Introduction to NBA Showdown

Showdown DFS

As the playoffs wear on, there are fewer and fewer games (obviously because there are fewer and fewer teams). So, unlike throughout the regular season and during the beginning of the playoffs, DraftKings and Fanduel will soon not be offering Classic competitions. Instead, DK and FD offer Showdown Captain contests as their main attraction. These contests have different rules and strategies (for both DK and FD), so it’s important to understand those before throwing yourself into the world of showdowns. No need to worry, though, we've got you covered! 

Differences Between Classic and Showdown Competitions


The glaring difference between Classic and Showdown competitions is the lineup construction. For classic, you pick 8 players (one of each of the 5 positions, 1 G, 1 F, and one utility), and each of them has a static salary (meaning the salary you see is always how much they cost). On the other hand, DK showdown competitions allow you to pick 6 players instead of 8 (1 captain and 5 utility players - no position requirements). But here’s the kicker: you pick a captain. What is the captain? The captain is a designated player on your team that has his points multiplied by 1.5x, but his price is ALSO multiplied by 1.5x. For example, let’s say Jokic is $10,000, but you choose him as your captain; you would pay $15,000 for him, but you would also multiply his total points by 1.5x (if he scores 60, you would receive 90 points).  


In FanDuel showdown contests, it’s a little bit different. They do 5 player lineups, and there are no positional requirements. They also operate differently with multipliers; they have a 2x multiplier (MVP), a 1.5x multiplier (Star), a 1.2x multiplier (Pro), and 2 utility positions worth 1x. However, these players do not cost 2x, 1.5x, or 1.2x their value, rather the multiplier only applies to the number of points they score; this is a super important difference between FD and DK, because it means you don’t get penalized for putting higher priced players in those multiplier positions like you do on DK. 

Choosing Your Captains


The most important part about building your lineup is probably picking your captain. Even though you have to spend 1.5x a player’s salary to make them your captain (therefore making it proportional), I would still suggest making sure that you’re captain is a high-tier player; 80% of winning lineups pay above 10k for their captain, and the average captain salary is $14,800. In other words, it’s super important to have a captain that can adequately take advantage of the 1.5x boost, therefore a player that scores a lot of points. 


On FanDuel, you don’t get penalized for choosing higher priced players to be your 2x, 1.5x, or 1.2x players (you still pay 1x for them); therefore, it makes some logical sense to have your 3 highest priced players be in those positions. However, this limits your ability to pick different lineups than other users (since most people will have their highest priced players be their multiplier players). If you want to have a better chance at winning in these contests (gpp especially), you’re going to have to be a little bit different from others, so placing your highest, 2nd highest, and 4th highest (instead of 3rd highest) priced players in those multiplier positions could work for you. I would always suggest having your highest priced/best projected performer at the top. Imagine these two hypothetical scenarios to understand why:

Scenario 1:  Jokic (MVP multiplier - 2x) scores 50 fantasy points and Rivers (Pro multiplier - 1.2x) scores 30 fantasy points. This would result in 136 total points (50 x 2) + (30 x 1.2).

Scenario 2: Jokic (Pro Multiplier - 1.2x) scores 50 fantasy points and Rivers (MVP Multiplier - 2x) scores 30 fantasy points. This would result in 120 total points (50 x 1.2) + (30 x 2).

These scenarios illustrate why it is beneficial to put your highest priced player in the MVP position.

Dark Horse Picks


Since Showdown contests only feature 1 game, there are a far fewer number of possible lineups. TONS of lineups will all have the same Captain, and there are only so many other players to choose from (likely about 8-9 realistic players on both teams). Instead of going the direction of picking a low-tier captain, I would try to differentiate your lineup from others by picking dark horse players. This is obviously tough because lineups, rotations, and minutes can change as quickly as 1 game, so it’s important to keep up to date with who’s been playing in big, important minutes (and if they’re going to CONTINUE to play in those minutes, or if the coach is going to go in a different direction). 


On Fanduel, since there are 3 different multipliers, there are a far higher number of possible lineups, making it slightly less important to pick good dark horses (don’t get me wrong though, picking the correct dark horses can still win you a lot of money). Instead, I would be strategic in who you choose to be your multipliers (even though your highest priced player should almost always be your 2x multiplier); choosing your 3rd/4th/5th highest priced players to fill into those 1.5x and 1.2x multiplier positions is, in my opinion, a better strategy to win in these FanDuel Showdown contests than is risking your lineup by picking a real dark horse who might flop.

To Stack Or Not To Stack?

Here is the short answer: Don't stack. Unlike football or baseball, one player's success is almost never correlated with another player's. For example, picking a QB with one of his receivers can be a good stacking strategy, because as that QB racks up more yards and touchdowns, so will that receiver. In basketball, however, this is not the case, in fact it's actually the opposite. If Kawhi Leonard has a huge game, that makes it less likely that Paul George would have a good game, meaning it's not smart to pick both. The VAST majority of winning lineups (over 90%) have either 3 players from both teams (3:3) or 4 players from one team and 2 players from the other (4:2). To conclude, DON'T STACK!

I hope this article was helpful for those of you who don't have much experience playing Showdown contests. Make sure to check out our NBA dfs Newsletter (which we post daily) to see which players we like as captain picks, which players are good dark horses, as well as other lineup building strategies!