NBA DFS Decisions: No Late Swap? No Bleeping Problem! (March 1)

It’s time to continue our NBA DFS Decisions Today series by looking at the slate coming later this evening. Let’s not bury the lede and get to our NBA DFS today discussion ASAP.

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NBA DFS Decisions Today 

Welcome to the day that many had been hoping for and others have dreading: it’s No Late Swap Friday over on DraftKings. Now, as someone who credits the advantageous use of late swap for a lot of my NBA DFS success, I’m not over the moon with this experiment that could potentially turn into the standard way the game is played.

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But I certainly understand it from the site’s perspective as they want to try out new things at a slower time in the season and receive feedback from the community about what does or doesn’t work and why. I also understand the time constraints NBA DFS has on casuals and professionals alike who might prefer to ‘set it and forget it’ with their lineup sets rather than be by their computer for hours after lock.

So I’m not going to complain about it too much at the moment, although I do look forward to the first random significant late-scratch after lock to witness the carnage on my Twitter/X timeline. Should be fireworks — just hopefully not from me!

Anywho, let’s walk through what I believe will be the biggest edge for at least the first few non-late swap slates: boosting players in later games with pending injuries that could break in their favor after lock. What exactly do I mean by this? Let’s walk through a potential example I see for tonight:

With Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert questionable for the Cavs at the 7pm ET lock time, we should have their statuses well ahead of time, and any changes that need to be made by our data team at Stokastic will easily be done. But with De’Aaron Fox questionable for their 8pm ET tilt with the Timberwolves, there’s no guarantee his official status is known until after lock (note: he did go through shoot-around this morning, but he also went through shoot-around against Denver before being ruled out so I’m treating him as 50/50 at the moment). And normally, where we’d simply deal with that news when it arrives as the exposure to the chalky-ish Grizzlies/Trailblazers game could shift over to the Kings since they have identical game times.

But with no late swap? No dice on such a pivot, as your lineups cannot be moved whatsoever once the clock strikes 7pm ET. That means if De’Aaron Fox ends up playing, he’ll most likely be under-owned as people will be hesitant to roster a zero in their lineup. And if he’s ruled out, not only does anyone who roster Fox get that zero, but if you simply used standard projections like on any other slate this season, all the Kings who benefit in his absence (spoiler alert: that’s pretty much everybody) would be under-owned compared to if that news had dropped before lock. Make sense? Cool.

So what can you do with the Kings players in the Stokastic Sims tool to actionably change your lineups to increase the +EV of your lineups in this scenario? Let’s start by looking at the rotations from the Kings’ last game in Denver with Fox out courtesy of AddMoreFunds.com:

Now, Wednesday’s tilt didn’t exactly go well, so do I expect these exact rotations to play out verbatim again on Friday if Fox sits? Nope! Do I think 26 minutes for Chris Duarte is a likely outcome? Hope not! Will I be in shambles because I’ll definitely be overweight to Malik Monk again today if the Fox news is still pending at lock? Surely will!

And here’s why: look at the baseline rates for the Kings under all circumstances, and then once again with Fox off the court this season:

It's time to continue our NBA DFS Decisions Today series by looking at the slate coming later this evening. Let's get to our NBA DFS today...

Malik Monk goes from a 1.12 DraftKings points per minute player under all circumstances this season to a whopping 1.27 with Fox off the floor. I’ll get a bit more about his potential change in projection in a second, but I want it known Monk is already an interesting add for tournaments as is with positive leverage in the Stokastic Boom/Bust tool:  It's time to continue our NBA DFS Decisions Today series by looking at the slate coming later this evening. Let's get to our NBA DFS today...

Now, he’s only 2.2% owned at the moment for the very reason that our projections team (and anyone’s projection team in the industry, for that matter) is not going to take Fox out until that news actually shows up. So the ownership and optimal percentage are reflective of a world where Fox suits up and plays his normal allotment of minutes. It’s also a brutal Minnesota matchup, as the Timberwolves are 1st in adjusted defensive rating on DunksAndThrees.com this season, and have a massive questionable tag of their own in Anthony Edwards at the moment. Not going to deal with that one for now.

But if you just blindly took the stand that Fox will sit, just how much Monk would you want? The answer depends on how other slate-shaping news such as aforementioned Cavs players and Luka Doncic’s Q tag shake out, but I think the no-brainer answer is a lot more than 2.2%!

That’s because Monk’s 26.5 minute projection here at Stokastic and increase it by a minute and a half to 28 minutes, and I’d take his baseline 1.07 DraftKings points per minute rate (adjusted from his standard rate due to the matchup) and move it closer to 1.20 DraftKings points per minute. That, my friends, would make is Fox-less projection a nifty 33.6 DraftKings points, which at $5,900 with SG/SF eligibility looks absolutely fantastic in tournaments.

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To wrap it all up, hopefully you can see there are a number of ways to handle this situation: keep the projections as is and hope Fox plays and all is properly accounted for, ROI boost Fox in the Sims hoping everyone assumes he’s out and he’ll thus be under-owned, ROI boost Monk in the Sims tool while keeping Fox in and playing both sides of it to some extent, or doing what I might do and change Fox’s projection to zero in the Sims tool and plugging in your new rates for the Kings players, getting to a lot more of them than the field in the process.

Of course, there will be other injury situations to monitor as well, and it’s not as easy and simply assuming everyone single one of them will break your way. But trying to create potential upside with your lineups based on unknowns will be our biggest advantage on these types of slates going forward, so let’s weaponize the elite data at Stokastic to help us stay ahead of the curve.

Eric Lindquist hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota (yes, that’s the one with Mount Rushmore). A steady diet of three SportsCenters a day at an early age led to his obsession with sports, one that 30 years later is paying dividends for him as a successful DFS player and sports bettor. Despite over half a million dollars in net career earnings, he’s most passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals, an energy you can witness on the daily in his current role as a host and analyst at Stokastic. He’s a former Division I golfer at Iowa State, wishes he was a former Minnesota sports fan, and is a proud father to a 100-pound Bernese Mountain dog named Duke that wishes he could just eat people food instead of the crap he and his wife feed him on the daily.

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