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Beginner NBA DFS: Game types

We continue our breakdown of the basics for NBA DFS. In this section, we look at game types, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts against the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half at Staples Center.  Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to fantasy basketball, most beginners thinking of the traditional style of season-long game. A standard league with standard scoring. Luckily in daily fantasy basketball, there are multiple game that you can play on DraftKings. Here we’re going to go over each contest type and how to play.

Game Types


This is your standard DFS game type for NBA. In classic mode, you’ll be tasked with crafting a lineup for a given slate, whether that be 10 games in one night or four games past 9:00 p.m. ET or two games in the afternoon. Whatever.

In classic, you’re given a salary cap of $50,000. With this salary cap, you are tasked with filling out the following positions:


Lineups consist of eight players and must include players from at least two different NBA games on the slate.

Showdown: Captain’s Mode

Showdown mode allows you to play a DFS contest even when there’s only one game going on. It’s singular. Showdown Captain’s Mode is the most common form of Showdown contest.

In Showdown, you get the same salary cap of $50K, except you’re crafting a lineup using players from one game. You must have at least one player from each team. You are required to fill out a lineup of six players consistent of one Captain’s pick and five UTIL options. The Captain will receive a 1.5x fantasy point bonus, though salaries for players in the Captain spot are scaled up.

Showdown: In-Game Showdown H2

Same deal as Showdown: Captain’s Mode except you’re playing only using the second half of a particular game. This requires some strategy adjustments.

Showdown: In-Game Showdown Q4

Again, basically regular Showdown CM except you’re playing a lineup for just the final quarter and OT of a game.


Now, the piece de resistance of NBA DFS contest: Tiers! If you’re not into Classic and you want something different while also using players from multiple games, Tiers is perfect for you. In Tiers, you’re crafting a lineup of six players, one from each of six separate Tiers. Generally, there can be anywhere from three players to 10 players in each Tier. There can also be anywhere from 6-8 tiers of players in any given contest.

The Tiers start with your studs, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, James Harden, etc. They then progress downward in terms of fantasy points per game for each player until you’re choosing between 8-10 different low-tier players in the final group. This is a great game for beginners who don’t want to take the time to craft a lineup using the salary cap.