NBA Strategy: Injury Impact Part 2 – Minutes

In Part 1, I talked about how injuries impact team dynamics and how that can drastically change fantasy performances. However, the most important way injuries impact fantasy performance is how they impact minutes played.

Minutes = Fantasy Point Opportunities

To score a fantasy point in daily fantasy NBA, a player must do something “special” on the floor. Make a shot, assist a shot, rebound a missed shot, block an opponents shot, or steal the ball. But to do any of those things a player must actually be on the court. Minutes is ostensibly a measurement of how long a player is on the court. Therefore, the more minutes a player gets, the more fantasy points we should expect them to get.

Starters Get The Most Minutes

Because more minutes mean more fantasy points, how many minutes we expect a player to be on the court should be integral to their fantasy point projections. In general, that starting 5 get the most minutes, at least 30 minutes in the majority of cases, with one or two bench players receiving 20 – 30 minutes a game. Therefore, if a player moves from the bench to the starting lineup because of injuries, we can expect that players minutes to increase along with his fantasy production. Because of the minutes increase, reserves filling in for injured starters tend to be sources of good, low salary plays.

Larger Skill, Larger Minutes

The best players on any given team almost always tend to average the most minutes. If a player is having a good game, it’s likely a coach will not want to remove him from the game or will be antsy to put him back in the game. The reverse also holds true. If a scrub player is put in the starting lineup, there’s no guarantee he will get a lot of minutes. Watch out when you consider playing bad players filling in for injured starters, as they may not get the 30 minutes or more you would expect.

A good measure of skill is fantasy points per minute. You can look up the projected fantasy points per minute of any player in our tools section.

Less Positional Depth, More Minutes

Whether or not a given player is starting and whether or not a player is skilled are good predictors of minutes. But one of the best ways to predict minutes is to look at positional depth charts.

In rare scenarios, teams will have enough injuries where they will only have one or two players suit up at a given position. This happened a few nights ago with Denver, where backup point guards Randy Foye and Jameer Nelson both were not playing. With only backup guard Erick Green on the bench, who was 4th on the depth chart and averaged single digit minutes all season, Ty Lawson ended up playing 44 minutes, and subsequently had a 50 fantasy point game.

You can predict a minutes increase for a player when depth and quality of depth decreases for his position. Depth charts can be found on many different places across the web. I personally use Rotowire depth charts. The Rotowire depth chart page lends itself to easy analysis of the positional depth of each position for every NBA team.


  • For a player to score a fantasy point, they must be on the floor. Therefore, the more time they spend on the floor, the more fantasy points we should expect them to produce.
  • How many minutes we expect a player to be on the court should be integral to their fantasy point projections
  • In general, starters will get 30+ minutes, and a few bench players will get 20-30 minutes a game.
  • The better a player is, the more minutes we should expect them to play. Bench players who move to the starting lineup will almost certainly get more minutes, but if he is a poor player he may not get enough minutes to be a worthy fantasy pick.
  • The less depth and quality of depth a team has at any given position, the more minutes we should expect from the starter at that position.

View all posts by Daniel Steinberg
Daniel Steinberg

About the Author

Daniel Steinberg Daniel Steinberg is a former bond trader at a multi-billion dollar proprietary trading firm in Chicago. He uses his knowledge of statistics and his creativity from his career as a poker professional to create the most advanced Daily Fantasy statistical analysis that you will find anywhere. Follow him on twitter @DanielSingerS

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