There is a very sound theory that permeates a lot of the daily fantasy sports landscape, in reference to players who play more than one lineup in a contest, typically, and the theory can be boiled down to one word: “diversify.” It is simple, really – if you play more than one lineup in a contest, you are exposing yourself to more players. You are giving yourself a better chance at finding those big performers and solid values of the evening.

How many lineups is the right number? It doesn’t matter – every one opens you up to more players, and more combinations of players, which HAS to increase your odds. It can’t hurt. Two is better than one, and so on, but the thing is, you’re never going to have them all, which means there is always a chance you’re wrong.

It’s true you’re never going to have every possible lineup configuration, but some nights you can come a lot closer than others. If there are two or three games going on, you can spread the money around enough to figure a way to get virtually every single top option at every position into one lineup or another. Pick usable cheap options and you can cover almost all of your bases.

If you are looking at a full slate of games, however, you’d need an awful lot of entries to get every top option activated. You really just cannot do it. So you still need to conduct analysis, draw conclusions, make decisions. You are still increasing your odds with every new lineup you enter, but at a certain point, you can spread yourself (and your bankroll) too thin. And if you want to get results, in the end, you’ll still need to highlight a core group of players to build around. Maybe two cores, to be safe, but either way, the variance comes at the bottom of your roster.  You have a group or two to build around, and then you fill in around them… and really all you need to root for is one of your cores to hit. Because you know, eventually, you’ll get the fill-ins you need.

And that is what it comes down to, whether you are playing with a fifteen games or with two games. When you are hoping for an expensive guy to go off for 60+ instead of his usually 40+, you have to understand that this is rare. With two games on tap, it might not happen once. With fifteen, it’s still only happening a few times at most. And if you manage to pick one of those guys right, you want them in every lineup you’ve got going that night.

On the other hand, if you are rooting for a guy who usually scores 20 to get 30, or a guy who scores 25-30 sometimes to get closer to 40… well, that happens at least once in pretty much every NBA game played, every night. If you’ve got the studs right (either because there are so few you paid for them all or because you picked the right core from your 30 or so options), you can switch up the lower level guys in every new lineup you deploy, and still be right half the time.

This is distinctly different from switching up your studs, because most of the time, if you go down that road, you can only be right once. And that’s the great thing about this reality when you think about it – it means that, in the end, you can’t buy yourself wins. The single lineup player has a better chance on slow days with fewer options because the distribution of final scores is so much tighter, even if a multiple lineup player manages to play every stud out there in multiple combinations. The single lineup player on fast days though, can always rely on the multiple lineup players being wrong.

And those bigger players on fast days? They can sleep peacefully knowing that no matter how much of a bankroll they throw at this problem, in the end, it’s their good picks getting them their victories. They could lose every contest if they never settle on that one “right” core (even if it’s one of two or three or four, etc). So they might be increasing their chances by giving themselves more shots at picking the right value plays, that’s not enough to get you over the top if you don’t start with the right base. So for every guy who’s ever had three or four lineups finish in the top twenty for some serious cash – congrats, well done. You deserved it.

Good luck.