April 18, 2017, 9:50 am
The NBA playoffs are an incredibly fun time of the DFS season. Season-long fantasy leagues are over but it isn’t all rainbows and roses just because we don’t have to worry about players resting after the main slate lock time. With the NBA postseason come different issues for Daily Fantasy Sports players. There are strategies for these small two and four-game slates that are completely different than tactics you might use in the regular season. There are enormous advantages to be had if you can pinpoint them. Luckily, I am going to lay out the strategies that will provide you with the edge necessary to compete against the sharp players that remain in NBA DFS.
Find Your Top Scorers
The very first thing to do when looking at the main slate is to identify who you believe will score the most overall points for the night. No matter the cost, the opponent, defense versus position, usage, or any other regular season criteria, it is imperative that you have that player locked into your lineup and go from there. This does not mean you need to pay for the most expensive player for every slate.
If you think the most expensive player, Russell Westbrook, is going to score the most points, then you do need to lock him in. If Westbrook is the highest priced player on the slate and you believe LeBron James is going to score more points in Game 3 on the road in Indiana, then you can absolutely lock in King James and not worry about ownership or salary. Ownership percentages and salaries do not matter for whoever you believe will score the most points. It only matters that you have that player.
In the playoffs, having those highest scoring players is more important than having a well-rounded lineup. With a limited player pool to choose from, it would be a mistake if you were to go with a fair and balanced approach to building your lineup. In the regular season, when we have an enormous player pool for a large slate, it is easier to find mid-priced players who can have the upside necessary to score in the 40’s and 50’s. In the playoffs there are only a handful of players who have that type of upside on any given night.
Most teams’ stars will play close to and sometimes more than 40 minutes. When you have these types of players locked into heavy minutes who also have heavy usage there really isn’t an opportunity for mid-priced players to score in the 40’s. Those types of players simply lack the minutes, the usage or both. This is why it is imperative to grab as many of the stars (and their enormous ceilings) as you can.
Stars and Scrubs
Once you have lined up a few of your favorite plays that you think will score a lot of points it’s time to add in a few scrubs. Many players call this a “Stars and Scrubs” build. The “scrub” players are going to be your sub-$4,000 priced players who will play a lot of minutes and usually have a specialty. A perfect example is J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Every game he will play over 30 minutes and shoot a handful of three-pointers. If he catches fire he can throw up a solid high 20’s fantasy point night for a really cheap price and a low ownership percentage.
If you have a couple guys like J.R. in your lineup who go off for high 20’s and you have a couple stars who can both score 50-60 points then you’re really setting yourself up for success. It is an all or nothing approach to the slate, but when you are playing small two and four-game slates you really want to find a way to separate yourself from the other lineup builds.
Against the Grain
For these short slates in the playoffs, there are usually duplicate lineups because there aren’t many different players to choose from. You don’t need to go incredibly contrarian and just slap together a random assortment of players across six teams, but it would be a wise decision to try to grab a guy who hasn’t provided much reason to select him and use game theory to find a reason to play him.
For instance, you can choose someone like Nene Hilario from the Rockets, theorizing that Houston will work inside-out against the Thunder because the Rockets’ outside shooters are ice cold coming into the game. You’re building your own theories off of logic and trends – use this strategy and hope you’ve theorized the outcome correctly.
In the playoffs, you will sometimes see a lineup and think, “Why in the world would anybody have played that guy?” It might have been a dart throw, it might have been a nugget of research that you missed, or someone might have game theorized some sort of outcome that allowed a player to get more playing time and exploit an advantage he had over his defender. Use the strategies in this article to create and exploit your own mismatches against other DFS players.
Our goal for the playoffs is to not pick and choose the right players to use, but rather to pick and choose the right players that our opponents do not. Find that edge, attack it with every tool available, and sit back and watch the game. DFS or not, the NBA playoffs are one of the best watches in sports television. The atmosphere and environment are like none other from beginning to end.
Good luck to you throughout the NBA playoffs and I hope you find success in the execution of the strategies I have provided. You can find me on Twitter @DFSnDONUTS. I would love to hear from you or see any positive results you experience from this article.