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Intermediate NBA DFS: Identifying Value Plays

We continue our breakdown of the basics for NBA DFS. In this section, we look at how to identify value plays, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Shake Milton heads down court after a three point basket in the first half of the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

In daily fantasy basketball, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means understanding statistics and strategies to help you most in building your lineups. One of those is identifying value plays, which we will discuss below.

Value Plays


Finding value is one of the most important things when it comes to DFS. Essentially, you want to roster players who perform at a level that exceeds their price. When it comes to the NBA, you should typically look for players who can return five times their value. That means the player should tally around five fantasy points for every $1,000 of salary. The more value you get for a player, the better.


A lot of things go into determining value, but monitoring price is one of the most important things you can do. Prices of players rise and fall depending on momentum, injuries, matchups, and other factors. The NBA is one of the easiest sports to predict scoring totals for, as the stars usually fill the stat sheet by producing at a high level in their specialty areas — whether it be scoring, assisting, or rebounding. Identifying what role players and reserves can impact games and making the correct variance plays can put you in the money, but avoiding players with low floors is also important

Here are some of the biggest value plays from the season so far.

Top 10 Value Plays for 2019-20 Season

Player Date Price Value
Player Date Price Value
Aron Baynes 3/7/20 $3,000 23.16
Boban Marjanovic 3/12/20 $3,000 19.25
Jahlil Okafor 1/14/20 $3,000 19
Furkan Korkmaz 2/8/20 $3,200 16.25
Gary Trent Jr. 1/19/20 $3,000 16.08
Skal Labissiere 11/22/19 $3,600 15.55
Shaquille Harrison 11/21/19 $3,000 15.08
Malik Beasley 2/9/20 $3,200 15
JaVale McGee 11/14/19 $3,700 14.79
Seth Curry 12/13/19 $3,400 14.77

Cheaper players are more likely to return more value, but have lower ceilings than the pricier options. Finding a healthy mix of stars, intermediate players, and reserves is essential to building a successful lineup. You might not get get 5x from some of your most expensive players, but hitting 10x value elsewhere in your slate can make up for that and get you some cash.

Looking at a role/bench player’s per 36 numbers can help you project what they’re capable of doing with an increased workload, but other stats can be taken into account as well. Starting by looking at options with lower salaries can give you a leg up when it comes to identifying quality value plays as build out your roster.