DraftStreet Diary: New Fantasy Leagues Every Day; Win Cash

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It’s great to be playing again at DraftStreet. Every Monday, I’ll start with a fresh $100 bankroll for the week and share my picks in this space once a day. Years of experience in traditional Roto and Head-to-Head formats doesn’t change the fact that I’m a relative novice in daily fantasy leagues. We’ll be learning together; just click on the logo to get started.

While there are some interesting variations, the Salary Cap game is most appealing. The rules are simple, yet it’s a new challenge every day. Players qualify at either G, F or C; you must start two of each and fill two Util spots — without exceeding $100,000 in total salaries. Scoring is PTS = 1 pt; REB = 1.25 pts; AST = 1.5 pts; TO =-1 pt; MFT = -0.5 pts; MFG = -0.5 pts; STL = 2 pts; BLK = 2 pts and the team that compiles the highest score wins.

Every day, I’ll list 15 players in the chart. They’re grouped by price range: “Stars” are those with a salary over $13,000, “Scrubs” are potential bargain picks, costing less than $9,000, and “Starters” are all the players in between. With only six NBA games tonight, there are only 20 players to choose from in the top level, but under the cap, you can rarely afford more than three Stars. Another 40 players are in the $9K-$13K Starters range and while there are 82 in the Scrubs category, not many will even see the floor, let alone contribute.

DraftStreet 15 Dec. 10
Stars Over $13,000
LeBron James $22,503
Stephen Curry $17,541
David Lee $18,478
LaMarcus Aldridge $15,856
James Harden $17,378
Scrubs Under $9,000
Linas Kleiza $6,893
Toney Douglas $6,565
Danny Green $8,395
Luke Babbitt $4,697
Gary Neal $8,604
Starters $9,000 to $13,000
Klay Thompson $12,194
Greg Monroe $12,435
Chris Kaman $10,513
J.J. Hickson $12,828
Chandler Parsons $11,820

All leagues close tonight at 7:00 EST; you can make unlimited changes to your lineups until then. Here’s one I’ve entered in multiple leagues, though I’m on the fence about Cousins.

F David Lee (GS-F) $18,478
F LaMarcus Aldridge (POR-F) $15,856
G Danny Green (SA-G) $8,395
G Klay Thompson (GS-G) $12,194
C Greg Monroe (DET-C) $12,435
C Chris Kaman (DAL-C) $10,513
U Linas Kleiza (TOR-F) $6,893
U DeMarcus Cousins (SAC-C) $15,218

This is hoping that LeBron James and Josh Smith ($18,136) play ferocious defense against each other. You could take the exact opposite approach and key on LBJ and Smoove, while ‘cutting corners’ at other positions.

Among the other options at DraftStreet that don’t use a salary cap are Pick’Em and Snake drafts. Pick’Em doesn’t include the entire NBA player pool. There are eight tiers of six players. You pick one from each tier to build your team. For example, Tier 1 tonight is David Lee, Josh Smith, Stephen Curry, Al Horford, James Harden and Tim Duncan. That’s a tough choice. Tier 8 includes Andrea Bargnani, Ray Allen and Vince Carter. It’s a great game for novices because you don’t need to be familiar with more than six or seven players per NBA team.

Snake drafts are very popular in traditional leagues. Instead of just once per season, DraftStreet has them every day. Join a 2-, 3- or 6-team Snake league; you can pre-rank your players immediately. When the league fills, a notice pops up, then the draft room opens. Unlike the salary cap and tier games, a player can be owned by only one team. When LeBron is gone, he’s gone. I’m going to try a couple Snakes on Wednesday, when 13 NBA games will make for a deeper player pool.

In addition to entering two different lineups in a $2 tournament with $1,000 in prize money, I joined two Weekly leagues today, a 6-man and a 10-man, for $2 each. Weeklies use a different salary scale, because number of games is so important. It’s a trickier challenge, too. Would you rather have two games from Kevin Durant, three from Dwyane Wade or four from Anderson Varejao?

Finally, I invested $5 in a Double-Up league. All you have to do is finish anywhere in the top 50 (from 110 entries) to win $10. That’s more of a long-term experiment, as I’m expecting to cash more than 50% of the time in that format. Total investment is $15 for the day; check in tomorrow to see how it went and get my Tuesday selections.

If you haven’t already joined DraftStreet, click here to sign up. They even have free leagues you can join to win points that can be redeemed for prizes. See you there!

Today’s Fantasy Spin looks at all six of tonight’s NBA games in more detail and reviews all the action from Sunday.

FanDuel Diary: Join Our $3,000 Tournament Tonight

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Want to win $600 cash tonight for a $5 investment? Me too. Just click the logo to enter our $3,000 tournament. Pick a 9-man roster without exceeding the $60,000 salary cap and whoever scores the most fantasy points wins. Only six categories matter — PTS = 1pt, REB = 1pt, AST = 1pt, BLK = 2pts, STL = 2pts, TO = -1pt — and while a good player on a hot night can earn 50+, averaging about 30 per man will usually earn you a nice payout.

One of the best things about daily leagues is the consolation prizes. This contest is limited to 670 teams, and the top 71 finishers win at least $15 cash. $400 for second and $250 for third is worth shooting for.

We start each week here with a $100 bankroll. That’s actual currency, nothing theoretical. I played in a handful of $1 and $2 leagues on Monday without getting close — I’d guessed the Grizzlies would win big — so there’s $90 left and I’m entered in six events for a total of $20 this evening. Good luck!

FanDuel 15 Nov. 27
Stars Over $7,000
Dwight Howard $9,200
Kobe Bryant $8,800
Kevin Love $9,000
James Harden $7,900
Chandler Parsons $7,200
Scrubs Under $5,000
Jeremy Pargo $4,000
Alexey Shved $4,700
Jonas Valanciunas $4,600
Jermaine O’Neal $4,300
Aaron Brooks $4,100
Starters $5,000 to $7,000
Thaddeus Young $6,600
Tyreke Evans $6,900
Evan Turner $6,400
Markieff Morris $5,500
Metta World Peace $6,100

With only five NBA games on the calendar, there aren’t as many options as usual. Today’s chart offers five suggestions in each of three price ranges, and there are still other possibilities.

Here’s my tentative lineup, subject to unlimited changes until 7:00 EST.

PG Kyle Lowry TOR@HOU $7,000
PG Jrue Holiday DAL@PHI $7,200
SG James Harden TOR@HOU $7,900
SG Jeremy Pargo PHO@CLE $4,000
SF Metta World Peace IND@LAL $6,100
SF Chandler Parsons TOR@HOU $7,200
PF Kevin Love MIN@SAC $9,000
PF Thaddeus Young DAL@PHI $6,600
C Jonas Valanciunas TOR@HOU $4,600

I’m using two from each team in the Raptors-Rockets game, which I think will be fast-paced. Because of injuries, the SF pool is ridiculously shallow; there aren’t many attractive options beyond Parsons and MWP. I’m also leaving $400 on the table; most days I’ll plug the ‘best available’ player into my last roster spot to use up the entire salary cap, but in my weakest spot (backup SG) Pargo would be the play even if he cost $4,400.

Today’s Fantasy Spin looks at all five NBA games in more detail and reviews what happened last night, including the latest injuries and roster shuffles.

FanDuel Diary: Freerolls Friday & Saturday

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We’re launching this new daily feature with a special Freeroll weekend.

Friday’s one-day tournament has no entry fee, but $250 will be paid out in 17 cash prizes, including $50 to the winner. Join FanDuel (if you haven’t already) with no deposit or credit card required, find out for yourself how much fun it is to pick a team, and maybe take home some free money. Tomorrow there will be a “winner take all” contest, again absolutely free to enter.

FanDuel 15 Nov. 16
Stars Over $7,000
Dwight Howard $9,600
Kobe Bryant $8,500
Kevin Durant $9,500
James Harden $7,800
Greg Monroe $7,600
Scrubs Under $5,000
Kyle Singler $3,600
Dante Cunningham $4,600
Harrison Barnes $4,400
Tony Allen $4,900
Tyler Hansbrough $4,000
Starters $5,000 to $7,000
Mike Conley $6,600
Damian Lillard $6,6700
Zach Randolph $6,600
Ryan Anderson $6,600
Chris Kaman $6,200

The chart at right is for tonight’s leagues. I’m using the same roster in the Freeroll and a qualifying tournament for the $200,000 Daily Fantasy Basketball Championship. It’s $10 to enter that one, but they pay out $5,000 in cash and the winner gets a trip to Las Vegas for the finals, where the first prize is a cool $50,000. Find out more here.

Week 3 hasn’t been great so far, losing half of my $100 bankroll, but I remain optimistic. Daily leagues are challenging, fun and can be lucrative. Here’s my lineup, which can be edited until the 7:00 EST deadline. Good luck with your picks!

PG Damian Lillard HOU@POR $6,600
PG Mike Conley NY@MEM $6,600
SG James Harden HOU@POR $7,800
SG O.J. Mayo DAL@IND $7,000
SF Kevin Durant OKC@NO $9,500
SF Kyle Singler ORL@DET $3,600
PF Zach Randolph NY@MEM $6,700
PF Dante Cunningham GS@MIN $4,600
C Greg Monroe ORL@DET $7,600

Today’s Fantasy Spin looks at all nine NBA games in more detail and reviews what happened last night.

Fantasy Spin: October 5, 2012

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The Fantasy Spin is delighted to be partnered with FanDuel this season. Daily fantasy games are challenging, exciting and can be lucrative.

Compared to 20 years of Roto and a dozen or more Head-to-Head seasons, I’m a novice at this.

The FanDuel hoops game is beautifully simple: pick nine players — 2PG, 2 SG, 2 SF, 2 PF, 1 C — and whoever scores the most points wins.

The scoring system is also uncomplicated: 3-pt FG = 3pts; 2-pt FG = 2pts; FT = 1pt; Rebound = 1pt; Assist = 1pt; Block = 2pts; Steal = 2pts; Turnover = -1pt. In other words, it’s a brand new 8-category league every day, from “draft” to championship.

There’s one big twist: a $60,000 salary cap. Player salaries can change from day to day, according to their production on the court. You must fill those nine roster spots with a mixture of expensive stars, consistent producers and bargains.

That’s what makes it a game of skill, and that’s where we come in. Armed with a fair bit of NBA knowledge and usually on top of breaking fantasy news, I’m optimistic about trying the various FanDuel offerings. All season, I’ll share my (mis)adventures as I learn a new fantasy game and attempt to turn a profit on my modest investments.

It’s easy to get started; there’s no credit card or deposit required. FanDuel has free games where you can earn points to qualify for Freeroll tournaments, but if you prefer a cash game, entry fees begin as low as $1, with $2, $5, $10, $25, $50 and $109 levels, and for high rollers, leagues that cost $535 to enter.

At first glance, BLK and STL are “overvalued” — Josh Smith and Dwight Howard help in both and don’t even hurt you with missed free throws. While TO is a horrible category, it’s not nearly as bad in a Points format and a daily game. I’m already thinking of it as AST-TO.

I’ll be explaining more about FanDuel as I learn. There are weekly leagues, which some may prefer to daily, and three versions — Beginner, Standard and Expert — of the Salary Cap game. While we wait for basketball to begin, they offer great games in other sports.

Football & Hockey

I used to love the NFL. Living in the Pacific time zone was the best on Sundays; wake up, eat, bet and watch. Horses were my main addiction, but one morning at the Stardust race book, waiting for post time at Aqueduct, I handicapped a game between the world-champion Steelers and the expansion Buccaneers. Gave 33 points for $1,000 and it was never in doubt.

I loved Canadian football too, and knew every player on every NHL team. Used to babysit for a Toronto Maple Leafs forward and had a part-time job when I was 14, recording games on a giant, primitive VCR in the office of referee-in-chief Scotty Morrison.

Humans were idiots then. Parents used to smoke more in the car than anywhere, their oxygen-deprived offspring rattling around without seatbelts. No NHL player wore a helmet; Gump Worsley played goalie without a mask. Those were the days.

The older I get, the less I like violence, or athletes wearing armor. Under modern padding, helmets and face masks, it’s become harder to recognize the gladiators. Baseball and basketball allow us to read body language and facial expressions. Lip-reading becomes a hobby. Fans have a much better idea of the person inside the number.

There will be no hockey talk here; there’s currently no hockey and even when the NHL does return, I’m one of those rare Canadians who prefers the NBA. Our colleague Bruce Wrigley has won a few NFL fantasy leagues, so we’ll ask him for advice before tackling FanDuel football.

Basketball & Baseball

As I often remind my understanding, tolerant partner, sports is improvised theatre. On a good night, it’s like seeing a Shakespeare play with brilliant actors, except you don’t know how it will end. A few games are failed productions with listless casts, but that’s why we have channel changers.

Even a “bad” baseball game is entertaining for me because it’s baseball. I’ll watch high school, semi-pro, minor-league or MLB for the pitcher-catcher battle vs. the hitter. A “bad” NBA game — like some of those back-to-back-to-back debacles last year — still features amazing athleticism and some highlight-reel plays.

Except for the strike-shortened, late-finishing NBA season we just endured, there’s a nearly-perfect overlap between fantasy hoops and fantasy hardball. Many friends and rivals have been so busy with H2H baseball playoffs they haven’t begun to think about basketball.

It does get tougher to pay close attention to multiple hoops leagues the final two months, if you’re preparing baseball lists and drafting in March, then managing teams in April.

Not that I’m complaining about this gig, or making excuses, but writing about basketball seven mornings a week last winter was not the best thing for my fantasy baseball teams this year. That could be a coincidence, but it’s inspired me to try harder on the fantasy diamond in 2013. It may also be that I’m simply better on the fantasy hardwood.

I joined a free FanDuel baseball league today, just to get my feet wet. The league actually covers four MLB playoff games over two days, so on Sunday I’ll share my impressions. I couldn’t “afford” Justin Verlander without sacrificing hitting, so Matt Cain is crucial to my success. Starting pitching is far more significant (and priced accordingly) than any position in basketball.

What to Expect

Tomorrow, don’t miss Part 4 of our Strategy Primer by Jeff Nichols, about identifying sleepers.

Soon, the Spin will be in a daily routine. We look at what happened last night — who’s hot, who’s not, who’s hurt, who’s benched — then predict what will happen next. In previewing games, we’re not trying to pick winners against the spread or an over/under on points. Probable high-scoring games are great for traditional fantasy owners setting daily lineups but even more important in daily leagues. Finally, I’ll share my FanDuel play(s) of the day. Be sure to visit often and follow @SheridanFantasy on Twitter.

Today, there is one game to preview: The Celtics are in Istanbul, Turkey to play Fenerbache Ulker and this entire trip is more of a team bonding experience than a competition. The home team, taking it far more seriously, should perform very well. If there was a fantasy pool on this game, I’d be touting Bo McCalebb.

Finally, here’s the first “box score” of the preseason. Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News covered a Spurs scrimmage and filled in the numbers. Manu Ginobili led his team to victory with some impressive per-minute stats.