Fantasy Sports: Basketball

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The essentials of fantasy basketball work the same as every other fantasy sport. You draft a team, you score points and based on your performance you can win money. The thing is, it seems a whole lot easier than it actually is. Other than the fact that knowing the NBA, the rules and its players, understanding fantasy basketball’s point systems and statistics is equally important.

Playing fantasy basketball

There are several reasons why fantasy basketball is great to play. One of them is the sheer volume of games. Each NBA team plays 82 games per season, if you compare that to 16 per team for the NFL, you can see how many more opportunities you have to draft a winning team. Although your knowledge of the NBA is valuable, if you want to win at fantasy basketball you need more than just that. That’s because fantasy basketball requires specific skills on its own. One of them is understanding that the different point systems require a different approach and strategy. Below we’ll go into the fantasy basketball point system and how you can make the most of it for your draft and line-up.

Point systems

On fantasy sites, you’ll find different names for the same principle. Some might use the word league format or scoring system instead of the point system. Typically there are 4 systems. Head-to-Head, Head-to-Head points, Roto and Roto Points. Rotisserie is the most traditional point system of all, it goes back to when the first fantasy sports system (baseball) was founded in New York. Small sidetrack, below you’ll find the meaning of each system.


The title already says it, but in head-to-head you are competing against one other participant in the league or contest you take part in. Whoever wins, will go to the next round. When you lose, you’re out. In head-to-head points are accounted for different categories. For example the total of points a player has scored, rebounds and assists. You have to beat your opponent in categories, so even if you score more points, it’s about the performance in all categories that decides whether you win or not. That also immediately shows that in fantasy basketball it’s not just important to have top-scorers on your team, but rather an organic balance of players that can top ALL categories. That might seem self-evident, but you’ll be surprised how many fantasy basketball players gravitate towards picking the top-scorers only.

Head-to-Head Points

This is the same as the previous system, except for the way that it’s decided who the winner is. In Head-to-Head points, there is a preset value for each category. Your total points for each category are accumulated and whether or not they match that preset value will give you a +1 or -1.


The roto system works in the same way accounting points for different categories. The difference with Head-to-Head is that you aren’t competing with just one person in the league or contest. Instead, you compete with everyone and a scoreboard keeps track of the points of each participant. If there are play-offs, there will be a cut off at some stage for a number of the lowest-scoring participants.


The above-mentioned point systems might sound very similar, they nevertheless require a different approach when it comes to strategy. The importance of particular players changes, therefore you need a different approach for the draft. Like I briefly mentioned above, in a system counting per category, it’s much more important to have all-rounders instead of top scorers on your team. In the system that just counts the total points regardless of the category, you need more emphasis on players that stand out in something. Whether that’s scoring, assisting or stealing.

Trading players

Be cautious at the start of a contest, because usually, some participants will try to trade players with you. Unless an offer improves the strategy you have in mind for your team, it’s best to pass on the proposal. The rule of common sense applies here, that if your opponent didn’t think you had a valuable player, he wouldn’t have offered you the trade in the first place.

Waiver wire

Throughout the league (depending on if you take part in season-long or daily fantasy football), you might find out that some of your players aren’t working out how you had in mind. The waiver wire is the players that haven’t been picked during the draft. Keep an eye on the players available, you might see a good opportunity for improving your team.

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