Know Your Scoring (10/28/15)

By Tom W. Brewer @Tom_W_Brewer
NBA DFS - Know your scoring.

The NBA tipped off with a trio of games last night, but tonight brings a more robust slate of action. This is great news for all hoop fans, but especially for those who play daily fantasy games. Now that the schedule is stacked, fantasy games are about to get much more competitive and strategic. If you want to bring home the cash (and you do), you need to take advantage of each site's scoring system.

We'll be looking at DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo daily games, so if you play in a season-long league, this post won't help you. But we'd appreciate it if you stuck around anyway. Who knows, you might learn something, win big playing daily fantasy, then appear in one of those TV spots you see during every NFL commercial break.

Let's start with the most basic building block of any fantasy game: the lineup. DraftKings and Yahoo let you play a little fast and loose with your eight-man roster, as each require a PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F, and a Utility player. Those undefined “guard,” “forward,” and “utility” slots are important. Depending on match-ups, you could go crazy at the point position, put together a squad of three-point assassins, or assemble a crew of paint-dominating giants. You really have a lot of flexibility to get creative. FanDuel, on the other hand, is a different animal.

For starters, FanDuel lineups are nine deep: two of both guard positions, two of both forward positions, and one center. This extra roster spot gives you (and your opponents) more scoring opportunities, sure, and you're never stuck comparing players at different positions, but all that comes at a hard bargain. If on a given day, your shooting guard options range from “blah” to “no thanks” you can't pass on that second SG and play a point instead. FanDuel will shut that idea down and give you the Mutombo finger wag just for thinking about it.

There are a couple of strategies for winning big within FanDuel's roster restrictions. One is to pair a big scorer with a cap-friendly player at the same position who is going to play a lot of minutes. If that's not an option, you can use the Taken technique and look for a player with a very specific set of skills—think blocks, steals, and assists—who has more value in FanDuel's limited lineup structure. More on that later.

Daily Fantasy Scoring Nuances

DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo all have similar scoring systems, but there are some small differences between the three. These differences make daily fantasy basketball the proverbial game of inches - using them to your advantage will help you finish in the money.

Let's start with the similarities, but don't pack a bag, it's going to be a quick trip. All three formats reward steals and blocks with two points and assists with 1.5 points. (I told you this would come back up.). This is important to remember when comparing two players with similar scoring outputs. For example, we project Andre Drummond and Al Jefferson to each score about 35 fantasy points a game, but for Drummond to double Jefferson's blocks output. The game-to-game potential for Drummond to hold a block party makes him a more interesting choice than Jefferson.

Hope you didn't get too comfortable as that's where the similarities end. The biggest scoring difference to keep in mind when setting your lineup is points. All three games match point for point, so a free throw is worth 1, a two-pointer is worth 2, and three-ball is worth 3. On FanDuel, a three is just a three. However, DraftKings and Yahoo give a half-point bonus for each made three-point shot. So while sharpshooters like Kyle Korver and Stephen Curry have value in all three leagues, they have even more value on DraftKings and Yahoo.

FanDuel and Yahoo penalize players a full point per turnover, but DraftKings is much more merciful, docking players only half a point per TO. Compared to the other two games, DraftKings is a safer place to take a chance on turnover-prone players like Michael Carter-Williams, Eric Bledsoe, and Kobe Bryant.

Speaking of DraftKings, they're unique in that they offer performance-based scoring bonuses that you have to consider when setting your lineup. Double-doubles are good for an extra 1.5 points, and you'll get an extra 3 for triple-doubles. Triple-doubles are rare unless you're Russell Westbrook, who led the NBA with 11 all of last season, which was seven more than the runner-up James Harden's four triple-doubles. That said, there are players you can practically pencil in for a double-double. Boogie Cousins racked up 47 in just 59 games in 2014-2015, Pau Gasol had 54 double-doubles in 78 tries, and Anthony Davis notched a double-double in about two-thirds of his games last season. You have to target these players on DraftKings. Assists count, so keep an eye on guards like Chris Paul and John Wall as well as glass-banging bigs.

If you want to win at daily fantasy, you've got to understand the nuances of the game. Know your game's scoring system inside and out, and use our NBA Optimizer to set a winning lineup, dominate the competition, and bring home the cash.