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Betting Markets and NBA DFS - How to Use NBA Odds

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.

It’s always a good idea in DFS to be aware of how betting markets are setting the lines for each game. However, it’s not necessarily as easy as just playing all the players from the high total games in NBA DFS. That would be nice, but unfortunately there are some pretty good reasons you have to dig deeper than that to make the most optimal lineups.

That said, we can still learn a lot from the totals and make some pretty important decisions using them as a guide. In this lesson, we’ll cover the basics and set the foundation for your future research.

How To Read NBA Lines

If you are new to NBA DFS, you may not be familiar with how to read a betting line. This image above is from the RotoGrinders Starting Lineups Page, and we’ll use it to cover the basics.

The Spread: This is the handicap applied by bookmakers to the team most likely to win the game.

In the game shown above, you see “DEN -8.5” listed just underneath the number “229.5.” That number represents the handicap applied to Denver Nuggets in by the betting market. If you were placing a bet, the Nuggets would have to win the game by 9 points for you to collect on your bet. Otherwise, you lose.

For DFS, we like to know which team is favored and what it means for the possibilities in that game. Close games have the best potential for all the key players involved to play for all four quarters. As “the spread” gets larger, the chances for a blowout increase. It is at that point that we start to become concerned that we won’t see the maximum minutes from the player we have rostered.

The spread also helps us understand the “implied total” for each team, which we will talk about next.

The Total: It’s the “over/under” betting line from the bookmakers.

You can bet “over” if you think more points will be scored by the two teams combined or “under” if you believe there will be less scoring. DFS players have learned that these lines are often efficient, and tend to focus their attention on higher total games.

The implied team total is derived from the overall total. The points spread is applied, and the net result is the number of points each individual team is expected to score based on the spread. In the game shown above, the total is “229.5.” That breaks down as follows:

Denver: 119 points
Washington: 110.5 points

You can see the difference between the two is 9.5 points, which is identical to the points spread.

High team totals are a barometer worth being aware of for your DFS decisions. While it is not independently predictive of an individual being successful tonight, it’s a factor that gets baked into the overall process. This isn’t a precise chart, but it offers you some general context on how to look at a team total and analyze it:

Reacting to the Lines

Here are a few key points to consider when using betting market data to inform your DFS decisions.

— In general, a high total indicates a better DFS scoring environment than a low total.

— In general, it is not wise to double count this information. Projections either use Vegas totals directly to predict team scoring efficiency or use a modeled line of their own to include that expectation. Don’t bias your decisions too greatly based on the raw total alone, as other tools like projections already account for them.

— In NBA DFS, you should be more interested in predicting if the game will go over or under the total vs. just reading the total at face value. Becoming good at such predictions may help you better predict where a player might perform tonight within his range of outcomes.

— The lines may move throughout the day. It is generally good to understand when the market is moving and why. Sometimes, it is because situations have changed. Other times, the betting action is influencing where the bookmakers think the line should be to balance their exposure. In either case, the market is changing and our projections/expectations may be changing along with it.

— It is good to understand how a team’s implied expectation compares to their typical performance. While this will be considered by projection models, you may wish to use this information to help shed preexisting biases about a team or a player. For example, if the Orlando Magic are implied for 115 points tonight but their seasonal average is just 106, then we can infer the betting market is higher on their ability to score points in this matchup than usual. It’s a nice context clue, though far from independently predictive.

Summary

It is a requirement that you understand the NBA betting market if you wish to participate in DFS at a competitive level. Even if you are a recreational player, knowing this information gives you context on the slate at hand. Use this information to your advantage as you navigate decision making, and remember to stay informed as situations change and new information becomes available.

It’s always a good idea in DFS to be aware of how betting markets are setting the lines for each game. However, it’s not necessarily as easy as just playing all the players from the high total games in NBA DFS. That would be nice, but unfortunately there are some pretty good reasons you have to dig deeper than that to make the most optimal lineups.

That said, we can still learn a lot from the totals and make some pretty important decisions using them as a guide. In this lesson, we’ll cover the basics and set the foundation for your future research.

How To Read NBA Lines

If you are new to NBA DFS, you may not be familiar with how to read a betting line. This image above is from the RotoGrinders Starting Lineups Page, and we’ll use it to cover the basics.

The Spread: This is the handicap applied by bookmakers to the team most likely to win the game.

In the game shown above, you see “DEN -8.5” listed just underneath the number “229.5.” That number represents the handicap applied to Denver Nuggets in by the betting market. If you were placing a bet, the Nuggets would have to win the game by 9 points for you to collect on your bet. Otherwise, you lose.

For DFS, we like to know which team is favored and what it means for the possibilities in that game. Close games have the best potential for all the key players involved to play for all four quarters. As “the spread” gets larger, the chances for a blowout increase. It is at that point that we start to become concerned that we won’t see the maximum minutes from the player we have rostered.

The spread also helps us understand the “implied total” for each team, which we will talk about next.

The Total: It’s the “over/under” betting line from the bookmakers.

You can bet “over” if you think more points will be scored by the two teams combined or “under” if you believe there will be less scoring. DFS players have learned that these lines are often efficient, and tend to focus their attention on higher total games.

The implied team total is derived from the overall total. The points spread is applied, and the net result is the number of points each individual team is expected to score based on the spread. In the game shown above, the total is “229.5.” That breaks down as follows:

Denver: 119 points
Washington: 110.5 points

You can see the difference between the two is 9.5 points, which is identical to the points spread.

High team totals are a barometer worth being aware of for your DFS decisions. While it is not independently predictive of an individual being successful tonight, it’s a factor that gets baked into the overall process. This isn’t a precise chart, but it offers you some general context on how to look at a team total and analyze it:

Reacting to the Lines

Here are a few key points to consider when using betting market data to inform your DFS decisions.

— In general, a high total indicates a better DFS scoring environment than a low total.

— In general, it is not wise to double count this information. Projections either use Vegas totals directly to predict team scoring efficiency or use a modeled line of their own to include that expectation. Don’t bias your decisions too greatly based on the raw total alone, as other tools like projections already account for them.

— In NBA DFS, you should be more interested in predicting if the game will go over or under the total vs. just reading the total at face value. Becoming good at such predictions may help you better predict where a player might perform tonight within his range of outcomes.

— The lines may move throughout the day. It is generally good to understand when the market is moving and why. Sometimes, it is because situations have changed. Other times, the betting action is influencing where the bookmakers think the line should be to balance their exposure. In either case, the market is changing and our projections/expectations may be changing along with it.

— It is good to understand how a team’s implied expectation compares to their typical performance. While this will be considered by projection models, you may wish to use this information to help shed preexisting biases about a team or a player. For example, if the Orlando Magic are implied for 115 points tonight but their seasonal average is just 106, then we can infer the betting market is higher on their ability to score points in this matchup than usual. It’s a nice context clue, though far from independently predictive.

Summary

It is a requirement that you understand the NBA betting market if you wish to participate in DFS at a competitive level. Even if you are a recreational player, knowing this information gives you context on the slate at hand. Use this information to your advantage as you navigate decision making, and remember to stay informed as situations change and new information becomes available.

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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