NBA fantasy is really not that hard if you can understand and embrace the fact that it really is all about the minutes. Minutes are fantasy gold and unlike football or baseball where we can count on a certain amount of opportunities for each player rostered in most cases the NBA game is somewhat less clear. In other sports if a game is a blowout your starters won’t necessarily get pulled but in the NBA that’s a guarantee. In NBA blowouts your starters will get pulled and if they are not on the court that can’t provide your team scoring opportunities. It’s really that simple if you can predict a coaches rotations you will be able to project your players minutes and this ability will give you a big edge over your opponents . There are of course other factors that we need to consider and we will tackle these topics shortly and by the end of this article you will feel real comfortable in your ability to construct a great NBA roster. Let’s go over some basic principles.
We realize now that it’s all about the minutes but let’s go a brief review. We will call it some basic house keeping so to speak. I mention this concept every preseason article for every sport I cover but I’ll say it again now. Every site you compete on you must know the rules. I believe Ian has the rules for all the major gaming sites archived somewhere but if you can’t find them just look them up so that you don’t encounter any surprises. I’ll take this moment to remind everyone that draft Kings has eliminated there late swap features , so now your like me on fan duel, if your lineup locks it’s your lineup it’s that simple. The next order of business is also obvious but worth mentioning. If your not available for the last 15-20 minutes before lineup lock to make the necessary adjustments don’t play the slate it’s that simple . The NBA game is completely different from all other sports with late scratches that happen literally 5 to 10 minutes before top off, you can’t afford to take a zero at any position as you just won’t cash. This happened to me last night with Blake Griffin , I took a zero and didn’t cash. In my defense I got the information after lock but many of my opponents were able to find out about 3 minutes before lock and made the needed adjustments. Follow the team beat writers and blurbs on rotoworld and you will find yourself less affected by late scratches.
Ok so your committed your following the beat writers, reading the blurbs, and setting aside the needed 15-20 minutes before lock. Your in good shape to finalize your rosters but where do I conduct my research. Strap yourself in as we’re going to cover how I conduct my NBA research.
Where do I start. I’m not a lazy person and I like to do my own work, however if I can cut down some of the time I need to research so that I can spend more time building lineups I’ll do it. I encourage you to use Vegas as the first place to start your research . The first place I like to look is the line on the game and the over under point totals. This is a valuable piece of information. The line will tell you in most cases if a game is going to be competitive or not. If a game is between even and eight points it’s usually a good indication that the game will be competitive, which usually indicates that the starters will get their full complement of minutes. Remember it’s all about the minutes!! Team totals will also tell us if a game is predicted to be high scoring. High scoring games are a nice place to look for fantasy purposes . Checking into the projected pace of a game also helps significantly. A fast paced game usually leads to more scoring opportunities, assists, rebounds, and steals. A great team to target is a slower paced team against a fast paced team as it will typically create more possession than usual for the slower paced team. We want to take advantage of these situations when ever possible. Defense vs position profiles are another nice place to look as a starting point for our research . It’s best to monitor this in two fashions. Look at season long stats vs weekly stats. The reason I support this method is as injuries mount during the season and rotation changes are made a team can get stronger or weaker on defense vs positions chart. This can. Relate a serious edge for you when starting your research as you may be able to see certain situations that your opponents may not be able to interpret.
Here is the formula for rostering player for NBA Dfs . It’s a little different from the other sports but many of the principles are the same
Talent you just can’t teach it. You either have it or you don’t. Have you ever rostered a player and discovers the juice just wasn’t worth the squeeze ( I did that with Jalen Strong this past Sunday in my cash games NFL uggh ) You see a player that seems cheap, that may be in a good spot, and doesn’t do anything with the opportunity and the end result is he puts up a terrible line. Than the funny part happens after you review your line up ( FYI take 10 minutes the next day after you play whether you win or lose to review your lineup construction process you will be amazed at how much you will learn and grow as a player) the light bulb goes off and you realize why the player was that cheap in the first place. The answer he just wasn’t very talented. Bottom line in NBA ( for that matter any sport) you want to roster talented players when ever possible. Now don’t get it confused I don’t mind rostering a cheap players long as they meet the following criteria . The player is talented and is getting more minutes due to an injury or his role is increasing because he is just flat out excelling in the practice settings. I love these guys and will always try to roster this type of player before everyone else catches on and more importantly before the roster price increases. Ok go back to NFL to further enhance the point. Last week Will Fuller was listed as out and Jalen strong $4600 was set to get the start ( not really a talented player) which caused me to love the play bad decision don’t do this. The week before Cameron Meredith $4500 got the start due to injury and excelled as he was talented to begin with and the new opportunities made him a great play. See the correlation it’s not all about opportunities the talent needs to be present when rostering a cheap player.
Let’s take a minute to talk about a very common roster construction Stars and Scrubs. There is a time and a place for everything but I typically like to avoid this process whenever possible. Let’s review the merits of this philosophy. This approach allows you to get several high priced superstars into your lineups. Now if your deploying this lineup and are able to fill your rosters with a talented cheap player with a new opportunity go for it, but if he is a scrub you may want to think twice. Remember if a untalented player is thrust into the starting line up due to injury this may not end up being beneficial as they may just end up deferring more production to their more talented team mates. In essence the scrub just plays minutes, eats up space, and does nothing beneficial for our roster at the end of the day. So how do we know if a player is a scrub or a talented underpriced player. As stated before follow the team beat writers and read the rotoworld blurbs , this will point you in the right direction.
Lets discuss player costs and minutes now. When I first started playing NBA Dfs approximately 3 years ago an average 50-50 game required a score of around 240 points to cash. Two years ago it was 270 points and last year there were several time a score of 300 still didn’t reach the cashing zone. What that tells me is players are improving there game and making much sharper plays. Now a score of 270 or better is usually good enough on most nights to bring home the bacon so realistically we are looking for every player to average 30 points of production. Another way to look at it and a method that I use is the 5x value rule superstars included. Every player I roster need to have a clear path to 5x value on his salary or I’m looking elsewhere. If it’s an extremely cheap player I’m looking for 6x value . This is why it’s so hard to deploy the stars and scrubs approach and although you get the safety of the stars production you ultimately weaken the overall potential of your roster with the scrubs. Another point to consider if your star underperformance on a given night your lineup is toast as your scrubs in most cases can’t pick up your superstar when that bad game happens. Bottom line Build your rosters with talented high caliber players that stuff the stat sheet and your bankroll will thank you let your opponents make the mistake of rostering suboptimal plays.
As stated at the start of this article the buck stops here. We have to project a players minutes. Again I’ll restate it we want to stick to fast paced competitive games with high team totals . Remember superstars tend to be matchup proof so feel free to use one in your lineups just don’t overdo it. Be mindful of blow outs and asses if you can use players from a team in a projected blow out. In most cases the answer is yes because if a team is projected to blow out another team it makes sense that the key players will have something to do with it and may hit the 5x value in three quarters work. A good example of this last year was the golden state warriors at home (probably will happen again this year too).
Home / road splits
Do you believe in these things . If you don’t you probably should. All these variables play a factor in pricing of a player pay attention. Is a player in the coaches dog house. Is a player on the trading block ( if a team is showcasing a player does it stand to reason he may be playing more minutes and getting more opportunities)
We have now discussed a lot of factors concerning roster construction. Now let’s rate the individual positions and how I assign value. Like NFL we typically want to avoid timeshares whenever possible as each player eats into each other’s production Lowering both players over all value. Is a player prone to picking up fouls , nothing destroys fantasy value more than foul trouble you can’t score points if your riding the bench. When constructing my rosters I try to avoid one dimensional players I want players that contribute in all areas whenever possible
I typically like to spend up here as these players typically have the ball in their hand the most. This is the reason why they are called the NBA quarterback. I want players that take a decent amount of shots but also distribute and get assists. These players also typically get the most court time. This is one spot where you can consider going cheap when an injury occurs as just from the sheer volume of having the ball in their hands all the time can be capable of getting you your 5 to 6x value.
One of the most volatile positions in the NBA . I equate it to the tight end position in the NFL. By definition a shooting guard shoots and is very scoring dependent for fantasy production. What we look for. Great price point and matchups . We also want shooting guards that are involved in the overall team offensive philosophy .If we can find guards that rebound , provide steals, and have a good three point stroke even better.
These guys are the middle ground. They typically do a little bit of everything. They aren’t as scoring dependent as a shooting guard but also don’t handle the ball quite as much as the points guards . These guys can really stuff the stat sheets and typically play decent minutes.
This is the spot where we can find value slot of nights. These guys in many cases can get us rebounds and blocks and depending on the player can be very involved in the offense
Back to the basket guys. Rebounds , blocked shots, and potential foul troubles lol.
These starters typically play the least amount of minutes on your team but can also be a great source of production. Another area when possible I’ll try to pay down.
Let’s wrap this article up. We concluded minutes are key, projecting coaches rotations are essential , using Vegas to help us identify contest to target are useful , and interpreting defense vs positions can help us gain and edge. We discussed the difference between an underpriced player with talent and a scrub ( Evan reread that section remember the Jalen Strong play before rostering poor players again) . What haven’t we covered. A few closing tidbits that may help you. Take the night off on small slates as there usually little variance or opportunity in playing these contests. Play with in your limits and follow sound bankroll judgement. I personally never invest more than 10 percent of my bankroll on any slate and usually Moore towards 5-6 percent. We all like to think we are going to win every night but no matter how good your lineup is trust me things are going to go wrong and shit happens unexpectedly. Basketball is like baseball it’s a long season and you can’t be in it for the long term if you blow your bankroll in a few days. If you feel off or your research is not optimal on a particular day just take the night off . There is always tomorrow. Believe it or not sometimes a day off does wonders for your mind. If your a beginner I hope this article gives you a solid base to start this years NBA season and if your a veteran hopefully this served as a good refresher course.