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How Much Differentiation Should You Have in Multi-Entry Tournaments? (Fantasy Basketball)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jun 30, 2020

Whether you’re new to daily fantasy basketball or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Basketball Glossary. You can get started with Why “Points Per Minute” is the Single Most Important Stat in DFS or head to more advanced strategy — like The Do’s and Don’ts of Building a Contrarian DFS Lineup — to learn more.

So you’re setting multiple lineups for a multi-entry tournament. Of course you’re wondering, how many different player combinations should I spread out across my different entries? Does it make sense to use the same core of players and build around them differently in each lineup, or should I be branching out and rostering as many players as humanly possible? Let’s dive in and explore how much differentiation you should have in multi-entry tournaments.

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All About Exposure

Exposure is a word you’ll hear a lot when talking about building DFS lineups, and it’s for good reason. Exposure measures how many unique players you fit into your lineups, if you set more than one. It’s tough to get a lot of exposure when you’re limited to one lineup, but if you play multiple entries in a contest, you have the chance to really branch out and get exposure to a lot of players.

Exposure – as are most aspects of the daily fantasy game – is based on the slate in which your contest is taking place. A small slate makes it more difficult to differentiate because the player pool is smaller. A larger player pool likely means the number of quality options is elevated, making it much easier to differentiate because of the volume of choices. In both cases, however, differentiation is important, but for different reasons. Slate size and player pool are recurring themes in the world of DFS lineup building, so make sure you’re comfortable with them. Context always matters. The size of the slate certainly determines how much you’ll want to differentiate across your lineups.

In smaller slates, the choices are often so limited that any DFS player worth his salt is going to be aware of the high-upside values. Studs will be few and far between, so you can fade them to go against the grain but risk missing out on necessary chalk that keeps you competitive. In larger slates, the amount of options and therefore lineup combinations can be dizzying, and finding the perfect combination becomes a very difficult endeavor.

You can see that exposure is a must for both large and small slates, and getting a lot of it to as many different players and player combinations greatly enhances your odds of selecting a winning lineup and cashing in your contest.

Tough Choices

Slate size and player pool certainly come into play here, but the best players and the best matchups will always stand out. Many nights, you’ll be faced with tough decisions between one to three or four players who are similarly priced. To make the final decision, you need to pay attention to important stats like pace and defensive rating while measuring a player’s upside and opportunity. Even taking multiple deciding factors into account, you may still have a very difficult time choosing between two players with similar upside, value, opportunity, and matchup. If you want to get all of these guys into your lineups and not stress about making the wrong decision, you’ll need to differentiate your lineups and your lineup constructions. Speaking of lineup construction:

Lineup Construction

Stars and Scrubs or balanced? Those are the two options NBA DFS players are usually forced to employ, but with multiple lineups and plenty of differentiation, you can utilize both strategies. If you really want to cram two or more top-dollar studs into an entry, you’ll be mixing those guys with cheap options (scrubs) to balance out the budget. You won’t have room for mid-priced guys you’re interested in if you have Nikola Jokic, Trae Young, and Kawhi Leonard stacked in one lineup. Conversely, if you want to build your lineup with half a dozen guys in the mid-tier, without going too high or too low in the salary range, that’s an option as well. It’s all about how you want to build your lineups for a given slate, and utilizing multiple lineup-building strategies can lead to increased exposure and differentiation that can increase your odds of producing a winning DFS lineup.

How Much?

All article, we’ve examined why differentiation and exposure are vital to success in multi-entry tournaments, but how much differentiation is needed? The concepts of slate size and player pool have been hammered on frequently, but it’s time to bring them up one more time. When talking differentiation, it’s important to mention core players. Your core is a group of typically 3-5 players who you use in multiple lineups while plugging in different options around them. A core is usually a safer group of players that give your lineups a foundation and allows you to get exposure around them across your unique lineups. Utilizing a core is a perfectly sound strategy, and using more than one core group is recommended. A core group of players is best used on larger slates due to the volume of options available, and smaller slate lineups should be more diverse to separate from the competition that is picking from a shallow number of players.

With all of that said, differentiation for larger slates should be at least 60 percent from lineup-to-lineup, with maximum exposure. If you’re using a core, settle on a maximum of four players on DraftKings or Yahoo and a maximum of five on FanDuel. Use multiple cores. Vary your surrounding players significantly from there. You can also opt to build more unique lineups than that by selecting a smaller core or simply ignoring that concept altogether. Differentiation for smaller slates should be at least 70 percent, and remember to keep in mind the risks associated with building around chalky options. These are suggested guidelines, but remember that no two slates are created equally. Positional scarcity, price point, player pool, matchups, and injuries are all factors to keep tabs on, so the amount of differentiation can and will vary. Be flexible and adapt.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck in your DFS contests!

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Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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