Winning in fantasy basketball is a tough task. Everyone needs some luck, a little bit of general knowledge, and the gift of foresight. Knowing who to play, when to play them, and why they should play is a critical part to fielding a successful team each and every week.
This guide expands on that by covering one of the most important questions every fantasy basketball owner must ask themselves. It’s not just understanding who to start on any given week, it’s about understanding how to do it again and again.
Go with Great
While picking the right starters might seem like an easy choice, it’s much more nuanced than one might think. Who you choose to start will differ based on the team, as well as individual matchups. Even so, the goal is always to field the best lineup on any given night.
You want the players who are going to get you the most stats, with an emphasis on the rebounds, points, and assists. For that reason, the golden rule is to always play the best players for each position. It’s all about being able to predict who’s going to go off, and why.
Understanding that, the golden rule is to always start superstars when possible. Players like Nikola Jokic, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard generally get more stats than bench or even solid role players like Andrew Wiggins or Jae Crowder.
This rule isn’t always applicable, as we’ll cover below, but it’s a good baseline. If a player has a history of playing well, chances are they’re going to succeed in at least one category.
An Off Night
It’s also important to follow another obvious rule, which is to only start players who are actually playing. Injuries happen a lot in the NBA, and rest days are more common than they’ve ever been. Even a small ailment or minor issue can cause a player to sit out a game.
Keep an eye on the injury reports and pay attention to rumors as well. Even if such statements aren’t true, there’s usually something to learn about players on your team. They also help you plan for any missed games that might be coming up and allow you to react accordingly.
After going over the rules of “start those who are playing” and “play the stars whenever possible” things get a bit more nuanced. Choosing who to start comes down to a mix of injuries, how well a player’s been doing, as well as who they’re up against.
Some players might put up a lot of stats, but if they face a particularly good defender or are up against a team that negates their specific stat that could be a problem. Read who they’re up against, and don’t be afraid to play someone facing a worse team.
On the other side, just because a player is on a bad team or facing a much better opponent doesn’t mean they won’t get strong stats. It’s perfectly capable for some players to accumulate twenty points, ten assists, or double digit rebounds in a loss.
There’s no one rule for who to start. It’s more about reading the peaks and valleys all players go through during a season, seeing who’s hot, and always adapting to individual battles.
Not all fantasy lineups are created equal, but having a low-stat team doesn’t necessarily equate to a loss. Smart starts and putting the right players in at the right time can turn the tide. As long as you find the right opportunities and windows, you’ll be fine.