How To Play NBA DFS - NBA Daily Fantasy 101

How To Play NBA DFS - NBA Daily Fantasy 101

This article is part of our DFS NBA series.

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) can bring another level of excitement to your basketball viewing experience. Unlike season-long fantasy leagues, DFS contests allow you to create a lineup just for one night's worth of action. If you're new to the game, we're here to help. Let's discuss how DFS works and some strategies for building your entries.

Have a season-long draft coming up? Check out RotoWire's Fantasy Basketball Rankings.

Selecting a DFS Contest

There are two types of DFS contests to choose from. There are multi-game formats and single-game formats. In a multi-game contest, you pick players for your lineups from multiple games that day. A single-game contest has you only selecting players from one particular game.

Within those types of DFS formats, there are two different structures. First is tournament-style, often referred to as GPPs (Grand Prize Pools). Payouts are increased based on lineup scores, and, as the name suggests, there's a grand prize for the best lineup. You'll generally need to take risks and differentiate your lineup from the crowd to win the top prize.

A safer option is Cash Games. In these contests, there's less risk but lower reward, as half of the entries will finish in the money. In Cash Games, filling your lineup with safer players with higher floors is best practice. It's not essential to finish with the highest score. It's vital to ensure that your lineup isn't a flop.

Building a Lineup

Each site has different lineup options and scoring systems. For multi-game contests, position eligibility matters more as there are strict positional lineup requirements. In a single-game DFS, positions are usually more flexible.

In all contests, you will build your lineup to fit a specific budget. Each player is assigned a salary. The sum of your player's salaries needs to be at, or under, your total budget.

Read the scoring rules for each contest before crafting your lineup. Some sites assign different point totals to different stats. Based on the scoring settings, some players become more or less valuable.

Strategies for Lineup Construction

Knowing injury statuses is critical. For example, the Nets are scheduled to play the Bulls. Usually, Kevin Durant would be one of the best options, but he is expected to miss the game with an injury. Since he won't play, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons would be more appealing in DFS, considering they will likely receive more usage with Durant sidelined. Stay on top of the league's injuries with RotoWire's NBA Injury Report page. Plus, we have all the latest NBA News.

It's not just star players whose absences matter. If a team is missing multiple role players, then the rest of the roster would benefit from the absences. Teams with deep rosters are not the ones to target in DFS. Too many good players can lead to volatile playing time and usage. See who's in and who's out with RotoWire's NBA Lineups page.

Usage and pace of play are important. If a team plays at a fast pace, its players have more opportunities to compile stats. Implied totals (over/unders) hint at what games are expected to be the fastest-paced. Targeting high-usage players in fast games gives your lineup a high ceiling.

While team stacking is more valuable in baseball and football due to correlation between players, it shouldn't be ignored in basketball. In large GPPs, a viable strategy is a team stack consisting of two players from the same team, plus a game stack with at least one player from each team in a given game. If the game goes to overtime, you get extra minutes. If the game is played at a faster pace than expected, multiple players on your roster benefit. While correlation is hard to predict in basketball, pairing great passers with great finishers -- think Draymond Green and Steph Curry; Trae Young and Clint Capela -- means you get an extra boost when that combo connects.

Finally, consider how popular players will be in DFS. For example, the Bucks have a great matchup against a Wizards team that has a bad defense and plays at a fast pace. That means Giannis Antetokounmpo could have a big game, so he will probably be included in many lineups. It might be wise to include Giannis in your entry if you are playing a cash game. Since so many other people will be rostering him, it will be more difficult for you to finish in the money if he has a monster game but isn't in your lineup.

However, if you play in a tournament, you need a more unique lineup to claim the top prize. If you fade Giannis and he disappoints while in a lot of other lineups, you have a better opportunity to shoot up the leaderboard.

How to Play NBA DFS on DraftKings

On DraftKings, you're allotted $50,000 to construct an eight-player lineup. The positions are relatively flexible, with players qualifying for multiple slots. You are required to roster a PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F, UTIL. Here's how points are scored: points (1), threes (0.5 bonus), rebounds (1.25), assists (1.5), steals (2), blocks (2), turnovers (-0.5), double-double (1.5), triple-double (3).

Construct a winning lineup with RotoWire's DraftKings NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer.

How to Play NBA DFS on FanDuel

On FanDuel, you're allotted $60,000 for a nine-player lineup. The positions are 2 PG, 2 SG, 2 SF, 2 PF and 1 C. Some players have multi-position eligibility. The scoring breakdown is: points (1), rebounds (1.2), assists (1.5), blocks (3), steals (3), turnovers (-1).

Take the first step to a dominant lineup with RotoWire's FanDuel NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer.

How to Play NBA DFS on Yahoo

Yahoo gives users a $200 salary cap to construct a team of eight players. The positions are PG, SG, G, SF, PF, F, C, UTIL). The scoring is as follows: Points (1), rebounds (1.2), assists (1.5), steals (3), blocks (3), turnovers (-1).

Our Yahoo NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer gives you an edge other players don't have.

Know Your Limits

For some people, DFS is just a way to enhance a night of basketball while also providing the potential to win some extra money. For others, playing DFS is a full-time job. The heavy hitters in DFS are playing multiple lineups per night, often maxing out the number of lineups allowed in multi-entry contests. If you are a casual player, remember that you will face these DFS "sharks," so don't blow your entire bankroll in one night. If you are just looking to have fun, consider contests with fewer entrants or single-entry contests that prevent the sharks from mass-entering lineups.

Fantasy Basketball Draft Kit

Take a look at RotoWire's fantasy basketball offerings to prepare for your drafts.

For more NBA betting content, including 2022-23 NBA championship odds, check out RotoWire's sports betting hub, where you'll find NBA futures oddsNBA player futures and props and more betting tools.

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. Mike Barner plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: mbarner, DraftKings: mbarner51. Alex Barutha plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel Username: unclestosh99, DraftKings Username: Roto_Alex.
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Mike Barner
Mike started covering fantasy sports in 2007, joining RotoWire in 2010. In 2018, he was a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. In addition to RotoWire, Mike has written for Sportsline, Sports Illustrated, DK Live, RealTime Fantasy Sports, Lineup Lab and
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's Chief NBA Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, VSiN and other platforms. He firmly believes Robert Covington is the most underrated fantasy player of the past decade.
Ryan Pohle
Ryan Pohle is a DFS Product Specialist at RotoWire and has written for the site since 2020.
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