So far this season, I've only entered FanDuel NBA fantasy tournaments on Friday nights. Friday NBA schedules are game-heavy, generally stocked with 10 or more contests. This presents a fantasy player with a literal plethora -- as opposed to the 'plethora' most people incorrectly use -- of choices. 10 games means 20 rosters which means at least 100 fantasy-relevant players, maybe more.
But Thursdays, oh Thursdays. The NBA's marquee night usually has just two games. Two games means four rosters means 20 fantasy-relevant players, or something close to that. FanDuel makes you fill nine roster spots, so there are fewer choices and fewer ways to differ from the other entrants.
Curiosity sufficiently piqued, I entered last night's NBA Shot contest for $2 and a chance at $2,500. For reference, I was one of 17,572 total entrants. My roster was limited to nine players and I had a salary cap of $60,000.
Four teams were scheduled to play last night: the Thunder, Mavericks, Spurs, and Clippers. A few players were injured to various levels of questionable, which shortened the pickings. Deadline trades also removed a handful of eligible players, like Reggie Jackson and Kendrick Perkins.
I found that most entries featured at least five or six of the same stars. The top-prize can be decided by an eighth-man who manages to get hot for 10 minutes.
Here was the roster I chose: Russell Westbrook ($10,900), Tony Parker ($5,400), J.J. Redick ($4,500), Manu Ginobili ($5,100), Kawhi Leonard ($7,700), Chandler Parsons ($6,400), Dirk Nowitzki ($6,500), Boris Diaw ($3,900), DeAndre Jordan ($9,000).
Immediately, you should know that there weren't many fantasy studs to choose from. Only three players crossed the magical $10k mark: Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul. I liked the Westbrook matchup against the Mavs, and I like how he plays in big games in primetime. I built my team around him.
From there, it was a matter of choosing from starters and sure producers or bench players with high variance. I could have gone with a stars n' scrubs approach by picking Westbrook and Durant or Paul, and filled out the rest of my roster with end-of-bench guys. Instead, I played it conservatively and went with surer plays in Redick, Ginobili, and Diaw for my lower-dollar players. Picking super low-dollar players like Anthony Morrow and Al-Farouq just seemed too much like gambling.
Ultimately, though, that's the decision you have to make with these daily format fantasy games. If you play it conservatively, you're unlikely to end up at the very top of the standings with the big prizes. In order to win it all, you need to play multiple lineups with crazy permutations, hoping to strike it lucky and win with a combination of big performances from stars and bench players alike. Being careful, like I did, gives you a better chance of finishing with some money, which is smart if you play just one lineup. But I don't see how you can get the top prize playing it so close to the vest. And, it turns out, there's enough variance in the lineups with just four scheduled teams to still make success very difficult to attain.
So, is Thursday easier than other nights? Yes, I think so. The more teams that play, the more permutations available to you, and the lower your odds of finding the winning one.
Disclaimer: Even though this is a sponsored post with affiliate links, all of the opinions in this post are my own. And as an FYI, FanDuel gave me some cash to play its daily fantasy games.