October 19, 2021, 4:10 pm
Welcome back to the next installment of the HoopBall Beginner’s Guide to DFS. In part one I explained some of the things you need to know if you are looking to build bankroll or just consider yourself a rookie in the DFS community, but the article was not for everyone. Some have already tested the waters and in this issue I will be highlighting some factors that must be accounted for if you want to swim with the DFS sharks.
As I stated in part one, Cash games are what should be used to build your bankroll. I consider myself a GPP player, but that doesn’t mean I do not build Cash lineups every day as well. When playing in tournaments against thousands of other participants we need to differentiate our lineups and finish in the top one percentile to bring home the bacon, and to do this we are going to have to take multiple factors into play when constructing a lineup.
There are sometimes thousands of people who enter GPP contests and if you want to gain an edge against the masses you have to differentiate your lineup. Every night there are what sharks in the DFS community consider Chalk plays. These are the easy plays that are hard to ignore because the spot is so good. For example, last season the Mavericks were terrible against the center position. Every night the opposing center matched up against the Mavs would be a popular play in DFS. While it makes plenty of sense, if said center has a bad game and you managed to avoid him then you will gain an edge on the vast majority who played the chalky player. This would immediately propel a lineup above the masses. A player who is considered to be chalky could see their ownership percentage anywhere from 20-25 percent or higher. This is an immediate red flag when playing in tournaments and you will often hear experts say they are fading these players. Fading is completely avoiding a popular play to gain an advantage on everyone who is playing said player.
Another way to separate your lineup in a GPP is by stacking a single game. This is risky and should only be done in cases where you are building multiple lineups, but stacking a game with a high game total and small spread could be beneficial. You are hoping this game enters overtime and you have multiple players from both teams. This gives the majority of the players in your lineup an extra five minutes each to produce more stats, but is overall risky if the game doesn’t go into overtime.
Yes, minutes equal money, but understanding how to capitalize off of usage rates makes a huge difference in DFS. Usage is essentially the rate at which a play ends with the player shooting, assisting or turning the ball over. Generally the players who are the stars of their team and handle the ball a lot have the highest usage rates. Researching for a slate involves sifting through information that could be useful or distracting. An easy way to capitalize off of usage rate is by targeting the players who gain usage from a key player missing games, rather than just the players seeing extra minutes.
Never Go 100 Percent
This is for those who play multiple lineups on any given night. I cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid playing a player in every lineup you are making. It may seem like a dream spot that you can’t miss on, but as I stated before avoiding the chalk is a common way to vault over the competition and having a chalky bust in your GPP will pretty much sink you. Cash games are different because you will not need nearly as high of a score to cash out.
Hedging Your Plays
You never want to play anyone in 100 percent of your lineups, but what do you do when you realize you played one player in a majority of your lineups? You hedge your bet. Hedging your lineups simply means having a backup or failsafe lineup if one or some of your most popular plays fail. It could be selecting players who are gaining minutes or usage rate as a result of a teammate missing the game.
For example, you are targeting the Nuggets backcourt because Jamaal Murray is expected to miss the game. The obvious or chalky play in this situation becomes Will Barton. This is because Barton would see the biggest increase in minutes, usage and shot attempts without Murray being on the floor. He would also be relied upon to play some point guard as well. Barton is the obvious play for cash games and would be very popular in GPP’s. If you are playing 10 lineups and have Barton in a majority of them it is time to hedge your bet.
Hedging involves taking one or two of your last lineups that have yet to be built and constructing them to act as a failsafe. Basically, if Murray is forced to miss, it is fair to assume that at least one guard is going to step up in a big way and while it is easy to feel confident in Barton, having one lineup where you hedge with Gary Harris instead could save your night. Harris would likely enter the night at depressed ownership levels and have a cheaper salary.
Like I said, you can never research enough and sometimes reading between the lines of a beat writer’s article could help you decipher some coach speak. What is coach speak? It is simply little tidbits or hints of what the coach is thinking. Sometimes we get a coach hinting at a change to the starting lineup or perhaps a bench player seeing extra run. Whatever the case may be you could gain a serious edge on the competition just by running through Hoop Ball’s forums or blurb updates. It is important to understand that not all coach speak is reliable and over the years many coaches have lied just to gain an edge or mess with the media.
Who doesn’t like taking an evening stroll down Narrative Street? All NBA narratives need to be taken with a grain of salt, but we have seen DFS sharks capitalize off of simply knowing if the player’s family is in attendance, expecting a child or simply knowing their birthday. These are all small but valuable narratives to pay attention to. At the end of the day these athletes are humans and feel extra emotion in certain situations. A few prime examples of some narratives I managed to take advantage of were Kobe Bryant’s final game, The Greek Freak playing on Greek Heritage night and hometown games. Players tend to get up a little extra when playing in front of family and friends from home. It’s not a tactic for everyone, though if you want to use it there’s always plenty of good stories.
Monitor News and Information
This goes without saying, but you need to monitor any and all news up until the time lineups lock. If you play someone that gets scratched or hurt in warmups you can kiss your money goodbye. Knowing the starting lineups and minute distribution is extremely important and could be an easy way for sharks to take advantage of less important games. We see it every year during the preseason and Summer League. We expect a lot of players to get some run, but the team could opt to rest some bigger names because the game is meaningless. Sometimes you could cash in just by having an entire lineup that plays during these times of the year and the best way to find this information is by following Hoop Ball and team beat writers. That being said, it is also one of the riskiest times to play DFS. Monitoring players who have a questionable tag is another way to capitalize. Fish tend to be scared off of a player who is questionable before tipoff, but monitoring the news closely could give you an edge if the player does play. Depending on the circumstance you can have an elite play at depressed ownership.
Floors and Ceilings
When playing in tournaments it is important to understand the expectations on a player’s floor and ceiling. This means knowing how much downside and upside a player has. In tournaments we are targeting the players with the most upside. We want to construct a lineup with the highest possible score and that means taking some boom or bust players. For example, Kevin Durant has one of the highest floors in the NBA. He will basically go out every night and put up a decent to high amount of fantasy points and will always have an elevated salary on DraftKings. You are paying for the comfort of knowing he is dropping at least 40 DK points. Now take a look at someone on the same team who is still an unbelievable player like Klay Thompson. Thompson is a superstar in the league, but in DFS he generally takes a backseat to Durant, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. This is because these guys all have higher floors, but Thompson’s ceiling for his price tag has no limits. He is much cheaper than the other Warriors on any given night and still is capable of dropping 40 actual points. Players’ ceilings and floors are affected by matchup, but for the most part we know game in and game out who is capable of breaking records or leading the team in scoring and counting stats. Remember in tournaments we need to take some chances and risk it for the biscuit.
Buying and Selling Lineups
Please do not do this. We see a lot of trolls on the internet selling DFS lineups to people who expect them to be winners. To start, if you are buying a lineup from someone random or a website, odds are someone else is buying the exact same lineup. This now means even if it does hit big you are splitting it with who knows how many other people. Another reason to avoid buying lineups is simply because if the lineup was worth it why is this person selling it? If this person has the secret sauce to take down a $50,000 GPP he wouldn’t be selling the winning lineup for $10. In fact, if they are even profitable they would not be selling any lineups, but rather playing with them and writing advice or articles on helping. Let’s be real, every expert wants to see the people who are reading and supporting their articles win, but we also love to play the game and want to win as well and that’s why you will never see anyone profitable giving out their lineups before they lock. It is a competition, but we as writers are happy as long as someone on our team wins.
These are just some of the ways to decipher value plays on any given night. It is an all-day process and many times research begins the night before. There are so many factors that must be accounted for when attempting to build a winning lineup for GPPs and running through multiple situations and scenarios could pave a smoother path to a top finish. There is a vast difference between building lineups for a GPP or Cash game and I hope after reading these two articles you have a strong understanding of how the two compare.