One of the biggest impediments to constructing a sound lineup, particularly early in the day, is the rash of DNP-Rest designations that have plagued the NBA this season. Rest-related absences are up 73 percent over last season, and many more are on the way in the second half as playoff-bound teams look to ease the burden placed on their superstars.
It won’t always be possible to identify which players are due for a rest – some teams won’t make an announcement until just prior to tip-off, and if that happens after your roster is locked, there is nothing you can do. However, you might be able to get out ahead of some situations by paying attention to three scenarios conducive to rest:
Scheduling-related rest periods are the most common of all. Every NBA team plays a significant number of back-to-backs over the course of the season, and as the grind of the campaign takes its toll on all 30 rosters, coaches will often make the decision to give certain players a break either on the front or the back end of consecutive games.
Seek out teams that have a high number of back-to-backs in a short span; your best bet lies with teams who play four games in five nights, as they’re almost certain to rest their high-minute players at some point during that stretch. Coaches will often announce their intentions ahead of time in this instance, which obviously makes for an ideal fantasy scenario.
As the separation between the elite teams and the non-contenders becomes more pronounced later in the season, coaches of playoff-bound teams feel more comfortable giving key players rest against weaker opponents. Either these coaches believe that their teams can win despite the player absences, or that player rest is more important in the long-term than the victory.
As with schedule-related absences, you won’t always know far enough ahead of time to make a roster change – but sometimes, you will. Coaches often wait until shootaround to make a final determination, so pay attention to what beat reporters are saying after the morning practice and adjust accordingly. And if there’s any doubt about a star player, leave him out.
Players might be inclined to play through nagging injuries in the first half of the season – but after the break, teams place far more importance on having the healthiest roster possible heading into the playoffs. Expect more DNP-Rest designations relating to minor injury recuperation as the season moves forward.
Read as many post-game recaps as you can, and scour for any mention of potential injury situations – no matter how minor. Players who are banged-up – particularly those on a back-to-back or logging heavy minutes – will either see their workloads reduced, or they’ll be left out of the lineup altogether. Don’t get caught rostering a player who ends up sitting out to recover.