NBA DFS Strategy: The Dog Days of January?
On Twitter, I’ve seen comments discussing recent higher scores and the difficulty of cashing which got me thinking on a number of fronts.
1) The seasonality of each DFS sport
2) Where are we in the season?
There are many variables DFS players take into account during the course of each day, but sometimes lost in the minutia of being a great DFS player is the seasonality of the games we play and how to take advantage of that seasonality as a player. Although we’re playing Daily Fantasy Sports understanding what part of the season you’re in can help you make better decisions on allocating capital and improving your odds as a player.
Early in every sports season, we have overlapping sports. The sports calendar never starts a new season without another sport in the middle of or winding down their own season. So when MLB starts, we’re winding down NBA and NHL. When MLB ends, we get College Football and Professional Football (and Soccer too!). Overlapping sports typically have two effects: 1) bigger prize pools and 2) softer fields. With more people on the site, the game providers want to encourage more cross sport participation. They want to turn a DFS NFL player into a DFS NBA player and keep rolling them over through each sport. The more sports you play, the more money they make. As a result, you often see bigger prize pools offered earlier in the season. Lots of these prize pools will even overlay, creating extra incentive for players to try new sports. In general, new players playing new sports are weaker opponents. Sure some of DFS skill translates across sports, but in general the nuances of each sport require their own attention and it takes time to hone those skills. Thus, early in the season you’re typically competing against less experienced fields on the whole. As the season wears on, the casual players start to funnel out and the fields are tougher. This is the natural progression of most of the truly “daily” sports. The NFL is a bit of a different animal since more people play it casually, but for NBA and MLB it’s important to understand where you are in the season.
As the games get “tougher”, ownership tends to converge. The fields are filled with stronger players and stronger players are able to identify the better plays more easily. As a result, we tend to see inflated ownership as the season goes on. This problem gets exaggerated when the NBA schedule gets compact and teams get injury riddled. Injuries open up opportunities for value plays but often those values are obvious to skilled players and act as a “free square” with all users rostering a player. With everyone using that player not only do you have one less roster spot to differentiate yourself, but you all have the same salary requirements and positional eligibility to solve the remaining puzzle.