FanDuel Single Entry Series: Touches
Welcome back, and welcome to the final week of the FanDuel Single Entry Series. How have you been doing? Don’t forget to check the results here. If you’re going to see how well I’ve been doing, make sure you look at all five weeks! Last week was basically a streak of bad lineups until I finished strong yesterday with an 84th place finish.
I’ll be looking to bring my “A” game in the final week, which is a $50 buy-in event. Do you want to dance with the Dingo? Do you want to come at the best players in DFS and prove what you can do? Are you one of these guys in the forums talking about how multi-entry doesn’t take skill? Cool. Pony up the $50, and come prove you can hang. There will be some nice rewards on the line if you can successfully accomplish your goals.
This may come as a shock to hear, but you can’t accumulate fantasy points unless two things are true: 1) Your body must actually be on an NBA basketball court and 2) You have to touch the ball. You can lose fantasy points without the ball (turnovers), but you can’t gain them. It’s not hard to understand why I think it makes sense to be evaluating the touch profile of the players on your Single Entry Series roster.
Let’s dive into this tool and see if we can help you use it as a part of your player evaluation process.
Touches Per Game
This stat is pretty basic. It should be used as a reference tool for you to understand the players that touch the ball most often on average. It’s great information, but it is also important for you to understand that this is baked into fantasy salaries and projections through a number of different means.
How you could use this to find value: Since the existing touches per game metric is already incorporated into salary and projections, you would ideally be looking to find reasons that player touches on tonight’s slate might not equal the expectation. For example, you might try to determine who great defenders like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Robert Covington are covering on defense. They have the skills to limit your touches (or your time per touch) if you play off the ball. You might also want to look at play type data and see where the opponent allows more activity as compared to the league average. Your player may be a high percentage “Roll man”, and if the opponent allows a high percentage of that play type he could be in line for some extra touches (as opposed to the ball handler keeping or passing elsewhere). Lineup changes, injuries, and game environment are all factors that projections attempt to account for. However, your skill as a DFS player relies on your ability to determine how accurately they are incorporated. If you think the change is being undersold by a projection, then there could be potential for him to touch the ball more and thus have more opportunity to score fantasy points.
Touches Per Minute
This is a rate stat you can use to make a difference in terms of evaluating opportunity. Why? Because it relies on the subjective activity of projecting minutes when it comes to how well it is built into DFS salaries and projections.
As you can see above, the list of touches per minute for isn’t led by the same names who lead total touches.
How you could use this to find value: You want to make a short list of guys who are asked to touch the ball a lot on a per minute basis, and find situations that they may play more minutes than projections are accounting for. Some example situations include foul trouble, rotation changes that stem from injury, rotation changes that stem from matchup, rotation changes that stem from Stan Van Gundy/Jason Kidd being insane (read: coaching), or game situations (blowouts, crunch time in a close game, overtime). Be careful to make sure any of these changes wouldn’t actually change the player’s rate of touches before you get too excited, but if the story checks out you may be looking at a solid opportunity for your player to reach his ceiling.
Not all touches are created equal. Some are more valuable than others. Possession time per touch is one way you can parse out the noise. Just take a look at how a typical touch time changes by position:
It makes sense that point guards touch the ball longer than Small Forwards (guys like LeBron and Butler tend to have unusually high touch times for SF). So you can’t just look at all touches as the same. Holding the ball for more time means that you probably aren’t just shooting it instantly or moving the ball. You’re likely dribbling (dribbles per touch is actually available on NBA.com), moving around, and finding assist opportunities or higher percentage shots. The point is that more touch time is generally better for fantasy, and I think the names that appear near the top of each position anecdotally show that.
How you could use this to find value: Show me a player who isn’t usually asked to handle the ball a lot from the point, and will suddenly have to do so for one reason or another. I’ll show you a player who is likely to score more fantasy points in the majority of cases. Some instances of this might include a thinned rotation due to injury requiring a non-point guard to run the offense, or a shooting guard like Bradley Beal or Devin Booker with ball handling skills that becomes a target spot in a good matchup. Keep your eyes open for situations where you think a player’s time per touch may differ from his season long norm. This situation might just be missing from DFS pricing or projections, and that means value.
Post and Paint Touches
Remember when I said not all touches were created equal? Post and paint touches qualify as better quality touches. I hope that makes enough sense that I don’t have to over-explain that. Closer to the basket = better in most cases, and this is particularly true if you are tall.
You’ll be shocked to learn that centers see the most post touches per game. So I’m sure you won’t be shocked to learn that DFS site pricing and projections are usually baking in this stat as it reads on the page.
How you could use this to find value: A very common theme for finding value in DFS is change, so ideally we’re looking for a reason things could be different tonight. Matchup is going to be the number one reason when it comes to post and paint touches in my view. Remember play type data from earlier in this article? If you’re into it, it can help find you a spot where post ups could get elevated. If you’re not into stats that much or don’t have time for that analysis, DVP could be a shortcut. I encourage you to check out Notorious in either his “First Look” or “Grind Down” article for a blended version of DVP that might point you in the right direction. Even if you just watch a lot of games and know instinctively that a matchup could lead to more post/paint touches for a player, you are going to want to look for situations that uptick these high-value opportunities.
Fantasy Points Per Touch
This is a bottom line stat. How efficient is my player for fantasy on a per touch basis? This is easy to understand and clearly valuable to know. Just like everything else we discussed, we can’t expect to profit from this information unless we can project our players expected touches better than our opponents.
I think I’ve talked plenty about how to find value already when it comes to projecting touches, and it all revolves around changing situations or finding instances where the opportunity isn’t captured properly by pricing/projections. Now I want to address some mistakes our opponents could make when it comes to fantasy points per touch. Let’s avoid them.
— They could assume a change to his efficiency isn’t incorporated to the projections they are using when it actually is. This would be double counting the change. Don’t do it.
— They could fail to notice a change to a player’s defensive stat projection outlook, and focus solely on the offensive aspect of the new situation. Don’t focus exclusively on touches/offense when evaluating a new situation.
— They might see a juicy matchup from an efficiency standpoint (increasing fantasy points per touch), but overlook a reason that his total touches might be reduced (an even better matchup elsewhere on the court or maybe a blowout scenario). Remember to look at the big picture. Opportunity is as important (or maybe more important) than efficiency.
— They might fail to account for a recent change in the offensive role or identity as a reason for a reduction in the player’s price. This role change might not be reflected in the season long per minute average in terms of fantasy points per touch. This could cause an over reaction to a price drop. Examples might include a player who has missed extended time returning to the rotation, and diminishing another player’s role. It could also include a trade, such as Louis Williams’ arrival in Houston. He’s affecting all the Rockets, and one Ryan Anderson or Trevor Ariza may start to look tempting at a reduced price. Remember that the change in price is very much justified and that you might not be getting as much of a discount as you think. Carefully evaluate their situation before jumping on them due to price change.
— In response to late breaking news, our opponents may instantly assume a more severe change in their fantasy efficiency or playing time than will actually be the case. Patty Mills is the best example I can think of off the top of my head. In years past Tony Parker would get ruled out, and immediately DFS players would jump to the conclusion that more minutes and more points per minute were on the way. In many cases, his role was left largely unchanged or his efficiency was drastically reduced with the starters. Try to be careful about usage rates and overall fantasy efficiency per touch when late breaking news occurs. We’re ideally trying to find value that our opponents don’t see, and fading bad chalk is a skill that can take you a long way in GPP environments.
There are many mistakes that a player can make when subjectively judging the overall fantasy points per touch of a player, and many more specific examples that I could get into. I think the point is clear: You should know as much as you can about the baseline efficiency of your potential players so that you can react properly and swiftly when situations change. The margin for error is growing smaller in NBA DFS, and the only way we can consistently outplay our opponents is to make decisions better than they do. Knowledge is the primary weapon in this regard.
Touch data is a useful tool in evaluating the potential for your DFS plays. Understanding player baselines will give you a leg up in evaluating change, and this is a key element to DFS success. Dig into touch data, and you’ll have one more tool in your bag for outplaying your Single Entry Series opponents.