Which players are good Cash Game Plays for the Slate?


Once you have determined which contests you want to play to maximize your odds of winning a cash game that day... now is the fun part.  And also the most difficult part of playing DFS.  Evaluating and building lineups.  In NFL, you have a whole week to study, look over statistics, listen to touts, watch weather forecasts, look at injury reports... etc.  However, in NBA, every day brings a whole new adventure.  So let's go over a few key points.

Rule 1:  Check the slate size.  If there are only 2-3 games on the slate it will be a tough day for cash lineups since everybody will be highly owned.  It will be difficult to differentiate without increasing your risk.  However, if you are high on a player that figures to be low-owned than fire away.   However, be aware.  Yesterday I thought I was all alone on a player in a 5 game slate and he was still 13% owned.  But play less on these days.  However, if it is a slate of 7 or more fire away.  Even your very top plays will only be 20-30% owned unless it is an obvious value play.

Rule 2:  Overview the players.  Don’t look at prices until you have broken down the slate.  Sometimes you will get sucked into a play because of the price rather than because of the actual play.  There may be a good reason the player is priced down.

Rule 3:  Watch for late news.  This is most important.  If you are not able to make changes in the final 10-20 minutes leading up to lock than don’t play that slate or jump into a turbo slate.  There are always last minute scratches, last minute value opens up that could change your whole lineup.  Possibly a 3K Point Guard opens up which allows you to fit in LBJ?  If you miss out on this you are sure to lose.  Also, if your player gets scratched prior to lock and you get a 0 you will not cash no matter how good your other players play. 

*** A good way to spend the last 30 minutes before lock is to get involved in the DG Courtroom slack chat.  Not only is the Judge himself in there dropping last minute DFS plays but many of the top DFS players are in their giving their opinions on good and bad plays or last minute changes that will affect the entire slate.

How to determine the best plays

1.    Check Vegas Lines.  If a team is projected to score 110 or more then your player will more then likely have more DK point power.  If a team is projected to score under 100 the opposite is true.  Adjust your point projections accordingly.  Also, check for blowouts.  If Vegas is projecting a blowout (more then 9 point victory) then players from each team will sit down the last 5 minutes.  You will throw your TV remote in this case.  However, Vegas isn’t always correct.  Remember, if there are a few injuries or if you think the game will play closer then Vegas is projecting than you could sneakily play the game that others are fading.  For example, this year everybody still thinks GS and CLE are gonna blow everybody out when, in fact, they are not.  So those games are playing quite a bit closer than last year.

2.    Check Pace.  There are many sites that can give you this information and Judge goes over this everyday.  It is important to know your players team’s pace but the value comes from knowing if the player will be playing up or down their normal pace (in other words the opponents pace).  For example, If your player is playing Utah, the game pace will slow down.  That means less positions and less opportunity for shots, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks.  If they are playing Brooklyn there will be more possessions or increased pace.   

Let’s use Jokic as a good example.  He currently averages 33 minutes per game and 38.7 DK points per game.  He played Utah on 10/18 and played a full 36 minutes but only achieved 32.5 DK points.  True he only show 30% in that game and he passed more in that game (8 Assists??!!) but he didn’t reach value mostly because the pace was slowed.  On 10/29 he played Brooklyn.  In 7 less minutes he fired up 6 more shots, gathered 2 more rebounds and scored 50 DK points.  So pace matters.

3.    Check Usage.  Check it over the last 5-10 games.  Usage can change over the course of a season depending on injury, playing time, opponents, etc…  Usage is defined as the number of shots taken, free throws, and turnovers divided by the number of possessions.  25% is a better then average usage rate.  Under 20% means they are not a focal point of the offense. Over 30% is a highly used player.  Also, if you go over to rotogrinders they have an awesome free service called CourtIQ.  If you know a player is going to be out, you can plug that in and it will show usage of the other players when someone is gone. 

For example, even though there is small sample size at this point in the season I did a simple CourtIQ Inquiry on Atlanta without Dennis Schroeder on the court.  A hefty usage increase to Bazemore and Bellineli of almost 5% with only a mild change in Delaney (+1%) would have put you onto those others and also made you weary of them once Dennis returned this week.

4.    Check DvP (Defense vs. Position).  Draftkings has this information right on the site.  You will hear Judge often say it is not a good matchup.  This is usually what this means.  For example playing a Center against Gobert is not great while playing a Point guard vs. Schroeder is gold.   There are some really outlier good and bad DvP’s to attack or avoid.  Only really look at the outliers here though and don’t put much credence in neutral matchups.  Also, remember it is early so sample size matters.

5.    Playing time Changes.  (Injury)  This one is where the money is made in DFS.  You need to be following key injuries and who will be picking up those minutes.  Almost daily, there will be a minute’s surge for a player under 4.5K on DK.  Sometimes multiple.  If you check the Cash game winners the next morning they will have 2-3 under 5K “value plays”.  Why?  The sites put the pricing on the players the night before.  Sometimes this value opens up after this and the player becomes way underpriced.  General projections will have them reaching up to 9x their salary.  Plus, that give you the opportunity to pay up at another position to increase your core points.  Sometimes these open up in the minutes before lock.  If you miss out on them you are toast. 

Again, I always recommend you can follow several touts on Twitter for this info but I’ve found that joining the Slack-chat with the Judge gives a lot of information on great plays.

My next article will be the math and nuts/bolts of building these lineups.

Have a great day and taste a little glory tonight!

You can reach Craig on twitter  @cpackham007  or on the slack chat. He’d love to hear your takes as well.

You can reach Craig on twitter @cpackham007 or on the slack chat. He’d love to hear your takes as well.