October 14, 2017, 11:42 am
Tuesday, October 18th is the start of a new season. Listen, I know the NBA season actually begins the day prior on the 17th, but the 18th marks the beginning of a new season in its own – a new NBA DFS season. Daily fantasy basketball has changed the realm of fantasy sports and everyone in it. It enables the casual fan who may want to make their night a little more interesting or the diehard fantasy player who puts in the extra time and research to hopefully profit in a sea of big DFS fish.
Regardless of which category you fall into, this article is for you. In the four years I have been playing DFS I have spent countless hours a night preparing for tomorrow’s matchups, checking box scores, listening to post-game interviews and more. A lot happens in the DFS landscape every night. Players’ values fluctuate, new rotations may be utilized and injuries happen. But this is why October 18th is so special.
The 18th marks the first day of DFS with more than two games. It is the first loaded, 11-game slate of the season. In time, it is important to understand and pick up on DFS trends and changes. One I have noticed and look forward to over the years is opening night, as it has become a profit monster for avid DFS players. It is a day where some of the advanced players and sharks take advantage of the knowledge gained from years past to start their season off with early profit. Here is how:
- Take advantage of the casual or new players
Ok, this sounds a lot more terrible than it really is. DFS has expanded – every day new people are playing and at some point we were all the small fish in the pond. The NBA is no different than other sports; opening night tends to see an influx of new or casual players. Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re more than just the casual player looking for a little extra fun. These ‘new’ players tend to focus more on the names they know and do very little research when building a lineup.
- There is no excuse to not prepare
A major challenge in DFS is keeping up with news, coach-speak and minute rotations on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully you used the offseason properly, where there is nothing but time and effort to put in. Most wait until some of the final wrinkles of rotations are ironed out or are busy with their fantasy football teams, but this is an important time to hear how coaches talk about their players and what they expect from them. It is a time to use your season-long fantasy knowledge and translate that into a DFS language. A good thing to do is to look into the second half numbers from last season, rather than the season as a whole. This can be a better indication of how a team might use their younger players in rotation this season. We already know the matchups and we know who’s on which teams (for the most part), so the edge can come in deciphering the minutes.
- New players and new teams
Every year players get traded, signed and drafted. In some cases we do not know what to expect right away from rookies or players in new roles. Neither do the DFS price makers. A seasoned player understands how minute rotations break down and with the right calls, this skill can be utilized in finding great values across the DFS landscape on opening night. Once these players begin to thrive in their new systems, their prices will be adjusted accordingly and you will miss out on the chance at getting players at their cheapest price of the season. Some rookies can make an immediate impact for fantasy, like otherworldly talents Anthony Davis or KAT did, but on the opening night their prices may not reflect the way they are capable of playing until they show it for a stretch. In some cases, this will be their lowest price tag of the year. If you’ve done your research you’ll be well positioned to capitalize.
- Look into teams’ game plans and coaching styles
Coaches, like players, are on the move every year. We need to keep an eye out on how players’ stats may be affected by the new team that they are on, or by the new coach a team might have hired. Differences in pace of play or shot attempts can greatly impact a player’s DFS value. As we have seen in the past a coach such as Tom Thibodeau can greatly impact a player’s minutes.
- Lastly, DO NOT blow all your money – look for freerolls on the first night and have fun
I know it is the first 11-game slate of the season and I know I just gave you four other reasons to play, but maintaining bankroll is a crucial part of DFS. Generally, set yourself a daily budget you’re comfortable with spending. I generally use a percentage of my total bankroll and on some nights less if I do not like the look of the slate. On opening nights, DFS sites tend to launch free contests to entice new and current users to compete early in the season. The contests are a great way to get started and build an early bankroll for nothing.
Most start playing DFS because it is an added element in the fantasy universe. These are simple tips that can be used across all platforms and in all contests, but absolutely nothing substitutes hard research. Hope they help, have fun playing and see you on October 18th.
Previewing some tasty matchups
It is a little early to start thinking about building lineups for this huge slate, but it helps to have some of the great plays and matchups figured out before pricing comes out. A generally rule most DFS sharks go by is the ‘5X’ rule. This means that the player will return five times their price in points. For example, if you are paying $10,000 for Kevin Durant you are going to want at the very least 50 fantasy points in return. The lower the price of the player, the higher return in points should be expected. In other words, do not expect or look for your high-priced studs to put up more than six-seven X as the price is baked into their reliability.
These are some of the players at positions I will be keeping my eye on heading into the opening DFS main slate
PG- Dennis Smith Jr. Dennis Schroder, Ricky Rubio, Damian Lillard
Dennis Smith Jr.
The Mavs absolutely love this kid. He is a rookie and that leaves the door open on the possibility of Smith being severely mispriced to start the season. His usage remains unknown at the time, but with a matchup against Schroder and the Hawks I expect a large workload and a cheap price tag.
This team is bad. I don’t recommend playing multiple guys from a terrible team that can easily get blown out, but I like Schroder off of sheer volume. Last season Schroder averaged 18 points, six assists and three rebounds per game. Take away Millsap, Howard, Hardaway and what does that leave? Absolutely no one but Schroder. He will share shots with Kent Bazemore, Taurean Prince and Ersan Ilyasova, and none of those guys present a true challenge to his volume. DFS doesn’t count percentages, so Schroder taking 15-20 shots a night is something that is extremely valuable for the point guard position.
Rubio finds himself in a new situation in Utah. The Jazz open against the Nuggets, who seemingly struggled against point guards last season. While Rubio was never known for his scoring, the Jazz may turn to him to take more shots. Some DFS sites offer a bonus for a double-double and I find it hard to believe the Jazz stand any chance without Rubio feeding Gobert in pick-and-roll situations.
Similar to Rubio, Lillard has a great matchup. The Suns played at one of the highest paces last season and struggled against opposing guards, leading to massive scoring totals. Not much has changed in the starting lineup for Portland, so expect the large volume of scoring to come from Lillard and C.J. McCollum. On a night where players may tend to lean towards guys like James Harden, CP3 and John Wall in good matchups, I believe Dame will go under-owned with the ability to out produce all three.
Honorable mention- Darren Collison
Collison has opportunity, matchup and pace all in his favor. He figures to one of the cheaper point guard options on the slate and is a great option if you want to spend your money on pricey big men.
SG-D’Angelo Russell, Avery Bradley, Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lamb
Russell finds himself in the perfect situation on opening night. It will be hard for major sites to price Russell, leaving the door open to what may end up being the cheapest price we pay for him all year. He should see a high volume of shots and gets to face a weak Pacers team. If the price is right, I can also see his ownership through the roof. Russell will remain one of those wait and see guys once pricing comes out, but he is one of the top guys on my radar. I Love filling my SG spot with PG’s who are multi-position eligible.
Another player who finds himself in a new city. Bradley will be asked to do a lot on offense for the Pistons, especially shoot the three. Draft Kings are one site that gives an added bonus to 3-point shots, making them more valuable. Although I highly doubt we see some of those gaudy rebounding games we got from him last season, I expect Bradley to take a lot shots, and with Nic Batum out for the opposing Hornets he will likely draw Jeremy Lamb in coverage. Bradley is not the sexiest name, and he will likely go under-owned on opening night.
I know this one seems obvious, but I believe people are going to over exaggerate on how much CP3 will affect Harden’s production, including DFS sites. Harden sat atop the ranks with Westbrook last season as the two highest priced players and rightfully so. Harden will be required to score at the same rate but now may be able to do so at a higher efficiency. Paul will sap into his assists a little, but if we can get Harden at a price that isn’t the highest on the slate, he becomes a must play. This game has the makings of a blowout and on any other night I may advise to avoid paying up for Harden, but on opening night we can expect at least 35 minutes from the big names on the Rockets.
Nicolas Batum is expected to be sidelined for 6-12 weeks due to a torn elbow ligament. This opens up a role for Lamb to start. Coach Steve Clifford would routinely start Lamb in place for Batum in past games he has missed, but now Lamb has extra time to prepare as a starter. The matchup is not the best against Avery Bradley, but for the price Lamb will be a solid play. I expect his ownership to be in the mid-tier, but Lamb has the potential to hit 3-4 treys on any given night and will have plenty of opportunity to chuck.
Small forwards- Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo, T.J. Warren
The debut comes against the Wizards and he will likely see a ton of Otto Porter. The matchup is a decent one, but Simmons’ ability to contribute across the board leaves the possibility for a double or triple-double any night. I expect big things from Simmons this season and his price tag will eventually reflect that. It remains a mystery as to whether Simmons will be positioned at power forward or small forward, or even both.
The Greek Freak broke out in a big way last season and was virtually matchup-proof for the entire season. He’ll look to take advantage of a Celtics team with no rim protection. Antetokounmpo’s bread and butter is his defensive counting stats and quick dunks. I expect the Celtics to play a little more up-tempo with their new additions and that is exactly the type of pace he thrives in. I don’t expect him to finish as the best point per dollar play, but it wouldn’t shock me if he were the highest scorer on the slate.
Both teams in this Suns-Blazers tilt will play at an above average pace, which suits warren’s game of attacking the rack. Small forward isn’t the strongest on the 18th, but if you’re looking for someone with upside, middle of the road pricing and in a later game; Warren is your guy.
I’m pumping the breaks on Prince a little. Yes he has a starting role in a rebuilding team where he is one of the focal points, but scoring isn’t Prince’s forte. Not saying he can’t, but he makes value in his blocks, steals and rebounds from the small forward position. He’d be one of the preferred low-tier options of the night.
Power Forwards- Paul Millsap, Anthony Davis, Ersan Ilyasova
Power forward seems like a position I am going to spend up on this slate. Things can change, but as of now there are multiple murky logjam situations for teams such as the Bucks, Jazz, Celtics, Sixers and Nets. There are a few players who I left out and will later mention due to unknown position eligibility.
The Nuggets checked off all of the boxes when scouting on whether Millsap with be able to coexist with superstar Nikola Jokic. Rudy Gobert Is going to have his hands full with Jokic and Millsap is the perfect four to spread the floor and hit open jumpers. He also has an uncanny ability to rack up counting stats including steals, blocks and assists. Look for Millsap to be a good way to get exposure in this Denver offense while Gobert might bottle up Jokic.
There is no real mystery to why Davis is on this list. He is likely to be the top power forward option and has a great matchup against a weak Grizzlies frontcourt. Gasol can only guard one big at a time, and I am leaning towards him shadowing Boogie for most of the game. On a weak power forward slate, it might but wise to pay for Davis and take your risks in other places.
This figures to be a wonky game against the Mavs. Ilyasova will likely draw the matchup against Harrison Barnes, one he should be able to take advantage of from outside. Again, it’s a weak slate for power forwards and Ilysova figures to one locked into a role with a good matchup at what I expect to be a fair price.
Centers- Myles Turner, Nikola Vucevic, Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela
Center will be a loaded position. There is a good range of high-priced and low-priced value plays making it easy to roll out an Anthony Davis or James Harden lineup. Center is also a position I look at often for the Util position in my lineup while most teams have been opting to go with a stretch-four. This is about predicting which centers can grab double-doubles and get that bonus, which can be the difference between finishing 27th or 1st in a contest.
Turner is going to be a popular play, but for good reason. Paul George and Jeff Teague are gone and those two accounted for 29 shots per game for the Pacers last season. He is by far the best player on the team and will be licking his chops with a matchup against the Nets. Turner could be in for a breakout season and owners might want to own him at what could be his cheapest salary of the season.
He is the Heat destroyer – Vucevic averages 20 points, 13 rebounds and three combined steals and blocks per game during his career against Miami. Vucevic will likely get overlooked on a day where the slate is loaded with strong options. He seems to be a sure lock for a double-double.
Nurk-Alert found a home in Portland after getting lost in the shuffle in Denver. He has a great matchup against the weak interior of the Suns and it a go-to scorer in the post. I expect him to be a great middle price play and could provide exposure in the late night hammer. We’ll see how the price changes with news of C.J. McCollum’s suspension for this one, but he should still be a worthy play.
I cannot wait to see this pick-and-roll in action. Capela and Harden ran one of the more efficient pick-and-rolls in the NBA last season and the Kings do not have a single player on their roster that can stop it. Add Chris Paul to the equation and he will be DeAndre Jordan-esque. Capela blocks shots and swipes at the ball while in the interior, adding quick counting stats while doing so. Capela will be one of my favorite lower-priced centers and will be a good pairing with Harden. I expect a big season from Capela
Honorable Mention- Boban Marjanovic
This offseason, coach Stan van Gundy kept talking about giving the big man extra run this season. Boban is a player who produces huge counting stat numbers in limited minutes. While there are plenty of safe and strong options, Boban will go severely overlooked, making him strong GPP option. There is always the chance that Drummond gets himself into foul trouble early, thus opening the door for extra minutes for Marjanovic. The Hornets defense is no easy task, but Boban should dominate the glass on the second unit and can easily grab a double-double in under 20 minutes of playing time. His value will be in the ownership.
Keep in mind that a player’s salary completely effects their value. A lot of the selections are based off what I expect their price to be relative to the rest of the players in the field. Hope this helps you take down whatever GPP or cash game you play. Keep an eye out for Hoop-Ball posts, articles and updates for your DFS needs. Good luck, go take down a GPP!