Benny The Eagle – Having “Second” Thoughts
In grade seven, my Re/Max Runnin’ Rebels team had a shot to play for the provincial championship. We went through the whole tournament bracket with me getting a few minutes playing time in each game to give my scrappy effort while some talented players got a rest. We’d always put them back in before the game got too close again. Eventually though we got to the final and rightfully faced a team that was just as talented as we were. I knew what my team needed from me to win that day and I gave it my all. There has never been a 12th man on the bench as dedicated to winning as I was that day. I gave my team exactly what they needed that day with a solid 40 minute effort sitting right there at the end of the bench. When that final buzzer went and we had held on to our slim lead, I charged the court like a crazy person and joined in the celebration like any of the other guys that had worked and sweat on the floor all game. My coach didn’t realize until later that he didn’t put me on the court at any point in the game and felt bad about it. He asked me, “Why didn’t you come tell me? I’d have got you in.” I looked him straight in the eye and told him I was 100% fine having not played a minute. I knew the best contribution I could give my team that afternoon: sweating it on the pine. It didn’t matter that I didn’t log a single minute in the game. I WAS A CHAMPION!
As I’m learning, projecting which players are the best values on a given night is a lot different than with football or baseball. In football, snap counts bear watching rather than actual minutes played. Some scoring drives take two minutes, and some ten. It may affect their ceiling, but a team’s pace is generally factored into player projections to start with. Most players you’d consider rostering are full time starters and not role players, with the rare exception of a slot receiver or a 3rd down receiving back on a PPR site like DraftKings. Every SECOND matters in the NBA. Not just in the game results, but especially in fantasy scoring.
In the case of a total blowout in the NFL, some stars may sit in the fourth quarter, but it often has little effect on their score because they’ve already scored essentially all the points the team was going to score. Actual playing time isn’t a major factor in determining a players value. In MLB, you can pretty much be guaranteed of at least four at bats, even five if it’s a top of the order hitter. There are players that you know are dangers for being pinch-hit for if they have lopsided left/right splits, but they are usually fairly obvious and easy to avoid if you want to. Projecting points for players in the NBA is totally different. Points are scored and accrued constantly and right through the final buzzer. If a team jumps out to a 25 point lead after three quarters, it’s likely the stars won’t see the floor in the fourth. In that case, the stud you paid up for that was on a 60 point pace, will finish with a disappointing 45. Whoever is on the court will be scoring the points.
When a minimum priced quarterback or receiver get a starting role on a given week, they aren’t necessarily cash game locks. When a utility infielder gets a start in the bottom half of the batting order, you don’t have to rush to change your lineups to get them in there. Playing time doesn’t necessarily equate with value in NFL or MLB DFS. In playing around with our projections customizer here though, you can easily see that a change up or down just a few minutes in the projections can make a massive difference in expected scoring by 5-10 fantasy points. Being able to accurately project playing time based on injuries, blowout probability, overtime probability, or other playing time rotation factors is essential to winning in NBA DFS.
If news breaks that a team will be starting a minimum priced reserve point guard, giving him closer to 30 minutes rather than his expected 8, well THAT’S GOLD JERRY, GOLD! If you miss out on that value and salary relief, you will likely be fighting uphill all night in cash games. Having reliable player updates right up until roster lock each night is pretty much ESSENTIAL to winning in NBA DFS. I’ve found our nightly lineup alerts to be a lifesaver. You don’t have to scour the interwebs constantly if you’ve got a busy life. There are services that will keep you up to date.
Tuesday night I was just finishing up supper dishes around 6pm CDT, five minutes before roster lock, and I got the email that Rajon Rondo was OUT for the Bulls. Jerian Grant wound up getting the start at only $3000 on DraftKings and put up 35.8 DK points. It wasn’t completely clear that he would be the beneficiary of those extra minutes this time around, but these kinds of situations happen regularly in the NBA. Different players will score at different points per minute rates, but regardless of the rate more minutes equal more points. Being aware of the obvious value plays getting large bumps in minutes each night will likely be the difference between winning on not in your cash games.
Don’t let “second thoughts” send you into a tilt spiral of self loathing winding up in a midnight trip to Arby’s, but always keep the seconds and minutes in mind while doing your NBA roster construction.
I’ve set aside $200 in my bankroll for this NBA season. As my previous NBA track record has been abysmal, I’m playing it pretty safe to start off with this year and sticking to about $5 in cash games a night on slates of five or more games, and the same amount in GPP’s on smaller slates. Once I feel like I’ve got a handle on things, I’ll likely bump up my play rates. Here’s the results so far:
Entry fees: $124.00
This positive result so far is certainly buoyed by a $50 payout on a $2 GPP in which I placed 4th. My cash game results have been less than stellar to this point, but are trending upwards. I hope they continue to improve as the daily projections get more locked in as the season wears on.
Enjoy the basketball folks. Miracle of Miracles, DFS actually makes regular season NBA games quite watchable!