2017 NBA Draft Guide: How To Build Your DFS Roster
Jon Impemba breaks down how to build your DFS lineup for the upcoming NBA season
So you decided to play DFS NBA huh? Taking your season long skills to the daily game may seem easy enough but while your draft preparation for season long leagues are built upon long term success in the world of DFS you need to identify which players are going to help you win on that night and how to properly put together that winning lineup. How do you put together that winning lineup you say? Well let me break that down for you.
Know Your DFS Site’s Scoring System
The first step to playing DFS is to pick the site and each site has their own set of rules and scoring system. Knowing your DFS site’s scoring system is the first step when it comes to building out a DFS lineup. Some site’s offer bonuses for three-pointers, double-doubles, triple-doubles ect. Some sites award more points for steals and blocks. You need to know these things before you make your roster as those little differences could be the difference between picking Player A or Player B for your DFS roster.
Know Your DFS Site’s Roster Positions
To build your best DFS roster you must first know the roster positions on the site you are playing on. Depending on where you decide to play your DFS contests you may be forced to pick two players at each position or be given a little bit more leeway with general positions such as guard, forward and utility instead of point guard, small forward ect. These little intricacies really do matter in DFS as you look to maximize exposure to certain matchups and take advantage of potential value plays or pricing mistakes on players.
Look Beyond the Standard Statistics
As touched upon by Ben Scherr in the Intro to DFS NBA and James Grande in DFS Stats To Know there are a number of statistics to look at beyond the standard stats such as points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks when it comes to putting together a DFS lineup. Things like pace of play, usage rates, point spreads, game totals are all important things to look at as they directly impact the players you will be picking from when making your DFS lineup. For example if you see that the Nets last season had the highest pace of play that means that both the Nets and their opponent will see an increase in offensive possessions. The increase in possessions will lead to an increase in scoring opportunities and therefore an increase in potential production by the players on the floor. Usage rate is another key stat as it dictates just how involved a certain player is in the offense. Guys like James Harden and Russell Westbrook are usage rate monsters as the ball is pretty much always in their hands which means it Is likely they are involved in the scoring for their respective teams. Of course those two players are also typically the highest priced players on any given slate so the idea is to look for players who have high usage rates on their respective teams in situations where they are in an up tempo game as it will lead to a higher chance of scoring DFS points. Point spreads are important because a close game typically means the team’s best player will be on the court more often than they would be in a blowout. The NBA is the worst when it comes to resting players and often with teams like the Warriors or Cavs at times you would see starts like LeBron James or Steph Curry not play the final quarter or get extended rests because their teams are up by so much. While there is still a chance they will hit their DFS value in limited minutes they are also a risky play in these scenarios. Knowing the point spread of a game, while not as important as the other stats, is something worth considering when building a lineup.
Find the Value
In every DFS article you read they always tell you to try and identify the value play. Well in DFS NBA there is no player more important than the value player. In the NBA if you find out that a backup is going to be entering the starting lineup you will almost always need to roster him because it is more than likely that his price tag will be very cheap and in the NBA minutes=points. For example, last season Chris Paul was out with an injury and DFS players across the injury were legitimately forced to play the likes of Austin Rivers or Raymond Felton depending on who was starting because of how cheap they were and the fact that they would be getting a big boost in minutes. Value plays like this allow you to stack them with some of the top players on the slate such as a Giannis Antetokounmpo or LeBron James and could even help you fit both of those players on your roster. My favorite value play over the past few seasons has been Norman Powell of the Raptors. His price tag would often sit towards the bottom of the pricing pool as he averaged a mere 13 minutes a night off the bench which would make him useless BUT he found himself in the starting lineup 18 times last season an in those 18 games he averaged 15.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.6 three-pointers over 31.9 minutes. DFS sites are unable to adjust player pricing on the fly so finding out a guy like Powell is going to be in the starting lineup makes him a must start.
Cash Game Rosters
I am a big time proponent of playing cash games which are typically 50/50s or double-ups for the point of this article. When building a cash lineup you are looking for players who average about 4.5-5x their price tag meaning if a player costs $5,000 you want him to be consistently scoring about 23-25 FP as floor level of production. Ideally you will find guys who can get up to 6x early in the season as sites often underprice some players early in the year. You do not want high variance players in your cash games as you will likely fall out of the money if that player has an off night. You always want to play the chalk (most popular player on the slate). There is no exact science to identifying the chalk but you can typically get a feel based on the matchups who will be the higher owned players on the site. In cash games you will want to have exposure of these players because if 60-70 percent of the field has LeBron James and he hits his value and you do not have him then you will really have your work cut out for you to make that top 50% of the field. The chalk is not always the highest priced player either as those value players mentioned above are always usually very chalky and allow for you to roster some of the more consistent higher priced players.
GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) Rosters
Ah yes, the lottery ticket everybody is hoping to hit on. GPP contests consist of single entry, limited entry max and mega multi-entry contests where players can enter up to 150 lineups in the same contests. For me personally I tend to play the single entry or the limit entry max contests which consist of somewhere between 3 and 20 entries allowed per individual. Do you remember that high variance player I told you to avoid when building cash games? Well you want to have some exposure to that guy when building your GPP lineups as his ability to have a huge night is what it will take for you to make a run at winning one of these bad boys. For me personally Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the high variance player I usually found myself having exposure to. KCP for short, attempted nearly half of his shots from beyond three-point range and on the nights that he got hot from deep he would end up going 7-8x his value but for every night that he would get hot from deep he would also go ice cold and a cold night from him could tank your lineups. He is not somebody that I would have 100-percent exposure of if I was making multiple lineups but he is somebody that you would need to have in at least a few lineups in case he has a night like he did against the Hornets last season where he went 7-for-15 from three-point range, scoring 33 points with nine rebounds and three assists.
Vary Your Exposure
You just saw me mention exposure rates in the last paragraph and having the right amount of exposure to players is key when making multiple lineups. As I said before, you will want to play the value play of the night and more often than not you will want to play the chalk but those are just a handful of players to have as the core of your lineups. You will want to vary your player exposure around those 3-4 players with other guys. Varying your player exposure across the slate will help negate the losses you might have when some players have an off night. I try not to have more than 50 percent exposure to any one player outside of my core group of players where depending on who it is I may go all-in and I will rarely go over 25-30 percent with those players of higher scoring variance.
I don’t often find myself running too many straight team stacks but I will game stack where I take 3-4 players from one game with a high total and high pace of play. Often the players with the highest usage rates on each squad. In a game with high totals it is more than likely that those players will be the ones doing all the damage. Stacking in the NBA is much different than other sports where multiple players can get points off one possession like in the MLB where guys can score runs and get RBI’s, the NFL where the QB throws a touchdown to a WR or the NHL where multiple players can get an assist on one goal. In the NBA, at most one player will get an assist on a basket but not even that is guaranteed so target games not so much individual players on one team against another.
So there you have it. The keys to building a winning DFS lineup for the upcoming NBA season. If you have any specific questions feel free to post them in our FANation forums or hit me up on twitter at @jimpemba777 and I will do my best to answer them asap.