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Using Vegas Over/Under Totals to Set DFS Lineups (Fantasy Basketball)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jun 25, 2020

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One of the first rules of setting NBA DFS lineups is to check the Vegas over/unders and expected point spreads. These two bits of gambling knowledge can prove surprisingly helpful when deciding which players to target and which ones to fade for a given slate. Let’s take a look at how to effectively use these odds when setting DFS lineups.

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Opportunity

Volume is huge in daily lineups, and this is especially true when playing in NBA contests. Unless you’re relying on an unusually hot scoring night or some crazy defensive statistics in a short time frame, you’ll want to go after guys who play at least 30 minutes each night. If you’ve played NBA DFS before, or if you’ve watched the NBA with some regularity, you should know who these players are from many teams in the Association.

For reserves, you’ll want to look for guys who don’t average 30 minutes a night, but who could see that level of work due to an injury or suspension up the depth chart or elsewhere in the starting lineup. Those are the basics of opportunity, so let’s use that information as a foundation for building lineups based on over/unders and point spreads.

Who to Target

A good rule of thumb when setting NBA DFS lineups is to check out the Vegas over/unders for all of the games on the slate. If you’re a fan of the sport and keep up with it, the odds shouldn’t be too surprising. High-scoring teams, teams that play at a fast pace, and teams with poor defenses usually find themselves in games with high over/unders. If two of those teams meet, that’s even better.

The idea is to target players with a healthy amount of opportunity (see above) who are playing in games with high over/unders. That’s a double whammy for your lineup, as the player already taking 15 shots per game could get a bump to 17 in a particularly fast-paced or high-scoring affair. An increased number of possessions could lead to more rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, or turnovers as well. If you’re looking for a solid option on any given slate, check out the best players from games with high over/unders.

While the players mentioned above are good bets to post solid numbers, you won’t be the only one aware of the potential fantasy boon that comes with rostering them. Be prepared to deal with high ownership of a lot of these guys and decide if you want to include them in your lineup or fade them entirely. Going chalk is a classic move in cash games, where you just need enough points to get to the cash threshold and claim your prize. If you want to win big in tournaments (GPPs), you may want to reconsider your strategy. You should go chalk in some cases for GPPs given the price point, the context of the slate, and available player pool; but you may want to set yourself apart from the competition and fade the popular picks brought on by a high over/under game.

Instead, look at games with low over/unders and determine if any of the players from these games are worth a lineup spot for one of your entries. Low over/unders feature slower-paced teams, lower-scoring offenses, and solid defenses, and while they usually aren’t as exciting as the contests with high over/unders, you can still find some value. Rostering guys from these games can be a savvy way to go contrarian and benefit from low ownership. Be sure to note the contest type you’re playing in and adjust accordingly.

Point Spread

Always consider the over/under in tandem with the expected spread. A high or low over/under is a good starting point, but without understanding how close the game could be, it isn’t as valuable as it could be. For example, if you target a star guard playing in a game with an over/under of 240.0, you should be expecting a big return on investment.

But what if the spread on that game was -15.5 and your guard plays for the favored team? Would you be as high on him knowing he could be benched in the fourth quarter of a rout? This is true for players on the underdog team, as they could be benched in an out-of-reach game, too. No matter which games you target based on the over/under, you always want to aim for players in games with tight point spreads. It’s a good indicator that the blowout potential is low and that starters will be on the court all game.

Conclusion

Always be sure to study Vegas over/unders and point spreads when setting DFS lineups. It can’t be overstated how important this is for the successful daily fantasy sports player. If you understand the expected score and nature of a game, you can more easily identify the players you want to add to your lineups.

Selecting the right players based on context and opportunity gives you a much better shot at cashing than simply going into the contest blind. Research is involved, but all it takes is a glance through the lines for the evening’s contests. Take a few minutes to do some studying, stay informed, and make some money.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck to you!

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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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