Can prop bets help your daily fantasy basketball team?

You’re probably always looking for an advantage if you play fantasy basketball or any other fantasy sport. Any slight edge we gain can make the difference between winning like the ‘86 Celtics or slumping like this year’s abysmal Golden State squad. 

Some of us are juggling fantasy teams in different leagues. Suddenly, our need for actionable intelligence grows exponentially. 

So, where do we turn for our fantasy basketball tips, picks, and data? There are countless fantasy blogs and projection sites. The YouTube gurus are foaming at the mouth with wisdom. Even the TV commentators are dropping fantasy knowledge.

Those sources are all well and good--that’s how most fantasy players get the lowdown.  
But there’s one more surprising source you can consult when measuring a player’s potential.
...wait for it…

Prop bets

What are prop bets?

Proposition, or commonly, “prop” bets, are basketball wagers on specific events within each game
Instead of hinging on the outcome of the game, prop bets focus on aspects like which player will score the most points and how many three-pointers will be made by a certain player. 
Prop bets also present a surprising amount of information about how experts expect certain players to perform in a specific game. As you can imagine, this can be invaluable data for your fantasy basketball team.

Prop bets, or any NBA bet for that matter, aren’t numbers plucked from thin air. 
Oddsmakers representing fair, reputable sportsbooks are experts in their sports, such as a coach, TV network analyst, or trusted fantasy tip provider.  They spend countless hours pouring over information to craft the best possible performance props. 

Oddsmakers don’t work alone in this era of big data. Specialized sports forecasting software is responsible for generating a wealth of insight. Using computers, oddsmakers can track thousands of simulated outcomes, player performances, and shifts in league standings.  
It’s why some sportsbooks in the US are wading into the daily fantasy sports waters with picks and contests. The same expertise and analysis used to set odds are beneficial for fantasy players. 

How it works

Let’s look at an example of how a prop bet can inform your fantasy team. 

A performance prop for a player to score above a certain amount of points looks like this:

DeMar DeRozan, Over/Under 20.5 Points

The prop is offered in the context of a game between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers. Let’s suppose you’re looking to bolster scoring down front and a trade deal is looming in your future for a small forward. 

Let's also suppose you finagle a deal to acquire DeRozan, San Antonio’s versatile small forward/shooting guard.

Is there a way to gauge how DeRozan will fare for your fantasy team on a night when the Spurs go against the Cavs? The prop suggests a 20.5 point performance is in the ballpark. 

It could be a little higher or a little lower, but that’s for the prop bettors to worry about. The sportsbook has settled on 20.5 as an educated guess. 

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper. You find DeRozan is averaging 22.5 points per game for the season and 23.4 points over the last 10 games. The Cavs defense is flimsy against the small forward position. 

You can be confident DeRozan is in for a big night and you’ll pick up fantasy points. You should also take the over when playing this prob bet. 

This same type of prop-based analysis works for other fantasy scoring stats as well. Your needs may vary depending on your league’s scoring scheme. 

Final Thoughts

Prop bets present a unique slice of dialed-in player performance data often overlooked by fantasy basketball players. You wouldn’t want to develop your whole strategy around props, but they’re great for setting expectations for breakout players. They also provide hints on where to focus your fantasy research for optimizing game-to-game scoring.