Fantasy Spin: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

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Since many of our readers are likely to be unfamiliar with me, a few words of introduction are in order as I take over for Kent Williams. I got involved in daily fantasy sports a few years ago, entering daily baseball contests at various sites, including DraftStreet. I had done analytical research and writing about baseball for well over a decade and found that creating daily fantasy sports lineups was a natural extension of that work. Since then I’ve done similar work on the NFL, both here at Sheridan Hoops and at Sports Leagues Daily – and now I have turned my attention to the NBA.

Regardless of the sport, my daily fantasy preparations have three phases:

The first phase is analysis of player projections. I start with the best player projections I can get my hands on (simply put, projections are predictions based on the past). Sometimes I will tweak projections based on factors that haven’t been incorporated into them that I think are significant.

The second phase is to accumulate information about the current form and health of all the players. Though there are plenty of “roto” sites out there recycling the same information, Sheridan Hoops stands out as a great resource of information on all current NBA developments.

The third phase is a deepening of my knowledge by watching games. If you are an astute observer, you will notice peculiarities that no projection system can fathom. You will learn how certain players match up against others. You will suss out how coaches alter the playing time of their players based on score, schedule or opponent. The trove of information is vast, and processing it to arrive at reasonable conclusions requires some effort and skill.

All that said, the first day of the season is special. The grind eventually settles in on the long road to crowning a world champion, but let’s remember to bask in the light of this rebirth for awhile. Most teams will start their seasons tomorrow; there will therefore be extra attention paid to the three games on the slate tonight.

Kobe, Davis, Granger and Harris Out

We’ve known for some time that Glen Davis/ORL (foot) and Kobe Bryant/LAL (Achilles) would miss their respective openers, but news has come down that they will be joined on the sidelines by Danny Granger/IND (out for at last three weeks with a strained calf) and Tobias Harris/ORL (ankle).

Lance Stephenson/IND and Andrew Nicholson/ORL will be the main playing time beneficiaries of these developments, with Moe Harkness/ORL likely to be asked to increase his workload as well. The Lakers starting lineup will include journeyman Shawne Williams/LAL and Nick Young/LAL.

Bulls approaching full health

Derrick Rose/CHI is all systems go for his highly anticipated return against LeBron James/MIA and the Heat. Joakim Noah/CHI has been bothered by his groin but has recently practiced without limitations and should be given something close to his normal workload. It wouldn’t hurt to have backup Nazr Mohammed/CHI in your back pocket just in case. Eventual backup Greg Odom/CHI is still a week away from his Bulls debut and will be eased into the lineup when it happens. Kirk Hinrich/CHI (concussion and shoulder issues) will be available off the bench, though expect a downgrade in his minutes.

DraftStreet has a number of guaranteed prize pool contests on offer for opening night. The largest field offered costs $2 to enter, with room for 1100 entries: it pays out $360 for first with a total pool of $2000, but hurry, spots are limited. If you wish to bump up the cost to $11, there is $2000 GPP with plenty of spots open and $500 for first place.

For a change of pace, you might try the “Pick’em” format. You must choose eight individual players from a group of 3-6 of similar value. The contest with the biggest pool, $1500, will cost you $11 to enter.

If you are a heavy hitter, there are $220 entry-fee leagues.

Here is a link to a Friday freeroll.

Opening Night

A look at each game from a daily fantasy perspective. Dollar figures are DraftStreet prices.

Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers (7pm EDT)- Over/Under Total= 187.5; Pacers -11.5

On paper this is a huge mismatch, but you never know how sharp a team will be in their first game. Indiana will be without F Danny Granger/IND for this game and the next three weeks at a minimum. As a result, G Lance Stephenson/$7345/IND is due for a bump in playing time and one of the top plays of the day.

Tobias Harris/$13370/ORL is dealing with a strained ankle and has been ruled out for tonight’s game. G Andrew Nicholson/$6180/ORL will get many of those minutes and now becomes playable. The Magic will look for C Nikola Vucevic/$15005/ORL and G Jameer Nelson/$12205/ORL to carry the team, but my focus will be rookie G Victor Oladipo/$9850/ORL. Oladipo carries risk but is one of my top recommendations at DraftStreet tonight.

Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat (8pm EDT)- Over/Under Total= 187.5; Heat -5.5

This is an opener for the ages. The defending champs take on arguably their most dangerous rivals. The entire basketball world will be waiting to see how the “new and improved” G Derrick Rose/$17933/CHI performs against the formidable Miami Heat. C Joakim Noah/$15595/CHI is slated to play despite groin issues: look for backup C Nazr Mohammed/$4140/CHI to play extra minutes tonight. LeBron/$22490/MIA won’t get workhorse minutes, but I think he’ll earn his DraftStreet salary.

LA Clippers at LA Lakers (10:30pm EDT)- Over/Under Total= 198.5; Clippers -8.5

Missing C Dwight Howard (now in Houston), without G Kobe Bryant/LAL (still limited in practice), and with an aging Steve Nash/$10840/LAL, the downtrodden Lakers are underdogs against their cross-town rivals the Clippers. With plenty of minutes available, G Nick Young/$7860/LAL and F Shawne Williams/$3880/LAL have been thrust into starting roles and they represent tremendous upside given the low price. They should be strongly considered for all your DraftStreet salary cap leagues. The betting line for total points suggests that this will be the highest scoring game of the night, which means more DraftStreet points for the players on both teams to divvy up. As a result, blue-chip F Blake Griffin/$16600/LAC and G Chris Paul/$18895/LAC are well worth paying the premium they command. F Pau Gasol/$15785/LAL is riskier, but nevertheless playable.

With a limited number of players available, it is usually best to go with the tried and true “stars and scrubs” strategy. Of the three superstars playing tonight, Derrick Rose/CHI is of course the riskiest play, while LeBron/MIA and Chris Paul/LAC are rock solid. I’ve intimated that playing time is of crucial significance: the top value play of the night is super-cheap journeyman Shawne Williams/LAL, who will start only his 24th NBA game in his 6th season.

My entry in the DraftStreet $2 GPP (salary used: $99,070 of $100,000 max):

Stars worth starting: F LeBron James/MIA, G Chris Paul/LAC, F Blake Griffin/LAC
Top Bargain Plays: F Shawne Williams/LAL, G Nick Young/LAL,  F Andrew Nicholson/ORL
Speculative Plays: G Victor Oladipo/ORL, C Roy Hibbert/IND

The Fantasy Spin is here every morning, by 10:00 EDT. Follow me @robdudek for last-minute news relevant to NBA daily fantasy.

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