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DFS Basketball 101: How To Find Value On FanDuel

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

Last week, I wrote about top-tier strategy plays for daily fantasy basketball. If you missed it, please check it out here. This week, I'm going in the opposite direction and covering value plays. These are just as important as top-tier plays in daily fantasy basketball, like a balance of blue chip stocks and value stocks to round out a portfolio. I’ll also look at scenarios in which players return the value you need from FanDuel salary ranges based on January data.

What defines a value play?

  Salary Range Mulitiplier Target
FanDuel $3500-$5500 6x-10x
DraftStreet$2000-$9500 3x-5x
DraftKings $3000-$50007x-10x


FanDuel: For a $3,500 player you want at least 21 fantasy points as a return.

DraftStreet: For a $7,000 player you want at least 21 fantasy points as a return

DraftKings: For a $3,000 player you want at least 21 fantasy points as a return

*TIP: You will need at least two to three value plays each night to construct a winning daily fantasy basketball lineup.

Factors that can contribute to a Value Play

-- Injuries – Backup player inherits starting role or other starters inherit shots
-- Trades – Leaving the team shorthanded with bench players inheriting minutes.
-- Suspensions
-- Rest for star players – Veteran teams like the Heat, Nets, and Spurs are known to do this
-- Change in starting rotation
-- Potential for garbage minutes (expected blowout) – Vegas line is at least 10 points
-- Salary drops within value play range (see above)

*TIP: Look for these factors and build a list of players who fall into value plays for the night. Based on the matchups, select the top plays at each position when you construct your rosters.

Hollinger's Player Efficiency Ratings

Here are some players to target if they inherit starter's minutes (avg. less than 28 min per game and their PER Ratings). These players have proven to get the most production out of the minutes they’re given.

1) Brandan Wright, DAL – 22.69
2) John Henson, MIL – 20.18
3) Andray Blatche, BKN – 20.17
4) Manu Ginobili, SAS – 19.35
5) Jordan Hill, LAL – 19.17
6) Markieff Morris, PHX – 19.13
7) Kris Humphries, BOS – 19.13
8) James Johnson, MEM – 18.69
9) Terrence Jones, HOU – 18.59
10) Kenneth Faried, DEN – 18.47
11) Timofey Mozgov, DEN – 18.19
12) Jon Leuer, MEM – 18.17
13) DeJuan Blair, DAL – 18.06
14) Mike Scott, ATL – 18.00
15) Tyreke Evans, NO – 17.90

Research Findings for FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball – January 2013

I took data from the eight nights of basketball in January that had at least 10 games. Based on the data set, I was able to breakdown the numbers and come up with some interesting trends. The total sample size of players was 1,850.

Players with Salary $10,000+

Sample Size: 27 players

Avg. Salary: $10,604

Avg. Score: 48.66 Fantasy Points

High Score: Carmelo Anthony 77.6

Avg. Value Returned: 4.58x (4.58 pts. for every $1,000)

Players in this range very rarely give back less than 3.5x. The only bad game was Stephen Curry with 19 fantasy points on Jan. 7 when he was in the midst of a mini slump and the game was a blow out on the road. The group is comprised almost entirely of small forwards and power forwards. The one player that was the most risky of the group (Aldridge, Anthony, Cousins, Curry, Durant, Griffin, James, and Love) was Griffin. He only returned 4.58x or greater two times out of six.

Salary Range $8,000-$9,900

Sample Size: 133 players

Avg. Salary: $8,637

Avg. Score: 37.50 Fantasy Points

High Score: Joakim Noah 61.8

Avg. Value Returned: 4.33x

38% (51/133) returned 4.00x or less

30% (40/133) returned 5.00x or greater

9% (12/133) returned 6.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (5.00x or greater)

PG 14/46 (4.36x overall avg.)

SG 2/13 (4.18x overall avg.)

SF 1/7 (3.43x overall avg.)

PF 16/43 (4.52x overall avg.)

C 7/24 (4.27x overall avg.)

The group to target in this range is the PG and PF based on the % over 5.00x ROI and the overall average ROI they bring. It’s interesting to note how small of a sample size we get at the SG/SF positions.

Salary Range $6500-$7900

Sample Size: 179 players

Avg. Salary: $7,054

Avg. Score: 29.85 Fantasy Points

High Score: Josh Smith 63.1

Avg. Value Returned – 4.22x

47% (85/179) returned 4.00x or less

30% (55/179) returned 5.00x or greater

10% (18/179) returned 6.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (5.00x or greater)

PG 18/61 (4.09x overall avg.)

SG 8/29 (4.18x overall avg.)

SF 11/31(4.38x overall avg.)

PF 5/24 (3.93x overall avg.)

C 12/34 (4.53x overall avg.)

The numbers show that players at the SF and C positions provide the best ROI of this group. SG again performs very low proving that spending at that position does not make sense.

Salary Range $5500-$6400

Sample Size: 252 players

Avg. Salary: $5,942

Avg. Score: 25.9 Fantasy Points

High Score: Jeff Green 58.3

Avg. Value Returned – 4.36x

44% (111/252) returned 4.00x or less

35% (87/252) returned 5.00x or greater

15% (39/252) returned 6.00x or greater

8% (21/252) returned 7.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (5.00x or greater)

PG 15/38 (4.58x overall avg.)

SG 26/84 (4.23x overall avg.)

SF 9/31 (4.49x overall avg.)

PF 24/66 (4.38x overall avg.)

C 13/33 (4.30x overall avg.)

This range really revealed a lot, as the point guard position looks to be a gold mine with players like Jameer Nelson, D.J. Augustin, Reggie Jackson and Trey Burke all able to provide excellent ROI. Tobias Harris has also been a beast since returning from injury. The key to finding value at the shooting guard position is getting playing with a higher versatility index. Because they are streaky shooters, you need to gain points from rebounds, assists and steals. The most interesting stat was that if shooting guards hit 5.00x or greater, they only averaged 1.69 three pointers per game.

Salary Range $4500-$5400

Sample Size: 257 players

Avg. Salary: $4,934

Avg. Score: 20.05 Fantasy Points

High Score: Jared Sullinger 59

Avg. Value Returned: 4.05x

50% (130/257) returned 4.00x or less

30% (75/257) returned 5.00x or greater

15% (40/257) returned 6.00x or greater

7% (17/257) returned 7.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (5.00x or greater)

PG 8/37 (x overall avg.)

SG 22/66 (4.39x overall avg.)

SF 14/57 (x overall avg.)

PF 22/72 (x overall avg.)

C 8/26 (x overall avg.)


17/22 SG that hit 5.00x or higher came from games with totals over 200 points.

18/22 SG were in games that had a Vegas line of eight points or less

The average three pointers made was 2.50 per game, up from the prior salary range of 1.69 (see above)

Out of the 75 players that returned at least 5x, the average number of minutes played was 32 per game.

Salary Range $3600-$4400

Sample Size: 375 players

Avg. Salary: $3,934

Avg. Score: 15.86 Fantasy Points

High Score: Caron Butler 49.9

Avg. Value Returned: 4.00x

70% (260/375) returned 5.00x or less

18% (69/375) returned 6.00x or greater

10% (39/375) returned 7.00x or greater

7% (25/375) returned 8.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (6.00x or greater)

PG 16/72 (4.04x overall avg.)

SG 14/86 (4.09x overall avg.)

SF 17/95 (3.66x overall avg.)

PF 17/80 (4.29x overall avg.)

C 5/42 (3.90x overall avg.)

Notes: Great value in this range at the PF spot. Note how poor the performances were at the center position. If a center played at least 25 minutes, he usually returned at least 6.00x. When over 25 minutes, only one time (Chris Andersen) did that position fail to return ROI.

109/375 players averaged at least 27 minutes per game and their ROI was 6.13x. It's all about playing time when taking players in this range.

266/375 players averaged less than 27 minutes per game and their ROI was 3.19x.

Two of the best players in this range were Jeremy Lamb and Derrick Williams. When Lamb played at least 24 minutes, his ROI was 5.51x. Same with Williams: when he gets 26+ minutes, he produces.

Salary $3500 (minimum salary player on FanDuel)

Sample Size: 591 players (127 with at least 20 minutes a game)

Avg. Score: 8.8 Fantasy Points / 18 FP (>20 min a game)

High Score: Marcus Thornton 48

Avg. Value Returned: 2.52x / 5.16x(>20 min a game)

53% (67/127) returned 5.00x or less

30% (38/127) returned 6.00x or greater

23% (29/127) returned 7.00x or greater

11% (14/127) returned 8.00x or greater

Positional Breakdown (6.00x or greater)

PG 8/14 (x overall avg.)

SG 7/38 (x overall avg.)

SF 9/35 (x overall avg.)

PF 4/17 (x overall avg.)

C 9/23 (x overall avg.)

Your target projection for a $3,500 player should be 20-25 fantasy points. The numbers show that it is very high risk to take a $3,500 player and get the ROI you need unless you know they are getting at least 20 minutes per game. It is a lock to take a PG that is $3,500 if you know they are starting based on the 8/14 success rate. Also the center position is a strong gamble with a 40% rate.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.