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The Desire to be Contrarian

Justin Van Zuiden (stlcardinals84)

Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds.

One of the most common questions asked by new players to the NBA GPP scene is “How much do I need to differentiate my lineups?” It’s a question that has a different answer in the NBA than with other sports. I briefly touched on this in Lesson #2, but I felt like it was imperative to discuss it a little further. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios that could come up on a given night in the NBA, and figure out how to attack them on a GPP level.

Scenario #1 – A fast-paced team sees their two starting guards scratched early in the day.

The 2014 Golden State Warriors could be used as a good example of this. Let’s say Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both ruled out during morning shoot-around. This is a huge boost to the value of a previously-role player like Shaun Livingston. Suddenly, a role player who generally plays about 15 minutes a game would be thrust into a 30-35 minute workload. Livingston also would likely be extremely cheap on every DFS site for this particular night. The obvious answer is to play him as a top-tier value play. However, you have to also consider the fact that Livingston would likely be 50%-plus owned given these circumstances. Still, you have to evaluate the opportunity costs. If there are other value plays in similar (but maybe not quite as good) spots, you can logically pivot to them in a GPP. If it’s a night where value is hard to come by, I would probably lock Livingston in my lineups.

In short, would I roster Livingston in a GPP given these circumstances? The answer = it depends.

Scenario #2 – A fast-paced team sees their two starting guards scratched right before tip-off.

This is essentially the same scenario as the first one, except the news comes out much closer to lineup lock. When this happens, the ownership percentage on the value play is not as high as it would be if the news came out earlier in the day. In the above case, you would probably see Livingston around a 25-30% ownership clip here. This ownership percentage is generally enough to still make him worth rostering in good circumstances such as the one described here.

In short, would I roster Livingston in a GPP given these circumstances? The answer = yes.

Scenario #3 – A bad team is severely banged up and only has 7-9 healthy bodies.

This scenario happens often throughout the year. There are some bad teams out there that are generally ignored for fantasy purposes when they are fully healthy. When injuries hit, bad teams become worse. However, the team also then is forced to rely on their few healthy players for production. Suddenly, a few players who usually play 20-25 minutes may be playing 35-40 minutes. As we know, minutes equal production in NBA more than in any other sport. When this happens, you have to consider bumping up the value of the players on this team, even though the team may not be very good. This was the case last year when the Thunder were missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (though, in fairness, they weren’t a “bad team” when those players were healthy).

In short, bump up the value of players on bad teams when major injuries hit. Minutes equal opportunity. You can often find a gem of a value play in cases like this.

Scenario #4 – LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are all playing on the same night.

What a glorious night of NBA this must be! It is often hard to distinguish between the top players in the league. Players like the ones I just listed are guys that generally “get their numbers” no matter what. Let’s say there is a night where you have four high-priced studs on the floor. In a case such as this, I will try to eliminate the two that have the worst matchup. Then, it is a matter of choosing between the other two (or trying to fit both in). When that scenario arises, it’s a good time to factor in expected ownership percentages. This is hard to get a grasp of when you are first starting out with daily fantasy NBA, but it is definitely an important consideration. Let’s say Anthony Davis and LeBron James have the best matchups, but Davis’ appears to be the best, and perhaps he is also a little cheaper than James. In that case, you can reasonably expect Davis to be more highly owned. This would make James the more appealing GPP target for me, as the upside is the same with these two players.

In short, find the studs with the best matchups and pick the one (or two) that you expect to be lower-owned in a GPP.

Scenario #5 – The slate of games has several obvious plays.

There are a lot of nights where good players get funneled into similar picks. It might be that there is only one “stud” to pay for on a particular night. Perhaps a team is missing some starters due to injury. Perhaps it is a night where there are only four or five games on the schedule. It’s hard to win tournaments on these nights, because certain players can see ownership levels of 50-60%-plus. These are the nights where it really pays to go contrarian with your GPP lineups. If you ride with the herd on the popular picks, you are guaranteed not to win the GPP if you miss on just one pick. If you go against the grain, you give yourself more room for error, along with a big edge if the herd misses out with their plays.

In short, don’t be afraid to differentiate your lineup on nights where the chalk plays seem obvious. It’s a risk/reward tradeoff that works well in a GPP format.

Of course, simply taking players with high ceilings in GPP’s is a good strategy to use, as well. I didn’t mention this in the lesson about RotoGrinders tools, but there is also a “Ceiling and Consistency” tool that helps you differentiate between good cash game plays (players with consistency) and good tournament plays (players with high ceilings). Utilize scenarios such as the ones I describe above. They are generalized, but they are things that happen quite often throughout the NBA season. If you get a handle on mastering those events, you will be a much more profitable GPP player.

Good luck, and thanks for checking out my GPP-focused course!

One of the most common questions asked by new players to the NBA GPP scene is “How much do I need to differentiate my lineups?” It’s a question that has a different answer in the NBA than with other sports. I briefly touched on this in Lesson #2, but I felt like it was imperative to discuss it a little further. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios that could come up on a given night in the NBA, and figure out how to attack them on a GPP level.

Scenario #1 – A fast-paced team sees their two starting guards scratched early in the day.

The 2014 Golden State Warriors could be used as a good example of this. Let’s say Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are both ruled out during morning shoot-around. This is a huge boost to the value of a previously-role player like Shaun Livingston. Suddenly, a role player who generally plays about 15 minutes a game would be thrust into a 30-35 minute workload. Livingston also would likely be extremely cheap on every DFS site for this particular night. The obvious answer is to play him as a top-tier value play. However, you have to also consider the fact that Livingston would likely be 50%-plus owned given these circumstances. Still, you have to evaluate the opportunity costs. If there are other value plays in similar (but maybe not quite as good) spots, you can logically pivot to them in a GPP. If it’s a night where value is hard to come by, I would probably lock Livingston in my lineups.

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About the Author

  • Justin Van Zuiden (stlcardinals84)

  • Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds.

Instructor

Justin Van Zuiden, aka stlcardinals84, is a popular RotoGrinders contributor and GrindersLive host who routinely finishes in the top 10 of the TPOY race. He’s appeared in numerous live finals and has logged countless six-figure wins in a host of different sports, including five in PGA. Justin is also a main contributor of sports betting picks at ScoresAndOdds.

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