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The Numbers Game

Positioned to Win: Part 2

by Ryan Knaus
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Today's edition of the 'Numbers Game' examines how lenient or stingy teams are vs. specific positions. This information is particularly useful for daily-league owners targeting the most favorable matchups, and I've provided each team's 'fantasy points allowed' vs. each position.


Owners in standard head-to-head and roto leagues should find this analysis equally helpful. A good matchup can break a tie between two otherwise equal players on a busy Wednesday night, or tilt the balance toward a certain player when setting weekly lineups. No matter what format you're in, it's useful to know which teams yield the most or least production to PGs, SGs, SFs, PFs and Cs.


Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $600,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Wednesday's NBA games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $50,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Wednesday. Here's the FanDuel link.


FanDuel’s scoring system:


Made 3-pointer = 3

Made 2-point FG = 2

Made FT = 1

Rebound = 1.2

Assist = 1.5

Steal = 2          

Block = 2

Turnover = -1


This is a straight-forward system in which one point scored equals one fantasy point, whether it came from beyond the 3-point line or at the FT stripe. Percentages aren't weighted in any way, so it doesn't matter if Arron Afflalo's 16 points came on 18 shot attempts. Scoring emerges as the dominant concern for daily-league owners. When I ran the numbers last season, I found that "of all ‘fantasy points’ scored through early January [2014], 51.2 percent of them came courtesy of points (FTM, FGM and 3PTM). Rebounds and assists were a distant second and third, respectively, the impact of steals and blocks were small, and turnovers deducted a relatively small chunk of points." Click here if you're interested in reading that full column.


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The most lenient teams, when judged with the scoring system above, are all likely suspects for attentive fantasy GMs. The 76ers lead the way, allowing 209 'fantasy points' to their opponents across all positions. They are followed by the Wolves, Lakers, Kings, Nuggets, Magic, Celtics, Pistons and Nets.


The stingiest teams are somewhat more surprising. The Warriors lead the NBA in defensive efficiency, allowing just 97.0 points per 100 possessions, yet they're not among the top 10 stingiest teams in this fantasy format. The reason is pace -- Golden State is averaging 101.3 possessions per game, which is also tops in the NBA, ahead of the Suns (99.2), Celtics (98.7), Rockets (98.6) and Nuggets (98.4).


The Heat prove to be the toughest team to face in daily fantasy leagues, allowing just 185 'fantasy points' per game. They're followed closely by the Wizards, Grizzlies, Jazz, Bucks, Clippers, Pacers, Hawks, Spurs and Trail Blazers.


Before examining which teams offer the best and worst matchups, here's an overview of how many 'fantasy points' each position is averaging on a cumulative and league-wide basis.


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If you've played DFS before, the dearth of production at SG and SF shouldn't surprise you -- these are very top-heavy positions, and most nights there are only a handful of reliable options. Centers and point guards are the most prolific positions, but this doesn't mean that you should always splurge to acquire elite Cs and PGs -- these are averaged numbers across every player in a given position, so the implication is that PGs and Cs are deeper positions with more productive players relative to SG and SF.


Point Guard


Top 5 (teams to target): Lakers, Magic, Timberwolves, Kings and 76ers


Bottom 5 (teams to avoid): Bucks, Rockets, Clippers, Cavaliers and Grizzlies


The Cavaliers and Rockets are generally lenient in DFS but not so against point guards, which is the toughest position to play against both teams. It's worth mentioning that the Wizards, a poor DFS matchup overall, are middle-of-the-pack against PGs. The opposite is true for the Nuggets, who are relatively stingy against PGs despite being in the top-five for overall DFS points allowed.


Shooting Guard


Top 5 (teams to target): Kings, Nuggets, Rockets, Hawks and Pelicans


Bottom 5 (teams to avoid): Spurs, Wizards, Bulls, Hornets and Thunder


Shooting guard and small forward are both tough positions for DFS purposes, making favorable matchups even more critical. The Grizzlies ranked seventh vs. SGs, allowing a relatively abundant 37.88 points per game despite being very stingy overall. The Hawks, Pelicans, Bucks and Pacers also fall into that category, being more lenient vs. SGs than any other position.


Small Forward


Top 5 (teams to target): Suns, Wolves, Cavaliers, 76ers and Clippers


Bottom 5 (teams to avoid): Hawks, Grizzlies, Warriors, Spurs and Jazz


The Suns are easily the best team to target for SF production, just as the Hawks are easily the worst matchup. Teams who are surprisingly lax vs. small forwards include the Clippers, Bucks, Blazers and Hornets. The Kings stand out for the opposite reason -- despite giving up tons of DFS points overall, they're the eighth-toughest against SFs.


Small forwards also show the least volatility across matchups, which is to say that the mean points scored vs. a given team changes the least of any position. [For those who care, the standard deviation for SFs vs. all 30 teams was 1.6, compared to the mean of 34.4. The SD is just 4.7% of the mean, well below every other position including PFs, who are the highest at 6.6%.]


Power Forward


Top 5 (teams to target): Kings, Bulls, Nuggets, Pistons and Wolves


Bottom 5 (teams to avoid): Heat, Wizards, Blazers, Bucks and Knicks


There aren't many surprises here, though the Thunder are unexpectedly lenient vs. PFs, while the Suns and Nets are unexpectedly stingy.




Top 5 (teams to target): 76ers, Pistons, Wolves, Nuggets and Celtics


Bottom 5 (teams to avoid): Jazz, Grizzlies, Pacers, Wizards and Thunder


The Jazz are giving up 36.7 DFS points to centers this season, which is more than three points lower than the 29th-ranked Grizzlies (39.9). That's the biggest disparity for a top or bottom team across any position, making Utah a clear team to avoid when you're searching for a productive center.


You'll notice that Detroit is among the top five most lenient teams vs. both PFs and Cs. Greg Monroe's lack of defense is well known and Andre Drummond hasn't been able to shore up the Pistons' interior defense, so don't hesitate to target them with your big men.


If you want to dig through the data yourself, click here for my spreadsheet with stats and DFS point totals for every team vs. each position. I also have FG and FT percentages listed, in addition to fouls, though those categories are only tangentially related to DFS scoring. If you find anything interesting or have any questions, send me a message on Twitter @Knaus_RW.

Ryan Knaus
Despite residing in Portland, Maine, Ryan Knaus remains a heartbroken Sonics fan who longs for the days of Shawn Kemp and Xavier McDaniel. He has written for Rotoworld.com since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter.