Which Players Exceed Their Daily Fantasy Basketball Value Most Often?

A look at which players exceed their daily fantasy value most often.

The extended All-Star break has been great this year, as it's allowed me to go back and look at some numbers before the games start back up again. More specifically, I've dug deep into daily fantasy basketball numbers.

I’ll start off with something simple that I think could be useful -- I looked at which players have exceeded their fantasy “value” most often. Value is a term used in fantasy circles to represent how many points a player gets respective to his price. What you ultimately want to do is maximize the number of points you get per dollar spent.

I used FanDuel data for this experiment, so I’ve set the value at 4.5 points per thousand dollars of cap space. The reason I’ve chosen this number is because a value of 4.5 will result in 270 points, which is generally enough to cash in 50/50 games.

What I’m hoping these lists tell us is that there are certain players who are continuously underpriced, allowing for them to be consistent daily fantasy basketball values. I think we could also learn information on whether some positions are priced differently, and whether or not it’s wise to spend more on a certain position.

Let’s look at the lists and we’ll come back to the analysis afterwards. We’ll start off with point guards and work our way through.

Point Guards

NameTimes Over Value
Lillard, Damian27
Payton, Elfrid26
Knight, Brandon24
Paul, Chris23
Teague, Jeff23
Jack, Jarrett23
Wall, John22
Bayless, Jerryd22
Brooks, Aaron22
Walker, Kemba22

It’s interesting to note that there's a good mix here between expensive and cheap players. What that shows me is that FanDuel does a good job of pricing their players, and there's no big “advantage” to using cheap point guards over expensive ones, or the other way around. What amazes me is that Kemba Walker is on this list despite only playing in 42 games this season -- there's some serious undervaluing going on here.

Shooting Guards

NameTimes Over Value
Williams, Louis27
Matthews, Wes26
Antetokounmpo, Giannis26
Crawford, Jamal25
Butler, Jimmy25
Harden, James24
McLemore, Ben24
Korver, Kyle23
Mayo, O.J.22
Johnson, Joe22

There's a growing idea that finding value at the shooting guard and small forward positions in DFS basketball is difficult. But looking at this list, we see that the top 10 guys exceed value just as often as the point guards. It's true that the point guards have a lot more elite players in the top 10, but there's certainly value to be had at shooting guard as well, it's just in a lower tier of players.

Small Forwards

NameTimes Over Value
Covington, Robert25
Brewer, Corey25
Ariza, Trevor24
Green, Draymond24
Tucker, P.J.24
Chandler, Wilson22
Mbah a Moute, Luc22
Barnes, Matt21
Hayward, Gordon21
Hill, Solomon21

This list confirms the suspicion that there are practically no elite small forwards in daily fantasy basketball. LeBron James and Kevin Durant both missing multiple games with injury doesn’t help, but the fact that Draymond Green and Gordon Hayward are the most expensive small forwards is very telling.

Power Forwards

NameTimes Over Value
Sullinger, Jared28
Humphries, Kris24
Gasol, Pau24
Davis, Ed23
Patterson, Patrick22
Favors, Derrick22
Motiejunas, Donatas21
Davis, Anthony21
Bass, Brandon21
Zeller, Cody20

It's incredible how many times Pau Gasol and Anthony Davis have exceeded value despite their sky-high prices, but it’s also interesting that Jared Sullinger is at the top all by himself. Sullinger has had some horrific games this season, and I think that’s partially why his price has stayed low and he’s been able to beat value so many times, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. I’ll have pieces in the future that helps us see which players are most consistent and that can help us determine whether Sullinger is someone we should be targeting more often.


NameTimes Over Value
Adams, Steven29
Chandler, Tyson26
Gobert, Rudy25
Horford, Al24
Mozgov, Timofey23
Jordan, DeAndre23
Len, Alex21
Valanciunas, Jonas21
Kaman, Chris21
Sims, Henry21

A name on here that I’ve used a lot lately is Al Horford. The Atlanta big man is a huge part of why they are so good this season, and he's been playing much better as of late. The injury seems to be fully behind him, and his price doesn’t yet fully reflect that. He’s a great value on most nights.

You can find how often every player in the NBA exceeds their value by clicking here. Keep in mind that a few players are listed under different positions. For example, Chris Bosh had days where he was a center and days where he was a power forward, thus appearing on both lists with limited numbers.

Note: The numbers in the article and in the spreadsheet have an uncertainty of ± 2 because approximately 4 to 6 games were missing from the data set.

What’s Next?

The next step is trying to make sense of what this means. We see a list of certain players who have continuously met value, so we can certainly take a closer look at those players in the future and examine them closer than the rest. For example, Kyle Korver isn't someone I've used often, but I'll be looking at him more frequently now and using him in the right matchups.

It’s also nice seeing some names on there that are frequently recommended by our optimal lineups. Trevor Ariza, for example, has been in our optimal lineups quite frequently this season. Initially, I was afraid he might be being chosen by a systematic error in the algorithm, but this shows that, despite not being a superstar, Ariza consistently exceeds his fantasy value in an otherwise extremely weak position.

We also see from this list the value of replacement players. Players like Brandon Bass and Donatas Motiejunas are often very popular within the first few days of becoming starters, but their popularity decreases once fantasy players have used them a few times. It seems their prices go up slowly enough to allow them to have continuous value over a period of time, and you shouldn’t forget about recently-named starters until their price has leveled off.

What the list doesn’t do is tell us who to choose tomorrow or Friday, nor does it tell us whether these players are still good values. But I think it’s a good start at a deeper analytical analysis.

Have something DFS hoops related that you'd like to see next? Let me know in the comments section!