AP’s NBA Game Theory Decisions - DFS Karma
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AP’s NBA Game Theory Decisions

Hello NBA DFS Family! I was going to wait until tomorrow to launch any kind of content for NBA but I couldn’t help myself. Small NBA slates are generally not DFS viable but this is DAY ONE so let’s give it a shot!

*Update* -> Damian Jones, 3,000 on DK is a viable punt option. Jones is over 7ft tall and would give the Warriors some size to match Adams. Jones had a steller finish to his preseason, which is one of the reasons hes getting the start.


76ers AT Celtics -5, 211 total

Philly was definitely one of my favorite teams to follow last season. The duo of Simmons & Embiid and the many other pieces to this team will make them a threat in the East. Philly lost Marco Belinelli & Ersan Illyasova but added Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala & Zhaire Smith.

76er projected starters: Ben Simmons PG, Markelle Fultz SG, Robert Covington SF, Dario Saric PF, & Joel Embiid C.

76er bench: TJ McConnell, JJ Redick, Amir Johnson, Furkan Korkmaz, Landry Shamet, Jonah Bolden

76er Injuries (OUT): Jerryd Bayless, Zhaire Smith, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala

Initially, I wasn’t too high on this game at first glance. My reasoning is pretty simple; two defensively minded teams with a lot of mouths to feed. Belinelli & Ersan were two key pieces that soaked up shooting usage off the bench last season. With the injuries the 76ers are dealing with, we really should see a tighter rotation in what vegas feels will be a competitive game.

Studs-> Ben Simmons, PG/SF, 8,400 & Joel Embiid, C, 8,800. When looking at the center position, Boston’s DvP can be a bit misleading. Last season, and looking at their last 50 games, they have held C’s to -1.48 fpts relative to that centers average. In my opinion, this just shows that Boston likes to slow the pace down and they are a defensive minded team at heart. With that said, they don’t have ANYONE who can match up with Joel Embiid. Just look at Embiid’s last few performances vs Boston->

1.18.2018-> 59.2 DK pts

4.30.2018-> 54.1 DK pts

5.03.2018-> 48.3 DK pts

5.05.2018-> 50.8 DK pts

Over Embiids last six games vs Boston, he has averaged 49.4 DK points. That is 5.6x his salary on Draft Kings. How about Ben Simmons? Using the same data as the previous example, Boston has held opposing PG’s to 4 DK points under their season average. Over Simmon’s last six games vs Boston, he has only gone over 40dk points twice. I’ll touch on this a bit more later, but Steph Curry is only 200 more on DraftKings.

How else can we attack Boston? The Celtics were one of the best teams in the NBA at defending the perimeter last season. Guys like Robert Covington, whos price just smells like a trap on Draft Kings, would bust at a very high percentage when facing the Celtics. Here’s my game theory take for this side of the matchup-> Most won’t think to pair another big from the same team with Joel Embiid. However, on a two game slate, I feel this is an obvious spot that could go overlooked just because it doesn’t “feel right”, if that makes sense. So, who is the guy I’m talking about? Dario Saric, PF/C, and 5,500 on Draft Kings.

Dario Saric -> I’m sitting here looking at this Boston roster and the projected starters show Al Horford on Embiid and Jayson Tatum on Saric (*update* Hayward should be guarding him, I like either matchup). Tatum is a stud but he will be at a great height disadvantage matching up against Saric. Assuming Saric takes on a similar role as last year, we are getting a nice price discount on him given that he is relatively safe with a decent amount of upside relative to his current price.

The Play for GPPs (76ers)

Joel Embiid – Lock City

Ben Simmons – Fade -> pivot up to Stephen Curry for 200 more.

Dario Saric – Game Theory Decision pairing with Joel Embiid


Celtics Projected Starters: Kyrie Irving PG, Jaylen Brown SG, Gordan Hayward SF, Jayson Tatum PF, & Al Horford C.

Bench: Rozier, Smart, Morris, Baynes, Ojeleye, Yabusele, Theis, Williams.

Celtics Injuries: None.

Let me keep this short and simple. The celtics has a lot of mouths to feed. Much like the Warriors on a large slate, I can see this being a team I typically avoid unless pricing is just way off or we have usage bumps due to injuries. Let me also add, with this being a two game slate, any one of these starters or key role players is GPP viable. Since I’m rolling out one, maybe two lineups, I don’t want to spend too much time guessing who will see all the usage tonight. If I get any exposure to the Celtics, it will be a value piece. My reasoning is simple, the usage/minutes/upside is easier to figure out among the other three teams playing.

GPP Value Punt

Aaron Baynes – Baynes will probably be around 1% owned tonight, unless someone else starts talking him up. So, Why Baynes? First off, it’s a two game slate, we have to be different somewhere in our lineups. The last thing I want to do is get cute and mess around with not playing guys like Embiid, Curry or PG13 who have huge usage & upside. On less than 25minutes of play last season vs Philly, Baynes put up 23.5, 19.2, and 28.3 fantasy points. Baynes also put up 8pts on 21minutes and 17pts on 29mins. So, yeah, this is a low-owned RISKY punt play at its finest. The game theory part is simple; Boston is going to need bigs in the game to handle Embiid. If Horford gets into foul trouble or if he is simply struggling, we should see more minutes from Baynes.

Other viable punts -> Terry Rozier (4,500), Marcus Smart (4,400), & Marcus Morris (4,200)


Thunder AT Warriors -12.5, 220.5 total

From a pace, points & usage perspective, we should be licking our chops at this matchup. The Thunder got rid of Carmelo Anthony and picked up Dennis Schroder and Nerlens Noel. You will notice in my first statement I brought up pace, points, and usage. In my opinion, three vital components to DFS NBA success. The first two, pace & points, are quite obvious to intrepert. The latter point, usage, might be a new term if this is your first season of NBA dfs. Throughout the season I am always looking for injury spots; the simple reasoning is when we have a key injury to a high usage player, the common assumption is that the usage just doesn’t disappear, it gets absorbed by other players on the team. It’s vital to know who benefits the most, or soaks up the most usage, in this situation.

Key injury in this game -> Russell Westbrook is OUT

Since we have new additions to the roster, we are going to have to make some predictions based on last years data. While Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams, and Carmelo Anthony were ON the court, Westbrook lead the teams usage & FP/min rate at 32.1% & 1.45 FP/min. Take Westbrook OFF the court and Paul Georges usage & FP/min rate jumps to 39.2% & well over 1.30 FP/min.

Assumptions -> Russell Westbrook is OUT & Steven Adams is IN (currently questionable)

Paul George – Lock City. If the Thunder can keep this game somewhat competitive through three quarters, I believe PG13 pays off his 8k salary a high percentage of the time.

Dennis Schroder – Lock City. With RWB OUT & if this game stays competitive through three quarters, Schroder is a guy who has triple double upside through points/assists and rebounds.

Steven Adams – GPP viable. Adams popped up with a questionable tag citing back issues. This is coming from the game notes, which don’t really mean too much at this point. The main thing this will do is lower ownership. If Adams plays, he makes for a great GPP target. If we go off of last season, the main risk was the Warriors going small which could make things difficult for a big like Adams. Adam’s did have a few successful games against the Warriors last season; 38 dk pts on 34 mins & 33 dk points on 26 mins.

Assumptions -> If Adam’s gets ruled OUT

Nerlens Noel – If Adam’s gets ruled out, Nerlens moves to the top of the value list. Actually, I liked Nerlens as a value gpp play before the Adams questionable news. With that news popping up, Nerlens ownership is going to be higher even if Adams plays. If Adams is ruled out, I forsure will be off of Aaron Baynes as well.

GPP Value Punt Play

Hamidou Diallo – Diallo stepped his game up during preseason play. He was impressive when he took over for Terrance Ferguson; he was hitting threes & his peripherals were solid. Diallo is in a spot where he is trying to prove himself as well. If the game blows out, he could see extended run in the 4th.


Golden State Warriors

On larger slates, my issue with the Warriors is they have so many mouths to feed and they are generally too efficicent. On a two game slate, you would be crazy to fade this spot, it just isn’t smart.

Stephen Curry – Lock City. In my opinion, Schroder is an elite talent but lazy defender. Curry has looked incredible in his limited preseason play and he is someone who can rack up points very quickly. With people still talking up the #revengenarrative with Kevin Durant vs his former team, this could actually reduce Curry’s ownership just a bit. And between the two, I’ll avoid the revenge noise tonight and side with Curry.

Kevin Durant -> GTS (Game Theory Spot). In a perfect world, we would just load up on every stud on the board and call it a day. Salary cap and pricing doesn’t allow us to do that. IF you think this game stays competitive, my preference is to take the savings and target Paul George. IF you think this game blows out, the safer approach is to mini stack the heavy favorite.

Klay Thompson -> Strong play in all formats. Klay is generally shot dependent, but his price and the fact that Draymond will be on a limits restriction make him viable in all formats. I the game does blow out, Klay is the guy who would get some extra run with the 2nd unit as well.

In Sum->

Curry + Klay + Durant + Embiid is arguably a very strong approach in cash games.

Curry + Schroder + Paul George + Embiid is the approach I like for GPPs because it frees up some salary cap.

*GPP Value Punt*

Kevin Looney – Looney is 3.6k and should get some extended run with Draymond on a minutes cap. Looney is a gpp value flier but I’ve seen him get there on limited minutes many times last year.


GPP Core-> Schroder, Curry, PG13, Saric, Embiid *Could change depending on news*


Who is AP? APdfs or @AP8809dfs on twitter is a financial professional and DFS grinder. AP has a passion for all types of games where strategy or game theory decisions must be made to obtain an advantage. He developed many of his strategies from his time at the Chess and Poker Tables. AP is ranked inside the top 500 of all daily fantasy players. Between DFS & Poker, AP has well over half a million dollars in life time cashes.
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