Fantasy Stars sits down with Pro NBA DFS player Sean Koerner, AKA The Oddsmaker to discuss the first half of the season and his ranking as the number one ranked Fantasy Football expert.
Fantasy Stars: Hi Sean, thanks again for joining us. We had some great feedback after the last article and the fans have demanded an NBA sitdown!
Sean Koerner AKA The Oddsmaker: Thanks for having me! Always a pleasure.
FS: Before we do dive into the NBA though it’s best we mention the success you had over the NFL season. Fantasy Pro’s named you the number one ranked most accurate fantasy football expert.
That’s basically as high an honor you’d receive in this game we presume?
SK: Yes, I personally believe so. FantasyPros really is sort of the official hub for not only creating consensus rankings based on the top experts – but also grading how accurate they are.
Week to week there can be a bit of luck involved (think of a single round of a golf tournament) however over the course of 16 weeks you certainly iron out a lot of the “luck” and certainly get a better sense of the true skill of one’s ability to project/rank.
This is why if you look at the end of season standings every year you see about 6-8 of the same experts in the top 10 each and every year.
After finishing runner-up in 2014 I’m extremely proud to have won it back-to-back seasons since then.
I personally know how much work and determination it has taken me to do so which makes it very gratifying.
FS: Certainly an amazing effort. We are claiming you as our own here at Fantasy Stars Australia.
Ok, onto the NBA – which you have previously told us is your favourite DFS sport.
Can you briefly touch on why that is the case?
SK: I feel like NBA is the best DFS sport for a couple reasons.
First, the flow of the game/slate is usually a constant flow of excitement unlike say MLB where there is a lot of down time until a homerun is hit (which is usually someone you don’t have) or a touchdown scored in NFL (who again, is often times someone you don’t have).
This brings me to my second point that NBA is reliant on “big” plays that can happen at any given time by any given player.
In order for a player to truly have an impact on a slate they have to systematically play above average for a significant amount of time (usually at least 25+ minutes) and outperform their price along with how their position itself performed that night.
All of these factors lead to someone like myself who relies on accurate projections to thrive more in a sport where there is a higher correlation between projections and outcomes.
FS: How has season 2016/17 gone for you so? Better or worse than last year?
SK: Last year was amazing for me but this season is shaping up to be even better.
I have really bumped up my entry fees considerably (I recommend only doing this organically as your bankroll grows) and across five sites.
It has really allowed me to get more volume/exposure as a result.
FS: Has there been many changes that have affected how you’ve done things this year?
SK: I made a few tweaks in my model and how I come up with projected minutes – which is a huge component if not the most important aspect for NBA DFS.
I also use third party tools to create optimal lineups using my projections for three out of the five sites I play on.
I still have to use excel to get my optimal lineups for a couple sites which takes a couple minutes to run verses a few seconds to run using the third party software.
Another critical aspect of NBA DFS is the need to quickly change your lineups based on breaking news that often happens right before lock-out time.
Sometimes you can get a player ruled out just two minutes before lock that you either a) have on a lot of sites, or b) opens up the door for a player you don’t have already that can be a great play all of a sudden.
Those guys can also be pretty low owned considering most people won’t have time to react to the news in time for lock.
I am pretty much able to get these changes in with two minutes left (maybe on only say four out of the five sites) that gives me a huge edge when that happens.
FS: You were lucky enough to spend NYE in New York City with your lovely wife, how’d that come about?
SK: Yes, that was pretty amazing. We didn’t really have plans for NYE yet just a few weeks out so one day at breakfast I simply asked her “would you want to go to NYC to watch the ball drop for New Year’s?”
She said that would be fun so I entered the contest to win the trip on DrafKings that night and took it down.
I realized about halfway through the night that I had a serious chance when my team was already in the top 10 and I had way more playing time remaining than anyone around me.
I was the only person that had James Harden near the top and even though the Rockets were winning by like 30 that night they let Harden come in pretty late in the game to try to get another rebound for him to get a triple double.
Funny thing is it took him four or five minutes to get that rebound so he put up a handful of points in the process that pretty much sealed my victory.
I had many drinks at the open bar on New Years in his honor.
— Sean Koerner (@The_Oddsmaker) January 1, 2017
FS: Who’s your favourite NBA lock? Westbrook?
SK: If the above wasn’t a big enough hint I would actually say it’s James Harden. My favorite player might very well be the player you mentioned in Russell Westbrook.
However, this season his price has been very steep – for good reason. I think the reason Harden shows up way more for me this year is due to his position.
This year there have been some great value plays at PG each and every night, not to mention quite a few solid PGs that perform each and every night like John Wall, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, Chris Paul, etc.
The SG position is very scarce most nights and I typically don’t like “value” SGs that are elevated to more playing time due to injury because they tend to stand around a bit not contributing as much since they are likely the third or fourth option in those situations.
A PG who is filling in for an injured player is going to be at least touching the ball most of their possessions and has a much more bankable bump in usage.
I guess that is my long-winded way of saying that often times it’s easy to not use Westy in order to spend up at other positions – clearly this can backfire at times when Westy puts up 80+ fantasy points.
FS: What about guys who continually torch you?
SK: Luckily this season I haven’t had too many repeat offenders from ruining my lineups. The one guy who seems to always crush me is Andre Drummond. I seem to always catch him on the night he picks up two quick fouls.
The most infuriating thing about NBA DFS for me is how coaches typically handle foul trouble.
In Drummond’s case, Stan Van Gundy always seems to “save” Drummond for the last few minutes trying to make sure he doesn’t foul out only to realize he typically doesn’t need or use Drummond at the end of the game anyway.
This usually results in Drummond only playing 25 minutes or so, not to mention he will usually only finish with 4 or 5 fouls. This has single-handedly ruined a couple of slates for me.
FS: How many GPP’s have you been playing? Are you still playing around 75% of your bank on cash games?
SK: I would say that sounds about right. On the smaller sites I’m typically in every single GPP, but since they don’t offer many I’m still around 80% cash as a result.
On sites like FanDuel and DraftKings where the payouts are much larger I focus more on GPPs there.
The beauty of NBA DFS is that it’s pretty easy to just play my cash lineup in GPP’s as well since there isn’t as much correlation game theory needed like in other sports such as NFL (pairing a QB with a pass catcher) or MLB (stacking hitters from the same lineup or trying to get low owned players).
NBA is straight forward enough I take down single entry GPPs quite often using my optimal/cash lineup that can even be pretty chalky at times with high owned players and maybe one under-owned player going off.
FS: How many hours per day do you devote to your lineups?
SK: For me, it’s more about devoting time to the actual projections and the lineups are a bi-product of them.
Typically spend a few hours a day doing actual hands on work with them.
We offer our projections as an API to quite a few clients so I’m lucky enough to have my day job sync up with keeping my projections fresh throughout the day.
However, most of the day it’s pretty easy to work on other things until a major news item breaks and I need to update the projections.
At the late night 🔨 pic.twitter.com/uwUiPVVAAI
— Sean Koerner (@The_Oddsmaker) December 28, 2016
FS: Who do you consider the best NBA DFS player in the world and why?
SK: That is an extremely tough question to answer considering we aren’t able to have transparent stats on DFS players themselves.
A lot of the top players get their acclaim from playing high volume, high stakes games.
I think there is certainly a high correlation with the skill of building and maintaining a huge bankroll with actually having NBA DFS skills.
Also, it’s a skill in itself being able to manage hundreds of different lineups on a given slate and controlling for percentage player exposure.
I would hope some day we are able to see more quality type stats available such as win percentage based on league size, format and even overall ROI.
These are obviously sensitive enough pieces of information I don’t think it will ever be a reality, unfortunately.
Down the road, if there is ever enough demand to actually be able to bet on something such as which DFS player will win a certain live-final I think it would make sense to have some sort of data set we can use to get enough of a sense to make power ratings on DFS pros.
When it comes to NBA DFS I’m usually very respectful specifically of Saahil Sud and his ability to do quite well and manage such high volume, Ehafner for the same reasons but he has been a steady force for so many seasons now, and McJester who has robbed me of winning the slam now a couple times.
When it comes to building one single lineup on each site I am typically fine just betting on myself though!
FS: Any tips for the Australians trying their hand at NBA DFS
SK: I think you guys have a unique market in that the player pricing, roster construction, ownership percentage would differ a bit from here in the US.
It’s important to be aware of who your peers and others on those sites may be keying in on for a particular slate.
I’m also not sure of when your lock time is down under, something crazy like 8am? I have no clue haha.
Either way, it is crucial for you to be able to devote the final 30 minutes of lock in order to be ready to update all of your lineups based on late breaking news that may come out at any given time.
The best way to get up to date news would be following a reliable source on Twitter that you prefer to get notified as soon as a player is announced “out” or “in”.
Other than that you typically don’t need to overthink NBA too much and want to get a few players that will see an increased role for the upcoming game whether that be the player ahead of them on the depth chart is “out” or they have been inserted into the starting lineup and/or expected to see an increase in playing time.
This allows you to afford a couple safe “studs” such as the aforementioned James Harden and Russell Westbrook’s of the NBA.
You can Follow Sean On Twitter Here, be sure also to share this article with all of your DFS playing friends!