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NBA Draft Kit: Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy

Scott Malewig

Scott Malewig

Scott Malewig writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Why Play Daily Fantasy Basketball?

How far did you make it into last NBA season before you realized your prized first-round pick of Josh Smith was going to obliterate your fantasy team's field-goal, three-point and free-throw percentages? Fairly early on I'd guess.

When did you finally decide it was time to cut bait on Derrick Rose, Danny Granger and Andrew Bynum? Probably much later than you should have, and it most likely cost you a playoff berth.

These are the problems you don't have to deal with when playing daily fantasy basketball.

With daily games, you choose your players within the confines of a salary cap for just one day. The format generally allows you to avoid injury question marks and dead weight on your roster. It also means you don't have to do that pesky game counting we all do on Monday every week in season-long leagues to find out whether you should start your second-round pick who plays just two games or your hot waiver wire pickup, who will play five games in unspectacular fashion.

The most popular daily fantasy basketball games use a points system that's similar to what season-long football leagues are known for. This cumulative points format eliminates the hassle of stressing out over making sure you draft specific categories instead of simply focusing on drafting the players you think will score the most points on a given night.

If you get a horrid 5-for-23 shooting night from Kobe Bryant, it won't haunt you for the rest of the year, or the rest of the week even. Each day is a new season. You draft a new team within the confines of a salary cap and can be the champion of the day, every day.

Probably the best thing about playing daily fantasy basketball games is that it makes you more of a fan.

When I do regular fantasy leagues, I check my team a couple times a week, but I'm not watching a ton of games every night. Daily fantasy basketball is what finally forced me to purchase NBA League Pass.

Daily fantasy basketball makes each game mean so much that I'll watch games for six hours on a given night. Kings/Bucks going to be a dud you say? Not when you're riding Larry Sanders and DeMarcus Cousins.

When you're playing daily fantasy games, every possession is important. It makes every night of NBA basketball like an NFL Sunday.

Strategy for Daily Fantasy Basketball

As far as strategy goes, minutes, matchup and salary are the three most important things to keep an eye on each day. It's exceedingly hard to select a team that includes only the best NBA players each day, so finding players who are underpriced in relation to how many minutes they are expected to play that day is a great way to find some value. You always have to be on the lookout for both injury fill-ins and players who are playing in competitive games that night to capitalize on situational production.

Another way to find value is to pick players who are facing either weak team defenses or a team that is weak against a specific position or type of player. For instance, the Denver Nuggets were dominated inside last year due to the undersized Kenneth Faried and the unathletic Kosta Koufos starting most games. So, picking the opposing center or power forward that was playing against the Nuggets was a common strategy daily fantasy basketball players employed. Finding a collection of those players who can exceed their salary value is the best way to assemble a winning daily fantasy basketball team.

With the recent boom of daily fantasy games over the last year, there are a number of sites available to play daily fantasy basketball on, and there are subtle differences between each of the sites in both their scoring system and their gameplay. While you should reference each site's scoring system yourself before playing, we want to help give you an idea of what to expect on each site, so the roster and scoring settings of the most popular daily fantasy basketball sites are outlined below.

FANDUEL

FanDuel is far and away the largest site in terms of player volume right now, and because of this, they offer the most basic form of the game. The player positions are very strict, offering no multi-position flexibility, which made choosing two shooting guards night in and night out last season a constant struggle. They also offer a very simple scoring system where points, rebounds and assists are all equally weighted and there are no bonuses, which come into play on most other sites.

Roster Format
PG
PG
SG
SG
SF
SF
PF
PF
C

Scoring
3-pt FG = 3 pts
2-pt FG = 2 pts
Free Throw = 1 pt
Rebound = 1 pt
Assist = 1 pt
Block = 2 pts
Steal = 2 pts
Turnover = -1 pt

DRAFTDAY

DraftDay has a number of different game types in addition to the FanDuel-style salary cap game. DraftDay offers Pick'em games where you pick the best player out of a pre-defined tier, Target Games where you try to hit a target score instead of just competing against other users, Bracket Tournaments where you play one-on-one matchups much like the NCAA March Madness bracket and Rapid Fire where users pick the winners of head-to-head matchups of NBA players such as Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James. They also offer a bit more of an advanced scoring system and positional flexibility in their salary cap games. For instance, Tim Duncan can be played at either power forward or center on DraftDay, but just power forward on FanDuel.

Roster Format
PG
PG
SG
SG
SF
SF
PF
PF
C

Scoring
Points = 1 pt
3 Point Field Goal = 1 pt
Missed Field Goal = -0.25 pts
Missed Free Throw = -0.25 pts
Assist = 1.5 pt
Rebound = 1.25 pt
Steal = 2 pts
Block = 2 pts
Turnover = -1 pt


DRAFTKINGS

DraftKings is fairly similar to FanDuel in that they exclusively offer salary-cap games, but they are also known for having some of the biggest prize pools in the industry. They also offer some of the extra positional flexibility seen on DraftDay in addition to a “flex" (Utility) spot on their basketball rosters. DraftKings also offers solid player pop-ups that give you split stats and other fantastic information that can come in handy when building a daily fantasy basketball team. Their player pricing can be soft at times, but that is fantastic for new users who want to get their favorite players into their lineups. They also offer fun double-double and triple-double bonuses to reward players who excel on a given night.

Roster Format
PG
SG
SF
PF
C
G
F
Utility

Scoring
Points = 1 pt
3 Point Field Goal = 0.5 pts
Assist = 1.5 pt
Rebound = 1.25 pt
Steal = 2 pts
Block = 2 pts
Turnover = -0.5 pts
Double-Double = 1.5 pts
Triple-Double = 3 pts


DRAFTSTREET

DraftStreet is another site that offers a couple different formats including both salary cap games and Pick'em games similar to DraftDay's offerings. They are also known for having the strictest player pricing, making it sometimes difficult to make teams, but very rewarding for selecting the correct players. DraftStreet has a far different roster set-up than most other sites, using just guards, fowards, centers and utility spots instead of well-defined positions.


Roster Format
G
G
F
F
C
C
Utility
Utility

Scoring
Points = 1 pt
Missed Field Goal = -0.5 pts
Missed Free Throw = -0.5 pts
Assist = 1.5 pt
Rebound = 1.25 pt
Steal = 2 pts
Block = 2 pts
Turnover = -1 pt

FANTHROWDOWN

FanThrowdown is an up-and-coming site in the industry and a feature-rich one at that. They've taken their favorite parts of the daily game and given it to their users. FanThrowdon has a more simplistic scoring system than some of the other sites, but they also offer more positional flexibility than some sites. In addition to their dedication to providing lots of different features, FanThrowdown has been willing to try out new game types to see if they catch on.

Roster Format
PG
PG
SG
SG
SF
SF
PF
PF
C

Scoring

Points = 1 pt
3-pt FG Bonus = .5 pts
Rebound = 1 pt
Assist = 1 pt
Block = 2 pts
Steal = 2 pts
Turnover = -1 pt

FANTASYFUED

FantasyFued has been around for a while and offers both great promotions and rewards for its members. They offer a few different game types, including the standard salary games as well as snake drafts, which are a little more time consuming, but a heck of a lot of fun. The great thing about snake drafts is that you will never have overlapping players with your opponents like you sometimes do in salary cap games. The one major difference in their scoring system is that they offer slightly more points for assists than any other site. They also have you make a 10-player roster, which is the largest of any site.

Roster Format
G
G
G
F
F
F
C
C
Utility
Utility

Scoring

Points = 1 pt
Rebounds = 1.25 pt
Assists = 1.75 pts
Block = 2 pts
Steal = 2 pts
Turnover = -1 pt
Missed Free Throw = -1 pt

Which daily fantasy games do you play? Tell us about your favorite sites and games in the comments.

Scott Malewig is a contributing writer for RotoWire and one of the most active daily fantasy basketball experts. You can find him on twitter @Sports_25toLife.