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NBA Optimizers and Why They’re Key For Fantasy Basketball

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It’s pretty much impossible to max-enter a contest nowadays without using an optimizer. Optimizers are data based platforms that use projections or game simulations to generate an expected outcome. These systems take player salaries into consideration and spit out the most optimal build in regards to expected value. NBA optimizers are frequently asked about, but note that these platforms allow you to build lineups for every major fantasy sport. 

The Purpose

You might be thinking to yourself, “well what’s the point of using an optimizer?” Truth be told, you might not need one if you’re the type of DFS player to only enter one lineup. If you multi-enter on a regular basis, however, you’ll probably need to get familiar with optimizers at some point. 

The main purpose of an optimizer is to better control your exposures, build paths, and player projections all on one platform. Essentially, you’re letting a program do the work for you based on what you tell it to do. These platforms save a lot of time, of course, because you can simply download a .CSV file to import all your lineups on DraftKings or FanDuel. 

The NBA is subject to more injuries based on the number of games in the regular season. Because of this, projections are subject to change more frequently (and at anytime) before a contest locks. A good optimizer will adjust player projections according to injury news and factor in how usage rates change when certain players are ruled out. 

In simple terms, you’re ahead of the curve if you use an optimizer correctly. It’s more difficult to effectively hand-build lineups because NBA slates have large player pools. An optimizer won’t allow you to miss a good value player that you’d otherwise look over. 

NBA Optimizers and Their Importance

You probably have a life outside of DFS, or at least I would hope so. Assuming this is the case, an optimizer comes in clutch more often than not. For NBA purposes specifically, the average person doesn’t have time to monitor injury news or last-minute lineup changes before lock. An optimizer, on the other hand, is constantly changing projections according to news, so you’re unlikely to miss the best plays when you allow it to build lineups. 

As previously mentioned, optimizing software isn’t the most beneficial if you’re only building one or a few lineups. The true benefit comes into play when you’re max entering a contest and want the biggest edge possible. 

Let’s take a 150-max entry contest for example. These contests are some of the most popular because they tend to feature large prize pools. Logically, if you’re entering 150 lineups, you want to have the most control possible over those lineups without wasting a lot of time. In this case, you’d fine tune the settings and projections on your optimizer until the optimal lineups meet your expectations. 

150 lineups mean 150 potential chances of winning a lot of money. With such a large player pool and so many build paths in the NBA, it’s important to consider what the field is doing in their lineups. We’ll talk more about the playing field and ownership projections in a later article, but basically you don’t want to skip over any player who’s garnering a lot of attention. 

To clarify the importance of an optimizer, we’ll make up a scenario. Let’s say we’re playing an NBA DFS slate which features Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Luka Doncic. It’s clear from the start that these three players are the top raw-point plays on the slate, and they’re all around the same salary. 

If all of these players have a projected ownership of 20%, you theoretically don’t want to play less than 20% of each of them in all your lineups. Playing more of a player relative to their projected ownership is called getting “over the field”. Optimizers allow you to control these exposures and build the strongest lineups. 

Popular Optimizers

Below are three popular platforms you can use to optimize lineups. Please note we are not affiliated with any of these providers, but they are well known in the DFS community. 

Fantasy Cruncher 

FC is perhaps the most popular optimizer in the industry. Their software covers every major sport, as well as some of the more niche ones. Like all others, this is a paid software, but they offer three different subscription types. In terms of affordability, Fantasy Cruncher is one of the best because there’s a weekly plan to try out the service. If you’re familiar with the industry, you probably know that Stokastic (formerly Awesemo) is a partner with Fantasy Cruncher.


SaberSim just recently started to gain traction as a great fantasy sports optimizer. This platform differs from others in the sense that they actually simulate games to build optimal lineups. A plethora of distribution data is compiled to factor in things like ownership, floors, ceilings, and correlation in your lineups. The software is slightly less customizable than Fantasy Cruncher but remains one of the best in the industry. Run Pure Sports, one of the top teams in DFS, is partnered with SaberSim. A major plus here is that they offer a three-day trial period. 

Run The Sims

RTS has been around for quite some time and still gets used by the pros in the industry. This platform focuses primarily on game simulations, hence the name, and offers plenty of data otherwise. Out of all the mentioned platforms, Run The Sims falls under the category of paying for a premium. It’s relatively expensive if you’re paying by a weekly or monthly basis, but they also offer an annual plan. Regardless of the price, RTS is a top tool in the industry and certainly worth mentioning. 

Closing Thoughts

This article only scratches the surface of NBA optimizers and their importance. Although NBA DFS is the primary focus of this article, optimizers are used for every fantasy sport and should be understood. Feel free to check out the rest of our content for a complete overview of the best optimizers on the market. 

To conclude, I’d like to emphasize that you don’t necessarily NEED to use an optimizer in DFS. They become more important, of course, when you’re entering 150 lineups, but that’s not the case for everyone. Just note though that the scene is changing, and you might put yourself at a disadvantage by not using one. No matter your preference, make sure you’re at least doing your own research for whatever contests you’re entering.