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10 Things to Know Before Registering for NBA DFS Contests

RotoGrinders (RotoGrinders)

RotoGrinders is the heart of the daily fantasy sports community. Let us connect you with strategy, tools and content that can make you more money playing DFS.

Are you new to NBA DFS? Are you experienced and looking for a refresher? In this article, we identify 10 critical things you must consider before you enter any NBA DFS contest. This should serve as a guidepost for your daily process and decision making, and help you avoid the common pitfalls that lower your expectation.

The 10 Topics:

1. DFS Goals
2. Game Type and Contest Selection
3. Site Scoring System and Rules
4. The Importance of Information
5. Injury Report and Starting Lineups
6. The Betting Market
7. Projections and Range of Outcomes
8. Lineup Building Tools
9. Differentiation, Diversity, and Leverage
10. Analyze Winning Players

1. Know Your DFS Goals

Be honest: Why are you here?

Are you playing for long-term profit (as one of the rare few who can sustain it)? Are you chasing the big pay-day in tournaments? Are you just looking for action / a good sweat?

Be able to answer this question honestly and with complete self-awareness. You need to know yourself and have a clear vision of what success looks like to you.

Obviously, everyone wants to win money, but guess what? This might hurt to hear, but you are an underdog to win money. The fact that you are here at RotoGrinders makes you much less of an underdog compared to the field of opponents, but nonetheless, DFS is a zero-sum game. If I win, you lose. When the payouts are so tilted to the top, it’s just a fact that a low percentage of the people will eventually win.

This is why it is important to know your goals. Knowing your goals should dictate how often you play, what contests you play, and the strategy you use when you play. This topic is too wide to address here in detail, but if you are here to win long term then you should act like it in your contest selection strategy, bankroll management, and preparation habits.

If you are here to chase the big score, stop playing like a wuss and start getting educated on the delicate balance between projection, correlation, diversification, differentiation, and other game theory elements. You might have to do something uncomfortable (but savvy) in order to reach the top more than your fair share.

Knowing yourself is the very first thing you need to know before you play.

2. Know the Importance of Game Type and Contest Selection

Everybody wants to hit the big score, but there are thousands of people playing every day that want the exact same thing. Big “tournaments” are not good bets for new players. There are other, much more win-able contest types, and you have a better chance at success learning the game there. Look for games that pay out more players and take a smaller site fee. Later, you can go get the big bucks once you’re seasoned and ready to rock. Download our extension to see the “rake” (site fees) and percentage of players paid.

Now, we talked about knowing yourself in #1. Maybe your style SHOULD NOT involve playing in “cash games” if your goal is to chase the sweat and big dreams of massive field GPPs. In this case, you just need to be aware of a few things.

Firstly, start at lower buy-ins where the field is softer overall.

Secondly, be careful about your investment levels and ensure you can live to fight another day. Winning is hard, and you might need A LOT longer than you think to win something even if you are playing “better” than your opponents.

Lastly, know who the good players are and try to avoid them in head-to-head or small tournament play. If you sit down at a poker table and you don’t know who the fish is… guess what? It’s probably you. Know your opponents, and do your best to play against weaker foes.

Resources:

RotoGrinders Browser Extensions

RotoGrinders Rankings

ResultsDB

3. Know Your Site Scoring System and Rules

It’s not all the same game. FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo, and any other site you may encounter each have their own setup of rosters, salary cap, edit capabilities, and associated game strategy that make their DFS product unique. As such, we need to know and understand what we are getting ourselves into. Here is a brief example of how each DFS operator brings unique strategy considerations.

DraftKings:
— Late Swap: The ability to swap players up until game time.
— Multi-Position Eligibility: Greater roster flexibility, and reduces positional scarcity.
— Utility Positions: Roster flexibility and increases lineup diversity.
— Scoring Bonuses: 3-Pointers, Double-Double, and Triple-Doubles provide extra points.
Check out DK Scoring Rules Here

FanDuel:
— Late Swap: The ability to swap players up until game time.
— Single Position Eligibility: Reduced roster flexibility & increased positional scarcity.
— No Utility Positions: Less roster flexibility & decreases diversity.
— No Scoring Bonuses
Check out FD Scoring Rules Here

Yahoo:
— Has Late Swap
— Single Position Eligibility
— Has Utility Positions
VERY wide salary scale – A player can be six times the minimum salary, and Yahoo! OFTEN prices viable players at or near minimum.
Check out Y Scoring Rules Here

Check out all the DFS and sports betting sites available to you here.

4. Know The Importance of Information

If you are playing NBA DFS, information is a critical element to your success. As you may have learned if you’ve ever played before, the information you need is often unavailable early in the day. In fact, it often arrives very close to the scheduled start time. Without all the information and a way to process it quickly, you are practically dead in the water.

The first step to overcoming this is the acknowledgment that you are practically dead money without an instant stream of information. The second step is to take action and get access to an instant stream of information and tools to process it.

Here is a shortlist of resources you will need.

RotoGrinders App Featuring DFS Alerts for IOS/Android

Twitter: Follow key information sources like beat writers, DFS providers like Fantasy Labs NBA (pro tip: set them up with the alert bell but get ready to put your phone on silent during NBA season), and other sources of NBA insight.

Lineup Optimizer: Plan, Manage, and Organize your process using software like LineupHQ.

Updated NBA Projections: LineupHQ will update player expectations as news breaks. This will help you a great deal to avoid using players who are out or have changed minutes expectations.

Pre-Lock Webcasts: “Crunch Time” is a great resource to stay informed about the latest breaking news and how to handle it for your DFS lineups.

— Plan for the hectic pre-lock period with a detailed injury report, such as we provide daily in the Situation Room.

Friends – Get the Discord Chat: Our members, contributors, and streamed alerts will help you stay up to date.

5. Know the Injury Report and Starting Lineups

It is indisputable that having a grip on injuries and lineups is key to making informed decisions for your DFS rosters. The injury report dictates who is available to play and how many minutes each player on the team is projected to receive for the night. “Starting” an NBA game can also have an impact on minutes projections. It often has implications on how a player is used in a rotation and the maximum number of minutes that he can play.

You can stay informed on starting lineups here.

We track injuries for NBA games in our premium content daily as well.

6. Know the Betting Market

There are thousands of resources for betting lines at this point, including our DFS betting info tool.

For more details on betting markets and NBA DFS, read this. Otherwise, here is the bottom line:

— High-scoring games tend to have more upside for DFS players, but salaries often account for this.

— High spreads could impact key player usage (blowouts)

— Player prop lines as you might find on SharpSide can help provide context on player expectations, but it’s generally best to just rely on projections for that.

7. Know The Importance of Projections

Our RotoAcademy NBA Essentials course has an entire article dedicated to this here.

You need a strong set of projections at your disposal to help make decisions on a nightly basis. Projecting outcomes is one of 5 key elements in DFS (projection, correlation, differentiation, diversification, and information). You should be constantly trying to understand how they are created, how you can adjust them based on your own perceptions, and how you can use them to your advantage in lineup building.

Projections help you:

— Determine mathematically the most optimal lineup.

— Visualize the player pool and available options.

— Contextualize players within the salary cap.

— Make decisions.

Median or mean player projections (the value you see most often in LineupHQ and elsewhere) attempt to show you the most likely outcomes for the night. However, we all know what is most likely to happen doesn’t always happen. Thus, it is appropriate to think of player projection not as a single number, but a range of possibilities. We refer to this on our site as “range of outcomes.”

When we want to lower our variance, we might want to choose players who have a “range of outcomes” that features a high floor and ceiling combination. When we want to increase our variance and differentiate, we may want to find players with poor median outputs but strong upper-end outcomes that happen more often than their ownership implies.

Summary: You need to be using projections to inform your decision-making, and understand that projections are not a single number. There is an entire range of possible outcomes for a player, and there is an edge in leveraging this range against our opponents who fail to understand it.

8. Know the Importance of Lineup Building Tools

There are 5 things that LineupHQ helps you with that are essential to DFS play. It is recommended that you use an optimizer in NBA DFS whether you are making a single lineup or hundreds of Lineups.

The Five Most Critical Elements Serviced by an Optimizer

Projection: In order to succeed at DFS, you must have some ability to forecast player outcomes well. LineupHQ displays the most up-to-date RG player projections, and helps you optimize your rosters based on the associated values. There is also the ability to make custom edits, choose an alternative projections source, or upload your own projections.

Correlation: You can control the inter-lineup correlation of players using groups, stacks, and other settings. Well-correlated lineups are often the best for succeeding in GPP contests.

Differentiation: History has proven that defeating all of your opponents usually involves unique roster builds, often with high-performing unique players. LineupHQ helps you build more unique lineups using projected ownership, total lineup ownership, and player range of outcomes.

Diversification: Top players making many lineups vary in their level of diversification dependent on their personal preferences on volatility. Somebody like Awesemo (the current highest ranking DFS player) will use a wide range of lineups with substantial diversity. Other top GPP players (such as WakeyWakey) will elect to use heavy player exposure on players in which they have conviction. No matter which strategy suits you best, you have control over the diversity of your lineups using the settings in LineupHQ.

Information: Stats, Alerts, Player Analysis, Matchups, Betting Market Information, Integrated Media, Articles, Tools, and more can all be located at your fingertips in LineupHQ.

You can easily create your lineups for the slate, and export to the DFS sites. Again, it is no longer optional for the vast majority of players to fly solo in lineup construction. Failing to use an optimizer – at this point – is putting yourself at a disadvantage.

9. Understand Differentiation, Diversity, and Leverage

Thousands of users participate in GPP tournaments every day, and an excellent way to position yourself for long-term success is to understand the nature of the game you are playing. DFS isn’t a game where we attempt to score the most possible points (aka select the perfect lineup). It’s a game where we simply need to score more points than anyone else. It is natural to focus on the professional athletes first and foremost when selecting our players, but this is only one aspect of playing DFS successfully. One of the fundamental aspects of a GPP tournament is to know and understand the play of our DFS opponents.

The most basic way to measure how our opponents play is through ownership percentage. Ownership percentages tell us some (but not all) of the story on how our opponents are behaving in an individual circumstance. If we can accurately project ownership, then we can leverage their behavior to our own advantage.

The importance of projecting ownership is to first understand the expected behavior of our opponents and then develop strategies to defeat them.

This brings us to the concept of Differentiation. Using projected ownership, you can find ways to ensure your lineup balances high upside/projection with players that aren’t commonly appearing together. You don’t want your lineup to be successful alongside a giant group of similar-looking lineups. You would much prefer being unique when your lineup succeeds, which will help improve your chances of finishing in the top five positions (where all the money is).

If you’ll make a large group of lineups, Diversity can help your lineups behave as a team. That is to say, even if your lineups are different than everyone else’s they are still actually in competition with each other as well. So you might consider differentiating among your own lineups as well to reduce the overlap. This will effectively create a “fleet” of lineups that don’t have as much similarity among them. Failing to differentiate among your own lineups isn’t the end of the world, but you’ll find your results will be very boom/bust.

Leverage is how you attack the behavior of your opponents. Through analysis of projected ownership and player range of outcomes, you can make educated assertions on players and construction strategies that could serve as your advantage.

Just as an example: You won’t gain on your opponents often if you expect Ish Smith to reach a potentially viable tournament output 31% of the time but his projected ownership is 38%. This is not to say you can’t roster him: He does present a high raw rate of success and that’s good. However, since we don’t gain much against our opponents, this can’t be how we expect to win the slate. Compare this to Anthony Davis above. He is a good potential leverage point if he’s expected to smash 43% of the time and is only projected for 18% ownership. This is a simplified example, but hopefully one that sinks in: You should be developing a process for GPPs that balances the probability of success with the expected ownership of a player/lineup construction strategy.

History has shown us there is a path to success if you properly differentiate, diversify, and create leverage. You would be wise to follow in the footsteps of those who have demonstrated these concepts to great profit.

10. Understand What The Best Players are Doing

ResultsDB is a resource at RotoGrinders you can use to study the habits and lineups of the most successful players. Not everyone who wins more than their fair share at DFS uses the same strategy, and you would be wise to examine the tactics of multiple top players on a regular basis. ResultsDB gives you the ability to do a number of things that can help you no matter what format you play:

— Review large 50/50 contests to see player usage and top player lineups.

— Examine player ownership overall across buy-in levels.

— Examine individual GPP player exposure levels, and see where they were over/under the field in exposure.

— Examine individual GPP lineups, and look for trends in their roster construction habits.

— Study trends in top-performing lineups.

You don’t have to invest time learning from the actions of top players, but doesn’t it just make sense that you should? Find some players you trust – perhaps some of the contributors at RotoGrinders – and examine their behavior. You may not agree with everything that these players choose, but you should respect their success and attempt to replicate it in a style that suits your goals best.

Are you new to NBA DFS? Are you experienced and looking for a refresher? In this article, we identify 10 critical things you must consider before you enter any NBA DFS contest. This should serve as a guidepost for your daily process and decision making, and help you avoid the common pitfalls that lower your expectation.

The 10 Topics:

1. DFS Goals
2. Game Type and Contest Selection
3. Site Scoring System and Rules
4. The Importance of Information
5. Injury Report and Starting Lineups
6. The Betting Market
7. Projections and Range of Outcomes
8. Lineup Building Tools
9. Differentiation, Diversity, and Leverage
10. Analyze Winning Players

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About the Author

  • RotoGrinders (RotoGrinders)

  • RotoGrinders is the heart of the daily fantasy sports community. Let us connect you with strategy, tools and content that can make you more money playing DFS.

Instructor

RotoGrinders is the heart of the daily fantasy sports community. Let us connect you with strategy, tools and content that can make you more money playing DFS.

RotoGrinders.com is the home of the daily fantasy sports community. Our content, rankings, member blogs, promotions and forum discussion all cater to the players that like to create a new fantasy team every day of the week.

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