Playing NBA DFS in the playoffs is a much different animal than the regular season for a lot of different reasons. There are a ton of different ways to exploit the field that aren’t used as much in the regular season, and I think they often go overlooked. The small slates often cause the ownerships to be concentrated, but that isn’t always unexploitable, and sometimes that is exactly what you want.
1. Watch the games:
Now I know that this may sound strange or obvious depending on your style, but I will try to explain what I mean here. You DO NOT need to watch very much basketball during the regular season to be incredibly successful. Matchups and defensive effort are often questionable at best, and there are just things that constantly change from game to game. Now in the playoffs, there are two key reasons to watch. See how guys are being defended and which spots may be exploitable going forward. Oh, the team is trapping the point guard at the top of the screen? Maybe you want to avoid him and attack the open wings and bigs after the double team. Some teams sell out to stop one guy and force another to do more, and it doesn’t always show up in the stat sheet right away. You can get guys underowned in the 2-4th game of the series.
2. Watch the foul trouble and the rotations:
There are often fewer minutes questions surrounding the playoffs, and that is especially true heading into the top teams. Go and find rotations and see if anyone in the first few games lost or gained minutes due to someone else getting hot, a bad matchup, or foul trouble and try to exploit it. This happened with Philadelphia when Greg Monroe started for Embiid. Monroe played 3 5 minute stints in the first three quarters, and this allowed Boban to play 7-minute stints after him. However, Boban lost minutes due to foul trouble and his 28 minutes that he would’ve likely played turned into 20. This was overlooked by most and Boban would’ve been underowned if Embiid had missed again
3. Predict a narrative:
These are often 2-4 game slates and not every game will be close. Every lineup you make on a short slate should tell a story to have the best chance to hit big. I think game 1 is a slower game with a 20 point blowout and the second game is going to be 120-121. Maybe you don’t get it right and lose, but if that is right and you have 7 or 8 players from the second game, you are sitting pretty.
4. Don’t be afraid to leave money on the table:
These are short slates with huge contests. If you want to maximize your upside, you need a unique lineup, and that is really difficult to achieve while spending the salary cap. FanDuel is inherently better to leave money on the table due to position scarcity compared to a site with utility spots or multi-position eligibility. Those sites often allow you to create more combinations of lineups and usually require more of the best raw plays. On FanDuel, 20 points from a 4.7K center could be the best option on the slate because the other 3 centers were more expensive and did worse in comparison. This is much less likely on DraftKings and other MPE sites.
5. Fade recency bias and attack bad games.
One of my favorite plays a few days ago was the key to the slate at lower ownership than he should have had and I played him due to recency bias. Jae Crowder had started the series shooting 4-21 in the first 3 games, and I didn’t see any reason for that to continue. People will overreact to bad shooting and more often than not, there is no real reason for this lack of efficiency.