Now that the NFL regular season is over (DraftDay does still have games during the playoffs), I’ve been focusing on trying to figure out the NBA games. It was a costly lesson at first. I donated a chunk of my winnings from the NFL season to the coffers of the daily fantasy players who were savvier than I at the NBA action. But after some trial and error and observing the rosters of guys who seem to put up consistent results, I think I’m starting to get the hang of it. Yesterday, I put four entries into the $5, 250 player ‘The Sager Bomb’ and had all of them finish in the top 22! Here are my suggestions for creating an NBA roster:
Avoid Players on a Back-to-Back
As a general rule, I would tend to avoid players on teams who are playing their second game in as many nights. The exhaustion factor from having played the night before will generally lead to a dip in expected fantasy performance. Look at the NBA schedule from the night before and try to steer clear from guys who played in the previous night’s games.
Target Back-to-Back Defenses
Conversely, I think it’s a wise idea to start players who are facing a defense that played the night before. Usually if a team is going to slack off a bit on one side of the ball as a result of it being their second game in two nights, it will be the defensive side. Even a player who might otherwise seem like a mediocre start can become a great start when facing a weak defense on a back-to-back.
The main reason I was losing so much in the NBA games when I first started playing was that I wasn’t scrolling down far enough on each position to find the diamonds in the rough. I was creating my roster entirely of guys priced ~$9,000 and higher. I noticed the players really kicking butt in the NBA games almost always have a couple of really cheap, underpriced guys on their roster. Guys like Steve Blake, Jarrett Jack, J.J. Reddick, and Tyler Hansborough have been incredibly valuable so far this season because they’ve contributed a serviceable fantasy output for a low cost. By putting a couple players like these in your roster, you’re able to stack the remaining spots with the three or four elite players rather than the one or two you might otherwise be restricted to starting.
Do Your Homework
I’ve been burnt pretty bad a few times by failing to do a Google or Twitter search of a player I’m starting prior to putting them in my lineup. Even if the player does not have an injury symbol, you can’t be 100% sure that they’ll play normal minutes that night. Some teams, like Minnesota and Utah, are in “talent evaluation mode” right now and are spreading minutes thin across a number of their players. A quick Google search of each player’s name might yield a key piece of information that could dissuade you from starting him that night.
It’s important to be cognizant of matchup intricacies between teams. For example, I’m pretty willing to start any point guard vs. the L.A. Lakers right now since he’ll see a lot of minutes against Derek Fisher who, at this point in his career, is a pretty god-awful defender. Conversely, when weighing a start of Wizards big man JaVale McGee last night, I noticed his team was facing Orlando. That meant he would be battling against defensive superstar Dwight Howard all night which immediately made me decide against starting him. A little research can yield good info about where teams are weak on D. Some teams, like Charlotte and Sacramento, are weak everywhere on D and are great to target.
Start Bynum and/or K-Love
As a general rule, a player who can average 2 fantasy points for every 1 salary dollar is a pretty good deal. There have been a couple of players who have far exceeded this benchmark so far this season. Andrew Bynum and Kevin Love in particular have been putting up ridiculous fantasy numbers and are exceeding a ratio of 3 fantasy points per salary dollar. It has been almost compulsory to include them on your rosters.
Since so few games have been played this season, it’s okay to use the “PPG” column when creating your rosters as a solid guide of player performance. However, as the season winds on, this column will become less reliable since it does not differentiate recent performance from early season performance. Luckily, there are enough dorks like myself writing on this blog who will surely keep you abreast of undervalued players as the season winds on!