DraftKings NBA Strategy

DraftKings NBA Strategy

draftkings nba strategy

Our DraftKings NBA Strategy

*Update for 2017 Season
We have received several requests to update this page for the 2016-2017 NBA season, and are completely reworking it including a new video series. However, the question that apparently on everyone’s mind is what to do with super scorers like Russell Westbrook and James Harden, and whether or not you absolutely must start them every night.

The answer bleeds into our thinking on how you should approach your overall DraftKings NBA strategy and workflow. First off, the only goal in DFS is to score as many points as possible, and there is certainly no set way of doing so. Once I have looked over everything from Vegas odds, to injuries, to my projections, to the latest news for each game, here is how I honestly approach building my DraftKings NBA lineups:

First, what studs are active for this slate and what are their current form (ie how many times have they hit 6x value in their last 10 games). Next I look at their matchup, opponent pace, opponent defense vs position, and their personal history vs the opponent. Assuming you have 2-3 studs active for the night, this will generally help you find the one with the best odds to ‘go off’.

Once I have my $9,500-$12,500 player(s) locked in, I immediately shift back to bargain hunting. What players are hurt, what players may see a potential role change, or have seen a recent bump in usage. I try to identify the best handful of bargain plays and lock them into my lineup.

So, to answer the initial question regarding the players with insane ceilings, don’t box yourself in and feel like you have to start them or have to fade them. You know what the cash line is, you should be able to fairly accurately project floors and ceilings, go build the best lineups you can. If you can consistently answer the question, how likely is this player to reach value, without any sort of bias, you will be a much better fantasy player because of it.

Unless you are totally new to DFS, you know that consistently winning DraftKings contests is tough. The depth of data, information, and skill of DraftKings players has grown exponentially over the past three seasons, and, as a result, the average score needed to win has skyrocketed. Our FanDuel NBA strategy article is the most popular article we have ever written, and a lot of the points we made in that article hold true at DraftKings as well so hopefully this article improves your NBA win percentage.

Our DraftKings NBA strategy will walk you through how to research and build fantasy basketball lineups that win consistently. However, the most important factor is playing the right contests on DraftKings, and avoiding the wrong ones. Want to win 2.5x more contests immediately, without changing your current strategy? Enter more 50/50s and stop entering GPPs that only pay out the top 20%.

Own Your Research

The name of the game is and always has been research. It’s a process that you have to buy into, one that you have to enjoy, because there are no shortcuts when it comes to researching your lineups.

The best way to optimize your research and reduce the amount of time you spend creating your lineups is to create a routine and utilize time saving tools. The first half of this strategy guide will walk you through this process.

Vegas Lines

Using Vegas game lines is the easiest way to identify which teams are going to score the most DraftKings points for each slate. There are plenty of tools out there that project team total each night, but nobody does it better than Vegas, and the lines are readily available in hundreds of different places.

To calculate team totals, simply take a game’s total, divide it in half, then adjust for the line by taking the game line, dividing it in half, then adding it to the favorite’s total and subtracting from the underdog’s.

For example, in the lines you see for a slate we pulled from last season, The Kings/Sixers game total is 207, so by cutting that number in half we get 103.5 projected points for each team, the line is Sacramento -4 so we are going to add 2 points to the Kings total and subtract 2 from the 76ers. This gives the Kings a projected total of 105.5 and the 76ers a total of 101.5.

You can complete┬áthis for each game in less than 5 minutes, and have a clear idea of which teams are going to score the most points for that night’s slate. You want to target players on these teams, let’s get into how we identify these targets.


StatMuse is one of the most important resources in our DraftKings tool kit. We use it for just about every bit of player research we do. StatMuse is essentially a basketball stat search engine. You enter queries and it spits out stats. Let’s go through what all we use StatMuse for when analyzing a player’s matchup.

The most basic search we start each research with is player vs team. Going back to the Kings vs 76ers matchup, let’s assume we are looking at possibly starting Darren Collison. The first thing I want to see is a game log of Collison vs the 76ers. StatMuse will spit out his entire career, so let’s narrow the data down to last 3 seasons:

draftkings player research for nba strategy

Now, let’s assume that Rondo is going to be out for this game. Let’s compare a few sets of data to analyze just how much Collison’s role changes with Rondo out. Let’s search Collison without Rondo this season:

draftkings nba and statmuse

Compared to his numbers with Rondo:

finding value on draftkings

So does his usage rate change? We can search this as well:


Maybe Collison doesn’t see the biggest change in usage with Rondo out, we can search the entire team and pull up a beautiful graph that shows us each player’s usage rate with him out. Compare those numbers to their season long numbers and get a clear picture of who is going to see an expanded role in this matchup and be a lock to hit value.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 9.22.18 AM

StatMuse will not only help you identify players in favorable matchups, but by focusing on player injuries and shifting player roles you can also identify value plays.

RotoQL Lineup Builder

If you aren’t using a lineup builder as part of your DraftKings strategy, your process is nowhere near optimized. I don’t care if you are building one lineup, or 100, a lineup builder is an essential DFS research tool.

How do these work? You simply lock in the players that you like for each slate, and it spits out 1-100+ different optimized lineups. Why is this important? How many times have you missed out on finishing in the money because of that one player that you settled on to make your lineups work? This tool identifies all of the alternatives to this player, and helps you identify which lineup has the highest upside.

So why do we use RotoQL? Truth be told, we use RotoQL because their lineup builder is essentially all they do. Sure they offer additional tools, but those tools are built around simplifying your workflow and improving their lineup builder. Where other sites spend time developing dozens of different tools, RotoQL is simply focused on developing the best lineup builder on the market, and we think they have.

Building Your Lineups

So you have done your research, now how do you go about building your DraftKings NBA lineups? Let’s start by identifying the studs that you want to target in this slate. Who are you willing to ‘pay up’ for. A lot of experts may tell you to focus on building balanced lineups, but we think targeting the top level players that get 5x value for 15%+ of your team’s total salary is crucial to building winning lineups.

What are we looking for in a $10,000+ player on DraftKings? The first is a 6x+ ceiling. If we are going to spend $10,000 on a player, he better have at least one 60+ point game in his last 10.

The second is a favorable matchup. Pull out your points allowed vs position charts, and identify which stars are facing teams that give up big points to their position on the season and over the past 3 weeks.

The last thing we need out of our high priced players is usage. I can get someone that can score without the ball in the $5,500-$8,000 range. If I’m paying up for a player, he better have the ball in his hands, and better have a usage rate of 25+.

Our favorite high dollar players are James Harden, Boogie Cousins, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, and Steph Curry. Crazy high ceilings, and enough usage that given a favorable matchup, reaching a minimum of 4x value is guaranteed.

draftkings nba roster structure

Filling in Your DraftKings Rosters Value

Okay, so you have identified your studs for the slate, how do we find value players to add around these guys? We always start with injuries. Expanding roles, increased minutes, and increased usage will always be the easiest way to identify value.

Often times you can ride these players for a few games before DraftKings’ pricing adjusts to their new role. Take Archie Goodwin for example. For a stretch last season he was playing without Knight and Bledsoe, and for nearly a minimum salary on DraftKings, you got a guy with a 25+ usage rate, playing 30+ minutes, averaging nearly 40 DraftKings PPG.

Let’s assume that you identify three value players in the $4,000-$5,000 price range that have 8x upside. We are now in the range where you just can’t miss on the other 3 players you play along these guys and your stars. We want players that are locks to hit 4x, generally to find these guys in the $6,000 range, you are going to have to sacrifice ceiling.

finding draftkings nba bargain playersLook for players that score well on DraftKings without actually scoring in games. Players like Nerlens Noel, Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio, ZaZa Pachulia, etc… Nothing flashy, but players that consistently provide value through effort. Focus on games with high totals and high possessions. Then look for players in that game that provide a combination of steals, rebounds, blocks, and assists, because with high paced, high scoring games comes an increase in field goal attempts, rebounding opportunities, assist opportunities, and turnovers.

Combine all of this information with improved game selection and you are going to win more DraftKings NBA games and money. Try and build your bankroll over the next week by focusing on discipline. Force yourself to only enter 50/50 and head-to-head contests for the next 7 days. Then slowly enter one or two GPP contests per night, and when you feel you have a great read on a slate, and have built up a bankroll, take your shot at the bigger GPPs.

2 Replies to “DraftKings NBA Strategy”

  1. Awesome article, exactly what I needed. What changes should I make between my GPP and cash lineups? Everyone says minimize risk in your cash lineups, what is your take???

    1. It depends on your experience level. Build the best lineups you can for now… The risks we would recommend taking with GPP lineups would be based more around fading popular picks. Fading Westbrook when he’s on a is risky, but if he doesn’t reach value and is 40+% owned, you give yourself a huge advantage.

      Our readers in the early stages of developing a NBA strategy should focus more on building the best possible lineups regardless of contest type.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *