By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) can bring another level of excitement to your basketball viewing experience. Unlike season-long fantasy games, DFS allows you to create a lineup just for a single night’s worth of action. If you’re new to the game, we’re here to help.
Let’s discuss how Yahoo DFS works and some strategies for building your entry.
Selecting a DFS Contest
There are two types of DFS contests to choose from and both can be fun in their own ways. First is a tournament-style contest, often referred to as a GPP (Grand Prize Pool). In this type of contest, a small percentage of entrants win money. However, those who finish with the highest scores can win a significant amount of cash. You’ll generally need to take some risks and differentiate your lineup from the crowd in order to have a shot at winning the top prize in this type of contest.
If you’re looking for a safer way to earn some profits, then Cash Games might be for you. In these types of contests, there is a lower risk involved but also a lower reward, since up to half of the entries in the contest will finish in the money. In Cash Games, it makes more sense to fill your lineup with safer players who have higher floors.
Understanding the Lineup Build
You’ve decided which type of contest you want to play in. Now the fun part: Building your lineup! Yahoo has a $200 salary cap to use toward building a lineup of eight players (PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C UTL). Each player has been assigned a different salary, which fluctuates from game-to-game based on their performance and/or changes in their role within their respective team.
The scoring values 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.
Strategies for Building a Lineup
Now that you know the rules, it’s time to dive into the best ways to build your lineup so you can hopefully end the night with some extra cash in your pocket. One of the most important items to consider is injuries. Let’s say the Bucks are scheduled to play the Nets. Normally, Giannis Antetokounmpo would be one of the best options, but he is expected to miss the game with an injury. Since he won’t play, both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday would be more appealing in DFS considering they will likely receive more scoring opportunities with Giannis sidelined. In addition, a new player will enter the starting lineup in Giannis’ place, and his salary will likely remain discounted.
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 key members of their 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 ones to target in DFS. Too many good players can lead to limited playing time and usage rates.
Speaking of usage rate, selecting players with high usage rates can also be a winning strategy because those players generally have more opportunities to contribute statistics. Usage rate takes into account how many possessions end with a player shooting the ball, getting to the free-throw line, or committing a turnover. Pace of play is also important. Players on teams that play at a faster pace inherently have more opportunities to rack up points, rebounds, and the other stats we are trying to target.
Implied totals — the total number of points expected to be scored by both teams — are another area to focus on when building your lineup. If a game between the Lakers and Clippers has an implied total of 212 points and a matchup between the Wizards and Warriors has an implied total of 231 points, then the expectation is that the contest between the Wizards and Warriors will be more offense-friendly. As a result, DFS players often target players on teams expected to produce high point totals.
You’ve selected your contest, you’ve thought about all of the strategies and you’ve submitted a lineup that fits within the $200 budget. As enjoyable as that might have been, the fun has just begun. Once the first games of the slate begin, you can track your team’s movement on the contest leaderboard throughout the night on the Yahoo DFS website, as well as the Yahoo Fantasy mobile app.
Looking for more Yahoo DFS fun? Join the Yahoo Cup, which is a free, season-long DFS contest. Oh yeah, and it’s free to enter! This is a multi-round, single-entry contest with 23 rounds in which the top 7,950 entries overall — and the top 540 entries per round — share $50,000.
An overall first-place finish earns you $10,000 while finishing first in a single round nets a $100 prize, plus an entry to the final contest. Scoring will be cumulative across all rounds. Your five lowest scores will be dropped. You may join this multi-round contest at any point. Future round entries will be reserved. You will draft a new team before each round starts.