Legal Sports Report

Daily Fantasy Basketball Sites 2017 – Best NBA DFS Sites & Apps

The fall and winter seasons are busy for daily fantasy sports players and operators alike. Daily fantasy football for NFL makes up the bulk of that traffic, but the NBA draws a lot of interest, too.

Here are some questions and answers about playing daily fantasy basketball:

Best daily fantasy basketball sites 2017

The two biggest sites for fantasy NBA are FanDuel and DraftKings. There are several other smaller operators, including Yahoo DFS, DraftBoom Fantasy and FantasyDraft, that also offer NBA contests.

Draft offers a different version of DFS, with snake draft instead of a “salary cap” model. Read on for more about how fantasy for NBA works.

  • DFS SITE
  • BONUS
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How does daily fantasy for NBA work?

Each NBA player is grouped by position and assigned a salary. Users construct rosters using combinations of those positional players. Requirements for lineup composition vary from site to site.

Rosters always include at least one point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center. Some players are eligible under multiple positions.

The salary cap is the important distinction in daily fantasy sports. Users can select any valid combination of players they want, as long as the sum of their salaries falls under the designated cap.

The salary-cap model is the primary format for NBA contests. It’s pretty much the only format for that matter, but that may be changing soon.

DraftKings launched capless Pick’em contests for NFL this season, and it seems like the format would transition well to the hardwood. The same can be said for FanDuel’s Mini contests, a similar idea which is available in both NFL and Major League Baseball so far.

NBA contests are also available within DraftKings Leagues and FanDuel Friends Mode.

What kind of daily fantasy basketball contests are there?

Daily fantasy sports operators provide their full lineup of game types to users during basketball season. All contests require paying an entry fee to compete for a set amount of prize money. (Some contests are also free to enter and may or may not feature a prize.) The site takes a percentage of each entry as a “rake” to generate revenue.

Contests fall into a handful of categories:

  • Guaranteed prize pools (GPPs): A fixed prize pool is offered by a site with a maximum number of entries, sometimes in the millions of dollars at the largest sites. They run regardless of whether they fill up or not.
  • Cash games: Players can either join an existing contest or create their own. These are smaller than GPPs and not guaranteed to run.
  • Head-to-head: A contest that pits two players against one another; the winner receives the entire prize pool.
  • 50/50: The top half of the field doubles their investment; the other half of the field receives nothing.

More on what contests are like at DraftKings and FanDuel:

 DraftKingsFanDuel
Roster size for main contestsEightNine
Fantasy statsPoints, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, turnovers, 3-pointers, double-doubles, triple-doublesPoints, rebounds, assists, blocks, steals, turnovers
Casual/beginner contests?YesYes
Late swap available for contestsNoSome

Who offers daily fantasy basketball?

All serious DFS operators provide basketball contests.

As is the case for most sports, the two biggest providers are DraftKings and FanDuel. They feature the most users, the biggest variety of contests and the most money up for grabs.

 

SiteBiggest Opening Night NBA contest
FanDuel$1 million prize pool, $4 entry
DraftKings$1 million prize pool, $3 entry
Yahoo$10,000 prize pool, $5 entry
FantasyDraft$7,500 prize pool, $25 entry
DraftTBD, varies

Each site takes its own legal approach to differing state laws; check here for a snapshot.

There are some European- or rest-of-world-facing sites that focus on soccer and other sports. But if a site is serving the US market, it is offering DFS involving the NBA.

What happened in 2016 for daily fantasy basketball?

One of the big debates in NBA circles surrounds “late swap” and the lock time for players in a contest.

In late-swap contests, players are locked as their game begins rather than all players locking at the start of the slate. That allows for users to tweak their lineups over time, either looking for pivot points or yielding to breaking injury news.

The NFL is a late-swap sport on both DraftKings and FanDuel. But the NBA is a different beast when it comes to the availability of information and lineup expectations.

In the NBA, nagging injuries and the rigors of an 82-game season lead to a lot more game-time decisions. Coaches rest players, too, sometimes unexpectedly. A few teams and coaches have a reputation for announcing lineup decisions just moments before tipoff.

For that reason, playing late-swap NBA can be much more time-consuming than NFL. And it favors the serious user. Most of the successful players are glued to their computers for hours leading right up to the start of contests. The uncertainty gives an inherent edge to those willing to tend to their lineups constantly throughout a slate of NBA games. And it means they’re working when they’d rather be watching from the couch.

Until 2016, late swap was one of the primary differentiators between DraftKings and FanDuel. Just before the start of the NBA season, though, DraftKings announced that it was dropping late swap.

What’s in store for 2017 in daily fantasy basketball?

As DraftKings moves away from late swap, FanDuel is actually starting to incorporate the feature into some of its games. While all of the largest contests still use early lock, it has introduced a handful of late-swap contests to try to cater to both sides of the argument. They’re identified by an unlocked padlock icon in the lobby.

Still, it looks like late swap is more or less dying off in NBA contests. That’s probably a good thing for casual users and the DFS community as a whole. The move is one more piece in a larger trend across the industry.

The 2015 sports seasons were bolstered by monumental adverting campaigns from DraftKings and FanDuel, who spent hundreds of millions of dollars apiece on television commercials. Tactics are changing, though, and the sites are continually tailoring their products toward casual users and organic growth.

The 2017 NBA season will provide a big test for those new tactics. And they’re optimistic, it seems. The largest contest for opening night on both top sites will attract hundreds of thousands of entries and give away $1 million in prize money.

Can you play college basketball DFS?

Legal Sports Report is not aware of any sites offering DFS for college basketball.

DraftKings and FanDuel reached an agreement with the NCAA to stop offering college contests after the 2016 NCAA tournament. And some states have passed laws explicitly banning fantasy contests based on college events.