More than in any other sport, injuries in the NBA can change the entire landscape of a single set of games. Basketball is a sport that is all about opportunity, which comes from two key factors: playing time and production rate. Injuries create increased opportunity for backups, which leads to incredible value on a nightly basis in daily fantasy basketball.
Due to the nature of DFS, player salaries are typically set at least 24 hours before the tip-off of the first game in that specific slate of games. Once these salaries are set, they are locked and do not change. That means that any news that comes out between the time the salaries are released and the time that the games start will create opportunities for value, as the salaries will not reflect the recent information.
When a player is forced to sit out a game, that lost production will be made up a single player or a combination of players. The key in DFS is to be able to differentiate between two. An injury can lead to a boost for a backup or it can lead to a boost for the rest of the players in the lineup. If you follow the NBA closely, you will typically know which category an injury typically falls in, but I’ll give two scenarios here to make my point.
Scenario 1: Center A is a late scratch
For the sake of our example, say Center A is a very good NBA player, but he is not a superstar. He doesn’t account for much of his teams’ offense, as his career scoring average is right around 10 points per game. The majority of his fantasy production comes from his peripheral stats (rebounds, assists, blocks and steals). If a player like this is scratched from a game, his backup is going to see the biggest fantasy boost because his backup will likely take on a similar role to the player that he is replacing in the lineup.
In this case, Center A’s backup would see a major fantasy boost. Say the backup is a productive NBA player, but he’s typically limited to around 25 minutes off the bench. With Center A out, his minutes are immediately going to see a boost. The rest of the teams’ starters will continue to play in their usual roles.
Scenario 2: Small Forward A is a late scratch
Small Forward A is a superstar. By most people’s opinion, he is the best player in the NBA. He is responsible for so much production on a nightly basis, that when he is forced to miss a game, the entire team is forced to step up in his absence. This is a case where the talented players around Small Forward A will see a bigger fantasy boost than his backup that is expected to see the uptick in minutes.
While his backup, Small Forward B, would likely draw the start in his absence, the biggest beneficiaries in this scenario would be the other players who normally start alongside Small Forward A. The other normal starters would see a major uptick in usage. Most people in DFS tend to gravitate toward the player that sees the boost in minutes, but injuries can also benefit the other players in the lineup, especially in the case of a superstar.
We’ve established that injuries play a critical role in daily fantasy basketball, now the question becomes which sites we should trust with injury news. We need to be able to get up to the minute updates from reliable sources. The two sites that I use to check injuries are DK Live and Twitter.
As we get closer to tip-off, these two sources become your best friend. Twitter is the fastest source of injury information, and every minute counts right before lineups lock. The biggest issue with Twitter is that we have to find reliable accounts to follow. NBA beat writers are by far the most reliable source for injury news.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Notorious) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.