Last season was the inaugural year of the Season Long to Daily weekly column. In those articles, I described what I learned on a weekly basis in my transition from a season long player to a daily fantasy sports player. Needless to say, I learned a lot last year, but there’s always room for continued growth and improvement.
There are a lot of new players this season getting their feet wet with daily fantasy sports, and much like myself last season, they have a lot to learn. Daily sports is growing and there’s a lot of strategy that goes along with it. So many things play a role in your decision making when setting up your lineups. There are also things such as bankroll management and game selection that are imperative if you want to be able to play for the entire season. That is of course assuming you don’t have an unlimited bankroll.
Once again this year, I’m planning on sharing with you what I learn on a weekly basis, but before I go into a couple of things I have learned during the offseason and heading into Week 1, I’d like to go over the importance of bankroll management and game selection for those who are just starting out. Being that I played poker for a living several years ago, I can’t emphasize enough how important bankroll management is because if you run out of money, you’re unable to play. This is also true about DFS or just about any game you play that involves money. There are different opinions on what percentage of your bankroll to wager. I personally wouldn’t invest more than 10-15 percent of my bankroll on any given week. For those who are not aware, the definition of bankroll is the amount of money that you have deposited in your DraftKings account and are willing to lose. For example, if you start off with $500, I wouldn’t have more than $50-75 invested on any given week. Also, if you deposit $500 but are planning to cash out $250, if you don’t win at first, then your actual bankroll is only $250, not $500. Staying within your bankroll is arguably the most important thing.
Game selection goes somewhat hand in hand with bankroll management. If you’re looking for a big pay day, guaranteed prize pools are the way to go. They are also known as GPP’s or tournaments. In tournaments, roughly 20 percent of the field cashes and usually involves a top heavy payout structure, meaning that all of the big money is up top. These are higher variance games and take a different strategy than that of cash games. In a tournament, you mix consistent players with players that have high ceilings, and don’t have to stress on high floors as much as you would in cash games. Essentially you want the most upside on your team. Another important thing to think of in tournaments is ownership percentages. You want to target players who are expected to be low owned but still provide you with enough upside to be considered. For example, say a player like Julio Jones is playing the worst pass defense in the NFL and Antonio Brown is playing the toughest defense in the NFL, assuming they are close in price, you may want to be contrarian and go with Brown, who on any given week, can score the same or more than Jones. Since the matchup is much better for Jones most people will lean on him whereas Brown would likely be owned much less.
Cash games can be considered 50/50’s or head-to-head games. In most instances you just have to beat half of the field, which makes your approach in setting your lineup different from a tournament lineup. In cash games, you’re looking for high floors, volume, consistency, and best values. A perfect example, although it didn’t pan out as planned for most, is Davante Adams in Week 1. He was $4,400 and was owned in over 60 percent of the cash games I participated in. He was a good value, was expected to see a lot of targets, and at his price, it was difficult to miss value based on expectations. In cash games you’re not looking for that home run hitter, you just want the steady players who don’t often have a poor performance. Playing these can keep your bankroll afloat and also slowly increase your bankroll if you put enough volume in.
Moving on to some of the things I’ve learned heading into the season. The first is quite simple, talk to people who have been playing DFS for some time now and pick their brains. I read most of Jon Bales book (haven’t finished it yet, but soon will), Fantasy Sports for Smart People How to win at Daily Fantasy Sports, needless to say it’s a must-read. While some of the concept and theories he discusses in his book are things we are already aware of, he puts it into perspective and breaks it down in detail. I definitely think following some of these guys on twitter, asking them questions, and reading there work is a helpful tool to improve your game and become a better DFS player.
Another thing I want to point out to those just beginning to play is to keep your season long teams and DFS teams separate. Don’t start the same quarterback you drafted in your yearly league in daily leagues just because you have him in your fantasy team. You’ll see as the season goes on that one of the best features of DFS is that you aren’t married to any players for the entire year. One thing I became victim to which I’ve changed is that I use to let the injury prone label affect my decision making while creating a lineup on DraftKings. As season long players, our brains are wired to think long term because we draft players that we will have on our roster an entire season. In DFS that’s not the case and so long as a player is healthy, he’s in play. A perfect example is Sam Bradford, someone that I wouldn’t have drafted as my number one QB in season long leagues because he hasn’t played a game since mid-season of the 2013 season due to injuries. However, he is healthy now, has a great matchup Week 1, was reasonably priced, and looked solid in the preseason. So what did I do? I plugged him in many of my lineups on DraftKings to start off the season. Since they play tonight, it’s unknown whether it was a good move or not yet, but based on all the tips I pointed out, I feel that it was a good choice. This is something that may take some time for those who are new to DFS to get accustomed to, but it’s important to separate your season long way of thinking in that perspective.
Good luck to all of those who have sweats on Monday Night Football. Until next week!