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Daily Fantasy is (in my opinion) the best way to enjoy the WNBA season. Picking different players each day and rooting for them over the course of the night is an absolute blast. There is, however, a fairly high barrier to entry. This article (as well as the subsequent articles) should help to cut through that barrier and enjoy the experience of playing Daily Fantasy WNBA.
The main two daily fantasy websites which offer WNBA are FanDuel and DraftKings. On each of the websites, the setup is similar. Each player has a salary, and there is an overall salary cap. A lineup must contain two guards, three forwards, and one “utility” player, which can be either a guard or forward. The salaries generally follow fantasy point productiveness, so the highest salary may be Liz Cambage, while a bench player will be significantly less. Though the main aim of the
contests are very similar, these contests are set up with different rules, and as such, the strategies to employ should change to better fit the unique rules.
The main difference between the two sites is in the fantasy point values assigned to each of the scoring categories. As seen below, both sites offer 1 fantasy point for one real-life point. DraftKings, however, gives 3.5 points for a 3 pointer in real-life. As well, the rebound fantasy point values are slightly different. The big difference is in the steal and block values on FanDuel. A 50% increase in the value of a statistic is significant, and players who achieve many blocks or steals are far more valuable on FanDuel.
Despite the site’s scoring differences, one of the main pieces of fantasy point scoring is opportunity. In most cases, projecting the number of minutes a player plays is the most important part of Daily Fantasy Sports. It really is simple, but if a player has more opportunity to accrue points, rebounds and assists, they are able to achieve a bigger score.
As well, unlike real-life, fantasy scoring does not care about efficiency. A player shooting 20-25 times, and only making 8 of those shots is going to score more than a player shooting 8 times and making 5 of those shots (all else equal). Statistics such as usage rate, and percent of team field goals attempted can be very useful in evaluating players who will take a lot of shots. Usage rates can be found here.
One of the next things to consider is the opponent. Obviously, some teams are better defensively, and some individual defenders are better than others (looking at you, Brittney Griner), but the statistic that I am most interested in is actually not defense.
Instead, it ties back to players getting more opportunities to score fantasy points. The statistic is called pace, and it is just the number of possessions in a team’s game. Last year, the Las Vegas Aces were at the top of this statistic, with the Los Angeles Sparks coming in at the bottom. In Aces games, teams averaged 5 possessions more than in Sparks games. This is significant. That is 10 more trips down the floor, where players are able to score points, get rebounds, blocks, and steals. As well, pace seems to have a multiplicative effect. If two slower teams play each other, they should player even slower than their season average. Conversely, if two high pace teams play each other, the pace will be even higher than their season average.
The Bottom Line
Over the coming weeks, I will have a preview for every team specifically through a Daily Fantasy lens. Ideas such as role changes, usage boosts and year over year team differences will be touched on, as well as a more in depth analysis of specific player productiveness in the fantasy sport world. To recap this article, looking for players who fill up the scoring categories (while adjusting for the differing scoring environments of FanDuel and DraftKings) as well as looking for players who have opportunity in the form of minutes, as well as possessions per game, will help to get you on the right track.
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