How to Create Your Own Value System in NBA DFS Contests (Fantasy Basketball)
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Playing NBA DFS is a great way to keep up with the current basketball landscape, get a dose of fantasy sports in a quick and easy format, and challenge yourself to adapt to daily price and roster changes when setting lineups. However, the ultimate goal for most DFS players is to make money. To make money in DFS, you need to set clear goals and strategies, and that includes creating a personal value system that you can use as a guidepost for setting future lineups. Here are a few tips to creating your own value system in NBA DFS contests.
The most basic premise to creating your own value system is understanding the scoring for your DFS site of choice. You can find the default scoring for FanDuel here and the default scoring for DraftKings here. As a general rule of thumb, points are scored one-for-one. A player who scores 27 points in real life would score 27 fantasy points in this scenario. Assists and rebounds count for a little bit more, while defensive stats (blocks, steals) are usually worth the most. Turnovers count for a loss of points. There are some deviations depending on the site and contest, but these scoring settings are pretty standard.
Scoring Relative to Position
Scoring alone won’t help determine a personal value system. Instead, you need to understand scoring by position. On average, center is the highest scoring position in NBA DFS because of the opportunity for rebounds and blocks and also because there is only one starter at that position for each team. As such, the average price for centers is typically higher than the average price at other positions. That’s where value comes in, but we’ll talk about that later. A good place to start when creating a value system is understanding the stats that matter based on position.
The most important guard stats are assists, steals and turnovers. Purely scoring guards can provide a great boost to your DFS lineup if you roster them for a hot game, but utilizing one-dimensional players is not an oft-advised strategy. In 2019, Coby White and Collin Sexton were primarily points guys, and night-to-night performances were tough to predict. On a couple of big nights, White was a key piece in winning GPP lineups, though he burned DFS players on plenty of occasions, too. Scoring is a nice bonus, but assists and steals count for more points overall, and those stats don’t have the tendency to fluctuate like shooting does.
For this position, you need to look for rebounds and assists primarily. Many of the NBA’s elite forwards can score with ease, but the secondary stats are the most important for DFS contests. A forward with quality passing skills is more difficult to find than a forward who can only score and rebound.
Blocks and rebounds are king for centers. These best in the game play solid defense in the paint or clear the boards, and the very best can do both. Guys like Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, Nikola Vucevic, and Deandre Ayton find themselves among the highest priced options consistently on most slates.
The stats mentioned above are just simple guidelines for each position. Determing personal value for NBA DFS requires you to dig deeper and figure out which stats you believe to be the most important. With that said, it’s worth noting that players who regularly stuff the stat sheet should be examined differently than players who excel in one or two areas. Players with the ability to contribute across the board provide owners with a much safer floor than one-dimensional options. If that player falters in scoring one night but is a strong rebounder who plays good defense, he can still provide a useful fantasy line for your DFS lineup. You need to consider a player’s overall skill-set when placing a value on him.
The price of a player has to factor into a personal value system. First, you need to look at the player pool for a given slate as a whole. This means comparing salaries across all positions to determine value. If a given slate has just a few players with five-figure salaries, you’ll have to determine if you want to target any of these players due to scarcity of studs or if you want to fade the top-dollar players completely in favor of a more balanced lineup. It’s all relative to the slate, and there are risks involved with fading studs and paying up for them. Next, you’ll also want to look at the player pool for each position. Is the pool shallow for centers, with a couple of big names at the top followed by a steep dropoff? Are there a vast array of options at forward? All of these questions need to be addressed, as they will guide your lineup-building decisions. You may decide to pay up for a stud at a shallow position and save some money at a deeper position. It’s all about the price point relative to the slate.
Creating a personal value system should consist of two different values based on the contest type. First, for cash games that require you to place among a certain percentage of entrants or beat a pre-determined score, you’ll want to look for consistency above all. Cash games pay the same to all winning entries, so there’s not a lot to gain by placing at the top of a leaderboard compared to placing at the bottom of the winners. The goal is simply to place, meaning your valuation strategies should be different than they are for GPPs.
In GPP contests, winners are typically paid out in tiered fashion among winners, with the highest scoring entries taking home the most money with less paid out to lower scoring winning entries. The goal here is to finish at the very top of the leader board to collect the biggest payout, meaning your valuation strategy should focus on targeting players who will likely have low ownership. These players often come with some baked in risk and less safe floors. Guys like Coby White, who was mentioned above, should be valued differently in cash games vs GPPs.