Monthly Archives: June 2017

Fantasy Basketball

For years now, fantasy sports leagues have been run for the benefit of managers who want to manage their own team through the rigors of an entire season. While most leagues are played for fun, some league commissioners will organize leagues with an entry fee and prize money being distributed at the end of the season. The process starts with an organized draft. The most popular draft format is the standard “snake-draft” where a players’ draft position is determined by random draw. For returning keeper leagues, the draft positions might be determined by the manager’s placing in the prior season. Over the past few years, auction drafts have increased in popularity. With this format, each manager is given a bankroll, which is used to bid on players until their roster is full.

In both formats, each manager is required to draft a full team of players based on the league’s setup configuration. Most leagues have as many as 10 starting roster positions plus bench players. Depending on the league’s rules, managers can make player moves on either a daily basis or weekly basis. Scoring is determined by league rules and the competition is head-to-head on a weekly basis. Towards the end of the season, the teams with the best overall records head off into the playoffs, which usually cover the last 2-3 weeks of the NBA regular season.

For managers who like their action fast and furious with cash on the line, popular fantasy sites provide access to daily contests. These daily contest come in a variety of formats that are listed on the website. Managers can choose to compete heat-to-head with a smaller group of managers ranging from 2 to 25 contestants. These contests are usually designed and posted by one of the contestants who then open up the entry process to any contestant who would like to participate based on the contest’s setup. The entry fees range from $5 all the way up to $1,000 per contestant. While some contests are winner takes all, contests with more than 10 contestants might offer small consolation prizes. In all contests, the fantasy sports site will take a fee to cover administrative costs plus profits.

The other popular format is sponsored contests provided by the website. These contests usually have thousands of entries with huge guaranteed prize packages in the offering for a relatively small entry fee. The larger the participation in these contests, the higher the number of places that will get paid. The prize packages might include large cash prizes, consumer goods or special event prize packages where something like a Super Bowl weekend might be on the line. Many times, managers can earn a free entry fee by winning smaller satellite contests along the way.

Fantasy Football for Beginners

If you are entering the world of fantasy football for the first time, you are sure to wonder why it took you so long to come around. Playing fantasy football, whether for fun or real money, is a great way to enjoy one of America’s favorite sports, professional football. As a beginner, you will most likely be playing with experienced managers that already know the nuances of the game. This quick guide is designed to show how to play fantasy football for beginners, and maybe level the playing field just a little.

Picking a League Format

When you sign onto a free or real money fantasy football site, you will be asked to register. If it’s a real money site, you will also be asked to make a deposit. Free sites typically are used for league play where you draft a team and play that team in a league format for an entire season. Real money sites focus on weekly competitions where you pay the contest fee and choose your team for that specific contest only based on salary cap limitations. Regardless of which format you choose, you must take the time to understand the rules and the scoring in order to decide how to best develop your team.

Tips on Picking Players

As a beginner, you will most likely have a casual approach to picking players, preferring not to invest a great deal of time on statistical analysis. That’s fine and understandable, but you should be aware that some of your competition will use that information, which provides a bit of an advantage over those who don’t.

Tips for Picking Players in an Annual League Format:

1. As you are drafting your team, pick the best available player for each specific position first before you start drafting backup players.

2. Draft a balanced team and try not to over-focus on one particular position. Also, you want to avoid drafting your favorite players unless they will truly benefit you in the scoring.

3. Look for a “scoring bias” in the scoring rules. This refers to the notion that some leagues sets scoring rules that might favor the QB a little. If so, you want a top QB. If not, you should give a little extra focus to running backs and wide receivers.

4. Pick kickers and team defenses towards the end of the draft as they seldom provided any real advantage over a full season.

5. Watch your “bye” weeks. You want to make sure both your QBs don’t have the same bye week, which would force you to the waiver wire or to lose points.

Fantasy Football Tips

The following are tips every fantasy football pro learns through their experience.

1. Understand what type of league you are in.

The type of league is a factor in the value of a player. Brandin Cooks is a prime example; Cooks was a great pickup in dynasty leagues last year, but wasn’t more than a sleeper option in redraft leagues until this year. After gaining some experience, he’s projected as a potential stud.

2. Know your league’s roster rules.

Sure, it would have been great to have Marshawn Lynch, DeMarco Murray, and LeSean McCoy as your first three picks, but if the starting lineup can only include two running backs, a lot of points will go to waste while another position suffers. A pro always has a full roster plan in mind.

3. Vary picks based on scoring system.

Having a great quarterback is nice, but most leagues nerf their scoring capability by reducing the number of points earned from passing stats. Aaron Rodgers is worth a high draft pick at six points per TD and one point per 20 passing yards. Four per TD and one point per 30? Not so much. The most common example is PPR (points per reception). Wide receivers gain value, and the running back rankings get shuffled. Matt Forte is a mid to low end RB1 in traditional scoring, but in a league that uses PPR, he’s a stud. One point per reception adds 100 points to his total in 2014 alone.

4. Draft safer picks early.

Not every “safe” player gets to play the season, but it’s possible to reduce the risk. Every player available early is a great player. Aside from last year, picking Adrian Peterson over Darren “Glass Man” McFadden was a no brainer to any pro. Early picks are the cornerstones of a team, and picking an injury or legal risk in the first round is unnecessary.

5. Draft for upside after starters and subs are set.

Grabbing a halfway decent starter as a second or third backup wide receiver may sound great, but it’s a terrible idea. Players can and will go down during the season. More importantly, players can and will pop in a given year. Arian Foster the year he broke out, Kelvin Benjamin last year, and Alfred Blue and Davante Adams this year are great examples of “sleepers”- players that surprised most owners and put up top end fantasy scores. The league champion will likely have one or two starters that no one expected, and unless a league uses 20 man rosters replacement level players to cover bye weeks and injuries will be readily available.

6. Never draft a kicker or defense early.

Every rule has exceptions, but think about the previous tip. Acquiring a top end kicker or defense requires a pick somewhere in the eight to tenth rounds, a good range to pick top end sleepers. Kickers vary wildly from year to year, and many pro fantasy players use a different defense each week to chase easy matchups. A “streaming defense” can outperform even top end defenses. That doesn’t mean drafting the Seahawks isn’t worth the pick, there’s just more value in waiting on a top defense. These are just the beginning. It’s possible to write entire novels on fantasy football, and each and every rule can occasionally be broken. The key is to remember this one word: value. The best fantasy football owners find ways to generate extra value and acquire better players for a lower cost.

Fantasy Basketball Strategy

Here are several top points that will help you succeed in daily fantasy basketball:

  • Matchup – Like any other fantasy sport, you are going to look at a player’s matchup on a given night. There are stats the measure a players defensive ability in the NBA such as their isolation defense, their pick and roll defense, and even their post-up defense (basically DVP). Obviously, you are going to want to pick offensive players going against a poor defender. For example, you may be hesitant to pick a PG going against Chris Paul because he is a good defender, but if you have a center going against Nikola Vucevic, then you can give him a bump in production. Honestly this is probably the most important thing because that is going to be guarding that player for a majority of the game and directly impacts how well that person will do.
  • Blowout Factor – This is a huge part of daily fantasy basketball that a lot of people don’t realize. In basketball there are a lot of blowouts. This causes a lot of starters to sit in the 4th quarter, limiting the amount of minutes that they will play throughout the game. You want guys who are going to play the most minutes because it maximizes their value. If you have say Russell Westbrook against the 76ers you really have to think twice. Sure, he is going to put up good stats in his minutes, but if he only plays 28 minutes instead of 38 you are basically cutting his production by 25%. Looking at Vegas lines for the game is very helpful for this because you get an idea of how the experts think the game will go. Other than injuries, there is nothing worse than losing players to games that are blowouts.
  • Points/Pace Expected – Another huge part of basketball is the pace of play and the expected points within a game. Naturally some teams are more defensive and like to play in the half court, while some are very offensive and love to play in the fast break. You want to be targeting guys in games that are moving as fast as possible. There will be more shots leading to more points, more misses leading to more rebounds, more made baskets leading to more assists, and less structure leading to more steals and blocks. One thing to look at is the Vegas lines again for their over under for points on the game. For example say the Rockets vs. Warriors is at 212 points on the over under whereas the Pacers and Hornets have a 180 point line. You are going to want to target guys in that first game due to the reasons listed above. They also keep track of stats such as how long teams usually take to shoot, and how many possessions they have per game.
  • Injuries – Again, just like any sport, you need to look at injuries and see how they will impact a game. A lot of times, you can get bench guys at a cheap price, who will play starters minutes. Guys who are cheap and play a lot of minutes are hard to find, so if you can find injury replacements, they are usually a good bet. The problem with the NBA, is that the injury notices usually come out like within 10-15 of game time whereas in the NFL it’s 1.5 hours before kickoff, and in baseball it’s several hours before the game. It is critical to always check the last 10-15 minutes to double check for injuries and making sure everybody is playing. Also this can be pivotal for guys who are second and third options on their teams. If a really good player gets hurt, then their production will get a good bump and in turn will become more valuable.