Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


College of Engineering


Rodrigo Canaan

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Daily fantasy basketball presents interesting problems to researchers due to the extensive amounts of data that needs to be explored when trying to predict player performance. A large amount of this data can be noisy due to the variance within the sport of basketball. Because of this, a high degree of skill is required to consistently win in daily fantasy basketball contests. On any given day, users are challenged to predict how players will perform and create a lineup of the eight best players under fixed salary and positional requirements. In this thesis, we present a tool to assist daily fantasy basketball players with these tasks. We explore the use of several machine learning techniques to predict player performance and develop multiple approaches to approximate optimal lineups. We then compare each different heuristic and lineup creation combination, and show that our best combinations perform much better than random lineups. Although creating provably optimal lineups is computationally infeasible, by focusing on players in the Pareto front between performance and cost we can reduce the search space and compute near optimal lineups. Additionally, our greedy and evolutionary lineup search methods offer similar performance at a much smaller computational cost. Our analysis indicates that due to how player salaries are structured, it is generally preferred to construct a lineup consisting of a few stars and filling out the rest of the roster with average to mediocre players than to construct a lineup where all players are expected to perform about the same. Through these findings we hope that our research can serve as a future baseline towards developing an automated or semi-automated tool to optimize daily fantasy basketball.