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As each week passes by, it’s one week less we have to make money in daily football leagues. With that said, we still have seven weeks of the regular season to cash in. Most of the participants in DFS are likely in or have been members of, yearly leagues. When building a team in a yearly league a lot is dependent on league settings/format, draft pick you have, and the strategy you’re implementing. For example, in a two quarterback league, most fantasy owners like to take a quarterback in the first round. In PPR formats, some owners take the no running back approach early on. In keeper leagues, many people use the late rounds on players that have long term upside. When it comes to daily leagues, creating a lineup is dependent on game selection. Below I’ll go over strategies and approaches that I take when creating my weekly lineups.
Cash Games– I’m sure by now you’ve heard me talk about cash games. Whether it’s a 50/50 or a head-to-head, I’m usually building my team similar in this spot. First off, in cash I’m paying for talent. I start with the quarterback position here. For the most part I’ve played a lot of Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady (in recent weeks). Paying for a quarterback in cash games is something I advocate. Depending on how many games I’m participating in, I’ll sprinkle some other quarterbacks in with good matchups, in good offenses, that have relatively high ceilings. I’ve used Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan to name a few. I’ll do this when the price is right and the matchup is great. When taking the cheaper route on the quarterback, I can spread the remaining money amongst the remainder of my lineup. Under no circumstances am I starting a boom or bust quarterback in a cash game, As far as other positions such as receivers and running backs, I’m still targeting steady players. I’m looking for consistency and for the best value possible. Volume is very important to me in the running back position, so if I know a back will get the bulk of the carries and has a good matchup, he’ll likely find a spot in my lineup if the price is right. I don’t mind paying the price for a back, but have found that mid-level backs work just fine if you fill in the rest of your roster with a solid lineup. I know stacking is something many people like to do, and I do it in cash games as well, but I only stack a quarterback with one of his receivers or a tight end. I try to avoid using multiple players in the same offense to avoid the risk of a bad game. So once I select my quarterback, I usually pair him up right away with a receiver or tight end. When it comes to receivers, I try to pay up as well. Most of the time the expensive receivers, such as Jordy Nelson and Antonio Brown, are the most consistent ones. I’ll also take advantage of value in this position. The week before last, Julio Jones was at $6000, at that price it’s a must to have him in your cash game lineup. In essence, I’m more comfortable using mid-level backs that see tons of volume, and pay up for receivers. Another key position in a cash game is the tight end position. I’m very passive when it comes to choosing a tight end or a defense, but I’m more often than not choosing a solid tight end in cash games. Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and in most weeks, Julius Thomas would be the ideal candidates for tight ends. There are other good tight ends that can be used in cash games, but once again, it’s about value and matchup when you’re steering away from the sure things. Those who have spoken to me about their lineups know my strategy or take on defense. I literally go from the cheapest defense up and plug in the one I’m most comfortable with at the most economical price. I’ll usually do this after I select my quarterback and his stack so that I know how much money I have to work with.
Tournament/GPP– This is pretty similar to creating a cash game lineup because I’ll usually select my quarterback first. However, in a tournament all quarterbacks are in play. I’m not comfortable starting Mark Sanchez, Zach Mettenberger, or Derek Carr, to name a few, in a cash game, but you might find them in one of my tournament lineups in some instances. There are times where I tend to spend less at the quarterback position, and spend more filling in the rest of my lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not only starting mid-level or low-level quarterbacks in tournaments, but I don’t only target the high-level one’s either. In GPPs I take more chances with cheap fliers at any position. Keep in mind, when taking this approach its high variance. I also lean towards paying a higher price for running backs and receivers. To me, they are more valuable in such large fields. Tight end is a position that I usually look for the best bargain in. Not often do I have Gronk or Graham in one of my GPP lineups. I just find myself spending most of my money on backs and receivers, or in some cases quarterbacks. As far as defense, I take the same approach I do in a cash game, as I don’t place much emphasis at this position.
As you can see, building a team is fairly similar in both types of games. However, in cash games it’s best to refrain from using low floors/ high ceiling players because at the end of the day you only need to beat half of the field for the most part. Whereas, in GPPs or tournaments you’re ultimately playing for first, so calculated risks are a must. Taking advantage of value is a big part of being able to draft a solid lineup. As good as some players might be, sometimes too high of a salary is not worth it, whether it’s in a cash game or tournament. If you can’t build a good supporting cast around the high-level player of your choice, you leave yourself less of an opportunity to create a good lineup. You’ll rarely see me paying the top dollar for any player at their position; I tend to stay away from the highest salary. For example, in any given week, instead of paying over $10k for Andrew Luck, spend a couple hundred less for Aaron Rodgers. Those couple of hundred dollars can come a long way, and the gap between the two quarterbacks isn’t that big, if there’s any gap at all. Realizing these little things can be helpful in the long run. It’s all about trial and error.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea on how I go about creating a lineup. I’m learning as I go and have done fairly decent in cash games. I look forward to another DFS week, and wish you all the best of luck!