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How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Late Roster Changes in DFS Lineups (Fantasy Basketball)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jun 24, 2020

Davis was a staple on the Lakers’ injury report in 2019-20 but rarely missed time

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You’re humming along. It’s a beautiful afternoon, you’ve just set the perfect NBA DFS lineup that’s sure to make you a multi-thousandair, and the only thing left to do now is sit back and rake in that sweet, sweet dough. Then, the unthinkable happens. A star, nay the lynchpin of your entire operation, pops up with the dreaded ‘O’ designation. It’s bust city, baby, and you have a late-game scratch to thank for it. Unfortunately, this is almost unavoidable, but it’s just one example of the pitfalls of late roster changes in DFS lineups. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these pitfalls. Let’s take a look at them.

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Where are you playing?

One sure-fire way to reduce your risk of late roster changes affecting your lineup is playing on DraftKings. DK allows late-game swaps in its NBA contests, but FanDuel does not. If you’re a fan of FanDuel and plan on rostering a guy with a questionable tag who didn’t participate in morning shootaround, you’ll need to take a look at the strategies laid out below.

Multiple Lineups

This is best for sites like FanDuel that don’t allow late swaps. Multiple lineups are always a nice way to hedge your bets and cover your bases. If you really want to get a guy into your lineup who might not play on the evening’s slate, you should enter some multi-entry tournaments (but you’re already doing that, right?). By doing this, you can comfortably play your preferred options without stressing. Even if they don’t play, you have plenty of other options available. If they do play and have a great night, you come out on top. It’s a win-win. To further cover your bases, it’s a good idea to get players into your lineups who may benefit from the absence of your preferred play. Backups who will play 30 minutes are ideal, though you can also go for surrounding talent on a shallow roster.

Have a Backup Plan

This is a DraftKings strategy, because the site allows late-game swaps. Your strategies for FanDuel involve multiple lineups and doing some research. comparable to using your flex spot in season-long fantasy football contests. If you have a player with an uncertain status, you always play him in your flex and move your sure-fire starters into their respective positional roster spots. Using that player in the flex means you’ll have more flexibility (see what I did there?) with replacement options in the event that player is inactive.

We need to do the same thing for NBA DFS. In addition to the PG/SG/SF/PF/C spots, DraftKings offers three “flex” positions for its NBA contests – G, F, UTIL. These spots are where you need to plug in players who have a chance to be inactive or benched prior to tipoff. Players with particular volatility should be entered in the UTIL spot, as it allows the most flexibility if you need to make a change.

Be in the Know

Health – Not all injuries are created equally, so this is where you’ll need to do your homework. If a player suffered a serious injury and has missed a lengthy amount of time, it’s up to you as an informed DFS player to do some research on the injury and understand the timeline, severity, and risk of re-injury. On the other hand, minor injuries crop up frequently in the NBA, so you don’t want to panic if a player shows up on the injury report with a trivial ailment.

Just like injuries, all players are not created equally. Some guys tend to sit more than others when injured and some play through the injuries. Anthony Davis was on the injury report in 2019-20 seemingly every game, though he missed little time. Paying attention to these player-by-player trends, you can get an idea of a player’s likelihood of taking the court. Keep in mind, you should also be aware of how the player performs when dealing with an injury. Some can play through injuries without a noticeable dip in production, while others may struggle.

News – It should go without saying, but this one is a necessity. Playing DFS means you’ll be making adjustments and dealing with injuries and inactives daily. There’s no such thing as too much preparation, so make sure you understand what’s going on around the Association. Are certain players inclined to rest in at least game of a back-to-back (Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Kristaps Porzingis)? If so, which game will they be out, and who will be filling in for them? This is vital information for all DFS players, so make sure you’re keeping up with the latest.

This also applies to rest for veterans, league suspensions, DNP-CDs, and inactives for other reasons (personal, team discipline). There are plenty of reasons a player may miss time, so keep your feelers on the ground. It’s impossible to be prepared for all late-game inactives and roster changes, but you can account for most of them by doing your due diligence with research.

Lineup changes don’t just mean players who won’t log any minutes. A change can be a player entering the starting lineup or heading to the bench due to a number of factors. Some matchups may favor one player over another (DeAndre Jordan over Jarrett Allen) or the coaching staff might want to shake things up because of a losing streak or a series of underwhelming performances by the team. Buddy Hield was replaced by Bogdan Bogdanovic in the Kings’ starting lineup late into the 2019-20 season, and his cheaper price made him an appealing DFS option. Hield mostly kept his value while coming off the bench, but the situation was always one to monitor when setting lineups.


Dealing with late roster changes in NBA DFS contests is a way of life, though it doesn’t have to be something that destroys your entire lineup. There are ways to avoid the pitfalls of late roster changes, and in the case they can’t be avoided, they can be mitigated. By following the simple tips and tricks listed above, you can eliminate the stress that often comes with late roster changes. Thanks for reading, and as always, best of luck!

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

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