Vol. 10 – Risky Business
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 1
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 2 – Having Second Thoughts
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 3 – The Used
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 4 – The Law of Diminishing Returns
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol. 5 – Something Smells Gamey
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.6 – Going Around and Around with the Round Ball
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.7 – Processing the Process
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.8 – Match Game
- Benny “The Eagle”: Vol.9 – Guess Who?
Back in my younger days I had quite a temper. It didn’t take much to get me upset and put me in the Terminator zone where I would just keep coming with that dead stare in my eyes no matter what happened. One day shortly after having made my school basketball team on sheer grit and determination, I walked out the back doors of the school on my way home and a kid shoved me into the wall and ran away laughing. THIS AGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, MAN! So, the hunt began.
I followed him until he could no longer run, informed him shoving me was NOT COOL, and decked him as hard as I could with my right hand. When I got home and took off my winter gloves I was horrified to see I’d broken my hand. Now, I’m not talking a simple boxer’s fracture, I’m talking “broke my pinky metacarpal right in half” and it was poking out two inches forward towards my palm from where it was supposed to be. I was the Terminator filled with righteous indignation merely seeking vengeance through just war, and now I was crippled! I had broken my right hand. The only one I could shoot a basketball with. My season was done before it even started.
When I got to the ER the doctor took one look at me and said, “So, you got in a fight eh?” I spent the next two months in a cast and then had another two weeks of rehab after it was off before my hand was better than a hanging glob of emaciated flesh hanging from my right arm. I was certainly not a DFS level play even if I could have suited up, but at least my injury status was clear and actionable before a game was ever played. This is often not the case when it comes to the NBA.
Injury news is often cryptic and misleading in the NBA. It’s not as useless as the NHL’s “questionable with an upper body injury” nonsense, but reporting on NBA injury situations is notoriously difficult to decipher. There are the standard doubtful (probably won’t play), questionable (50/50 shot), and probable (likely will play) designations, but coaches seem to toss these out as flippantly as gum wrappers out a car window. The outcomes from these designations can change in the blink of an eye with little notice as to where things will actually be going. The Sacramento Kings have had players start a day questionable, had them downgraded to doubtful, only to have them suit up and play 35 minutes at game time an hour later. NBA coaches don’t care about your DFS lineups. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
This past week saw major injury news come in late on a number of nights, throwing a lot of rosters into chaos. James Johnson, Luol Deng, and Derrick Rose sunk a lot of otherwise solid lineups over the course of just a few days. In-game injuries are disappointing, but being stuck simply not knowing if someone will even play before rosters lock up at the start of the first game of the night is agonizing. In previous years, DraftKings still had their late-swap feature for NBA contests that allowed you to adapt to changing injury news as the night went on. You weren’t subject to the misleading whims of NBA coaches and beat reporters. This season, however, they regressed back to the pack and joined all the other sites in locking up rosters for good after the first tip-off. Yahoo still allows late-swap, but unfortunately they aren’t available for play in Canada for me.
I can go on as many twitter tirades as I want, but it seems DraftKings would rather offer “We’re sorry about Derrick Rose” free rolls than just bring back the feature that would solve the problem. These are not the rules we need, but the ones we deserve for keeping on playing. We’re all stuck with the same restrictions. If you’re going to play NBA DFS, you pretty much HAVE to be available to make lineup adjustments within half an hour of lineup lock. If your schedule doesn’t allow that kind of flexibility on a given night, just take a day off. If you’re never available at that time of day, you should maybe find a different hobby. Being able to adjust with injury news and being able to roster the value plays that result from it is essential to winning in NBA DFS.
Thankfully, DailyRoto offers up to the minute Lineup Alerts to keep you up to date with not just the news as it comes, but actionable takes on what the news should mean for lineup construction. There are a lot of different providers and apps that can simply give you the news, but the actionable information contained in our updates is really where the value is. It lets you know not just what the news is, but what it is that you can or should do about it. It’s an invaluable resource that’s available with the Premium Package and is available online and through emails sent right up to tip-off. In the day and age of smartphones and even smartwatches you can always stay up to date on the information you need to build winning lineups.
Unfortunately, without late-swap there are always going to be injury situations left unresolved until after lineups lock. After being stuck on the bad end of injury news seemingly every night this week, I’ll offer you a few ways to leverage the situation depending on the contests you’re entering.
Just don’t put anyone in your lineup that is listed as questionable or doubtful. It’s not worth the risk. Ever. This shouldn’t have to be said, but if I made risky mistakes this week, than I’m sure others did too. At least the 10% of you who played Luol Deng the same night as me need to read this.
On Thursday night there were only two players at SF on FanDuel that I thought were good plays: Kawhi Leonard and Luol Deng. I couldn’t find anyway to get up to Kawhi’s salary, so I just went with Deng and figured he’d probably play. He didn’t. Putting a player in your lineup with the risk of taking a “0” is just foolhardy and reckless. Even putting in a poor value player is better than risking getting nothing at all. If there is any questionable or doubtful injury designation attached to a player just avoid them in cash games altogether. It’s not worth the risk in contests where setting a solid floor for production is your major goal.
In the case of playing GPPs or tournaments, there are a few ways to play injuries to get leverage on the field:
- Low-Risk/Low-Reward – Simply avoid injured players like you would in cash games. If you follow this strategy you will rarely ever get burned by a player missing a game: Derrick Rose excluded. You won’t be able to take advantage of a low owned player on the chance that they do play, but at least you won’t be a part of the 5-7% of the field whose lineups are dead before the night really even gets started.
- Moderate Risk/Reward – Make a few lineups using the expected replacement for an injured player. If the starter plays, you’ll at least get some productive minutes from the reserve player which is far better than getting nothing. You’ve lost your upside, but it’s not a total loss. If the starter does miss the game though, you’ve got a low owned player who’s likely to far exceed their expected value on the night. In the case of Thursday Luol Deng, Brandon Ingram got the start and had a great night.
- High Risk/Reward – On nights that you are entering multiple different lineups in GPPs, set aside a percentage of those rosters with players with injury designations set to tip-off after lineups lock. If you get lucky and they do play, you have a player who’s likely to be very low owned to leverage against the field. You may get a zero if they don’t play, but at least all of your lineups won’t be dead in the water. The potential upside may be worth it in multi-entry situations. Don’t get cute and take on unnecessary risk. In the notorious case of Luol Deng, I had him in two-thirds of my lineups thinking I’d get an edge when he played. It was an unnecessary risk and I learned my lesson.
Be sure to keep your eyes out for lineup changes right up to roster lock and make sure that you constuct your lineups according to the kinds of contests you are playing. Ensure you’re subscribed to the email list (premium) to stay up to date.
Entry fees this week:
- DraftKings: $32
- FanDuel: $58
- FantasyDraft: $5
- Total: $95
Winnings this week:
- DraftKings: $36
- Fanduel: $34.5
- FantasyDraft: $7.5
- Total: $78
Net this week: -$17.00
Bankroll: $299.26 (season starting bankroll $200)
Considering the bad luck I had this week with late injury news breaking against me for James Johnson (Tuesday), Luol Deng (Thursday), and Derrick Rose (Monday), and the inexplicable clunkers thrown out by Jae Crowder and Sean Kilpatrick (Friday), I feel almost like this small of a loss was a win. Taking zeroes with injured players is frustrating, but it was a calculated risk that in some ways I don’t regret. If they had played they were in great spots to excel at low ownership levels which is a great way to get leverage on the field in large tournaments. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work out, but next time hopefully variance is on my side.
Hopefully you had better luck than I did on the injury front this week. May variance be always in your favor!