Armando Marsal

Fantasy Writer

@Armando_fbguru on twitter



It feels like just yesterday I was preparing to draft my fantasy football team for my home league, and here I am today recapping my season and my transition from yearly leagues to daily leagues. What can I say? It was quite the experience. I have learned a lot in the process and had fun while doing so.  Throughout my journey, I noticed there were some similarities, but also many differences between yearly leagues and daily leagues. It was mainly the strategy involved in drafting both teams. In daily leagues, many factors come into play when setting a lineup each week; while in a yearly league people draft their teams with the intentions of having the same lineup each week, and having their bench as depth for bye weeks and/or injuries. Below are some of the things to consider when creating a daily lineup.

Game Selection

Is it a cash game or a tournament you’re setting up the lineup for? That’s the first question that has to be answered. Cash games can be considered 50/50’s, head-to-head, or triple ups.  For the most part you only have to beat half of the field, which makes your approach in setting your lineup different from a tournament lineup. When you’re playing in a cash game, the focus should be on drafting players with high floors. Consistency in production is what you’re aiming for. Whereas in a tournament, you mix both consistent players with both players that have high ceilings, but can also have a stinker on any given week. For example, take a player like Steve Smith of the Ravens, in any given week he can catch 7-8 passes for 100+ yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, he can also have a two catch for 19 yards day. If the price is right, that can be considered a solid GPP play.

Stacking your quarterback with a WR or TE

When creating a lineup, you are almost always looking to stack or pair up your quarterback with at least one receiver or one tight end. This is done because any time your quarterback connects with those players, you’re essentially getting double the points. Those are points you don’t want left off the board. There are instances where you can stack a quarterback with a running back, especially if it’s a pass catching back. There are also times where you stack a quarterback with two of his receivers, or even a receiver and a tight end, although I’m not a big advocate of that. I usually keep it to one player. In addition, there has been the rare occasion where I don’t stack a quarterback with anyone. For example, I’ve played Russell Wilson and not paired him up with anyone because there’s really not a dominant receiver or tight end on the team. There are always exceptions to the rules, but I do stack almost all of the time, and I feel that it should be done more often than not. Stacking applies to both tournaments and cash games.

Diversifying your lineups

If you’re planning on playing multiple games, don’t use the exact same lineup in all the games. This could set you up for a bad weekend if one of your players gets hurt, doesn’t play up to par, and/or if you miss on your wild card pick. Shuffling players amongst your lineups is always a good idea. The beauty of daily leagues is that you have the entire player pool available. Why settle for the same three receivers, the same quarterback, etc. when you can choose multiple combinations? Just try not to put all your eggs in one basket, it’s not necessary.

Contrarian plays

This is something I recommend mainly in tournaments. In a cash game you really don’t need a contrarian player; at the end of the day you’re just trying to beat half of the field.  In tournaments however, you’re always trying to search for a player who has a low owned percentage that can have a big game and set you apart from the other teams. This could be a player who has a bad matchup, and the general consensus is fading, a cheap flier that not many people are considering, and a player that has let many people down in recent weeks that is being avoided.  The goal is to try to hit on a player who is not owned by more than about five percent of the field. When looking for a contrarian, try to think outside the box.

Not overthinking

This is one of the most important tools I’ve learned. In a yearly league it’s hard to over think, because you’re limited to your selections. However in daily leagues all the players are in play and you’re also trying to find the right stack, a good contrarian, the best value, and diversifying your lineups all at once. It’s important to find a median between some of the strategies I’ve mentioned and overthinking. Another thing that can lead to thinking too much is setting up your lineups early in the week. When doing this, there are usually a lot of question marks that can’t allow you to make the right choice at hand. Add to that the fact that there player news all week that can alter your initial decision, and we end up over analyzing the situation. There are strategies and different ways to approach creating a lineup, but when in doubt, go with your gut. It tends to be right more often than not.

Matchup and Value

This is imperative. Players like Peyton Manning are almost never benched in a yearly league regardless of the matchup. However, in daily leagues you can avoid high-level players with bad matchups and/or are priced to high. For example, say Manning has a mediocre matchup and is priced at $9500, and Matt Ryan is playing at home against the Bears and is priced at $8000, that’s where this concept comes into play. The matchup isn’t the greatest for Manning, but for Ryan it is. In addition, you save $1500 that can be spread amongst the rest of your lineup. There are also times where, regardless of matchup, a price is just too good to skip on. This is one of the biggest things to adapt to when transition from yearly to daily, because we are so used to considering a quarterback like Manning a must start no matter what. That isn’t the case in daily leagues.

Defense and Tight Ends

The reason I’m writing about this is because I was asked many questions regarding tight ends and defenses for daily. For tight end, I’m either paying for the elite guys or taking a really cheap tight end with a good matchup, and by cheap I mean less than $4000. Tight ends were hit or miss for most of the season. Even guys like Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas were not so consistent this year. That’s where I’d ask myself, why invest too much on a big question mark? As far as defense, my strategy is fairly simple. I’d scroll up from the cheapest defense available and choose the first defense I was comfortable playing. Granted, there are always exceptions to the rule, so if there was a defense say $100 or $200 more than the first defense I chose that I really liked, I’d pay the extra money and draft them. To be honest, that rarely happened.

Knowing why you’re playing daily is also something that’s important. If you’re in it to play a couple of tournaments and have some fun hoping to turn $27 into $1 million, then maybe game selection isn’t of importance. Yet, if you’re trying to build a bankroll and have a positive ROI over the long run, then game selection and bankroll management are key. If you have proper bankroll management you’d be able to sustain bad weeks. It also opens the door for more volume, which can create opportunity. When choosing what games to play, buy in is the first step. Tournaments are high variance, so cash games are a must. Playing more cash games than tournaments will help the bankroll stay afloat. Most tournaments are top heavy, so you’d have to beat out many more people to maybe be profitable. Whereas in cash games, you can double your money by beating half of the field, for the most part.

Next season I will definitely cut back on my yearly leagues and focus mainly in daily leagues. It’s a good way to make some extra bucks during the season, and avoid the variance on yearly leagues. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ll still be in a few home leagues and yearly leagues, just not the same amount of league I was in this season.

For those who have followed my journey, thank you! It has been fun sharing my growth in DFS with you, and I hope that I was able to provide some helpful tips throughout the season. I look forward to the next season.