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Experts’ Takes on DFS Lineup Construction (Fantasy Basketball)

Jul 1, 2020

Beyond our daily fantasy basketball content, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Basketball Tools. From our Lineup Optimizer – which allows you to build winning DFS lineups in seconds for Cash and GPP contests – to our DFS Cheat Sheets – that helps you get a quick read on the day’s players – we’ve got you covered this fantasy basketball season.

Whether you’re an experienced daily fantasy sports (DFS) player looking to take your game to the next level or a beginner who wants some tips and tricks to get started, we’ve got you covered. We polled some of the best NBA DFS experts in the industry for their takes on lineup construction. Here’s what they had to say:

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How do you prefer to build your NBA DFS lineups?

“As someone who’s been playing NBS DFS for years now, there’s just so many ways to approach it. While I tend to play mostly GPPs, I tend to build better cash lineups. The lineup construction really isn’t at such different in my opinion. The only major difference for me is that I like to take more risks in GPPs and do more game stacks. I loved stacking against the Wizards before the break, simply because of their atrcouous defense and blistering pace.”
Joel Bartilotta (RotoWire)

“I generally like to start out by building a core lineup that includes one top-tier option and one cheaper priced player that I like to provide value. I try for a more well-balanced lineup in cash contests, but I’m more likely to go the stars-and-scrubs approach in a GPP.”
Mike Barner (SportsLine)

“I primarily play in small GPP satellites. These are contests of 30 to 100 where only the single best lineup wins a ticket to a much larger DFS contest. Typically, you can find overlay (when the entires total less than the prize pool) in satellites to other sports. I’ll find the top three to seven plays at each position and feed them into our lineup optimizer in order to quickly generate the max number of lineups each overlayed satellite allows. In those larger GPP contests, I prefer the one golden bullet approach where rather than entering 150 lineups with 140 being sub-optimal, I’ll select the seven best values from the slate then toss in two volatile and contrarian wildcards in hopes to catch lightning in a bottle while everyone else zags.

For cash games, just remember this: people tend to wisely invest their hard-earned money. If a player has high ownership, chances are great that he will be a top play. Essentially, if you have the nine highest owned players, you will cash much more often than not.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

“Don’t shy away from a chalk play or two. While a full chalk lineup makes little sense in GPP tournaments, a chalk play or two in GPP or cash games is not discouraged. This is especially true when it involves players set to see expanded roles due to another player being held out due to injury or rest. Larry Nance is a chalk play when Tristan Thompson or Kevin Love sit out for a reason. Being willing to go with a chalk play who is on a hot streak due to taking the next step in their development is also encouraged. John Collins was playing at a near elite level for almost two months, and while his salary increased, he remained one of the most consistent values at his position.”
Raju Byfield (BettingPros)

“I prefer to build my NBA DFS lineups by focusing on the opportunities created by injuries, matchups and what Vegas is expecting. The best values of the slate are usually produced by an injury to a key player. For example, if Giannis Antetokounmpo is out for the night, his massive usage rate being absent creates greater opportunities for all of his teammates, like Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. Just like in any major sport, matchups are key in NBA DFS. I will find the best matchups of the night and make sure I am attacking them properly. For example, this past season, the Bulls were absolutely dreadful at defending centers. No matter which team was facing Chicago, their center was worth a look.

Trusting Vegas is also a wise move and I always like to start my research by analyzing the Vegas lines and totals of the night. If the Lakers and Clippers are facing off in the slate’s highest total and the spread is tight, I will do my best to get as much exposure to this game as possible. In cash games, I like to focus on the best values of the night and build around them with reliable options in strong matchups. For GPPs, those same players are also great targets, but we need to mix and match those values with some options that should be lower owned. To take down a GPP, it isn’t all about rostering all low owned players, but it is more about finding the perfect balance of chalk and contrarian plays.”
Al Hunter (ForeCash Sports)

What tips can you offer to beginners who are new to setting NBA DFS lineups?

The most important thing when building lineups is to find the injury replacements. Having those super cheap guys filling in and playing the 30-plus minutes that the starter does is fantasy gold. That helps build the rest of your lineup when they’re around a minimum price and it’s truly the key to DFS success.
Joel Bartilotta (RotoWire)

“Target players on teams that play at a fast pace. Also target players who are playing against teams with poor defensive ratings. Be sure to read up on injuries before lock as you might be able to sneak in a cheap value player who will get more minutes in place of an injured/resting player.”

“The single most important tip, and it is crucial, is that you cannot succeed in NBA DFS unless you are certain you’ll be available to pay attention to NBA lineups as they roll in over the final 30 minutes before DFS lineups lock. There will be one player almost every single day who becomes a top-three value because of someone ruled out last minute. If you don’t have that advantage, you won’t win often. Additionally, and this one is a lower-key, start your lineup with the most difficult position to fill. If it is a tough day for power forward value, grab the two best plays there then move on to the next position. You are better off using your 6th best point guard (for salary cap issues) on a PG-friendly slate than your 3rd best power forward on a slate with limited power forward options.”
Bobby Sylvester (FantasyPros)

“The number one thing new NBA DFS players should be cognizant of is when lineups in any given contest lock. There are some contests that allow you to make roster changes up until each individual player’s gametime, others however lock your entire roster as soon as the first contest tips off. This is especially important given the nature of game time decisions and surprises inactives that are sometimes not known until within an hour of game time. Strategizing based on lock times is necessary to avoid a potential zero in your lineup.”
Raju Byfield (BettingPros)

The best advice I can give a new NBA DFS player is to be on top of all the news. To succeed, you can’t miss a single injury note. I recommend finding the best NBA news source on Twitter (I preferĀ @FantasyLabsNBA) and putting on their notifications, so every time they tweet, that tweet is instantly sent to your phone. It can be exhausting at times, but if you want to profit in NBA DFS, you need to fully commit and make yourself available before and during the slate. If one Friday night you’re too busy to check your phone and Kawhi Leonard is scratched right before tip, you’re essentially flushing the money you have on the table down the toilet. Not only in the situation that you rostered him and he produces zero fantasy points, but also that you will miss out on the values that his absence creates.”
Al Hunter (ForeCash Sports)

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Thanks to all of the featured experts who participated. Be sure to check out their work and give them a follow on Twitter.

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