DFS Strategy: Think Horizontally

There is a lot of thought that goes into building a DFS lineup, especially if you’re the type of player who only throws out one at a time. There are stats to pore over, matchups to consider, recent performance and historical results, and we’re all just trying to do the best we can to consider all the factors and make an informed decision. But there is one thing anyone who plays a lot of DFS can agree on – if you let your fandom or other personal biases limit the pool of players you’re considering, you are handcuffing yourself before you even start.

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Unfortunately, though, there are some very common mistakes many of us make that serve to limit this player pool for us, without us ever considering the consequences. The first of these is what I call “thinking vertically.” This applies to virtually every team sport for which you can play DFS (so, all of them). If the only sports you like to dabble in are of the solo variety (think PGA, MMA, Boxing and NASCAR), then you do not have to worry about this particular problem.

It is an easy trap to fall into – you have to choose a player from every position, so you just start by choosing a player at one position and then move onto the next. Using baseball as the example, you’re probably taking the path of least resistance, choosing your pitchers, then your catchers, 1B, 2B, etc, from left to right, until your lineup is complete, with maybe a few tweaks here and there as you go. Even when you’re reading our player “Targets” columns on the Playbook, that’s how the targeted players are structured – by position. Sometimes, though, I really wish that wasn’t the case, and the columns were instead sorted by price tier rather than positional eligibility.

The reason I feel this way is simple, and obvious: everyone knows Bryce Harper is a better option than Gregory Polanco, pretty much no matter the matchup or the park factor or anything else (no offense to Mr. Polanco), just like everyone knows LeBron James is a better option than Andre Iguodala (Finals MVP award aside) or that Dez Bryant is a more appealing selection than Tavon Austin. In other words, you aren’t ever really comparing top-tier players to lower-tier players at the same position, and yet that’s how your choices are organized.

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There are many ways this can turn into a problem for you, starting with the fact that we’re all human – once you’ve made that selection and have seen that name in your lineup, the tendency is to leave him there. Sure, you might swap him out if you need to get a few bucks back into your budget for someone else, but it is painful to do, and you’re always wondering if the switch is going to end up coming back to bite you. Maybe you love a high-priced player at one position, and make the selection and never look back, failing to find the value play that could match the star’s production for a couple thousand bucks less. Maybe you think you’ve identified a great value at 1B, and end up spending on a superstar in the outfield just because you have money to burn at that point. Maybe you end up with $3,200 left and one position to fill, and so you spend ten minutes trying to find a value play at that specific position and then move on. But in any of these circumstances, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Fortunately, though, there is an easy solution – “think horizontally.” It might make building your lineup more time-consuming, but it should definitely increase the player pool you’re considering and thereby increase your odds of making the right choices, choices you’re comfortable with and that will lead to more DFS success. It’s as simple as sorting the player choices by “All.” You’ve seen it, down there on the right. Maybe you’ve even clicked on it before searching for a player by name because it will make him pop up faster. But for the most part, you avoid it, because it’s disorienting. I get it, but it is there for a reason, and it can definitely help you get on the top half of those 50/50s or make a push at the single entry GPP win that could change everything.

Good luck.