The Trends tool here at FantasyLabs is one of the most useful in the fantasy industry. Any curiosity you might have about a DFS situation can be answered in seconds. Want to know how Anthony Davis has performed as a seven-plus point underdog on the road in a back-to-back? You can easily query that. Hang on . . . he has averaged 48.36 DraftKings points and a -2.78 Plus/Minus on 66.7 percent Consistency in nine such instances since 2014. You may not believe me, but that took less than a minute. You get my point: The Trends tool is dope.
It is difficult to keep up with notable splits, however. Some are ones we’ve discussed in content and in our live shows for years — Karl-Anthony Towns home/away splits, for example — but there are obviously a ton of basketball players. So while I don’t want people to use this as a NBA DFS Splits Bible, it can be a nice starting point. Below you’ll find graphs with a variety of splits — home/away, opponent win percentage, favorite/dog, opponent rating, days of rest, and pace — and how each player has performed in the context of Plus/Minus in those situations.
A couple quick notes: This data is from the past two years — from October 2016 to today. That means the sample size for almost everything is solid, but there are some notable small samples that you should be cautious with. For example, Kevin Durant, in his two seasons with the Warriors, has literally never been an underdog. Stephen Curry has been an underdog just twice during that span and has averaged a huge +13.2 DraftKings Plus/Minus. That data isn’t meaningless — but be cautious that some splits could change as the sample size gets larger. Again, this is a guide: I would use it as a quick reference point in your research, and then I would dive right back into the Trends tool to dig deeper.
Without further ado, the splits charts . . .
There are several players with notable home/away splits. To name a few: DeMarcus Cousins (+7.9 home, -2.5 away), Donovan Mitchell (+6.6 home, +1.0 away), Clint Capela (+5.8 home, +1.7 away), and Karl-Anthony Towns (+5.8 home, +0.3 away). Mitchell, of course, is a rookie and working with a single-year sample size. The others are larger and should definitely be factored into your DFS projections: Boogie, for example, has been a much better value in New Orleans than away over the past two seasons.
Towns is interesting as well. We first noticed his splits last season and they were stark: He posted a +6.5 DraftKings Plus/Minus and 70 percent Consistency mark at home versus a +1.4 Plus/Minus and 55 percent Consistency on the road. That affected Ricky Rubio, who had an almost identical split, posting a +6.4 Plus/Minus at home versus a +1.3 mark on the road. They were highly correlated, although it looks like Towns was the reason.This season Rubio has posted a -2.4 Plus/Minus at home in Utah versus a -1.3 mark on the road. His context is different of course — Mitchell is taking over as the lead guy on this team — but it is still informative about Towns.
One last note about small sample sizes: It is very possible that a bench player could be promoted to the starting lineup while on an extended road trip. That player would likely have stark home/away splits, but they just happened to have a role change during a sample that skewed the data. That’s why I’m encouraging you to use these graphs to spot interesting data points and then go back and research in Trends more.
Opponent Win Percentage Splits
The guy with the largest split in this regard is Kris Dunn, who has posted a massive +9.1 Plus/Minus against teams below .500 versus only a +1.0 plus against winning squads. That perhaps coincides with a role change, although the splits don’t change much when we look solely at games in which he was projected for at least 25 minutes. Dunn and the Bulls have rebounded over the past month or so and it seems like they’ve done it on the backs of poor teams.
That reminds me, when you create a trend, it is saved in the Trends tool. You can go in anytime and see if it has a match for the current slate . . .
. . . and it will also show up in the “My Trends” column within our NBA Player Models. You don’t have to remember every beautiful, useful trend you create. We’ll save them for you and remind you when you have a match.
Another notable matchup-sensitive guy is Nikola Vucevic, who has posted a +6.9 Plus/Minus against bad teams and just a +1.3 mark against good teams. He’s out for the next month or so with a broken finger, but check back on this one when he returns. In general, you’ll want to target Vuc against the league’s worst teams and fade him against the top ones.
Opponent Rating Splits
Opponent Rating is the percentile rank for how well a defense has defended a particular position in the past; we look at Plus/Minus allowed versus a position. From an offensive player’s perspective, a higher number represents a more favorable matchup.
You might think that Russell Westbrook goes ham on everyone — and he certainly can — but over the past two seasons he’s really beat up on plus matchups. Over that time, he’s posted a stupid-high +7.9 Plus/Minus with an above-average Opponent Rating versus just a +1.0 mark with a below-average Opponent Rating. And the sample size certainly isn’t small, posting that +7.9 mark in 72 instances. He’s been nearly 20 percent more consistent in those games and he’s had absolutely ludicrous ceiling games, going for 90-plus on DraftKings three times.
It isn’t the largest sample size, but Tim Hardaway Jr. has posted a +6.4 Plus/Minus in 12 games with an above-average Opponent Plus/Minus mark versus a -1.2 mark in all other games. Those splits weren’t as drastic in Atlanta last season but they were still notable, posting a +3.8 Plus/Minus in 32 positive matchup games. He’s currently out with a stress injury in his leg and there isn’t a definitive timetable for his return, but this is a notable one to stash away.
Vucevic is just a frontrunner it seems. Over the past two years, he’s posted a silly +9.3 Plus/Minus as a favorite versus a +2.7 Plus/Minus as a dog. When he returns, you should definitely roster that dude when he’s a favorite and in a good matchup.
Jimmy Butler has notable splits in Minnesota so far this season, posting a +5.5 DraftKings Plus/Minus as a favorite versus a poor -3.0 Plus/Minus as a dog. It’s difficult to tell how much of that is diluted by his early-season struggles with a new team, but the sample size is getting larger and the split is still fairly drastic. Interestingly, the other Minnesota guys don’t really share his splits; Towns, for example, is fairly splits-agnostic as a favorite/dog.
LeBron James has notable fav/dog splits, posting a +5.1 Plus/Minus as a favorite — which obviously occurs more often — but just a +1.4 Plus/Minus as a dog. Part of the reason is that the Cavs are only dogs in really tough matchups against teams like the Warriors or Celtics. Those teams have rare wings that can at least somewhat keep him in check. At least for now, it seems like LeBron likes doing his DFS damage as a favorite.
Rest and Back-to-Back Splits
I’ll have to do a larger study on this sometime, but I would hypothesize that there isn’t a very strong correlation between Plus/Minus success on back-to-backs and age. Even young guys have sometimes struggled in back-to-backs. DeMarcus Cousins perhaps has the most notable B2B splits over the past two seasons, posting a miserable -4.2 Plus/Minus on B2Bs versus a +6.0 Plus/Minus with at least a day of rest. What’s odd, however, is that he’s posted a -2.0 Plus/Minus with at least two days of rest. This deserves further investigation in the Trends tool.
Another odd thing is that Marc Gasol, who has looked — for the first time in his career — like he’s actually slowing down because of age, has actually dominated B2Bs over the past two years. In that sample, he’s averaged a +8.0 Plus/Minus, compared to a +2.5 Plus/Minus with a day of rest and a +2.3 Plus/Minus with at least two. It seems some players don’t mind B2B sets: Stephen Curry is another who is better in those instances, posting a +8.0 Plus/Minus in B2B games versus a +1.1 Plus/Minus with an extra day of rest.
This section is certainly the most volatile, mostly because some teams that constantly sit in the bottom or top of the league in pace don’t get pace-up or pace-down spots. For example, almost all players on the current Brooklyn Nets squad have yet to play a pace-up game: This season they rank fifth in pace, averaging 102.3 possessions/48 minutes, after ranking first a season ago. All of their 2017-18 games so far have been pace-down spots.
It seems like many players who are positively affected by pace-up spots are high-minute, low-usage guys that just need raw possessions to accumulate stats since they rarely get to shoot or create. Take Andre Roberson, for example, who has posted a +5.4 Plus/Minus in pace-up spots versus a +1.2 Plus/Minus in other situations. Or P.J. Tucker, who has posted a +4.8 Plus/Minus in pace-up spots versus a -0.7 Plus/Minus otherwise. Or Andre Iguodala, who has posted a +5.9 Plus/Minus in pace-up spots versus a +1.8 mark otherwise. Pace is definitely very important for DFS, but the stars can put up nice games anytime. Role players seem to be the ones to get a value boost in those situations.
Bryan Mears is an editor at FantasyLabs and host of the Daily Fantasy Flex podcast.
Photo via Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports