Monday, February 11, 2008

Daily Fantasy Basketball - Basic Strategy

I got a little tired of just using this space to provide basic updates about FSL, so we will try to get some strategy and other important notes and topics up here more often. To start, I want to cover some very basic strategy concerns for Daily Fantasy Basketball Contests. I will break down the strategy based on the draft method for the contest, and will keep things as generic as possible.

Ranking Cap Contests

These are as tough as they get. The ranking cap for each player is set as the average fantasy points scored per game for that player. If you blindly selected a fantasy team using all of a 200pt cap, your team would on average score 200 fantasy points that day. To win these contests you need to pick a team that will score above average (above 200pts). Now to get above 200pts, the obvious thing to do is pick the biggest fantasy point scorers like Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant who average 40+ fantasy points per game and put them on your team. Not so fast. You want to pick players who you think will score more than their rank cap value in that day's game. You should only take Lebron or Kobe if you think they will put up more points than their cap value. Since there cap value is high, they need to put up a bunch of points just for you to "break even" on them. So the big question is how do you figure out who will out score their fantasy cap value in a given game. There are several things to look for here.

1) The Matchup
What team your player is playing, and how well the opponent defends fantasy points is huge. Also home field advantage is important. You should try to select players who are up against poor defenses, and are playing at home when possible.

2) The Streak
Players who are hot tend to stay hot, and those that are cold tend to stay cold with all else being equal. Try to select players that have been playing well over the last few weeks to a month. Select players that have been consistently beating their rank cap value over the last several games, and plan on them continuing to do so.

3) The Playing Time
Players who were bench warmers for most of the season, but now are starters or have their minutes way-up are solid selections. Their average fantasy points per game will be depressed by the lack of playing time earlier in the season, making it easier for them to exceed their cap value now.

4) The Cap Value
Players who have large cap values are more risky than players with small cap values. The downside is much larger. Let’s say you picked up somebody with a value of 30 pts, and for some reason they do not play, or have a very bad game. You could end up 30 pts below their average score. Now the same situation for a player with a value of 12 pts. If they do not play, you are only 12 pts shy of the average total. Players with small cap values have more upside potential than downside risk. Players with high cap values have more downside risk than upside potential.

5) The Injuries
Make sure your player is in good health prior to drafting. Injuries are noted in the draft screen. Do not draft questionable players, and be careful when selecting probable players. Keep in mind that the average points scored was done when the player was healthy in most cases.

Salary Cap Contests

For this draft version, you pay the actual cash salary for the player for that game. Since the NBA salary structure greatly favors the veterans you end up with a bunch of overpriced veterans and under priced rookies with this cap method. In general, you will want to try to figure out who the top fantasy scorers will be that day regardless of the cap value. Put the top 2-3 scorers on your team. This may cost a bunch, but don’t worry. There will be some obvious under priced players in the pool. Chris Paul, Kevin Martin, and many others young players are way under priced. You will need to put 3-4 of the obviously under priced players on your team. After putting the projected high scorers, and the vastly under priced players on your team, you just find the best value you can get for the last position or two you need to fill. These contest will not be decided by the obviously under priced players that everyone will have. They will be decided by who can better map out the top scorers that day, and by who can plug in the last one or two spots on the roster the best.

No Cap Contests

No Cap contests allow you to draft any team that you want without any cap restrictions. Players are sorted in the pool by their ranking cap values. The players most likely to score the most points on average are listed at the top. In general, you will want to pick your fantasy team from the top of the draft pool. Your edge is found when you can identify players farther down on the list that will outscore the top players. Since most will be picking from near the top of the list, if you can find the one or two players down further who will score more you can get an edge. Also you pretty much have to pick the top fantasy scorers like Lebron or Kobe. Even if they are facing an unfavorable match-up, it is still likely they will outscore the others on the list.


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