Daily Fantasy NBA: How to Use Vegas Lines to Predict Game Flow

How do you begin your research for a slate of Daily NBA action? Maybe you go write to the content on FantasyWired.com or other websites, but at some point, you should check the Vegas Lines on sports betting websites to get a feel for how each game is supposed to be unfold.

The folks in the desert are rarely wrong when prediction the Over/Under and Point Spread of each professional sports game, so this is a vital tool that you can use while building your DFS lineups.

Point Totals

The first thing you should look at when analyzing the lines is point totals, or each game’s Over/Under. A low O/U is usually between 190 and 200 points, which indicates that the contest could be a defensive struggle. While this doesn’t mean you should avoid the game entirely, it’s probably best to target rebounders and defensive stalwarts in games with low totals because it shouldn’t become a shootout.

A high O/U should be at least 206 points, and can sometimes go all the way up to 225 points. These totals are often times set when the Kings or Warriors are involved, because these are the two teams that play at the fastest pace in the NBA. Pace refers to the amount of possessions per 48 minutes for a team, and more possession almost always leads to more opportunities for players to pile up Fantasy Points.

When you’ve identified a game that should be high scoring, you can employ a strategy called “Stacking” by paying up for stars on both of those teams.

The Sacramento Kings are a prime example of a team that you can target with this strategy. When they faced the Hornets on Jan. 25, 2016, the Over/Under was set at 214 points despite the fact that Charlotte was ranked 13th in PPG (101.8). Sure enough, that game went into 2OT and exceeded the point total by a wide margin, as Charlotte won 129-128.

While the stars (DeMarcus Cousins, Kemba Walker, Rajon Rondo) posted huge FP totals in that game, nearly every player benefitted, as Spencer Hawes, Troy Daniels, Marvin Williams and Jeremy Lin all exceeded value for Charlotte.

Sacramento doesn’t just have high point totals because of its pace of play. The Kings also give up the most PPG in the NBA, which means that they often get into these types of shootouts while a team like the Warriors usually blows the opposition out of the water.

Point Spreads

Which brings us to the other aspect of Vegas Lines that you must consider. The O/U indicates how fast the pace of play might be, but the point spread indicates whether that game will be close or not.

So, if the Warriors were to host the Hornets, they might be listed as -16, meaning that they are favored to win by at least 16 points. The Kings were only favored by 4 or 5 points in that contest, and sure enough, they had trouble closing the Hornets out and wound up playing two extra periods.

A large point spread is usually an indication that you shouldn’t pay up for superstars on either team. The NBA has a very long season, and coaches will not hesitate to sit their starters for the entire fourth quarter if the game is already decided. That’s why Steph Curry frequently sits out in fourth quarters, and why a player like LeBron James has failed to meet value against many subpar opponents in the Eastern Conference.

While a large point spread can hurt the starters, it benefits other players, as the reserves get the opportunity to play extended minutes down the stretch. Starting a bench player who might not see much court time if the game remains competitive is a risky strategy that is best reserved for GPP formats, but it can be worth the gamble at times.

For example, the Spurs are so dominant at home and win in blowout fashion so often that their reserves often get a crack at extended playing time down the stretch. You want to target a player that produces a lot of FPs per minute in these instances, and Spurs behemoth center Boban Marjanovic fits the bill as a double double machine when he gets enough playing time.

Predict Game Flow

Once you break down the information provided by the point totals and spreads, you can ideally predict how a game might unfold and factor that into your lineup decisions.

Games with a high O/U and high point total are ideal for stacking, so there’s a chance that using players on both sides of the ball can jettison your lineup to the top of a GPP.

At the same time, using a star in a game with a wide point spread can really hurt your chances in “Cash Games” (50/50 or H2H formats), so it makes sense to fade those players in games with lofty spreads.

However, you shouldn’t blindly trust Vegas. Use your own research and instincts to determine where a team is at this point in the season.

Is Dwayne Wade going to be gassed after playing 2 of the last 3 nights? If so, then the Heat might lose in a blowout.

Is this a game that a superb team (such as the Warriors) have circled on their calendar? If so, then they might win in a blowout.

Look at a team’s schedule and results over the past few games to indicate how they’re performing offensively and defensively. Basketball Reference is a great tool to analyze stats such as pace, offensive rating, defensive rating and check the home/away splits of a team so that you can use these Vegas lines as a starting point for your own research and build the best lineups possible.


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