outside opinions as often, but it never hurts to see what others are thinking.
The bottom line is that the final decision is yours, but the information you use to make those final decisions should come from a number of different sources.
5 – Look Before You Lock
The “late scratch” is quite common in the NBA – especially during the regular season where games aren’t necessarily as important as they are in the postseason. Many teams would rather have a player sit out on a Wednesday night game in January than risk aggravating an injury that could result in a significant time on the sidelines.
For this reason, it’s important as a daily fantasy player to wait until close to tip-off before locking in your roster. The same applies when locking in wagers for betting on the NBA.
Yes, it will take a bit more work on your end, but it ensures that you won’t just be giving money away when your best player decides they’re going to be sitting out 30 minutes prior to game time.
All you need to do is set a reminder for 30 minutes or so before the games begin and check the injury report one last time. In order to be successful, you need your full roster contributing to your overall score.
Don’t let something avoidable like starting players with injuries get in the way of your success.
Daily fantasy was made for NBA fans. Following along with the action while cheering on your hand-picked team takes the entire experience to the next level.
If you’re serious about making money, you’ll quickly realize that your success is directly tied to the amount of time and energy you put into your lineup. Those who are willing to do the research before drafting their team are going to eventually get the upper hand on those who simply pick and play.