This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
The first DFS College Basketball slate of the season is less than a week away, and whether you're interested in diving into the action for the first time or a seasoned veteran, I'll go over everything you need to know for this season.
College Basketball DFS Basics
DraftKings Lineup: G, G, G, F, F, F, Util, Util
FanDuel Lineup: G, G, G, G, F, F, F, Util
DraftKings Scoring: Point (1), Rebound (1.25), Assist (1.5), 3PT (.5), Steal, Block (2), Turnover (-.5), Double-Double (1.5), Triple-Double (3)
There's a slight advantage for 3-point shooters on DraftKings due to the half-point bonus that FanDuel doesn't give out, while DK provides more roster flexibility with the extra utility spot, allowing you to go with a five-forward lineup if you'd prefer.
Building Your Lineup
One of the first things I like to look at when constructing my lineup is finding obvious value plays. Comparing salaries on DraftKings compared to FanDuel is a good way to find players that are mispriced, and that's easy to do considering that both sites use eight roster spots and a $50k salary cap. Last year, DraftKings was slow to adjust salaries early in the season to many players, particularly those that started the season under $5k and weren't expected to be impact players. We'll have to wait and see if that will be the case this year, but if it's anything like last year, it took DK well over a month to price up players such as Wisconsin's Johnny Davis. That gave most players a free square in head-to-heads or double-up contests, and a nice advantage over the 10-20 percent of the field in guaranteed prize pool tournaments (GPPs) that would overlook those types of players or simply choose to fade the chalk at their own risk.
From there, I like to think about a game to stack -- a popular strategy in today's DFS climate that is more commonly used in the NFL due to the high correlation between players. While the correlation isn't as high in college basketball, you'll still see winning lineups in GPPs have at least three players from the same game, as one of the games on the slate is likely to turn into an up-tempo, back-and-forth high scoring contest. The oddsmakers' over/under lines are a good place to start at determining the best games to target. People often flock towards the game with the highest expected total, and rightfully so, but targeting another more under-the-radar game with a moderate over/under is another strategy to gain leverage on the field by being contrarian.
Completing the rest of your lineup involves a variety of factors and continuing with the theme of analyzing expected game totals, there's usually a game or team that stands out as one to fade entirely. Certain teams like Virginia will eat up the shot clock and will extremely limit the ceiling potential of its opposition, while typically stout defensive teams like Tennessee make rostering its opponents' players a less than desirable option, as their efficiency will likely take a toll. Matchups are another important factor to take into consideration. Does a team play a 2-3 zone defense and thus susceptible to giving up threes? That can make it a good time to get an opposing jump shooter in your lineup. Finding a post player with a matchup against a team that lacks size in the paint or is a poor rebounding team can be a great way to fill your forward spot with a player that can have a ceiling game as well.
Two of the key stats in CBB DFS are minutes and fantasy points per minute (FPPM). Finding players that don't come off the court often and have high FPPM numbers are key to maximize your potential ceiling in GPPs. FPPM is a useful statistic for how involved someone is when they're on the court instead of using fantasy points per game. Projecting those metrics early in the season before rotations and a player's role in the offense become solidified isn't the easiest of tasks but can also provide a bigger edge than once the season gets going if you've done your research. On a team's opening night, I like to check their exhibition box scores to make sure players I expect to be heavily involved were starting. It's also a good way to see if there are any surprise newcomers that may have a high usage and immediate impact at a low salary.
In general, starting lineups for college basketball are often announced on limited notice and often require scouring Twitter less than 30 minutes before tip-off to find them. Because info comes in later than usual than most other sports, doing the extra last-minute homework can pay big dividends. Our player news page is a great way to make sure you're ahead of the competition for any changes in a team's starting lineup. Be cognizant of how injuries can affect minutes and usage, too. A notable injury like DeVante Jones in Michigan's first-round NCAA Tournament game earlier this year opened the door for Frankie Collins to put up 30 fantasy points at a minimum salary. Starters missing time can also spike other key players' usage. I tend to avoid players coming off the bench as well, as their upside is usually capped by limited minutes. There are exceptions as some teams will give their sixth-man around 30 minutes, or a bench player may have efficient FPPM numbers, but in general, you can usually fill out your lineup without having to roster any bench players.
Finally, think about how games with big spreads can impact games. I'm hesitant to roster players with high salaries in games that may turn into a blowout as a star player may only see 25-30 minutes with increased playing time going to the bench. I also tend to shy away from transfers early in the season as well. Those going from low or mid-majors to power-5 programs can struggle early in the season as they adjust to the stronger competition. Even those going from one power-5 to another, such as Remy Martin last year, may not to see the same playing time or usage as they were accustomed to at their previous school.