Advanced Fantasy Basketball Strategy: Road Games, Back-to-Backs and More
October 24, 2012 | Scott
Most fantasy sports players in general are stat geeks, but many don’t take their statistical analysis past player averages and matchups. Here I will outline a few things that can help take your statistical analysis of fantasy basketball and daily fantasy basketball to an entirely new level. I am going to run through Road Trips, Back-to-Backs and Opponent Pace.
Back-to-backs became very important in weekly and daily fantasy basketball last season because of the condensed NBA schedule. Individual players suffered a 4-5% drop-off in production on back-to-back games last season. That was probably more significant last season because of fewer rest days in the shortened season. Looking back at a few 82-game seasons, an average of 3.2% drop-off in production was evident in back-to-back games. This can come into play when drafting as much as it does in setting lineups. For instance, based on the chart below, the Orlando Magic plays a paltry 13 B2Bs, while 14 teams play more than 20. Click on the chart below to go to the interactive version at NBAstuffer.com.
1 and 2 Game Road Trips:
Many fantasy basketball players do in fact take into account games being on the road when setting their lineups, but road TRIPS actually have more of an impact on player and team performance than simply playing a road game. Michael Gales of Pinnacle Sports Betting recently wrote an article detailing just this phenomenon. According to the article, teams playing a single road game have a winning percentage of 41.3% percent. That number shows that while road games are still good to avoid, its not a catch all for predicting poor performances. As for two-game road trips, the teams winning percentage actually improves to a solid 44.4%, making these trips pretty standard for NBA players. While I would suggest factoring in road games into player performance, shorter road trips are not crippling for a players fantasy value.
3 and 4 Game Road Trips:
These medium range road trips are the ones we want to avoid both in sports betting and fantasy sports. By looking at the table above, you can see that this is when NBA players and teams experience the biggest drop off in productiong and therefore win percentage. Three-game trips (37.2%) and four-game trips (37.1%) usually prove the most challenging for NBA teams on the road. This is a major factor that should be considered when setting daily fantasy basketball lineups. You want to avoid teams that are on 3 and 4 game road trips while taking advantage of the players playing against those teams.
Opponent pace is one of the most overlooked factors in setting fantasy basketball lineups. Pace is the average amount of possessions a team has in each game and you need possessions to score points. You can take a look at some pace stats from last year right here and I’ll go through some highlights below. Defensive-oriented teams like the Bulls, Hornets and Magic try to slow the pace down to play to their strengths, while offensive teams try to increase to pace to get more shots, like the Kings, Nuggets and Timberwolves. When two teams of the same pace play each other is when the difference really comes into focus statistically.
Average NBA Pace: 91.2 possessions per game