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  • An Entire Course About Injuries in NBA DFS

Who Stands to Benefit from Injuries?

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.

As I have mentioned time and time again, daily fantasy basketball is all about finding value. When we are able to find the players that can easily outperform their salaries, it does two things. Do you remember what those two things are?

1. It raises our lineup’s floor and ceiling, as the value players are typically able to pull more than their fair share of the production needed as a whole.
2. The more value that we have, the more opportunity it gives us to afford the superstar players like Anthony Davis or Russell Westbrook.

The best way to find value in the NBA is to take advantage of the fact that the season is plagued with injuries. I always like to build my lineups from the bottom up. When there is an injury to a player and we can reasonably expect his back up to see a sizable boost in minutes and usage, we want to lock that player into our lineup first.

This may seem like a backward approach, as most people that play daily fantasy tend to lock in the star player with the best matchup first. While I’m certainly not telling you to fade the superstars, you want to lock in the best values first and foremost. The reasoning is simple. We want as much exposure to players that can outperform their salaries as we can. And, when we get down to the final one or two roster spots, I would rather have more money to spend than less money to spend. We live with “having” to play LeBron James, but we shouldn’t force a cheap player into our lineup that doesn’t carry very much value.

Now, how does that help us build lineups?

Great question, Noto!

First of all, it’s important to look at each injury on an individual level. Injuries to different types of players shouldn’t be treated the same. If LeBron James is ruled out, that has a much bigger impact on his team’s production than does, say, an injury to Trevor Ariza. The production that each player is responsible for is vastly different. For that reason, I like to separate injuries into two broad categories: when superstars and/or fringe superstars get hurt, and when average NBA players get hurt.

When a mediocre starter is injured, we can expect his backup to pick up most of his minutes and a large portion of his production. For instance, last season the Lakers had quite a few injuries at the point guard position. They didn’t have overwhelming talent at the position to begin with and the injuries opened the door for Jordan Clarkson to step into the starting lineup. He quickly went from a bench player that was barely producing to one of the favorite plays in the DFS world. Here are his numbers in the starting lineup, compared to when he was coming off the bench last season:

In 38 starts, Clarkson averaged:

32 minutes, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal = 30.5 fantasy points

In 21 games off the bench, Clarkson averaged:

12 minutes, 5 points, 1 rebound, and 1 steal = 8.25 fantasy points

This is an extreme example, but it gives you an idea of how important minutes and opportunity are in the NBA. The best part with Clarkson was that his production didn’t affect his salary for quite a while, as sites’ pricing algorithms tend to react slowly to injuries.

In this example, Clarkson was filling in for players at a similar talent level, so it wasn’t all that surprising to see him have success as a starter. When average NBA players get injured, we can reasonably expect the backup to pick up a large portion of that starter’s production. This is especially true at the point guard position, as they are responsible for initiating the offense and point guards have the ball in their hands more than any other position on the floor.

Here are few examples from last season:

-Playing Taj Gibson when a Bulls’ big man was out.

-Playing Kent Bazemore when one of the Hawks’ wing players was out.

-Playing Otto Porter or Drew Gooden when Paul Pierce or Nene Hilario was out.

On the other hand…

When a superstar is injured, they leave a gaping hole in their wake. Superstars are responsible for so much of their team’s production that we can’t expect their backup to make up for his absence alone. The backup that gets the start will obviously see a nice boost in minutes and opportunity, but he is not the only player that benefits. It usually gives a larger fantasy boost to the next best player(s) on the team.

A good example of this is when Kevin Durant was injured last season. Even though Andre Roberson, Anthony Morrow, and Kyle Singler all took turns starting in Durant’s place, they weren’t the main beneficiaries of his absence. Russell Westbrook, even though he didn’t directly see an increase in minutes because of the Durant injury, had one of the best stretches of games that we have seen in recent memory. Westbrook was scoring 60+ fantasy points seemingly every night.

In that instance, we also saw Enes Kanter become a fantasy superstar overnight.

When a star player gets injured, the whole team stands to benefit from a production standpoint. The star player’s backup is going to see a nice boost, but so are the other players in that lineup.

Here are few examples from last season:

-Playing Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and/or J.R. Smith when LeBron James was out.

-Playing Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, and/or Alexis Ajinca when Anthony Davis was out.

-Playing Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and/or Nicolas Batum when LaMarcus Aldridge was out.

So, to sum up this lesson, it’s important to realize that not all injuries mean the same thing. We have to look at how that injury affects each team’s production. The backup may be the only one to see a fantasy boost, but sometimes the other players in the lineup will benefit as well.

The best way to find value in the NBA is to take advantage of the fact that the season is plagued with injuries. I always like to build my lineups from the bottom up. When there is an injury to a player and we can reasonably expect his back up to see a sizable boost in minutes and usage, we want to lock that player into our lineup first.

This may seem like a backward approach, as most people that play daily fantasy tend to lock in the star player with the best matchup first. While I’m certainly not telling you to fade the superstars, you want to lock in the best values first and foremost. The reasoning is simple. We want as much exposure to players that can outperform their salaries as we can. And, when we get down to the final one or two roster spots, I would rather have more money to spend than less money to spend. We live with “having” to play LeBron James, but we shouldn’t force a cheap player into our lineup that doesn’t carry very much value.

Now, how does that help us build lineups?

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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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