Daily fantasy leagues are one of the hottest growing trends in fantasy sports, and it can be a really fun way to try and win some money during the basketball season. As opposed to a standard league where you are drafting a team for an entire season, in daily leagues you are putting together a squad for that day and that day only.
Daily fantasy sports are scored under a points format, meaning shooting percentages become completely irrelevant. Therefore guys like Elfrid Payton, Ricky Rubio, Kemba Walker, etc. get a substantial boost in value. There are a couple different ways to compete. You can play in a small league of two or more people, you can compete head-to-head against your friends, or you can play in an enormous pool of players. The more people you’re playing against, the bigger the payout, but it’s also that much harder to win. You can compete for as little as $1 or as high as $1000, and anything in between.
Your team is assembled under the confines of a salary cap, and players around the league are assigned a value. Obviously the top-tier guys such as James Harden, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, etc. take a substantial amount of cap space, so you can usually only fit one or two heavy hitters on your squad. Role players will make up the rest of your team, but these are the guys who usually bring home the money.
In daily leagues, a large percentage of the fantasy points scored come from the points category, so targeting elite-level scorers is an advisable strategy. You also want multi-category producers, so those double-double, triple-double guys become extremely valuable.
This is probably the “easiest” way to win money in daily leagues, although it’s also the smallest payout. 50/50 leagues are setup so the top-half of the league wins. You can double, triple, quadruple, or quintuple your money.
You can also compete in small leagues of 20 people. The top-3 performers will earn payout.
Head to Head
Compete against a single person, winner takes all.
Tournaments, in my opinion, are the most fun. You will compete in a huge player pool (of at least 5,000+) with guaranteed prize pools. These are the leagues where a $1 entry can win you up to $7,000. You basically have to put forth “the perfect team” to win in these settings, but the risk is negligible compared to the potential rewards.
Play against bad teams that play an up-tempo style
Matchups are one of the most important factors when playing daily leagues. Because daily leagues are all about accumulating stats based on a single-game performance, you want the players on your squad to be going up against the bottom-tier defensive teams, and you also want to pick games that are played at a fast pace. Why? Because the more possessions there are in the 48 minutes of basketball your guys are on the court, the greater the opportunity for statistics to be compiled. However, you also need to be leery of picking a potential blowout matchup. For example, LeBron James may seemingly get a dream matchup against the Timberwolves, however, the Cavs would likely blowout that game very quickly which would lead to James taking an early seat on the sidelines. Yes, you want your player to be matched up against an inferior squad, but just be cognizant that if the opposing team is too far in the gutter, your star player may not play very many minutes.
So how do you determine what teams will give you the best matchups?
The NBA.com website has a really amazing stats section, and you can quickly view what teams are generous in giving up various statistics by checking out the Opposing Team Stats section, here.
You can also dig deeper, and see how good/bad a team is at defending a specific position at hoopsstats, here.
I can’t recommend these links (especially hoopsstats) highly enough, and a winning strategy will involve spending some time looking up which players around the league have the most favorable matchups of the day. Try and pick games where both teams will play at an up-tempo pace, and the score will be relatively close.
Capitalize on Injured Starters
Another key to finding success in daily leagues is taking advantage of injuries to starters. When key guys are out, role players are given more time on the court and an expanded role, which leads to more statistics. Why is this important? These “role players” will be able to provide solid numbers at a substantial discount, and because you are constrained to a salary cap, low-budget, high-output guys are a goldmine.
Ride the Hot Streaks
Because this is a daily league, you want the best player of the day. If someone is slumping, it would be advisable to target someone who’s shooting lights-out rather than take the risk on a guy who might break out of his slump.
You can see if a player is having a good/bad month, as well as pre/post All-Star break numbers by looking that the “split stats.”
There is a lot of chance involved in daily leagues, but for the fantasy basketball fanatics out there, it can be invigorating. Research is the key to coming home with a nice payday, so spend some quality time looking at the statistics, and seriously consider throwing your hat into the ring when a starter finds himself on the sidelines. Good luck!