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Advanced NBA DFS: Lineup Pivoting

We continue our breakdown of NBA DFS. In this section, we look at how to pivot off players, with definitions and some strategy.

Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum drives during the second half against the Houston Rockets at TD Garden.  Winslow Townson-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 which ones will help you most in building your lineups. One of those is Lineup Pivoting, which we will discuss below.

Lineup Pivoting


Lineup Pivoting is when an injury or lineup decision by an NBA team impacts your DFS lineup enough to make a change. This is mostly reserved for specific injury news late in the day that impacts a slate. Usually, it opens up a value play that can either be used or pivoted off of. Pivoting is essentially a tactic to gain leverage.


The general lineup strategy surrounding pivoting is very simple, the tricky part is execution. For instance, let’s say it’s a Joel Embiid or Anthony Davis injury watch night. We’re keeping an eye on both player’s statuses leading up to tip-off. We get around to 6:50 p.m. ET and Embiid is ruled out. We have multiple lineups featuring Embiid in a great spot against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

So with Embiid out, the most logical pivots are Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford. We can safely assume Ben Simmons becomes chalk that night and is very high owned in most contests. Harris should pick up some scoring slack and is a high-usage GPP play now that Embiid is out. You get more leverage playing Harris over Simmons but at the cost of fantasy points. Horford is more of a value play who should be higher owned than Harris but not more than Simmons.

So really the important thing to consider here is how much ownership we want to allocate to each pivot? Simmons would be a consideration for the majority of your cash-game lineups, while you can use Harris and Horford in both formats. So if I have 20 lineups for the slate and 10 of them had Embiid, it may be wise to make 6 Simmons lineups, 2 Harris lineups and 2 Horford lineups to spread out your exposure.

If you’re using some type of model or engine to help with lineup building, normally you have access to an easy lineup swap. So pivoting off of players should be effortless and easy. The thing to remember is to always consider how much exposure we want to a certain pivot and to identify which plays are chalk and which are for tournaments.