The most important variables for fantasy value on a given night include players’ recent playing time and performance, teams’ injury situations and schedules, the scoring settings of your league(s), and matchups.
Team-based matchups will be the initial focus of this column, though a player's individual matchup is also hugely important. In a toss-up situation between two high-caliber SGs, you'll pick the one who isn't defended by Tony Allen. For more on that topic be sure to read this Friday’s Daily Dose, in which I’ll look at the top-10 best and worst defenders at each position as gauged by Defensive Efficiency. Using a broader stroke, we can still paint a picture of all 30 teams' relative value in terms of the quantity of stats they allow their opposition on a nightly basis.
In simpler terms...these are the teams you want your fantasy squad to be playing against, since they give up the most fantasy points.
I delayed this quick-and-dirty analysis until enough games had been played to offer a plausible overview of the league’s tendencies. The data for all 30 teams in each category would be overwhelming to present here, so as usual I’ve posted it on my Google Drive account for you to peruse at your leisure (the numbers are accurate as of Jan. 3, and shouldn’t have changed much at all in the intervening days).
You’ll notice that in my spreadsheet I’ve taken things a few steps further by breaking down how many ‘fantasy points’ each NBA team allows per game as gauged by the scoring settings for FanDuel, Yahoo! and ESPN leagues. By doing so we can determine which matchups reward owners the most.
The four teams giving up the MOST fantasy points per game in all three formats are the 76ers, Lakers, Cavaliers and Kings.
The two teams giving up the FEWEST fantasy points per game in all three formats are the Pacers and Heat, with a great amount of variability thereafter. Go here for the complete rankings.
Of even greater interest (for you stat-heads out there, at least) are the z-scores for each team when looking at total ‘fantasy points’ allowed in FanDuel. Predictably, the z-scores are dispersed in a rough ‘bell-curve’ around the mean of 195 fantasy points allowed. The Pacers are easily the worst team to face in FanDuel at - 2.3 SDs. Things drop off quickly with the Heat (-1.5) and Knicks (-1.1) being the only other two teams a full SD below the mean.
On the flip side, the 76ers are exceedingly generous with a z-score of +3.0. They are followed by the Lakers (+2.0), Cavaliers (+1.3) and Kings (+0.8). It should surprise nobody that the Pacers are the stingiest team and the Sixers are the most lenient – what’s interesting is just how far those teams deviate from the league average for fantasy points allowed in FanDuel’s scoring format. It’s a decisive competitive advantage staring us in the face, if we only know what to look for.
The spreadsheet I referenced earlier contains a similar breakdown for representative Yahoo! and ESPN points leagues (the only one with SD calculations is FanDuel).
And yet, perhaps the most important insight for fantasy owners is how a particular points-league (FanDuel, Yahoo!, CBS, ESPN, etc.) values each individual category. Points allowed is typically the most important category in these formats, and the numbers below bear that out, but there's much more to the story. Should you target guys who rebound well, guys who provide across-the-board production, or guys who score volume points regardless of their percentages? Naturally, it depends upon your league.
FanDuel’s scoring system:
Made 3-pointer = 3
Made 2-point FG = 2
Made FT = 1
Rebound = 1.2
Assist = 1.5
Steal = 2
Block = 2
Turnover = -1
With this information in hand, I tallied how many ‘fantasy points’ are accumulated in each category as determined by the per-game statistics allowed by all 30 teams. Having done so, we can gauge how each statistical category contributes to the overall total of available fantasy points (given FanDuel’s settings).
In other words, of all ‘fantasy points’ scored on FanDuel through early January, 51.2 percent of them came courtesy of points (FTM, FGM and 3PTM). Rebounds and assists were a distant second and third, respectively, the impact of steals and blocks were small, and turnovers deducted a relatively small chunk of points. This scoring system doesn’t account for FGs attempted or penalize for misses in any way, which makes a guy like Dion Waiters far more palatable than he’d be in a roto league (I still have to fight the impulse to mentally ‘downgrade’ guys with lousy percentages). This also suggests that you should target players who are matched up with teams allowing the most points per game – such information is readily available and, again, can be found in my spreadsheet (albeit not updated after Jan. 3).
I linked this above under the "Editor's Note" and will reiterate that there's a huge money tournament at FanDuel for Friday's games. It's a $100 entry with a whopping $60,000 first prize!
Yahoo! default scoring system:
Each point scored = 0.5
Made FG = 1
Attempted FG = -0.45
Made FT = 1
Attempted FT = -0.75
Made 3-pointer = 3
Rebound = 1.5
Assist = 2
Steal = 3
Block = 3
Turnover = -2
You’ll notice that although FGA/FGM and FTA/FTM are scored in this setting, I have not included them in the above breakdown. That is because the Yahoo! formula leads to a negation of scoring for those categories – FGM add 37.4 percent more total ‘fantasy points’ (as a percentage of the mean total) but FGA eliminates another 37.4 percent. Similarly, FTM add 17.4 percent and FTA eliminate 17.4 percent. This does NOT mean that these categories don’t weigh into the final equation, they just have to be judged on a truly case-by-case basis. I am fascinated by the fact that rebounds accounted for 34 percent of the total points accumulated in these default Yahoo! leagues, and it’s a fact owners in such formats should remember well. Turnovers in Yahoo! also take a more significant chunk of points away, relative to the other formats under discussion.
ESPN scoring system:
Each point scored = 0.08
Made FG = 0.25
Attempted FG = -0.08
Made FT = 0.25
Attempted FT = -0.17
Rebound = 0.1
Assist = 0.17
Steal = 0.3
Block = 0.28
Turnover = -0.17
For the ESPN format, unlike with Yahoo!, there was a significant positive spread between FGM and FGA, as well as FTM and FTA, so I have included them in the chart above. That’s all I have time for today. To reiterate, I’m presenting this information as one more way to gauge values and prepare an optimal lineup, but it’ll do you little good if you don’t view it in a more holistic context including the factors I mention in my intro paragraph (most of which is dealt with on a minute-by-minute basis in Rotoworld’s incomparable player news blurbs). Also check back on Friday for some insights into individual matchups.
You can follow me on Twitter @Knaus_RW.