How To Treat Hot and Cold Player Streaks in DFS (Fantasy Basketball)
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Hot and cold streaks are aspects of fantasy basketball that all DFS players have to grapple with at some point. Inevitably, some players will heat up for a stretch, while others will go ice cold and fail to make much of an impact. Either way, if you want to be successful with DFS entries, understanding how to treat hot and cold streaks is essential. Let’s take a look at how to do this effectively.
In the NBA, players can heat up at any time, especially shooters. When a player is in the midst of a hot streak, price typically increases, so you have to consider the value of the player relative to price and streak. There are a number of factors that go in to determining the value of such players:
- Circumstances – what are the circumstances of the hot streak? Has the player faced unusually easy matchups along the way, or has he gotten additional opportunities based on injuries? The nature of the streak is of vital importance, because – as we repeat often when dealing with NBA DFS – context matters. Which brings us to the next factor.
- Sustainability – how likely is the player to continue on the hot streak? Is his next matchup particularly difficult based on the opposing defense, has he underperformed against a particular team in the past or is he simply on such a blistering pace that to continue would be unreasonable to expect? In any case, if you feel the streak is unsustainable, you would be wise to build your DFS lineup around other players.
- Value – what was the player’s value before the streak began? Was he a role player, a starter with limited upside or an elite talent? If he falls into the first two categories, you should certainly evaluate your options. If he falls into the final category, he’s a must start. Elite players on a hot streak have to be in your lineup no matter the cost. Otherwise, you risk falling behind the competition if he has a massive game. Guys like Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden can go off for 60 or 80 points on any given night, and when those guys are hot, they’re must plays, and you mold the rest of your lineup around their salaries.
- Stats – what kind of stats is the player putting up during his hot streak? Is this just a great three-point shooter excelling for a few games, or is this player crashing the glass, getting teammates involved and swarming on defense, too? Some shooters are streaky, and you don’t want to chase a player who’s exclusively a shooter with little else to offer on the periphery.
- Price – Has the price become too expensive for this player to actually return value? Every player has a value cutoff, and once a hot player crosses that salary line, he’s no longer a value. Target players whose salary hasn’t yet caught up with his current production. Once the salary is representative of the production, you’re no longer getting a value.
Just like hot streaks, players can hit cold streaks at any time, and it’s important to understand how those cold spells can be used to your advantage when setting DFS lineups. Cold streaks typically drive down the price of a given player, but does that make the player more valuable once he inevitably breaks out of his rut? It depends on a few factors.
- Streak-buster – how long has the streak been going on? As we mentioned with hot streaks, there comes a point when current production (or lack thereof) is unsustainable. There’s no exact science behind this, but incremental improvements are an encouraging sign as are timing, matchup, or opportunity. When you feel a player is ready to break out of his clump, it is the perfect time to add him to your lineup.
- Value – how good was this player before he went frigid? It’s important to remember that low-upside starters and reserves in the midst of cold streaks are not worth targeting. Even if they break out of the slump and you’re able to get them into your lineup at a discount, there’s such minimal upside that your money is better spent elsewhere. Elite players who are struggling make perfect tournament targets because of the massive ceiling they bring to the table and the discounted price for which you can nab them.
- Price – price and value obviously go in hand-in-hand. A player with tremendous upside that you can insert into your lineup at a fraction of his worth gives you an advantage and increases that player’s value. Conversely, players experiencing a cold streak who are not among the handful of upper-echelon stars do not provide enough upside to warrant a roster spot in DFS lineups.
The most important thing to remember about hot and cold steaks is that neither will last forever. These streaks are ephemeral and will eventually be broken, but as a dedicated DFS player, you have to be aware of how to treat them and how to use them to your advantage. As always, thanks for reading and best of luck!