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Projected Minutes: The Most Critical Opportunity Stat in NBA DFS

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.

Projected minutes are as important to a player in NBA DFS as any other metric we use in any sport. If you’re a football fan, they are similar to touches for a running back. Or, if you are a fan of daily fantasy baseball, they are equivalent to quality at-bats for a baseball player. In NBA DFS, everything is about opportunity and minutes directly provide that for a player. There is a strong relationship between minutes and fantasy production.

This just makes sense: The longer a player is on the floor, the more opportunities he is going to have to score points, grab rebounds, dish out assists, and rack up blocks and steals on the defensive end of the floor. Minutes aren’t the only statistic that we should use in our daily research routine, but it is certainly one of the most important. If you can accurately predict minutes, you will be able to accurately predict fantasy production over the course of the season. The key to that sentence is the word accurately. This course is designed to help you get better at predicting minutes.

To be able to predict minutes, here are some essential knowledge points:

— There are 240 total minutes for a team.

— Simple rule of thumb is that there are 48 available minutes for each position.

— Related to the above, the NBA is more “positionless” than ever. Most teams now think more broadly: Ball handlers, wings, and bigs. You’ll have to be more flexible than in years past when considering minutes projections.

— There are basically four main factors that change a team’s rotation throughout the course of the season: Injuries/rest, role changes, matchups, and blowouts.

If we know how to factor each of these into our minutes equation, we will have a more accurate prediction of playing time for each player. Predicting minutes may sound difficult, but once you get the hang of it and know what to look for with rotations, it becomes a fairly easy process.

Core Rotations

If all things are equal, each team will have a primary starting group and number of minutes they like to use for each player. Often times, substitutions begin to form a pattern. We can use these core rotations to set a baseline for their minutes played tonight. This is presuming that a team is not dealing with injury or resting players, is not experimenting with role changes, is not adjusting for their opponent tonight, and is not projected to participate in a blowout.

You can do a few things to get yourself started here:

— Use a trustworthy projections source and study the trends. RotoGrinders projects minutes every day and displays them in LineupHQ.

— Track minutes and rotations for every game yourself using RotoGrinders Game Flow, located in CourtIQ. Above is an example of what a Game Flow chart looks like.

— Go to NBA.com where there are a host of resources you can use to deep dive every single NBA team’s rotation.

Injuries, Rest, and Player Movements

You can’t predict minutes if you don’t understand who is available to play tonight and if any limitations will exist for them.

Injuries and rest are very common in the NBA. Every single day there are going to be players who are ruled out, players who are probable and doubtful, and players who are game-time decisions. Whenever a player (especially a starter) is forced to sit out a game, the rest of the lineup will pick up his minutes. If Kyle Lowry gets injured and misses a game, his 35 minutes are going to get redistributed. This provides an opportunity to target players who are expected to see an increased role or avoid players who will see their role reduced due to a player’s return.

Trades, cuts, and signings are also important to track in the same way. Whenever a player has changed availability for a team, we need to account for this in projections. This will become most important as the trade deadline approaches.

You can track injury situations and their potential impacts every day in NBA Injury Report for DFS: The Situation Room.

Role Changes

Very few teams use the same starting lineup for the entire season. Injuries play a role here, but players’ roles constantly change throughout the season for other reasons too. The hardest part is identifying an actual role change from a small sample fluctuation.

Role changes are hard to identify but here are some things to look out for:

— Changes in the starting lineup.

— Changes in the closing lineup.

— Changes in substitution patterns and players that appear on the court together.

— Changes in player rate stats over a larger than one game sample: USG Rate, AST Rate, Reb Rate, etc.

— Information from coaches and reliable NBA sources suggesting a role change is in progress.

— Changes in minutes played in a sample larger than one game.

These are not the only indicators of role change, but suffice to say you will want to be alert when predicting minutes of the role each player has on their team.

— Track potential role changes for every game yourself using RotoGrinders Game Flow, located in CourtIQ. Here is an example of what a Game Flow chart looks like.

Matchups

One thing that can impact player deployments on a nightly basis is their opponent. Each NBA team has a different look in terms of their player skills, tempo, and playing style. You would not attack or defend an uptempo team with limited size like the recent Golden State team the same way you would defend the recent Utah Jazz team that deploys a traditional post presence.

Early in your training, be cautious about any adjustments you make here. Try to rely on what you have already seen happen more than things you simply think will happen. Precedent is more actionable on a minutes projection than speculation. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room when it comes to matchups. Instead, rely on common sense. Here are some common points to watch for:

— Pace mismatches: Players who cannot handle the projected speed of a game.

— Size mismatches: Players who project poorly or favorably vs. opposing personnel based on size.

— Speed mismatches: Specifically in the post, players who cannot move to guard the perimeter when facing a stretch big.

— Defensive necessity: Leveraging a defensive player for more minutes than an otherwise superior offense-first player. This is usually done to help slow down a superstar.

Again, these are not the only types of matchup adjustments you may see. The point of this section is to put you on alert that matchups may sometimes dictate playing time.

RotoGrinders Game Flow is once again useful in looking at how other teams have decided to line up against the team you are evaluating.

Blowouts

The last adjustment that we have to make is for potential blowouts. There isn’t anything worse than feeling great about how your players are performing only to see them sit out the entire fourth quarter of a blowout. Blowouts are terrible for fantasy production because if the game is out of hand, both teams typically end up emptying their bench in the fourth quarter.

Be Aware of the Following for Each Game:

— The Betting Market lines for each game. Blowouts should be considered more seriously once the spread reaches double digits.

— The prior behavior of each team in blowout situations.

— The current standing of the team. Related to the above, bad teams may not be as inclined to clear the bench.

— Factors that may increase the likelihood of a player being removed down the stretch in borderline blowouts such as minor injury or rest.

In order to avoid overcompensating for blowouts, be sure to check previous blowout usage patterns in RotoGrinders Game Flow.

Summary

We have already established in lesson one how player projections work, and the primary driver of player projections is playing time. Your ability (or the ability of the projections you trust) to predict and adjust player minutes will have a direct impact on your ability to win at NBA DFS. It is highly recommended that you become familiar with the factors that impact player usage as quickly as possible if you expect to sustain competitive play in the long run.

Projected minutes are as important to a player in NBA DFS as any other metric we use in any sport. If you’re a football fan, they are similar to touches for a running back. Or, if you are a fan of daily fantasy baseball, they are equivalent to quality at-bats for a baseball player. In NBA DFS, everything is about opportunity and minutes directly provide that for a player. There is a strong relationship between minutes and fantasy production.

This just makes sense: The longer a player is on the floor, the more opportunities he is going to have to score points, grab rebounds, dish out assists, and rack up blocks and steals on the defensive end of the floor. Minutes aren’t the only statistic that we should use in our daily research routine, but it is certainly one of the most important. If you can accurately predict minutes, you will be able to accurately predict fantasy production over the course of the season. The key to that sentence is the word accurately. This course is designed to help you get better at predicting minutes.

To be able to predict minutes, here are some essential knowledge points:

— There are 240 total minutes for a team.

— Simple rule of thumb is that there are 48 available minutes for each position.

— Related to the above, the NBA is more “positionless” than ever. Most teams now think more broadly: Ball handlers, wings, and bigs. You’ll have to be more flexible than in years past when considering minutes projections.

— There are basically four main factors that change a team’s rotation throughout the course of the season: Injuries/rest, role changes, matchups, and blowouts.

If we know how to factor each of these into our minutes equation, we will have a more accurate prediction of playing time for each player. Predicting minutes may sound difficult, but once you get the hang of it and know what to look for with rotations, it becomes a fairly easy process.

Core Rotations

If all things are equal, each team will have a primary starting group and number of minutes they like to use for each player. Often times, substitutions begin to form a pattern. We can use these core rotations to set a baseline for their minutes played tonight. This is presuming that a team is not dealing with injury or resting players, is not experimenting with role changes, is not adjusting for their opponent tonight, and is not projected to participate in a blowout.

You can do a few things to get yourself started here:

— Use a trustworthy projections source and study the trends. RotoGrinders projects minutes every day and displays them in LineupHQ.

— Track minutes and rotations for every game yourself using RotoGrinders Game Flow, located in CourtIQ. Above is an example of what a Game Flow chart looks like.

— Go to NBA.com where there are a host of resources you can use to deep dive every single NBA team’s rotation.

Injuries, Rest, and Player Movements

You can’t predict minutes if you don’t understand who is available to play tonight and if any limitations will exist for them.

Injuries and rest are very common in the NBA. Every single day there are going to be players who are ruled out, players who are probable and doubtful, and players who are game-time decisions. Whenever a player (especially a starter) is forced to sit out a game, the rest of the lineup will pick up his minutes. If Kyle Lowry gets injured and misses a game, his 35 minutes are going to get redistributed. This provides an opportunity to target players who are expected to see an increased role or avoid players who will see their role reduced due to a player’s return.

Trades, cuts, and signings are also important to track in the same way. Whenever a player has changed availability for a team, we need to account for this in projections. This will become most important as the trade deadline approaches.

You can track injury situations and their potential impacts every day in NBA Injury Report for DFS: The Situation Room.

Role Changes

Very few teams use the same starting lineup for the entire season. Injuries play a role here, but players’ roles constantly change throughout the season for other reasons too. The hardest part is identifying an actual role change from a small sample fluctuation.

Role changes are hard to identify but here are some things to look out for:

— Changes in the starting lineup.

— Changes in the closing lineup.

— Changes in substitution patterns and players that appear on the court together.

— Changes in player rate stats over a larger than one game sample: USG Rate, AST Rate, Reb Rate, etc.

— Information from coaches and reliable NBA sources suggesting a role change is in progress.

— Changes in minutes played in a sample larger than one game.

These are not the only indicators of role change, but suffice to say you will want to be alert when predicting minutes of the role each player has on their team.

— Track potential role changes for every game yourself using RotoGrinders Game Flow, located in CourtIQ. Here is an example of what a Game Flow chart looks like.

Matchups

One thing that can impact player deployments on a nightly basis is their opponent. Each NBA team has a different look in terms of their player skills, tempo, and playing style. You would not attack or defend an uptempo team with limited size like the recent Golden State team the same way you would defend the recent Utah Jazz team that deploys a traditional post presence.

Early in your training, be cautious about any adjustments you make here. Try to rely on what you have already seen happen more than things you simply think will happen. Precedent is more actionable on a minutes projection than speculation. Don’t try to be the smartest person in the room when it comes to matchups. Instead, rely on common sense. Here are some common points to watch for:

— Pace mismatches: Players who cannot handle the projected speed of a game.

— Size mismatches: Players who project poorly or favorably vs. opposing personnel based on size.

— Speed mismatches: Specifically in the post, players who cannot move to guard the perimeter when facing a stretch big.

— Defensive necessity: Leveraging a defensive player for more minutes than an otherwise superior offense-first player. This is usually done to help slow down a superstar.

Again, these are not the only types of matchup adjustments you may see. The point of this section is to put you on alert that matchups may sometimes dictate playing time.

RotoGrinders Game Flow is once again useful in looking at how other teams have decided to line up against the team you are evaluating.

Blowouts

The last adjustment that we have to make is for potential blowouts. There isn’t anything worse than feeling great about how your players are performing only to see them sit out the entire fourth quarter of a blowout. Blowouts are terrible for fantasy production because if the game is out of hand, both teams typically end up emptying their bench in the fourth quarter.

Be Aware of the Following for Each Game:

— The Betting Market lines for each game. Blowouts should be considered more seriously once the spread reaches double digits.

— The prior behavior of each team in blowout situations.

— The current standing of the team. Related to the above, bad teams may not be as inclined to clear the bench.

— Factors that may increase the likelihood of a player being removed down the stretch in borderline blowouts such as minor injury or rest.

In order to avoid overcompensating for blowouts, be sure to check previous blowout usage patterns in RotoGrinders Game Flow.

Summary

We have already established in lesson one how player projections work, and the primary driver of player projections is playing time. Your ability (or the ability of the projections you trust) to predict and adjust player minutes will have a direct impact on your ability to win at NBA DFS. It is highly recommended that you become familiar with the factors that impact player usage as quickly as possible if you expect to sustain competitive play in the long run.

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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