The 2019 season is right around the corner with opening kickoff just a week away. Whether you are new to DFS NFL or a regular, I wanted to go over a few key things heading into the season, both standard and advanced, to help you become a better DFS player and more importantly more profitable. Got questions on what you read? Hit me up in that RotoPros Community Chat.
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MAKE A GAME PLAN (BANKROLL MANAGEMENT)
Before even opening DraftKings, FanDuel, or whatever site you are planning on playing on there is a very important step that a lot of people overlook. Set some pre season goals or make a gameplan for the season and set yourself up for success. If you are just playing for fun and don’t care about building bankroll that is totally fine but here at RotoPros we are committed to educating you how to build a bankroll and be successful over the long run.
Start with a budget and decide how much you are going to invest for the season. After that, decide on how you want to attack each and every week. Are you going to play showdown, Thursday to Monday slates, main slates, Primetime slates, etc. If you decide to spend $100 a week, map out how that is going to play out for you. For example:
- $100 per week
- $80 into main slate
- $60 in cash games, $20 in GPP
- $20 in to showdown or other secondary games
This is obviously just an example and it is much deeper than how it is explained about(will get into more below) but starting with a gameplan helps you to be consistent each and every week and to not get into a trend of chasing losses by playing games you don’t normally play or, in the same manner, chasing wins playing more than you normally would.
One thing I will say, however, is that you should be somewhat flexible with this gameplan and maybe re visit it every four weeks or so. You may have found that you have been very successful and grown your bankroll substantially in which case you can up your weekly targets and goals to better match your bankroll. The same if you are in a slump as you might want to lower your weekly investment. I will say that no matter what amount you are playing weekly, stick with your Cash/GPP allotment. With that, let’s get into the difference between the two.
CONTEST SELECTION(CASH GAMES VS. GPP)
Let’s start with one of the most important parts of playing any DFS sport. When you open up the DraftKings or FanDuel lobby it can be intimidating for anyone that is new to DFS as there are thousands of options. It is very important to know the difference between the game formats.
Let’s start with cash games which, generally speaking, mean half the field will double their money. There is no difference between what 1st place receives and what the last person in the pay zone gets paid. There are also different types of cash games and the only difference is how the sites collect their rake(fee for being the host).
This is a contest where a little less than half the field exactly doubles their money if they cash. For example, the FanDuel Big $5 Double Up has 18,391 entries and pays the top 8000 people(43%) $10 each. The 7% difference is what the site collects as a fee. For DraftKings, they have a Giant $5 Double up with 11,400 entries and the top 5000 people(44%) get $10.
Very similar but a $5 contest with 100 people(either site) pays half the field(50 people) $9. In this case, that $1 not paid out to you is the rake/fee.
When playing double-ups and 50/50 contests, it is very important to play single entry to avoid the lineup trains more experienced players will run in the multi-entry contests. Also, find contests with the most entries possible to give you a little more room for error in terms of the cash line.
Head to Head
Play against one other opponent and like 50/50’s you would only get $9 back if you won a $5 head to head. The one advantage of playing these contests is that instead of playing five $10 double ups($100 total), you could play 10 – $10 head to heads. In scenario #1 you may miss cash line by a few points and lose the entire $100 while in scenario #2(head to head) you still have a shot to beat a majority of your opponents and come out ahead or at least beat some of them and get back some of your investment.
The contests I mentioned above are, by far, the best way to go about building a bankroll but require patience. Now let’s take a look at the attention grabbing GPP contests that drive the fantasy sports industry, from a marketing standpoint.
GPP = Guaranteed Prize Pool
Generally these contests pay between 18% and 25% of the field which in turn mean you need a higher score just to min cash which is usually between 1.5 and 2x your buyin. The other big difference here is that 1st place get substantially more than min cash(usually around 10% of the prize pool). This means to cash big in these contests, you are going to need much more upside than a cash game lineup in which you are just looking to beat half the field.
GPP’s come in all shapes and forms and distinguishing between them and understanding the differences are huge in maximizing your potential of making the most money each and every week. While very enticing with their huge prize pools the large GPP’s that allow 150 lineups per account should be avoided if you are not planning on max-entering. This is because a majority of your competition will be max entering and covering almost all the bases and combinations while your one or two lineups or even 20-50 lineups will likely be duplicated and this puts you behind before the games even kick off.
My recommendation is to stick to the single entry or limited entry contests(3-max, 10-max, 20-max, 25-max). No, they don’t have the same large payout for first but are more times than not more balanced with their payouts meaning you don’t need to be as perfect with your lineup construction. You also won’t be competing against people using lineup optimizes to spit out multiple combinations of the same stacks you are running.
RESEARCH AND CREATING A PLAYER POOL
You can definitely just login on Sunday morning, look at some odds, a couple stats, and plug and play but for the most part you aren’t going to be successful with that strategy. As with anything in life, you get out of something what you put into it and that is no different when we are talking about daily fantasy sports.
I start every week updating my cheatsheet which immediately gets the ball rolling. Once fully updated, I start by making a list of injured players to track during the week. I then go position by position and make an initial list of players who stand out based on projected Vegas totals, matchups, form, etc.
As the week progresses, this list is updated daily with news from practice and/or a deeper dive into stats or matchups. I will also start making a list of stacks I want to target the most with my players I have initially highlighted.
The final step for me that comes later in the week is getting the final practice report which helps narrow things down from an injury perspective. Once this is done, you can almost finalize your player pool. For GPP formats, I will expand my player pool a bit after analyzing the ownership projections as making pivots to players who have similar upside but may come at half the ownership is key to winning a large contest. I personally use FanShareSports for ownership analysis and they have proven time and time again to be VERY consistent with their projections.
While I may reserve my place in the contests I want to play early in the week, I don’t really start lineup construction until Friday/Saturday after the final injury report drops and my player pools are complete. Then Sunday morning I finish my lineups and make any tweaks based on final injury status.
UTILIZING LATE SWAP
The option for late swap is avail;able on both sites and can be utilized to your advantage to give you an edge week in and week out. It is really a simple formula when constructing your lineups. Put players in the later games in your FLEX position. This allows you to swap him out going into the afternoon games and replace him with a RB, WR, or TE rather than just that one position had he still been in one of those positions and not the FLEX.
There are multiple reasons for using late swap and it starts with something as simple as injuries. If a player from a late game gets scratched after lineup lock you can swap him out and if in the FLEX like I mentioned above, you won’t be restricted to a swap for another player in that position only.
Late swap is also another weapon in gaining an edge on your competition while the games are going on. If you have 4-5 players going in the early slate of games and maybe they under perform a bit, you can go and late swap a player or two in the later games and build in more upside. Vice versa, you if your players over perform and you have a risky play going in the afternoon you could swap him out and go with a safer option.
Going even deeper, you can analyze ownership of the opponents you are chasing or who are chasing you. You can look at their lineups and almost narrow down the players they are likely to have left to play helping you to make a decision to swap to be differentiate yourself. It is a fairly easy formula.
- We know the total salary cap on the site we are playing
- Add up the salary your opponent has in play
- Subtract their combined salary in play from the total salary cap
- Start narrowing down the options within the salary remaining with positions left
This also requires a lot of work after lineup lock but can be so advantageous and boost your overall profit on a week to week basis. I will also be in chat throughout the day to help you with this process as the afternoon games approach. Reach out to me anytime!
While everything else before is key to winning, self evaluation can be vital in determining if your process is working or if it should be adapted or adjusted. Just because you are winning doesn’t mean you made the right decisions and vice versa, if you are losing it doesn’t always mean you are going about things the wrong way. Ask yourself multiple questions like Why did Player X get more volume than Player Y? or why did Team X only run the ball this many times when I had the RB projected for X amount of carries?
To do this, I watch a ton of film Sunday night and Monday to determine game scripts and how things played out versus how I expected them to play out and then use similar analysis on the player level. I will take notes and try to put the puzzle together in an effort to gain knowledge moving forward whether it be with lineup construction or player roles on their team or a teams general strategy(pass vs. rush).
After that I open the DFS sites(FanDuel/DraftKings) and not just break down my own lineups but also my opponents. I will look at the winning lineups throughout multiple contests and will also break down lineups from known DFS pros. The idea here is to try and get into their heads and reverse engineer the lineups to gain knowledge moving forward.
If you are not doing this or at least some of this self evaluation, you can easily get caught in a loop in one or multiple portions of your game leading to much less success over the long term. The key to everything I have talked about in this article is MAKE THE COMMITMENT TO GET BETTER EACH AND EVERY DAY.
Thank you for checking out the article and stay tuned as I will have a NFL Cheatsheet tutorial coming out on our YouTube channel and more advanced strategy pieces coming out as well. Cheers!