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Daily Fantasy Basketball 101: DailyMVP Overview

Shannon McKeown

Shannon McKeown

Shannon McKeown is the VP of Advertising Sales and Basketball Editor for Rotowire.com. He's a two-time FSWA finalist for Fantasy Basketball writer of the year. He also covers the Pistons and Tigers for the site.


As RotoWire continues to build out our content coverage of Daily Fantasy Sports, weíll introduce users to new offerings in the space. This week, weíre taking a look at DailyMVP and their new fantasy basketball game, FASTBREAK.

Available to download from the App Store, or mobile-responsive web for Androidô or desktop, DailyMVP offers users daily and weekly fantasy sports contests in a quick and easy to set up format.

DailyMVPís FASTBREAK offers a sleek and intuitive interface that allows users to play in head-to-head fantasy basketball matchups against other users in a matter of minutes. New DailyMVP users can familiarize themselves with FASTBREAK in free contests, or dive directly into cash contests against other randomly selected users. While head-to-head contests against randomly selected users are currently the only contests available, DailyMVP will launch the ability to challenge friends soon. Larger leagues and other game formats and features will also be released later this year.

DailyMVPís FASTBREAK isnít your typical daily fantasy sports salary-cap contest. Each user picks three players from three different teams from the nightís slate of games: one guard, one forward and one center. Picking from three different teams means no stacking will be allowed when a team faces a horrible defense like the Sixers or Lakers.

When selecting a roster, all available players will have a corresponding fantasy point projection (fantasy points derived from all the standard fantasy scoring categories: points, rebounds, assists, etc.) listed next to their name for the upcoming game. The goal, of course, is to select a lineup that will score more fantasy points than your opponentís squad. But hereís where things get interesting, as DailyMVP introduces the Fantasy Equalizer into the mix, which adds an additional level of strategy to the selection process. The Fantasy Equalizer is applied to the lowest projected score to "equalize" or level the playing field before the contest starts. That way, when the contest starts all you need to track is which team, yours or your opponentís, ends up with the most fantasy points. Weíll dive into the Fantasy Equalizer more during the strategy discussion below.

Scoring

The scoring format on DailyMVP is pretty standard for a daily fantasy basketball contest.

Points: 1.0
Rebounds: 1.2
Assists: 1.5
Blocks: 2.0
Steals: 2.0
Turnovers: (-1.0)

Strategy

I started playing on DailyMVPís FASTBREAK on the contestís launch date, Feb. 18th. Hereís a look at my matchups Iíve played over the past couple weeks and the different strategies I deployed:

Matchup #1 on Feb. 18 (Projected Points)

Randy Foye, Tristan Thompson and Andre Drummond (82) versus DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James and DeJuan Blair (95)

Final Score: 118.1 to 87.1

For my first stab at DailyMVP, I focused on targeting players who were in position to easily eclipse their projected point totals. This landed me with 15 Equalizer Points at tip-off thanks to the Fantasy Equalizer. Foye (22 projected points) and Thompson (26 pp) both had increased roles that particular night, as each was handed more responsibility with Ty Lawson (ribs) and Anderson Varejao (back) on the shelf. Thompson also had a cushy matchup against the hapless Sixers. Neither finished too far ahead of their projections, though, with Foye cashing in 22.1 points and Thompson finishing with 31.5 points. As it turned out, Drummond (32 pp) proved to be the difference maker, finishing with 48.9 points against the defensively-challenged Al Jefferson.

My opponent rolled with LeBron James (44 pp), DeMar DeRozan (35 pp) and DeJuan Blair (16 pp). King James dominated to the tune of 62.8 points, but DeRozan (22.3) and Blair (2.0) were both disappointments. Blair was an odd choice, as there wasnít any news to hint at a bigger role on Feb. 18th, and heís been rather underwhelming for the better part of the past two months.

I cruised to an easy victory here, but my strategy of picking two players who I had personally projected to score higher than their fantasy points projection didnít really come into play. This victory was more or less due to my opponent making an odd roster choice.

Matchup #2 on Feb 24

Rajon Rondo, Thaddeus Young and Enes Kanter (79) versus Chris Paul, Jared Sullinger and Samuel Dalembert (87)

Final Score: 111.1 to 66.8

With an eight-point difference between my team selection and my opponentís team, the Fantasy Equalizer applied eight points to my score at the start of the game.

Rondo was projected to score 29 points. To me, this projection was short because of Rondoís inconsistent play since his return from injury. He had a nice matchup against Utah and was going to be well rested after sitting out the previous game. Young was a must-start on Feb. 24th. He was projected for 30 points, which is near his season-long average, but that total doesnít come close to reflecting Youngís role since the trade deadline. The Sixers forward finished the night with 30 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, seven steals and five turnovers, which totaled 54.5 fantasy points. Young had another monster outing on Feb. 25th and should be considered an obvious option on DailyMVP until his projection is more reflective of his actual performance. The center pool was light that night, and Kanter was coming off a very solid four-game stretch. Unfortunately, Derrick Favors (hip) returned to action for this tilt, which led to Kanter finishing with 15 points, or five points less than his original projection.

My opponent once again made a confounding roster selection, going with Jared Sullinger at power forward. Sullinger was questionable for the contest with a head injury, which was eventually diagnosed as a concussion and forced him to sit out for the second consecutive game. Another forward option, specifically one who vastly outperformed their projected score, would have made this a close contest.

Matchup #3 on Feb. 25

Paul George, Kevin Love and Dwight Howard (122) versus Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Joakim Noah (116)

Final Score: 145.2 to 158.3

After playing around with value picks in my first two lineups, I opted to go with the star-studded approach for this next contest. George was projected for 37 points, which is right around his season average, but a matchup against a lousy Lakers squad put him in position to post much bigger numbers. The All-Star guard finished with 41.4 points, which was somewhat of a disappointment. I was expecting something closer to 50. Love averaged 34.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the month of February, so he was an obvious choice to outperform the projected point total of 45 points. He finished the night with 63.1 points. Howard proved to be projected nearly spot on, finishing just 0.7 points above his 40-point projection.

My opponent went with a star-studded lineup, too, which meant the Fantasy Equalizer would have a smaller impact (only six Equalizer Points were given to my opponent) than weíve seen in previous contests. This also meant that Kevin Loveís big performance would be a moot point. The six-point cushion given to my opponent didnít factor in, as both Irving (45.3 points) and Noah (43.9) were able to beat out my options at guard and center.

Matchup #4 on Feb. 25th Ė Cash Game ($5 entry fee)

Lance Stephenson, Trevor Booker and Joakim Noah (82) versus Lance Stephenson, Elton Brand and Robin Lopez (71)

Final Score: 86.1 to 108.9

This night was full of great value plays, so after getting my feet wet a few games and now being comfortable with the process, I opted to play my first cash contest on DailyMVP. With a low projected score of 82 points, I expected to receive some help from the Fantasy Equalizer, but my opponent was given 11 Equalizer Points due to his inclusion of a couple sleeper picks.

Stephenson has been stellar all season, but his projections/salaries in daily contests still seem to be at a bit of a discount. Going up against one of the worst defenses in the league (Lakers), it seemed likely that he would top the 30 points that were projected. Unfortunately, he came in at just 25.3 points as the Pacers cruised to an easy victory (note this as a reminder that blowouts can negate perceived matchup advantages at times). Noah, as discussed in Matchup #3, posted his usual stellar line. But Booker turned out to be a huge disappointment. With Nene and Kevin Seraphin out, I expected Booker to post a huge line and be an automatic double-double. Instead, he finished with just 16.9 fantasy points in 30 minutes of action.

The big winner for my opponent was Elton Brand, who more than doubled his projection (15) by finishing with 32.1 points. Robin Lopez (26 pp) also faired well, as he finished with 40.5 points on the night.

Results

At 2-2, the results could be better, but Iím very comfortable playing FASTBREAK at DailyMVP and believe I have a sound approach for the roster selection process. The key is to target players who will vastly outperform their projected stats for the night. In some instances this can be easy (see Kevin Love and his current hot streak), but players like Booker will come with plenty of risk. The trick will be to identify those risks and try to avoid them when possible. For instance, instead of making a risky selection on a low-upside option like Booker, I should have targeted someone with a better recent track record Ė Love is the obvious choice here, but even a player like Mike Scott or Elton Brand, both of whom had posted strong numbers in back-to-back games, would have been the better play.

Final Thoughts

Iím curious to see future offerings from DailyMVP. The current head-to-head format is a great fit, and the game will receive a boost once users are able to challenge friends, which Iím told is coming soon. DailyMVP will also be adding salary cap games and offerings for the other major US sports. Based on this first foray, Iím optimistic. Itís a solid product for the hardcore and casual DFS crowd.

*Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

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