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By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
One of the thrills of playing season-long fantasy sports is drafting your team at the start of the season. The beauty of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is that you get to create a new team every day. That also means you have a daily opportunity to win money, as opposed to having to wait for a payout at the end of the season for your traditional fantasy league.
If you’re new to Daily Fantasy Basketball, we’ve got you covered. Let’s discuss how Yahoo DFS works and highlight some strategies for building your entry.
DFS Contest Formats
There are two DFS contests to consider. First is a multi-game format in which players from a particular day’s games can be selected for your entry. For instance, if there are four games in the NBA on a Monday night, then you will be able to fill out your lineup with some combination of players from the eight teams that are scheduled to take the floor.
Another type of contest is a single-game format. For this contest, you will only be able to select players from one particular game. We’ll touch more on how this format works later.
Selecting a DFS Contest
There are two types of DFS contests within the multi-game and single-game formats to choose from. First, there are tournament-style contests, often referred to as GPPs (Grand Prize Pools). In this type of contest, a small percentage of people win money. However, those who finish with the highest scores can win a significant amount of cash. In general, you’ll likely need to take some risks to differentiate your lineup from the masses to have a shot at winning the top prize.
If you’re looking for a safer way to earn some profits, then Cash Games are an alternative to consider. In these contests, there is lower risk involved, but also a smaller reward since up to half of the entries in the contest will finish in the money. In Cash Games, a sound strategy is to fill your lineup with safer players who have higher floors. More important than finishing with the highest score is ensuring your team doesn’t bottom out.
Building a Lineup
After you’ve decided which type of contest you want to play in, it’s time to build your lineup. Yahoo has a $200 salary cap for multi-game contests to use towards building a lineup of eight players (PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, UTL). Each player has been assigned a different salary, which can fluctuate daily based on their performance and/or change in role within their respective teams.
For single-game contests, you are given a $90 budget to build a lineup of five players: The MEGASTAR, SUPERSTAR, STAR, and two FLEX spots. The player slotted in as the MEGASTAR will receive 2X their fantasy points accumulated. The SUPERSTAR will receive 1.5X their normal fantasy points earned and the STAR position will generate 1.2X their fantasy points.
The scoring rules are as follows: Points (1), rebounds (1.2), assists (1.5), steals (3), blocks (3), and turnovers (-1). Unlike many traditional season-long leagues, shooting percentages don’t matter, so you don’t need to worry as much about a player’s offensive efficiency. A player could score 20 points on 10-of-10 or 10-of-30 shooting — it all counts the same.
Strategies for Building a Lineup
Now that we’ve gone over the rules, let’s highlight some of the best ways to build your lineup so you can end the night as a winner. One of the most important items to consider is injuries. For example, let’s say the Wizards are scheduled to play the Knicks. Normally, Bradley Beal would be one of the best options in DFS, but he is expected to miss the game with an injury. Since he won’t play, Spencer Dinwiddie would become a more appealing choice, considering he will likely receive more scoring opportunities with Beal out. Typically, when a star player is ruled out, his backups’ salaries won’t change, so those players become popular value plays who enable you to spend more of your salary elsewhere.
Another key thing to keep in mind with injuries is that it’s not just the star players to keep an eye out for. If a team is missing multiple players who are important members of the regular rotation, then the rest of the roster would stand to benefit from their absences. Unlike real-life basketball, teams with deep rosters are generally not the best to target in DFS. Too many good players can lead to limited playing time and more evenly distributed statistics.
Going a step further, usage rates are important. Selecting players with high usage rates can be a winning strategy because those players generally have more opportunities to contribute statistically. Pace of play is another key stat to consider. The math is pretty simple: Teams that play at a faster pace generate more possessions and therefore have more opportunities to rack up points, rebounds, and the other stats we are trying to target.
Implied totals can also be important to focus on when building your lineup. If a game between the Lakers and Bucks has an implied total of 210 points and a matchup between the Bulls and Warriors has an implied total of 233 points, then the expectation is that the contest between the Bulls and Warriors will be more high scoring.
You’ve selected your contest. You’ve thought about all of the strategies and you’ve submitted your lineup that fits within the allotted budget. As exciting as that might have been, the fun is just getting started. Once the first game(s) on the slate begins, you can track your team — and its movement on the contest leaderboard — throughout the night on the Yahoo DFS website, as well as the Yahoo mobile app.
Looking for more Yahoo DFS fun? Join the Yahoo Cup, which is a free, season-long DFS contest. This is a multi-round, single-entry contest with 27 rounds where the top 7,950 entries overall and top 540 entries per round share $50,000, with $10,000 to first overall and $100 to first per round. Scoring will be cumulative across all rounds. Your seven lowest scores will be dropped. You may join this multi-round contest at any point. Future rounds entries will be reserved. You will draft a new team before each round starts.