Each time you login to the multitude of sites you play NBA DFS on, you should be looking for a few different things. Everyone and anyone can tell you that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic are good plays, but doing research matters. Those same people can tell you to base your picks solely off points, rebounds and assists, but those are simply the basics. To become truly versed in the art of NBA DFS, you have to allow yourself to try new ways to be successful. 

Your research can take you many ways, but looking at specific stats and categories help narrow down your search. I’m going to take the opportunity to break it down in list form for everyone, so enjoy! There are definitely some others, but there is no doubt these are the five you should follow each and every time you build lineups.

Over/Under & Spread 

Here at Fantasy Alarm, we have all the tools at our disposal to figure out both. Targeting teams with high team totals in a close spread are ideal. Las Vegas’ projections aren’t going to be right all of the time, but they have a really good idea on which games will be close, which games will be blowouts and which games will score -- or not score -- a lot of points. 

General rule of thumb here for Over/Unders;

  • Implied totals of 200 or below are bad games to target.
  • Implied totals of 200-210 are still not the best games to target.
  • Implied totals of 210-220 are very solid.
  • Implied totals of 220+ are the best games to target.

General rule of thumb here for Spreads;

  • Double-digit spreads are hard to trust in cash, generally they’re something to target in GPPs.
  • Single-digit spreads are viable for all formats and something you should seek out if you’re playing cash games.


Knowing a player's minutes gives you a breath of fresh air when constructing your roster. The more minutes = the more possessions = the greater chance of accumulating fantasy points. Minutes tie into a lot of other important stats, but them on their own are critical. If you’re playing cash games, you obviously want someone who will give you a high floor of minutes; normally over 25, but to feel the most safe we prefer north of 30. 

Something we should definitely factor into minutes is the potential for a blowout, if somebody is coming off an injury or older. Using the data we just compiled from Vegas, we know if a game is projected to be a blowout or not. If you plan on paying premium dollar for somebody who may not play in the fourth quarter than you better expect them to hit or exceed value based on all the research you’ve put in. 

Pace of Play

This may be the most underrated stat of them all, but arguably the most important. Pace is the amount of possessions a team has per game. The faster pace a team plays at allows them, and their opponents, more possessions. What that means is the more possessions offensively, the better chance that the player(s) in your lineup has at racking up more fantasy points. Selecting player(s) from teams playing at a fast pace is easy, but the real gold is found in the player(s) from the entire squad playing faster. 


No. 1 team in pace in 2020-’21 was the Washington Wizards at 106.4.

No. 30 tem in pace in 2020-’21 was the New York Knicks at 98.2.

The addition and subtraction of players from certain teams could obviously change how teams played from last season to now. Our example up above was simply for your benefit and to see how it worked. Last year’s numbers will help slightly at the beginning of the season, but after a couple of weeks have been played out is when we really grasp who will lead the league in pace and who we will look to avoid targeting against because of the turtle-like play style that specific team will more often than not be playing at.

We have something interesting coming to an NBA DFS page near you for all your pace of play needs *wink face* 

Usage Rate

When building our rosters, usage rate is a major stat to know. The higher the usage = the greater chance at DFS points. It’s very hard to trust players with low usage rates because they rely on others to make plays for them while they accrue their stats standing in corners, tipping in shots on the glass, etc. 

It’s easier to use players with low usage rates in tournaments because the element of surprise and taking more shots are there. Low usage rate players, ESPECIALLY guards, are far more risky when it comes to cash games. Identify what kind of game you’re going to enter and use usage rates accordingly.

Defense versus Position

In MLB DFS we have BvP, but for basketball it’s critical we know which teams struggle guarding specific positions. For example, if we know that the Celtics have struggled guarding the point-guard position, we should look to exploit that matchup on the other side of the game. There is a question you must first pose to yourself, however. You have to know if there will be a lockdown defender cross-guarding a different position than he normally guards due to how elite the player he’s going to defend is. 


There are a lot of things that factor into projections, but being able to navigate through them can separate you from the pack. The ability to find good to great value on any given night is crucial. Projections are constantly changing based on who’s in and who’s out of a lineup. They’re also constantly changing based on match-ups, vegas odds and spreads as well. Being able to read projections and formulate a plan based off of them is a winning strategy.


Stacking in NBA DFS is not as ideal as it is in other sports like MLB or NFL. You can game stack and play a few players from each game, but it’s not an optimal strategy to play a lot of them because it takes away from the upside. In baseball, everyone gets an at-bat and generally the same amount. That’s not the same when it comes to basketball because not everyone takes shots and not everyone is racking up assists or rebounds either. Again, you can have a two-man stack and bring it back with another player from the other team, but that’s as far as I’d go there.

Draft Forecast Percentage

When it comes to constructing lineups in cash games versus tournaments in all sports, draft forecast percentage plays a role. Game environments, Vegas totals, spreads all factors in here, but ultimately we end up with chalk plays and contrarian plays.

What is chalk? Do we avoid it?

Chalk is a player that is going to be popular. You can judge a players popularity on an upcoming slate by industry speak, sure, but more accurately by a draft forecaster percentage. The higher the percentage is, the chalkier (higher owned) a player is.

We don’t have to avoid chalk, especially in cash games. You don’t risk the field pulling away from you if you and 50% of the field is using one guy that doesn’t play well. That strategy changes in tournaments, however, where the differentiation matters. You can play chalk plays in tournaments, especially if it’s a great match-up, but if the chalk busts, you’ll find it much more challenging to cash, let alone win a GPP.

Now that it's been broken down for you, things should have become clear as day -- as long as I've personally done a good job explaining everything to you. If you have any further questions on what is being said here, feel free to message me on Twitter at @The_Real_Grande or even on the DFS Alarm Discord! It feels SO great knowing the NBA is BACK!