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  • Notorious's Blueprint to Daily Fantasy Basketball, Volume 2

Turnover-Adjusted Usage Rate

Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

If you have been playing daily fantasy basketball, you have probably heard the term “usage rate.” Just in case you haven’t, it is a statistic that measures how many possessions a player uses while on the floor.

Why is this particular statistic important? While basketball is a team sport, daily fantasy is all about individual production. If we can accurately predict a player’s usage in his offense, then we can predict his opportunity on a nightly basis. Obviously there is more to fantasy production that just offense, but usage rate is a great indicator of how involved a player is offensively.

Here is a quick (and what seems like a complicated) formula for a player’s usage rate:

Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + Turnovers] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)

As you can see from above, a player’s usage rate is determined by both his minutes and by his team’s pace. Therefore, a player that plays five minutes per game can have just as high of a usage rate as a player that plays 40 minutes per game. This is important to keep in mind, because it measures the percentage of possessions a player uses while he is ON THE FLOOR, not the overall percentage of possessions used in the game. This brings us back to the previous lesson and the importance of minutes.

Usage rate is one of the most commonly used statistics in daily fantasy basketball, but often we put our faith into a statistic without giving any thought to what it actually consists of. While I agree that a player’s usage rate carries a lot of value in predicting fantasy production, it is flawed for our fantasy purposes. When you look at the formula above, can you spot the flaw?

Turnovers.

Turnovers increase a player’s usage rate!

By definition, this makes sense, as a turnover is technically using a possession. However, we don’t want to put too much stock into a statistic that essentially rewards players for committing turnovers. A much better predictor of fantasy production would be a usage rate that only measure the number of possessions used, excluding the number of possessions lost.

Rather than using the common usage rate of a player, we can quickly calculate a turnover-adjusted usage rate that has much more value from a fantasy standpoint. In DFS, we are always looking for an edge over the field and this is a quick and easy way to use a more valuable statistic than your competitors.

In order to get rid of the turnovers, we can simply remove them from the equation. The new formula now looks like this:

Turnover Adjusted Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33)] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace)

The result isn’t drastically different from the standard usage rate, but it can lead to better decision-making. Let’s compare two players using the standard and adjusted usage rates. To keep it simple, both of these players used 22 possessions and they both played 30 minutes. The only difference is that Player A commits six turnovers, while Player B has a mistake-free game. Do we want to use a statistic that shows the same usage rate for these two players? Of course not – we want to reward the player that used more possessions, not lost more possessions. Using the adjusted usage rate, Player A would have a usage rate of 16, while Player B would have a usage rate of 22.

Another way to put it is that we only want to include productive possessions in the equation. This includes a shot attempt, a free throw attempt, or an assist. Some may argue that shots made may be more important to DFS than shots taken, but we are more concerned with predicting future opportunity, not looking back at what happened in the past.

To calculate turnover-adjusted usage rate on your own, all you need is Excel. There are a number of sites where you can find the raw data needed, but I’ll walk you through my process. There are two web pages that I have bookmarked:

NBA.com Player Statistics: http://stats.nba.com/league/player/#!/

ESPN Hollinger Team Statistics: http://espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/teamstats

These two pages will give you all of the data that you need to calculate the formula on your own. If you use Google Chrome, I highly suggest downloading the Table Capture extension. It really saves a lot of time when pulling statistics off of the sites. All you need to do is copy the statistics into Excel and then put the formula in. It may take a little while to set up your spreadsheet, but once you have it done, you can quickly calculate every player’s turnover-adjusted usage rates in the short time that it takes to just copy and paste a few statistics.

As you can see from above, a player’s usage rate is determined by both his minutes and by his team’s pace. Therefore, a player that plays five minutes per game can have just as high of a usage rate as a player that plays 40 minutes per game. This is important to keep in mind, because it measures the percentage of possessions a player uses while he is ON THE FLOOR, not the overall percentage of possessions used in the game. This brings us back to the previous lesson and the importance of minutes.

Usage rate is one of the most commonly used statistics in daily fantasy basketball, but often we put our faith into a statistic without giving any thought to what it actually consists of. While I agree that a player’s usage rate carries a lot of value in predicting fantasy production, it is flawed for our fantasy purposes. When you look at the formula above, can you spot the flaw?

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About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

Instructor

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

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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