3 Questions to Ask When Setting Your NBA Daily Fantasy Lineup
With NBA All-Star Weekend and the trade deadline behind us, I wanted to give daily fantasy players a few notes on what’s really important to pay attention to when setting your lineup.
Clearly depending on how many games are being played on a specific day, that’ll depend on what exactly to prioritize. It’ll be similar, but not the same. For this specific article, pretend it’s a standard Wednesday or Friday – meaning there are several games.
I see a lot of different strategies debated by daily fantasy players – injuries, expected minutes, being in the startling lineup, using basic stats against salaries, etc. But without getting super complicated about this, there are three things I believe a majority of daily fantasy players tend to underrate and overrate in general.
Is this value play really worth it?
This requires paying attention to detail. If you see someone is starting for the first time because another player is injured, why are you actually considering starting him? Anyone can find a player starting who normally doesn’t because of an injury. But will this guy actually get a huge bump in minutes? Is there depth behind him at that position? Is his team now a huge underdog on the road? Can this guy actually contribute in multiple statistics?
These are all questions you should ask yourself.
For example, Ronny Turiaf of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was playing roughly 20 minutes per game off the bench before Nikola Pekovic suffered an injury. He stepped in to be the starting center next to Kevin Love. On most DF sites, he was slightly above minimum salary. This seems on the surface like a no-brainer to start him.
But this is where basketball knowledge comes into play. He’s never averaged more than 6.6 points or 21.5 minutes in a season for his 10-year career. He’s an average-to-decent rebounder and has limited offensive skills. He’s also playing next to Kevin Love, the injury to Pekovic isn’t supposed to be long term and Minnesota has decent depth in the frontcourt.
Therefore, with this information, this isn’t as good. He has little upside, so he might meet his salary or pass it, but are there are other better value plays? Probably. It shocked me how many people played Turiaf out of the gate.
On the other side, let’s take a look at Chris Kaman. When Pau Gasol went down, he was one of several Lakers players who were bit by the injury bug. Jordan Hill was also fighting off injuries. Robert Sacre as barely an NBA caliber player. Rookie Ryan Kelly had been starting at PF, and while he can stretch the floor and shoot from outside, he’s a scrawny PF and doesn’t do a lot of damage inside. He more acts as a role player when he has Kaman or Gasol next to him.
As a result, Kaman’s minutes go up, his usage percentages increases and his production is massively increased.
Does this Guy earn a lot of FPTS per Minute?
This is helpful for multiple reasons. It can help you dictate how efficient a player is, if he contributes in multiple areas and if that’ll come in hand if he’s expected to have increased minutes. Usage percentage is a helpful statistic in this regard too.
Take Andray Blatche. He comes off the bench, typically getting just over 20 minutes per game.
But his usage percentage 27.1 (that’s high and the best of his career) and his PER is 20.0 (highest on team except injured Brook Lopez). When he comes off the bench, he’s one of the main focuses of the offense and usually dominates on the glass. The starting five is usually more balanced between Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce, which is why Kevin Garnett starts for role-player purposes.
So, if you see a game where Garnett will sit for rest, Brooklyn is a big home favorite (unlikely, but possible) or even one of the other nets scorers are out, Blatche is a very good start.
Am I being Recently Biased?
When we see a certain player go off, we naturally think, “wow, this guy is incredible!” But it’s incredibly important to pay attention to why someone does. This is one of the biggest areas you can gain an advantage on another player. It’s also one where you can miss out on opportunities.
But why did perform well? Injury related? Did he play more minutes because the game was a blowout? Did he catch fire? Was it just a fluke?
Remember the game Terrence Ross went crazy for 51 points? He was averaging under 10 points per game at the time. DeMar DeRozan went down in the middle of the game, Kyle lowry kept feeding him the ball because he was shooting lights out and the Los Angeles Clippers aren’t exactly a great defensive team outside of Chris Paul at PG.
Essentially, it was the perfect storm of the previous things listed. There was little to no chance Ross would come even close to doing that again. There were plenty of people who continued to play Ross for the next few games, but fading him in that scenario gives you an advantage.
But when it comes to a guy like Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin increasing their value and production with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul out respectively, it obviously makes sense why their FPTS maintained consistency. Even in a bad matchup, you know these two will be the focal point of the offense without their other star players and top guys usually aren’t highly correlated to competition like mid-tier players.
So again, there are three questions you should ask yourself when setting your lineup. With hot players, they help you decide whether you get great value, or if you fade him and get an edge on your opponents who are just looking at box scores.
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