FanDuel NBA Preseason Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy Guide
It's almost NBA season, and that means it's almost time for daily fantasy NBA on FanDuel.
But you don't even have to wait until October 17th to start playing NBA DFS. FanDuel offers up NBA preseason contests, which are a bit unique compared to what you've grown accustomed to in the past during the regular season.
What's different? Let's dive in and check it out so that you can maximize your preseason performance while you ramp up for the regular season.
The scoring is the same as it is during the regular season, but there is a tweak in FanDuel's NBA scoring for this season.
|3-Point Field Goal||3|
|2-Point Field Goal||2|
You'll notice that both steals and blocks are worth an extra point from what they were in the 2016-17 season, while everything else is the same. We'll proceed accordingly with the new scoring setup for the rest of our analysis.
Roster and Salary Cap
The roster construction is the same as usual on FanDuel: a center, plus two point guards, two shooting guards, two small forwards, and two power forwards.
The $60,000 salary cap is nothing new, but individual salaries are tweaked accordingly. That means you can do a lot with your roster in terms of getting access to star players.
For example, Karl-Anthony Towns cost at least $8,000 in every game on FanDuel last season, but he may cost, say, $6,500 (his price on the opening slate when the Minnesota Timberwolves play at the Los Angeles Lakers). Why?
Well, because the preseason just operates differently than the regular season!
Preseason Rotations and Minutes
Minutes just aren't the same thing in the regular season and the preseason, so that changes things up.
During the 2016-17 regular season, 85 players averaged at least 30 minutes per game. During the 2016-17 preseason, just one player did it (it was Serge Ibaka at 31.2 minutes per game, just to satisfy your curiosity). Looking only at minutes played among the players who started each game, 23 players averaged at least 30 minutes played, but only three players started at least two preseason games and averaged 30 minutes in those.
Further, just five players hit 40-plus minutes in a single game in the 2016-17 preseason. There were more than 1,100 instances of a player getting at least 20 minutes in the preseason, but just 130 players hit 30 minutes.
So what does all this mean? Finding huge minutes isn't going to happen very often in the preseason, and basically, 30 minutes is the new 40 for preseason purposes.
This does, in turn, throw off the minutes correlation (to FanDuel points) a good bit because all types of players -- fantasy producers, shooters, and regular season starters as well as non-fantasy producers, defensive players, and bench options -- are getting similar minutes.
To prove it, here are the correlations between a few relevant stats and FanDuel points (based on the updated scoring format) from the 1,138 player games with at least 20 minutes in the 2016-17 preseason (the closer to 1 that the correlation is, the stronger the relationship).
|Game-by-Game Stats||Correlation with FanDuel Points|
|Field Goals Made||0.696|
|Field Goals Attempted||0.560|
|Free Throw Attempts||0.424|
|Free Throws Made||0.417|
Basically, this shows that you need actual points and shot attempts to find fantasy value, which is always the case when trying to find FanDuel production. So 30 minutes from a defensive stopper might never be nearly as valuable as 20 minutes from a shoot-first player. Chase shots rather than just minutes.
Does it hold up if we look at the preseason totals of the 262 players with at least 100 minutes from the 2016-17 preseason?
|Preseason Totals||Correlation with FanDuel Points|
|Field Goals Made||0.798|
|Field Goals Attempted||0.746|
|Free Throws Attempted||0.633|
|Free Throws Made||0.610|
Yup. It still comes down mostly to which players can pour in buckets in their time on the court and (secondarily) grab rebounds.
It's not really a surprise, then, that some of the NBA's best scorers and rebounders comprised the list of the leaders in FanDuel points per minute in the 2016-17 preseason.
|Anthony Davis||1.57||Paul George||1.29|
|Russell Westbrook||1.51||Jon Leuer||1.28|
|Stephen Curry||1.41||Kevin Durant||1.23|
|Kyle Lowry||1.39||Blake Griffin||1.23|
|Nerlens Noel||1.38||Greg Monroe||1.22|
|Jared Sullinger||1.36||Nikola Vucevic||1.21|
|DeMarcus Cousins||1.34||James Harden||1.20|
|Myles Turner||1.33||Gerald Green||1.20|
|Kyle O'Quinn||1.31||Andre Drummond||1.20|
|Brook Lopez||1.29||Rudy Gay||1.20|
|Damian Lillard||1.29||Derrick Favors||1.20|
Of course, players can't score if they're on the bench, so how do you figure out which players are going to see the court?
Despite the fact that you now know points and shot attempts still matter more than sheer minutes, you need to find minutes to begin with. How do you go about finding minutes and rotations? That comes down to tracking the news.
We have our own player news section for NBA updates here at numberFire that will help you identify which players could see extended minutes or which teams might be planning to rest certain players. Rotoworld is also a fantastic source for updates on player rotations.
Twitter is also your friend in this scenario, but sifting through your buddies' tweets about their favorite TV shows can cause you to miss breaking news, so making a Twitter list will get you a leg up. This list is a great jumping off point for NBA beat writers.
DFS always favors the prepared, and by tracking the news and expected rotations -- and focusing on which players are getting shots and points rather than just paying up for the big names -- will help you find success in preseason NBA contests.
Also, not chasing minutes alone and prioritizing offensive studs even in limited roles -- which you can do easily given the salary cap in the preseason -- should give you a leg up as well.