With the 2017-18 NBA season officially underway tonight, I guess it’s time we get the ball rolling (I’ll be here all week). RIP to Gordon Hayward’s left ankle and Kyrie Irving’s hopes and dreams at dethroning King James in the East this year. All it took was 5 minutes and wonky-looking alley-oop attempt coming out of a 1st quarter time out, to officially declare that the Cavs and Warriors will be meeting for the 4th straight year come June (shocker). But, we can enjoy the ride as there is both fun and money to be had along the way.
Here at Fantasy Jags, we aim to please. Only on nights with more than 5 games will we be posting NBA DFS articles to help guide you through the exciting world of cashing (or not) in tournament formats on DraftKings. As we take this roller-coaster ride that is NBA DFS together, remember our motto, “We do not guarantee success on a daily basis, but we WILL take credit for yours.”
I, Chris, will be spearheading the NBA DFS campaign, as DJ continues his focus on the NFL and eventually MLB. I’d imagine he will be popping in from time to time, but expect a slightly different format for NBA, compared to our wildly popular “Who Yinz Got?” weekly NFL posting. Before jumping into player discussions to come in another posting, I wanted to start off the year by going over a few key metrics I like to review each night before jumping into the player pool.
Minutes – The key to NBA DFS is simple. Minutes, minutes, minutes. Keeping an eye on rotations, and not simply starting lineups, throughout the year is crucial in finding great value in players and cashing on a regular basis. In some cases, the 6th man on the team will play more minutes than some starters, and those types of players will carry a significantly lower salary. Make sure as the season progresses you keep an eye on game log and how many minutes your players are logging on average. With that, keep in mind bench players will play more minutes in back-to-backs (starters typically less in these situations). Also, once coaches start benching their studs for rest (give me a freakin’ break), their back-ups will typically fulfill their minutes and produce enough production to be considered.
Point Totals/Spreads – This is the first stop I make on NBA nights. I go to ESPN or Odds Shark, or any other site that will give you a Vegas point total for a given game (over/under) and the spread. I first look for and target games with the highest projected point totals, and then I look for and target players in games with the lowest spreads. “But, Chris. We are drafting players and not in a Vegas sportsbook betting on teams.” Well actually, sarcastic voiced example person used to make my point, we are betting on teams. We are betting on the teams with the highest projected totals to hit the over and produce multiple players filling up the stat sheet, including bench players and studs alike. We are betting on those games with low point spreads to remain close all game, to keep the studs in the game. We need the outcomes of the games to be as close to their projections as possible. For games with high point totals, I will target just about anyone that I know will have a role in the game. For games with low point spreads, I target studs (aka – high priced fantasy machines, the LeBrons, Hardens, Westbrooks of the world) that will see an uptick in minutes because they need to play throughout the 3rd and 4th quarter to avoid losing the game (minutes, minutes, minutes – did you forget already?).
Offensive Efficiency – This is impossible to watch or anticipate for the first few weeks of the season. But, it will show itself throughout the year and will become vital. Determining the pace of play for teams and their offensive efficiency statistics is crucial in determining players to target. For example, a team run and gun team that averages less than 10 seconds per possession (ahem, Rockets), will theoretically produce better fantasy players than a team that runs out the shot clock every possession (I’m looking at you Utah). These additional chances or offensive opportunities translate into more scoring and assists for offensive players, and more defensive stats for teams facing them. As you’ll see with NBA DFS, you can constantly spin the numbers to fit your narrative, but sticking with a few key metrics and monitoring/tweaking them throughout the year will help you develop a baseline to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Consistency – Again, as the year begins to pan out, evaluating player consistency compared to their price point will be crucial. In most tournament games on DraftKings, the money line will hover between 250-270. This means at a $50,000 salary, we are aiming for 5x value, at least. That means we need a player that costs $5,000 to produce 25 DKpts. We also need players to exceed their value, but throughout the year when we talk about meeting value and consistency compared to price point, we are talking about a 5x return. To highlight the example and how we apply it, if a player is averaging 20 DKpts a game, and has a $6,000 price point, we would want to avoid them, as they aren’t proving they can return the value we seek. But, if a player is averaging 30 DKpts a game, and has a $4,000 price point, we would want to be all over it, as they are approaching 8x value. This rarely happens, as the second a player begins to show consistent performance, DK will hike up their price. The key is finding these players and utilizing them before the get out-priced by their own salaries.
Have some fun – Oh, wow! What great advice! It’s true though. Do you have a favorite team? Draft some players from them. A favorite player? Great, put him in first and fill out your roster around him. What fun is DFS if you don’t feel invested? You don’t want to have a roster compiled of 8 players you haven’t heard of before, or don’t care about. Pick some interesting players, watch their stat lines, and enjoy yourself. It wouldn’t be fantasy sports if it wasn’t extremely frustrating at times too, right? You WILL roster a $10K player that will have a dud night. But you also will roster a $3-4K punt player that will be a top fantasy producer on your team in a night. Going into the season knowing that makes the ride more enjoyable.
Nobody Cares, but I love it…
Personally, I have a notorious history of hitting on a punt player early, and rostering them constantly, just to prove my allegiance. During the 2015-16 season, my toxic relationship was with Ed Davis, PF for POR. Eddie Money, as I dubbed him, carried me to many a victory at his casual $3K price point, returning me over 20 DKpts on multiple occasions (I think, just go with it). Last year? Larry Nance Jr., PF for LAL. Again, Santa Claus (due to all the snowflakes he was giving me), helped me cash in one stinkin’ tournament during the first month of the year at a $3K price in a panic-mode plug and play two minutes before lineup lock. I rode Santa to my demise last year, but had a blast doing so. I would get home from work, tune into the Lakers game just to see Santa come in with the second unit, score a few points, highlight dunk, kiss a few babies, and rip my heart out with his awful stat line.
My 2017-18 stallion is TBD, and will be stumbled upon soon I’m sure. I anticipate a glorious, unexpected meeting, not a love at first sight ordeal. What have you done for me lately? Show me some duds that can produce 1/82 games, and I can fall in love too.
Moral of the story, let’s all enjoy the ride and let’s make some money, together, but without you Larry Nance! Check back later today for our first edition of “Pick and (Cash) Roll”. Follow us on Twitter @fantasyjags412 – we look forward to hearing from you.