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With the NFL season in full swing and baseball quickly wrapping up, the NBA will soon be the top daily fantasy sport going six days a week.  Rotoballer will be providing regular advice and strategy geared toward daily fantasy basketball players throughout the 2015-16 NBA season.

With the boom in popularity of all DFS, many new players be diving into daily fantasy basketball for the first time.  If you are new to NBA DFS, or just need a quick refresher, there are certainly stats you will need to know, and others you can tend to avoid for the upcoming season.

Before diving into the statistics themselves, the first thing you should check on in each site you choose to play is the type of scoring system they use as well as the positions that are utilized.  On a site like FanDuel there will be no utility spot, while there is one on DraftKings.  Meanwhile, DraftKings will give you a bonus if a player is able to collect a double-double that you won't see on FanDuel.  Although these scoring and roster differences do not make a huge difference, they can be a deciding factor in how you spend your cap dollars.

 

Usage Rate

The first stat that NBA DFS players should be looking at is usage rate. The formula for usage rate is a fairly complicated (Usage Rate = {[FGA + (FT Att. x 0.44) + (Ast x 0.33) + TO] x 40 x League Pace} divided by (Minutes x Team Pace).  As a daily player you simply need to know that the higher the rate the better chance the player has for a great fantasy game.   The basic premise of usage rate is how much an individual player is involved in his team’s offense, particularly how many times they shoot or make a pass that leads to a shot attempt.

One of the most important distinctions about usage rate is that it does not worry about time on the floor, but rather how much a certain player is being used while on the floor.  Last season Russell Westbrook led the NBA with a usage rate of 38.2 which coincides with the fact the while healthy last year Westbrook was the best DFS player in the game.  Usage rate can help uncover potential DFS studs such as Isaiah Thomas who was actually sixth in the NBA with a usage rate of 31.3 despite only playing 25.8 minutes a game.  This is important, as many new players simply look at minutes per game and can be persuaded by a player who gets over 30 minutes a game despite being used very rarely.

Any usage rate over 30 is elite.  Brook Lopez was 50th in the league at 23.7 per game last year, which gives a good benchmark for what to consider a solid rate.  It is not the only statistic that should be utilized, but it is a great start.  It comes down to this: the more an NBA player has the ball, the more reliably productive they are likely to be in DFS.

 

Fantasy Points Per Minute

Along with usage rate, another statistic rising in popularity is fantasy points per minute.  Much like usage rate, this will give you a much better idea of what a player is doing with his given minutes per night.  While a new fantasy player may see Eric Gordon at 33 minutes per game over a season and assume he is the same player as Tyreke Evans who averaged just one minute more per game.  However, last season Gordon averaged a meager 0.71 FanDuel points per minute, while Evans averaged a much more respectable 0.98.  Also, this average can help project how many points a player could have if given a minutes boost due to injury or game pace.  Consider this one of the staples in your daily research.

 

Over/Under

This stat actually has nothing to do with an individual player, but is all about the two teams meeting up.  The over/under has become a standard unit in nearly every DFS sport, as it shows what odds makers are expecting in terms of scoring.  Even though it does not give a specific tally as to what to expect from a single player (although some individual prop bets can help), a game that has an over/under of 210 is likely to provide more fantasy value than a game with a total of 180 attached to it.  This can be where stacking (the use of multiple players from a single team or matchup) occurs, as a team could provide several players good fantasy value while other games may have no players worth rostering.  Along with over/under it can also be useful to look at the spread. This can help because a team favored by 15 may be more likely to cruise and rest players, while a game with a spread of -1 is more likely to see a team play its top players nearly the entire game.

 

Opponent Defense vs. Position

This last statistic is relatively new, but extremely useful for daily NBA players.  Opponent defense vs. position is a statistic that comes into play when looking at a site such as FanDuel where you will need to roster each position and do not have the flexibility of a DraftKings lineup.  If a team is in the bottom third of league against a given position, that is likely to mean a boost in production for that position player on the opposing side.

Most importantly, DvP gives an overall barometer of what you can expect on a given night because it shows a overview of both ends of the floor.  For example, if a team is middle-of-the-pack against opposing centers defensively but gives up the most blocks and rebounds to opposing big men, one can see a boost for a particular night.  Be sure when looking at DvP to not only use season long statistics but also focus in on how the team has been doing over the past month or even two weeks.

 

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