Using Fantasy Points Per 36 Minutes For Daily Fantasy NBA

There are a lot of factors to consider when evaluating the best plays of the day for NBA daily fantasy. We’ve talked about injury impact and matchup in other articles, which play a huge role in any given players projection. But the most important factor to consider is a projection of a players fantasy points per 36 minutes, as some players are simply more adept at scoring fantasy points than others.

How Our Projections Work

You can look at our fantasy point per 36 minute projections here. The way they are calculated is quite simple. We simply take a weighted average of a players per 36 minute production this season and the previous season, depending on the minutes played of each season. For players with a lot of minutes this season, the projection is almost exclusively based on the current season.

It can often feel like players have drastic statistical improvements, but those are mostly a function of a large increase in minutes rather than skill. Overall, a players year to year per 36 production does not change that often, especially for rebounds, steals, and blocks. However, points and assists tend to be a function of how much a player tends to create their own shot or a shot for others, which can change a fair amount year to year, especially for younger players and when a teams makeup drastically changes. Young players like Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis took a big leap in their offensive role in 2015, and they took even bigger leaps when key offensive contributors like Derrick Rose and Jrue Holiday were injured.

How To Use The Projections

There are two ways I tend to use per 36 minute projections. One is comparing two players to each other, and the other is evaluating whether a player who is expected to have a large increase in minutes will do well.

Let’s say we are looking at whether to play John Wall or Damian Lillard at PG for similar salaries. Let’s say both have pretty good matchups, and both of their respective teams are at full strength. On one hand, Lillard has been tearing it up, averaging 45 fantasy points a game, averaging 3+ steals in the past few games. On the other hand, Wall has been ice cold, failing to score over 35 fantasy points in any of his past couple games. A lot of people will choose Lillard over Wall. But the answer to me is Wall. Wall has a per 36 minute projection that is 3 fantasy points better than Lillard. It’s unlikely Wall or Lillard are drastically worse or better players, and therefore we should still expect Wall to be the more productive player. Recent performance can make some players look wildly better or worse than others, but we shouldn’t expect a players per 36 minute production to drastically change with the same players on the floor, especially for veterans. With that said, Lillard’s FP per 36 numbers should increase this year with the absence of Lamarcus Aldridge, and subsequently Lillard will probably pass Wall in FP per 36 projections.

Another way to use per 36 minute projections is for a quick check on whether a player who is expected to get a big minutes increase is a good value play. The better their per 36 minute production, the better we should expect them to do with a minutes increase. There are a fair amount of players in the league riding the bench who have per 36 minute production that is on par with players who have salaries in the of $8000 or more range. Marreese Speights of the Golden State Warriors has a projected fantasy points per 36 minutes of 38.89, which is higher than Marc Gasol, Carmelo Anthony, and Nikola Vucevic to name a few. If the Warriors had a lot of injuries to their big men causing us to expect Speights to get 30+ minutes, he would easily become the best fantasy play of the day. There are a fair amount of players in the same boat as Speights, such as Cole Aldrich, Alexis Ajinca, and Shabazz Muhammed, who have great per 36 numbers but almost never see the court.

There’s also a fair amount of players who have extremely poor fantasy points per 36 who we should not expect to do well with a drastic minutes increase. Damjan Rudez, for example, only has a projected 15.36 fantasy points per 36 minutes, so even if he were to become a starter he would still be unplayable in daily fantasy, even at min salary. Same goes for guys like Nik Stauskas or Joe Harris.

When To Reconsider Per 36 Projections

Per 36 projections should be fairly accurate by looking at a weighted average of the past two seasons. However, per 36 minute production can drastically change with shifts in team makeup or when player has taken a larger offensive role in his past few games.

A good example of how team makeup affects production would be Russell Westbrook, who is at the time of this article leads in the league in FP per 36 with 52.63. This is a drastic increase from last season, where he averaged 45.8 FP per 36. Has Westbrook become a much better player? He probably has improved, but the changes in his production are mostly a result of the absence of Kevin Durant for most of the season, causing Westbrook’s offensive role and subsequent production to increase.

When it comes to a players production in the past several games, I think it makes sense to ignore large statistical increases in peripheral stats like rebounds, blocks, and steals. Large short term increases in these numbers are almost certainly a product of luck and should not be predictive of future production. On the other hand, points and assists make sense to consider in the past several games, as those are mostly a function of a players offensive role. Players who are shooting the ball well and have been focal points of their teams offense are likely to continue to have a larger role in their offense. You can measure offensive role by looking at points, assists, and USG%.




  • A players fantasy point per 36 minute projection is a great baseline for making picks in daily fantasy NBA.
  • Our projections use a weighted average of per 36 minute production from the past 2 years.
  • You can use FPP36 projections to compare two players or to see how a players production should scale with an increase in minutes.
  • Players with an increased offensive role are likely to have a higher expectation in points and assists per 36 minutes.
  • Don’t be fooled by players who have had an exceptional amount of defensive fantasy points in the past few games. Projections for Rebounds, Blocks, and Steals should stay very stable.


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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