FanDuel Beat the Score NBA Strategy Guide

With the release of FanDuel's new contest type, it's time to dig in and break down the strategy behind Beat the Score.

The longer you play daily fantasy sports, the more you realize what type of player you are.

By that, I mean, you figure out whether you find more success taking on head-to-head matchups and 50/50s and beating just half of your competition consistently or diving head first into a massive tournament and trying to post a monster score.

But whether you like some high-variance fun or want to prove your mettle with consistently strong scores, well, FanDuel's new Beat the Score format is right for you.

How to Play

When you started playing NBA DFS on FanDuel -- or if you've considered starting but haven't yet -- you probably thought about what type of score you needed to post, on average, to win your contests. It's a very common question. Of course, it always varies based on your competition's scores.

Until now.

In the new Beat the Score contests, all you need to do is beat a predetermined score, which varies based on the number of games on a given slate as well as the entry fee.

You don't have to relearn how to make a lineup, though. It's still the nine-player, $60,000-salary cap structure as usual for the NBA. The only difference is that if you beat the designated score, you split the pot with the other competitors who do the same. If nobody beats the score, everyone gets their entry fee refunded. If everyone beats the score, all entry fees are also refunded.

Scores to Beat

In terms of general strategy for NBA DFS on FanDuel, 300 is a pretty common score to shoot for. That's why a "five-times" value is an important starting target. That means your player scores 5.0 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary. If all of your players do that and if you spend all $60,000 of your salary, your lineup will score exactly 300.0 FanDuel points.

One of the best parts about Beat the Score is that you already know what score you need to achieve -- and it isn't always 300 FanDuel points -- and you don't have to worry about your neighbor's lineup or about uncovering the hidden gem of the night. You just need to do your thing.

FanDuel has already established the scores to beat for the first week, as part of the Beat the Score Fan Challenge contest, during which total user scores in the $3 contest add up to bigger and bigger prize pools.

Each slate's score to beat depends on the number of games and the entry fee.

Date Slate Size $3 Entry $25 Entry $150 Entry
February 28th 9 Games 290 305 315
March 1st 4 Games 275 295 305
March 2nd 10 Games 290 310 325
March 3rd 7 Games 285 300 315
March 4th 4 Games 275 295 305
March 5th 7 Games 285 300 315
March 6th 7 Games 285 300 315

So, you know ahead of time what you're up against. What's next?

Beating the Score to Beat

Let's dig into some overarching strategy.

We already know what score we need to beat depending on the entry fee. And we've seen more than a hundred slates already played out this season (from the NBA's opening night on October 17th, 2017 through February 11th, 2018 is a total of 115 main slates).

Based on the slate sizes for the first week of the contest and the data through February 11th, here are the percentile ranks you'd generally need to achieve to beat the score. (For example in the table below, lineups ranked inside the top 42nd percentile on nine-game slates in our sample would have beaten the predetermined Beat the Score mark.)

Date Slate Size $3 Entry $25 Entry $150 Entry
February 28th 9 Games 42nd 26th 17th
March 1st 4 Games 49th 25th 16th
March 2nd 10 Games 44th 25th 14th
March 3rd 7 Games 40th 25th 13th
March 4th 4 Games 49th 25th 16th
March 5th 7 Games 40th 25th 13th
March 6th 7 Games 40th 25th 13th

Of course, these will fluctuate night to night, depending on ownership of players who do well and who do poorly. Perhaps a team rests key starters, giving us two or three great value picks, players who can easily exceed five-times value. That would help a greater percentage of lineups to exceed the predetermined score.

This table is just meant to act as a rule of thumb so that you know you don't need to swing for the fences (or put up a full-court heave) in your Beat the Score contests.

FanDuel will be offering historical data on the percentage of lineups that beat the score, based on slate size.

Strategy by Entry Fee

For the $3 entry, you generally need to do just a little better than half of the field to score a win. It sounds a little like a 50/50, then, but the key difference is that if you eke past the designated score while others fall short, you could split the winnings with a small handful of people.

Still, in terms of general strategy, you don't need to get weird. You don't have to shoot for the moon and find a low-owned gem. You just need to play it safe. For example, on a seven-game slate (of which there are three in the opening week), you need to score 285 points to win. That means your team needs to average 4.75 FanDuel points per $1,000 rather than a full 5.00, giving you more room for error and less need to seek a huge output from a sleeper pick who might stick to the bench if he can't hit a shot.

For those choosing the $25 entry range, you'll need to flirt with the usual top 25th-percentile lineup, similar to most GPP structures. You don't need to strive for 400, though, in order to win, so playing it safer to achieve the 300 points needed on the seven-game slates is the best way to go.

Our floor and ceiling page will absolutely come in handy for this format. On that page, you'll see the most common output range for players in action on a given night, as well as their floor and ceiling values (FanDuel points per $1,000). This page will help identify safer, more consistent players, those who would be ideal for the lower-dollar Beat the Score contests.

Of course, the most basic strategy when seeking the floor needed to Beat the Score successfully, is to find players who get on the floor and who take shots.

Take a look at some data regarding the relationship between FanDuel points and basic box score stats. The sample includes nearly 9,000 individual games from December 1, 2018 up to the All-Star break during which a player saw at least 15 minutes of action. (The closer to 1.000, the stronger the relationship.)

StatCorrelation with FanDuel Points
Field Goals Made0.789
Field Goals Attempted0.736
Defensive Rebounds0.537
Free Throws Attempted0.515
Free Throws Made0.506

The easiest path to fantasy points is putting the ball in the hoop, which requires shot attempts. So if you find yourself stuck between players at the same position on a given night, go with the one who is expected to take the most shots. That doesn't mean that you should solely seek out the chuckers, but when all you need is a high-floor lineup, shot attempts are a great building block.


FanDuel's new Beat the Score game is a mix between tournaments and head to heads in terms of strategy, but in the end, you simply are playing against yourself.

If you follow the minute trends, seek the high scorers for that night, and study up on the core principles of NBA DFS, you're off to a great start in the new format. Targeting games between teams with high paces is a good way to boost the floor of your players, as they'll get more chances to score fantasy points during their minutes on the court.