Last week, I wrote an article covering strategy for Daily Fantasy Golf on DraftKings. Golf, in my opinion, is one of the most fun daily fantasy sports, but it’s limited in its profitability because the contests are usually on the smaller side and the tournaments run only once a week. Daily Fantasy NBA, on the other hand, has contests almost every day and hosts much larger tournaments than golf. For example, the $33 NBA Bird tonight has a $150,000 prizepool (awarding $20,000 for 1st place) and even the cheap $3 to enter “Sharpshooter” has a $100,000 prizepool.
Clearly, there’s a lot of money to be made in basketball on DraftKings. Daily Fantasy NBA strategy is more complex than Golf, but there are 3 fundamental concepts in NBA that can simplify your strategy a lot, and can make you big money if used correctly. I’ll give you a quick breakdown of these concepts below.
The most important information in Daily Fantasy NBA is injury information. Players will sit out games with minor injuries throughout the season, and if that player has a big role on the team, it can drastically change the dynamics of that team. Players who may have not had much of an offensive role may find themselves as the #1 option, and a player who may have normally come off the bench may become a starter and have his minutes double. When I go into my picks below, you’ll see how injuries influence which players I play every night.
In the NBA, every team plays with a different style and at a different pace. Some teams will be poor defensively, some will be great. Some will have tall, big post players who are good rebounders, some will play small and be vulnerable on the offensive glass. Some will play at a frantic pace, and some will use up every second of the shot clock to slow the game down. All of these factors determine whether a team is a good matchup for a player, and which is a bad matchup. Matchups can drastically affect a player’s fantasy performance, and should always be taken into consideration.
The price of the player is the most fundamental but sometimes overlooked factor in determining whether a player is a good play. In Daily Fantasy NBA, each player is assigned a salary and those salaries vary from day to day, based on an algorithm DraftKings has created in order to price players fairly. However, their algorithm isn’t perfect. Some players will be drastically mispriced due to injury or recent performance. Finding underpriced players, and avoiding overpriced players, is the key to creating a great lineup. You may like Russell Westbrook against the 76ers, but if he’s priced at $12,500, he’s simply not worth it even in the juiciest of matchups.
With all of my picks on the next page, I’ll be using the tools on my daily fantasy strategy website, DailyFantasyWinners.com, to analyze these 3 factors and find the best plays. All of these tools are free to use if you’re a registered user, so sign up if you want to do some analysis yourself.
(All advanced stats via dailyfantasywinners.com)
1. Robin Lopez ($4,800)
Robin Lopez’s backup, Chris Kaman, is out for this game, which means Lopez’s minutes should rise from his 28 mpg average this season to about 35-40 minutes in this game. The Trailblazers enjoy a fantastic matchup with the Lakers, who have a horrible defense and are especially bad against Centers, allowing 47 fantasy points per game to that position. Lopez’s salary is depressed having come back from injury 4 games ago (it was around $5,500 earlier this season), so he will have an easy time hitting value (outperforming his salary) with such strong factors in his favor.
2. J.J. Barea ($4,900)
Rajon Rondo is out for the next few months with an eye injury, and J.J. Barea has been starting in his absence. Since this only happened a few games ago, DraftKings salary algorithm has yet to raise Barea’s price for his new role. Even better for Barea, Monta Ellis went down with hip injury in the Mavs’ last game, pushing Barea’s backup, Devin Harris, into the starting shooting guard role. Barea is going to have a big offensive role with Ellis out and with only Raymond Felton to back him up, he should see plenty of minutes. He also has a fantastic matchup against the Jazz and particularly against starting PG Dante Exum, who sports a fantasy defensive rating of -1.36. With so much in his favor, Barea should be one of the best values of the night.
3. Chris Paul ($9,600)
Injuries to starters can help players on a team other than just that injured player’s replacement, and this idea is illustrated perfectly with Chris Paul. Blake Griffin is out 4-6 weeks with a Staph infection, and the team has to replace that offensive production in some way. Paul goes from being a 1-2 punch with Griffin to being the main offensive option, and it boosts his fantasy value tremendously. This was clear on Monday vs. the Mavericks, where Paul finished the game with a slash line of 25/6/13, good for 56.5 fantasy points. Houston isn’t a great matchup, but I’m not worried with a player like Paul who should be priced in the mid $10,000s with Griffin out, but is only $9,600.
4. Eric Gordon ($5,900)
With Ryan Anderson out and Anthony Davis doubtful to play, the only two real offensive options on the Pelicans are PG Tyreke Evans and Gordon. In 5 games with Davis out this season, Gordon has averaged 21.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 4.6 assists per game. Two night ago against Utah with Davis out, Gordon scored 43.75 fantasy points and was one of the top shooting guard plays of the night. His salary is way too low for a player capable of that type of production.
5. Charlie Villanueva ($3,800)
Dallas is absolutely decimated with injuries, losing Tyson Chandler last game due to an ankle injury. Without any depth at Center, Villanueva will likely start at center (and even if he doesn’t, he should get big minutes) and has been great when getting minutes in his career. This season, he’s averaged 22.1 points and 9 boards per 36 minutes. As a starter, he won’t have as much of an offensive role, so even if he does get 30+ minutes, I don’t expect those numbers. But he did score 34.25 fantasy points two nights ago when Chandler went down, and did so in only 23 minutes. He could be in for a big night.
If you have any questions or comments about my picks or this article, feel free to tweet me @maxjsteinberg. Good luck!