Guide to Winning NBA Contests on FanDuel
Welcome to our guide on how to research and construct a winning FanDuel NBA lineup. This is a great resource for new FanDuel and DFS players, and if you are not yet registered with FanDuel, but want to put this strategy to the test, make sure you use our promo code AUDIBLE when you sign up for a 100% deposit bonus!
Check out our complete FanDuel NFL strategy for tips on how to make GPP NFL lineups that consistently cash out. We have been one of the most accurate NFL daily fantasy websites for almost a half decade and share all of our NFL secrets in this article.
What is the Best Lineup Tool Available?
Before jumping into our FanDuel NBA strategy we wanted to take a minute to share a new tool we are using to build our lineups, RotoQL. RotoQL was developed with the world’s winningest DFS player, MaxDalury. It allows you to quickly create 1-400 optimized NBA lineups for either FanDuel or DraftKings.
Let’s take a look at just some of the features found in the powerful RotoQL tool:
Lineup Optimizer – Not a tool that just spits out lineups… you favorite what players you like for that night, and it shows you up to 400 possible fully-optimized lineups using those players.
The Insights You Need – Insights like what players Vegas expects to lead in scoring, top scorers with the best matchups, top bargain plays, and more.
The Players Page – Our favorite feature, imagine never having to download and import data, or having to touch a spreadsheet again! Sort players by a dozen different features including scoring, DVP, minutes, vegas total, and more. Then lock those players into your lineup optimizer right from the players screen.
Save and Upload Lineups – Once you have your lineups, save them and upload them directly into contests on FanDuel and DraftKings.
We have gotten comments on the $29.99 price, but at what price do you value your time at? Think of the hours you will save by not having to create spreadsheets, manually import lineups, and pick through dozens of websites to find the data RotoQL has in one spot.
Click the link below for an introduction to the tool and to give it a try for free.
Updated FanDuel NBA Strategy for the 2017 Season
This article was originally written years ago, and while the basics remain the same as far as scoring, usage, pace, understanding value, and creating accurate projections are concerned, how we get this information has changed.
Inside of this lightly shaded box, I will give you a very quick rundown of how we are building our lineups in 2015, but the entire original article can be found below it as much of that basic information is still valid today.
The first step to understanding value is creating accurate projections, and this is simple in NBA contests, but has a much wider range of outcomes than in NFL where a player generally scores for his position i.e. passing, rushing, receiving. A guard can average 5+ rebounds in the NBA, and in the right matchup be a double-double or triple-double threat, but how do we identify those matchups? Forget about out of the box nightly projections like the ones you find on NumberFire and FantasyPro’s… These are historically wildly inaccurate and a great way to blow your bankroll. Here are what we are looking for when analyzing any player and matchup:
- 10 Game Average – This is simple, DraftKings gives it to you and you don’t even need a calculator to find the 10 game average on FanDuel. The number one thing to look at with an NBA player is what he’s done for you lately. This matchups projections start with his 10 game average.
- Analyzing Player X against tonight’s opponent – Let’s talk about StatMuse… A tool made by and for daily fantasy basketball gods… Simply type in a query and it spits out the data. For instance, we want to analyze Russell Westbrook’s matchup tonight with the Celtics using StatMuse… here are the queries I would run and the data StatMuse would provide.Simply start with the search Russell Westbrook vs Celtics:
What about recent games… Let’s look at last season vs Celtics averages:
To get an idea of his ceiling against the Celtics, let’s use StatMuse to check his game log since 2014 against the Celtics:
We also have to factor in that Durant is out tonight, let’s compare his 2014-2015 averages without Durant to his current numbers:
They clearly go up, but why, let’s compare his usage without Durant to his current usage rate:
Beyond just player-specific data, it’s obviously important to understand def vs position. These numbers hold true, and should play a large part in analyzing your matchups. You can find points allowed to each position at Rotogrinders. Simply head to their NBA section of tools and use either the DvP tool or DvP cheat sheet.
- Using Hollinger Team Stats on ESPN – Now that we have a good idea of the player vs team matchup, let’s take a closer look at analyzing team vs team matchups. We are trying to keep this simple and DFS fun, so let’s just look at the most basic team stats we can and determine how we can use them.What matters most in team matchups in daily fantasy? In my opinion, for any position the most important stat is opponent pace of play. Phoenix averages 8+ more possessions per game than Utah, and if your target player is on an up-tempo team, that number could jump to 12+ more possessions per game. That is 10%+ more opportunities to score points, meaning take your last 10 and vs opponent projections and add 10%.However, some teams can play fast and still be a tough defensive team (ie Golden State, Boston and Chicago this season). So we need to specifically target opponents with above average pace and below average defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions). These two numbers are particularly important when analyzing matchups for guards and perimeter players.
Bonus tip… Target teams that are in the top half of the league in pace and field goal attempts, but bottom third of the league in field goal percentage. Especially if the big you are targeting plays on an uptempo team. This is the easiest way to project rebounds… A bad shooting opponent in a game where they will take a ton of shots always creates a ton of rebounding opportunities.
- Taming Expectations and Understanding Value – I look at NBA projections like trading a stock or Forex, the fastest way to go broke is trying to predict a turn around, rather than trade swings just go with the momentum of the stock. In DFS, I never want to project a season high, or career high for a player. If he hasn’t done it in his last 10 games, let alone all season, I have to see it to believe it. You may miss on the occasional value, but will avoid much more disappointing nights by living by this code.The classic example is someone like Anthony Davis with a $12,000 price tag: he has to get to 70 to hit 6x value but I think he can do it tonight… Then he has an average game and you have a middle-of-the-pack lineup. Last 10 average, adjust it to the matchup, establish a floor and ceiling, make a realistic projection in the middle, assess value (projected score/salary) and build the lineup that gives you the highest projected score.
One last point that I think is crucial to succeeding in NBA contests on FanDuel and DraftKings is understanding position scarcity. This is what makes running backs so valuable in season long fantasy football, and has to be applied to daily fantasy basketball as well.
There will be 6 game NBA slates where you say something like: I like Andre Drummond at Center tonight, but everything else at the position is hot garbage. This is position scarcity, for me it generally happens at either SG or C, and you can use it to your advantage.
Let’s assume you have $14,000 for a small forward and Center, and after running projections have it narrowed down to Lebron James and Timofey Mozgov or Andre Drummond and Nic Batum. Well, you know that if you start Drummond you have a significant advantage at the position over the 50-75% of owners that go with one of the garbage options. Using matchups and value, you can make up the difference between Lebron and your small forward, but there isn’t a center that will even come close to your projections for Drummond.
While scarcity shouldn’t dictate your lineups on a nightly basis, it may help you decide between lineups when you are in a jam.
Understanding the Basics of FanDuel NBA Contests
Let’s jump right into the basics of fantasy basketball on FanDuel. Assuming you aren’t completely braindead, you understand that you have $60,000 to select the best 9 players… So we will skip over that stuff and get into breaking down the actual games, from both a team and player perspective.
We will start with analyzing games and how to use pace and Vegas totals to determine which teams and games to target. The most important thing to remember when it comes to pace is to analyze the opponent’s pace of play, not the combined pace of both teams. A player’s numbers are already adjusted to his team’s pace of play. However if his team is facing an opponent that plays at a pace that is 10% higher than the league average, you can expect 5-10% more possessions and a corresponding bump in the player averages for the slower paced team.
This effect works in both directions, let’s use a real life example to break down how I would use pace to adjust player’s values:
At the time of writing this article Golden State is averaging 103 possessions per game and the Miami Heat are averaging 93… If they faced each other the adjusted pace would be 98 possessions per game, roughly a 5% decrease for Warriors players and a 5% increase for Heat players. Here is a link to a very basic tool for getting possessions per game numbers: http://www.teamrankings.com/nba/stat/possessions-per-game.
Game lines and totals can be a great tool for choosing games to target if you know how to use them. First off, take a look at the night’s totals… The fastest growing trend in the Association is rest, everybody is chasing Pop’s methods and resting players in games where they think they can win with their bench. With this in mind, if a game line exceeds 12 points, you can safely decrease the expected minutes starters will play and give a boost to bench players.
As far as total’s go, targeting high scoring players in high scoring games is obviously a great idea, if the value is right (we will get to that later). Game totals and betting trends can be found here: http://www.vegasinsider.com/nba/matchups/.
Understanding Value on FanDuel
Before I jump into individual player analysis, let’s talk about what a ‘good value’ is on FanDuel. This varies on a night-by-night basis, but in general you want to target 4x value for cash games, and 5x value for GPP games. What does 4x and 5x refer to? It’s simply a way of describing a player’s point per salary dollar. A $6,000 player that scores 24 points has a 4x value (4 points per $1,000) whereas a $6,000 player that averages 30 points has a 5x value (5 points per $1,000).
Understanding value in FanDuel NBA games is the key to winning consistently, but is easier said than done because it involves projecting player scores. That’s not too difficult, right? Just head over to ESPN or some other site that does projections for you and use those… I don’t think so… I’m yet to find a provider of daily NBA player projections that is remotely accurate. They often are using season-long averages, which are useless in today’s NBA a guy could be a top 10 scorer to start the season and finish it in the bottom half. See Tony Wroten. These algorithms that don’t account for anything other than season-long numbers are spitting out totally skewed numbers.
Instead focus on these factors:
How many times has the player reached 4x+ value in the last 10 games? I prefer to target players with favorable matchups (see next factor) that have reached value in 4+ games out of his last 10. This is a what have you done lately game, where we chase trends to stay ahead of the value curve… a $4,000 player that has scored 24 points in three straight games is more valuable than a $9,000 player that has scored 45 in three straight.
What is the opponent’s FanDuel points vs position? Take advantage of this great tool from RotoWire, and target players in favorable matchups. This sortable chart will tell you how many fantasy points each NBA team gives up to each position. If a player has averaged 4x value over his past 10 games, but is facing a team with a ppg vs position that is 15% higher than the league average, expect him to go over 5x and be a solid target.
Target injuries and changes in usage rate. Take a moment and familiarize yourself with the Hollinger stats page on ESPN. Usage rate and player efficiency rating are the two biggest factors in a player putting up consistent big numbers on FanDuel. Obviously we want to target efficient players with high usage rates, but they are usually pricey on FanDuel. So target players that could see considerable jumps in usage through injury. If a starting point guard gets hurt, not only does his backup get a boost in value, but the SG and SF on the team do as well because they will likely handle the ball more. For instance Jrue Holiday recently got hurt, Tyreke Evans moved over to point guard and hit 5x-7x value in 8 of his next 10 games. Keep an eye on injuries and how they affect the usage rate of everyone else on the team.
FanDuel Lineup Salary Distribution
This is often debated, and while certain strategies may work better than others, there certainly is no magic formula for salary distribution. My preferred strategy is to pay up for one point guard, and generally a PF or Center. I also like to keep my SG+SF total under $25,000, and either pay up for a big name, high ceiling center like Andre Drummond or Boogie Cousins, or go on the opposite end and start a $4,000 Center that I expect to hit 5x-6x value. To give you and idea of what I would consider my ideal salary distribution here is what I would recommend:
Point Guard 1 – $9,000
Point Guard 2 – $5,500
Shooting Guard 1 – $7,000
Shooting Guard 2 – $5,000
Small Forward 1 – $7,000
Small Forward 2 – $5,000
Power Forward 1 – $9,000
Power Forward 2 – $5,000
Center – $7,500
This being said, understand that it’s a game of chasing value. If you can lock in 3 $3,500 players that you expect to hit 18 points apiece or 5x+ value, then use them and pay up elsewhere.
This brings me to my next point, it’s significantly easier to hit on the bargain targets than the high dollar targets. If you have two or three sub-$5,000 players that you feel really good about, I would use them in the majority of your lineups and really mix up the high dollar targets you use.
As you get into the NBA games play with a few different strategies, try targeting 2-3 players under $5k, try only using 1, and try a balanced roster, and make sure you study winning lineups every night. There are definitely trends and keys to winning GPP events, and you can get this info for free just by studying the previous night’s winners.
Entering the Right FanDuel NBA Contests
First off, if you don’t have a large enough budget you just are not going to be able to consistently win on FanDuel. I personally employ and recommend a 2 to 1 cash to GPP game mix. Meaning, I want to have 2/3’s of that night’s entry fees in 50/50’s and the other 1/3 in that night’s GPP contests.
However you can’t just enter one lineup into two $2 50/50’s and one $2 GPP and expect to win. Sure, if you only have $6 to play with, then that is probably the way to use it, but it takes several lineups to have a real shot at winning big money. You can play NBA every night, so unless you feel really, really great about one night’s games, I would limit yourself to $30-$40 in entries each night to start out. This means 3-4 lineups in $6-10 worth of 50/50’s each, and $3-5 worth of GPP’s. As you win and your account grows, increase both the number of lineups and entries per lineup.
This guide should definitely get you going with NBA action on FanDuel. Make sure you keep an eye on our latest articles for our expert’s picks each night, and grab our promo code if you haven’t already signed up!