3-10 Man NBA Leagues
The 3, 5, and 10-man leagues often go un-talked about in the daily fantasy sports world. The most common types of leagues in this industry are cash games (head-to-head and 50/50 leagues) and GPPs (big tournaments). Even though they are less common, the 3/5/10-man leagues can be very profitable for players. This lesson will cover the strategy that you should be using in these leagues.
Where to Find 3/5/10-Man Leagues
While there may not be as many of these leagues as there are head-to-heads, 50/50s, or GPPs, they are still available on all of the major daily fantasy sites. To find them, all you have to do is use the filters in the draft lobby. They are typically listed under standard leagues and then you can adjust the number of players and the buy-in that you want. These leagues are a nice mid-range option if you find yourself cashing at the top end of 50/50’s, but often fail to cash in GPPs.
Before we get into strategy, it’s important to understand how the payouts work in these types of leagues. In a three-man league, it is a winner-take-all situation. You have to take first out of three players in order to win. Most sites have five-man leagues set up as winner-take-all as well. This means that you have to take first out of five people in order to win that league. In a 10-man league, typically the top three finishers will get paid.
The point of this is to realize that the payout structure in these leagues is very top-heavy. In order to be successful, you have to be able to consistently place near the top, unlike a head-to-head or a 50/50 league where you just have to finish in the top half. For this reason, the strategy in these leagues differs from the strategy used in both cash games and GPPs.
H2H & 50/50 Strategy
We have a whole lesson dedicated to strategy in head-to-head and 50/50 leagues, but we will cover it here quickly so that we can point out the subtle differences that you should be using based on the type of league that you are playing in.
In cash games, your goal is to place in the top half of participants. If you do so, you will win your league. Since your goal is only to beat half of your competition, you want to target reliable players who don’t have a lot of risk attached to them. You want to build a lineup that consists of the best value at each position. In these leagues, you want to target players with a high floor instead of players with a high ceiling.
A GPP, on the other hand, is a bit different because in order to place, you have to finish at the very top. If you take 30th out of 100 players, you will not cash like you would if you were in a 50/50 league. Because of the top-heavy payouts of GPPs, you want to target players that have a high ceiling (also referred to as a high upside).
Players that have a high ceiling are typically players who have a boom or bust type of fantasy output. The risk is usually greater with these players, but so is the reward. In a GPP, your goal is to score as many points as possible and the more risks you take, the better chance you will have. This doesn’t mean taking random players—you still have to be smart when you are building your lineup—but focus on taking players with upside over players that are consistent.
The strategy for 3/5/10-man leagues should be somewhere in the middle of the strategy for cash games and GPPs because these leagues have characteristics of both. They feature top-heavy payouts like GPPs, yet you only have to beat a small number of opponents like in cash games.
When building a roster for a 3/5/10-man league, you want to start by building around the value plays. Spend the day researching injuries, matchups, and salaries and come up with your top value plays. Once you get them in your lineup, it’s time to start looking for some upside players. You want a nice mix of value and upside in these leagues.
Also note that sometimes a player can be both a cash game play and a GPP play. These two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. In fact, your whole lineup can be used in both cash games and GPPs and it can often work well if you hit every single pick. But the point that you want to realize is the subtle differences in leagues. The payout structure should gauge how risky you get with your lineup selection.