Using Late Swap in NBA DFS

Late swap is a tool available at DraftKings that allows players to alter their lineup after the first game of the slate begins for the evening. “Lineup lock” at sites with late swap is still important, as you still want to have a roster of guys that you’re planning to play, independent of a late swap.

However, late swap is an extremely valuable tool and one that is especially useful in NBA DFS contests. A typical NBA evening is full of game-time decisions, late scratches, the type of stuff that makes late-swapping an excellent way to gain an extra edge.

What is Late Swap?

Late swap allows players to remove any player from their lineup, from games that have not started. Users can remove a player from a lineup spot and replace him with a player from the same position, as long as that player has an equal price or lesser price.

Late swap isn’t available at most DFS sites. When it comes to DraftKings (which has late swap) and FanDuel, it’s one of the biggest differences between the two daily fantasy giants. It’s also a factor that players need to consider heavily when building their lineups.

Roster Construction

Most players enjoy playing at a site that offers late swap because it offers them more options with their lineups and an edge over opponents who don’t utilize it at all or correctly. Having the ability to late swap considerably opens up your player pool.

Even taking late breaking news aside, each night of the NBA usually has several situations where a player is expected to be a “game-time decision.” It’s tough to consider rostering a player if he may miss the game, particularly when it comes to cash games.

For the first games of the slate, the injury situation is going to be determined by lineup lock. It might not be until the final minutes before the lock, but any game time decisions related to the games will be available before players finalize their rosters.

We can play any players from these games with a certainty that they will not be ruled out. That’s not the case when it comes to players from games later in the evening. When building your lineup, it’s important to take note of the times that your players’ games start.

At DraftKings for example, each player should construct their lineup with the guys in earlier games going in the PG, SG, SF, PF, and C spots. The G, F, and UTIL spots should be reserved for guys with later start times, if possible.

Why is this? Well, if there happens to be a late scratch or injury situation to take advantage of later in the evening, having players in these roster spots allows users a lot more flexibility when it comes to changing their rosters.

The guard, forward, and utility positions enable you to mix and match a much larger player pool, which is important when you’re trying to make changes based on late news.

If we have a player in the guard spot that we want to change, we will be able to choose from all available point and shooting guards. However, if we have our late player in the point guard spot, we can only choose from other point guards in that price range.

Players should always arrange their roster so that players who start later will be in the G, F, and UTIL spots. Even if the start times are a slightly different, instead of several hours, it’s the most optimal way to build your rosters.

This is a major mistake which many players new to DFS make. This rule is particularly vital when it comes to NBA DFS, but should be utilized when building lineups for any DFS contest.

Punting and Pivots

This ties right into roster construction. As mentioned above, there are many times that injury questions may dictate your lineup for the evening. On nights where there are some critical situations, it may make sense for players to “punt” the early games on the slate in hopes of more news breaking.

Let’s say that the slate begins at 7 PM, but there is a key injury situation with a game that starts at 8:30 PM; this will open up a lot of value if certain players end up sitting. It can make a lot of sense to forgo playing guys from the early slate, with the hope of capitalizing on news that comes after the 7 pm lock.

Often, a half hour can give you a lot more information. You don’t have to necessarily fade these early games altogether either. If there’s an elite value, you can still play that player, but set yourself up later with an alternate lineup, a “pivot”, which you can change if the injury situation works out in your favor.

Setting yourself up with two different lineups, one if the injury breaks the right way and another if there isn’t value to be had, is an excellent strategy. It also helps to have a plan in place if news breaks, so you’re not scrambling with only a few minutes to spare trying to make your alternate lineup.

Playing it safe, and steering clear of guys with injury situations later in the evening may be the way to go some nights. However, much of the edge in NBA contests is related to finding value, and the best way to do that is by looking for opportunities that most of your opponents may not utilize.

Changing Your Lineup Based On Performance

Another instance where late swap is valuable is when your lineup isn’t performing up to expectations.

Let’s say you start your NBA night with a few players who have underperformed on your lineup, but you still have much of your team left to tip; if these players are likely to be highly owned, it may be worth pivoting to lesser-owned players with the hope of gaining some more upside.

If your team is already looking like it’s in a rough shape for the evening, the best strategy may be to hope that some of the most popular or widely-owned players underperform that night. You can gain a significant edge on your opponents using this approach.

The reasoning being that even if these players perform to their expectations, you’re still likely to lose on the evening due to the other duds in your lineup. However, if these players underperform or get hit with an unfortunate injury, you give yourself a much better chance of cashing that evening.

Conclusion

Deciding whether to play at a site with late swap is a consideration that all serious NBA DFS players should weigh. Savvy players will gain an edge over their opponents using late swap, but for those who are busier in the evenings, playing on a site with late swap may not be for them.

For those interested in game theory, and taking their skill level to the next level, late swap is the only way to play daily fantasy sports.