• Daily Fantasy Sports, better known as DFS, has evolved those who were casual fans into line up building machines.  DFS is a way for people to construct teams for competition for fun or money but unlike traditional year-long fantasy leagues, DFS is only a one-day competition with rosters built according to a designated budget where a new team can be made daily. However, as it erupts like a volcano in the fantasy landscape we see more and more people gravitating towards DFS. If you are a rookie wondering how to break into the wild world of NBA DFS then this article is for you.

    Daily Fantasy Sports can be extremely painstaking and complicated for anyone, let alone those who are just beginning. My suggestion for those starting out is to keep it as simple as possible. Yes, I know those GPP prize pools look appetizing, but building a bankroll is the absolute most important aspect and there is no better way to do so than cash games.

    For a more in-depth look at what research goes into lineup construction, click here!

    For a closer look at how DFS players can build some bankroll in the preseason, click here!

    The Games

    This brings us to tip number two; knowing what game types you are entering and how to build an effective lineup for each. There are two main categories of game types in DFS: GPP’s and Cash games. GPP stands for Guaranteed Prize Pool; in other words these are tournament contests where the pay structure is guaranteed whether the contest fills up or not. Targeting these contests could be beneficial as the ones that do not fill automatically increase the player’s odds of cashing out.

    Everyone likes to go for the long ball, but a GPP player could sometimes hit a cold streak and if you do not have or are not willing to lose some bankroll you could see your morale and cash diminish quickly. The two types of cash games that could help you build a solid bankroll for GPP’s are called Heads Up and 50/50’s.

    Heads Up is simply playing another player one on one.  The player with the highest score wins the wager. This could be a quick way to double up on lineups you feel comfortable with. It is also a fun way to just challenge a friend or co-worker. The real money for cash games lies in 50/50’s. In these games the user could double up on their money if they finish in the 50th percentile of the contest. In other words, if the contest has 100 people in it then in order to cash the user would have to finish in the top 50. While you may not be able to cash out on a $20,000 prize, it is much easier to cash on a nightly basis playing these games.

    To be profitable playing cash games one must know the difference between building Cash and GPP lineups. In a GPP you could be competing against thousands of other people to have the best lineup. You must take in multiple factors including ownership percentage, upside, game stacking (playing multiple players from the same game) and more. That is not to say you do not need to research for cash games. Research is the number one thing and you can never do enough of it, but in cash games you are not worried about finishing in first place – just that 50th percentile. This means taking the safer plays that possess high floors. You do not need your lineup to stand out as much and you won’t need to worry about some of those other factors that you would in GPPs.

    The Settings

    We know the game types, but now we need to know how the players we are selecting could accumulate points. Here at Hoop Ball we are partnered with DraftKings and will be using their scoring and lineup construction as reference for this article.

    You start with a $50,000 base allowance to afford eight position players for your team. The construction must contain one point guard, one shooting guard, one small forward, one power forward, one center, one guard (point or shooting), one forward (small or power) and one utility player (any position).

    *DraftKings allows players to select two centers.

    Players accumulate points as followed:

    Point +1 Pt
    Made 3pt Shot +0.5 Pts
    Rebound +1.25 Pts
    Assist +1.5 Pts
    Steal +2 Pts
    Block +2 Pts
    Turnover -0.5 Pts
    Double-Double

    {Max 1 Per Player: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals}

    +1.5 Pts
    Triple-Double

    {Max 1 Per Player: Points, Rebounds, Assists, Blocks, Steals}

    +3 Pts

    As you’ll notice if you have dabbled on some of the other DFS sites, DraftKings offers a bonus for players who accumulate a double-double or triple-double. It may seem minor, but 1.5 or 3.0 points can make all the difference in cashing.

    So now you have a run down on everything you need to know heading into building your lineups, but with some slates as big as 12 games how do we begin targeting the players who will contribute towards profiting?

    The Research

    There are many factors to consider when building your lineups. As I stated earlier, construction will differ depending on the contest type you are entering, but nonetheless these are some generic research tips that could be used in all modes.

    Matchup: The matchup between two teams is commonly the first thing DFS players notice when constructing lineups. Blowout risk, pace of play and simply defense versus position are just some of the factors used to determine a good matchup.

    Blowouts: We want our players on the court for as long as possible and fourth quarter blowouts could hinder that as stars tend to rest in the fourth quarter when one team has a monster lead.

    Pace of play: The pace at which a team players greatly factors into their production for DFS. It’s simple; if you are targeting a player versus a team that plays at a faster pace, then the player or team you are targeting will likely see more possessions. More possessions equal more shots, rebounds and assists and that equals money.

    Defense versus Position: You may have noticed the small letters on player profiles that says DvP. This is defense versus position. In other words, how good or bad the opposing team is at defending said position.

    Injuries and value: I don’t think there is a single person out there who roots for injury, but sports are sports and NBA players succumb the injury bug too. This is something DFS sharks capitalize on. When a starter goes down someone has to step up. This player filling in will usually if not always be at a discounted price for the first day or two of their new role. Finding these sources of value could allow you to pay up for an extra superstar.

    Minutes equal money: Obviously if someone is stepping up for an injured player they will absorb some of their minutes. Simply put, minutes equal money and the more time your player is on the court the better chance they have to accumulate points, rebounds, blocks, steals and assists.

    “5X”: This is a common term used amongst the DFS community. It basically means a player scored or will score five times their salary in points. In other words, if Jose Calderon (shout out Panda) had a $4,000 salary you are expecting at least 20 DK points from him in cash games. In tournaments we are generally looking for a little more than that, but it is a good way to immediately eliminate some names from the player pool.

    Well, these are some of the tips I have to offer to those who are thinking about diving into NBA DFS. Remember it is not easy and you can never research a slate enough. Perhaps the most important thing to do when playing DFS is to have fun. At the end of the day it is fantasy basketball. Winning money is always fun, but never bet the majority of your bankroll. Set yourself a limit and be willing to lose what you are wagering.

    I hope you found this beginner’s guide helpful and if you think you’re a step ahead of what was said here then I suggest checking back as we include more DFS strategy articles. They’ll take a closer look into what needs to be researched in order to be a successful GPP player and what needs to be done to differentiate your lineups in mass-entered tournaments.

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