By Mike Barner, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The return of the NBA is almost upon us. That also means we get to dive back into the world of DFS. Since it's been so long without basketball in our lives, let's get back up to speed by discussing important things to keep in mind while building your lineups.
When you're building your lineups, there are some general team trends that you want to attack. One is pace of play. If a team plays at a fast pace, both that team and their opponent have an opportunity to provide increased production. The Bucks, Pelicans, Rockets, Grizzlies, Clippers, Suns, and Nets ranked within the top 10 in pace of play before the league went on hold. In terms of teams that didn't play fast, the Nuggets, Heat, Magic, Jazz, and Pacers ranked inside the bottom 10.
Another stat to take advantage of is team defensive ratings. The Wizards, Trail Blazers and Spurs ranked inside the bottom 10 in the league in the category, so using players against them could prove to be profitable. It should come as no surprise that there are also a lot of very good defensive teams that will be a part of the restart, including each of the top-10 teams in the league in defensive rating.
While injuries and players opting out generally aren't good for their respective teams, it leaves situations to exploit for DFS. Short rotations are your friend since players will be locked into added playing time.
For example, the Nets aren't going to have much talent at their disposal. Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Kevin Durant (Achilles) will be sidelined until next season because of injuries and Spencer Dinwiddie and DeAndre Jordan will be out after testing positive for COVID-19. This makes Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen extremely appealing.
LeVert should receive all of the scoring opportunities he can handle and Allen is no longer in a timeshare with Jordan for minutes at center. Even players like Rodions Kurucs and Tyler Johnson, who should come at significantly cheaper prices, could prove to be valuable with their likely added playing time.
Another team dealing with limited players at their disposal is the Wizards. Bradley Beal (shoulder) will not be able to take the floor until next season and Davis Bertans has opted out as he prepares for free agency. Beal's absence leaves a huge hole in their offense and Bertans had also emerged as one of their key contributors. Players including Shabazz Napier, Troy Brown, Rui Hachimura, and Moritz Wagner stand to benefit.
While these are the teams that have been the most impacted, several important players will be unavailable to their respective squads. The Jazz will be forced to play without Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist), who averaged career highs in points (20.2) and three-pointers (three) per game before the shutdown. That could leave added scoring opportunities for Mike Conley Jr., who has been a disappointment in his first season with the team. Even Jordan Clarkson could be asked to provide more offense with the second unit.
Another big name who we won't see play is LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder). Further complicating matters for the Spurs is that one of his primary replacements won't be able to play in Trey Lyles (appendix). That means Jakob Poeltl and Rudy Gay could be asked to play more minutes.
Teams will only play eight games during the restart and some really don't have much left to play for. For example, the Bucks already have a six-and-a-half-game lead in the loss column over the Raptors for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. That could mean that Giannis Antetokounmpo plays limited minutes in some games while possibly also sitting out some contests altogether.
Another example of a team that could take it easy with its star players is the Lakers, who have a six-game lead over the Clippers for the best record in the West. Given how long they have been off, it wouldn't be a surprise to see LeBron James and/or Anthony Davis eased back into action. It's also no secret that Davis has dealt with his share of injuries, so the Lakers likely won't want to risk anything with their ultimate goal being to win a championship.
Teams Fighting for the Playoffs
Although there are a few teams that don't have much left to play for, there are also some teams that could have their starters on full throttle every night. The battle for the eighth seed in the West could be wild, so expect the Grizzlies, Blazers, Pelicans, Kings, Spurs, and Suns to ride their starters.
The race for the eighth seed in the East isn't quite as exciting, but the Heat, Pacers, and Sixers are separated by just two games for the fourth through sixth seeds. Avoiding being the sixth seed, which could mean a first-round matchup against the Celtics, might be ideal.