Keys to Identifying Players for NBA DFS Lineups
It Begins with Vegas
Vegas may be the first stop for many when beginning to dive into an NBA slate. The information provided by Vegas gives us our first look in identifying players for our lineups. Let’s dive in.
Total O/U (Over/Under) – Identifying games with high O/U are often associated with more scoring opportunities for given players on a team and/or matchups. As DFS players, we want to maximize our opportunity to the fullest extent when creating lineups. Identifying these games on the slate, is a great starting point tin maximizing that opportunity.
Spreads – Vegas spreads give us insight on how competitive a game may be between two teams. When playing NBA DFS, high o/u with tight spreads, are considered to be the holy grail games of the slate, due to the increased likelihood of both teams trading baskets and possessions throughout the duration of the game. In addition, the dream of every NBA DFS player, overtime, is more likely to become a reality within games that meet this criteria.
When a team plays at a faster pace, the players within that team will have more possessions, which opens up additional opportunity for scoring, assists, rebounds, etc. As NBA DFS players, these are the games we want to target. By targeting these games, we are raising the floor of our lineups because of the increased opportunity of players within these games to rack up fantasy points due to those extra possessions. However, we don’t want to just play any player in a high paced game. Let’s take a look at key stats that will help us identify players within these matchups.
Minutes -The more minutes a player plays the more opportunity the player has to score fantasy points. Ideally, we should be targeting players who are seeing the court often for our DFS lineups. However, not all minutes are created equal, which brings us to player usage.
Player Usage – This is a measure of how involved a player is in a team’s offense while said player is on the floor. Statistics involved in this measure are the following: the # of times a play ends with an individual player field goal attempt, free throw attempt, and turnover. Utilizing this metric, is instrumental in identifying those players that have additional opportunities (high usage rates) to score when compared to their other team members that share the floor with them.
FPPM (Fantasy Points Per Minute) – An additional metric to pay close attention to when building DFS lineups is a player’s FPPM. FPPM may increase or decrease based on who is on the floor with that given player. FPPM most importantly comes into play when a stud (ex. Giannis) is out for a given game. Where will all of Giannis’s usage go? Will Ersan Ilyasova’s FPPM increase? Will other players FPPM increase as well? The ability in understanding of FPPM paired with player usage is key to being successful in NBA DFS.
DvP (Defense versus Position) – DvP gives us a metric of the overall strength of a player’s positional matchup. One team may sit at the bottom of the league in allowing points to the point guard position of the opposing offense but be in the top ten of the league in allowing points to the power forward position. Being aware of these matchups can help us as DFS players target players that are in exploitable matchups on a given slate.
Correlations – A mistake many DFS players make when building lineups with players from the same team are utilizing players that are negatively correlated with each other. An example of a negative correlation, would be utilizing Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic within the same lineup. While not impossible for both players to be in a winning GPP lineup, the chances of that occurring are slim. An example of a correlation between two players on the Blazers, would be Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic, both players are on the court at the same time, increasing the likelihood both players will have a positive fantasy impact on each other. In addition, the Portland Trail Blazers utilize PnR (Pick and Roll) at 23.7% frequency and score 43.9% of the time when utilizing the PnR, which Lillard and Nurkic are often involved in.
NBA news is one of a kind. It can either help or destroy our DFS lineups within seconds after lock. Days where a player is ruled out seconds after lock still haunt me till this day (I’m talking to you, 80% Kristaps Porzingis, on the 23rd of August 2020). In NBA DFS, it is instrumental to be around your computer/twitter feed all the way up to lock in order to identify potential value for the slate, especially those where we are starving for value. Late news is still one of the biggest edges we have as DFS players, that is, if we are able to react appropriately and quickly to that news (taking into consideration the above information).