As I sit here writing this article I have realized that we are already in December and there are just five weeks left in the NFL season. Boy has this year flown by. The good news is, we still have plenty of time to grind some DFS and continue to boost our bankrolls.

Towards the end of last week’s article, I realized that after all these weeks of sharing with you what I’ve learned as I continue to grow from a season long fantasy player to a DFS player, I had not shared my strategy or approach in the different games.

Cash Games

Generally I play 50/50s or double-ups and head-to-head, but most of my volume is in 50/50’s. Some of the things I’m looking for here are players with high floors, the best bang for my buck, volume, and snap counts. I don’t necessarily care about potential ownership percentage and don’t place too much emphasis on a players ceiling. Essentially I’m looking for a player who is consistently productive at a reasonable price. For example, Stevie Johnson has been under $5,000 all season. He’s averaging 7.2 targets per game, but over the last three games he has 28 targets which is a little over nine targets per game. He has seen more volume because of all the injuries surrounding this offense, yet his price remains affordable. These are the spots you want to exploit in cash games. He has hit or exceeded value in three consecutive games. This week he is $4,700 which is the most expensive he’s been this season and has a tough matchup, so it might not be the best week to consider him, but value is still attainable for him because of his price and volume.

At the running back position, I don’t spend top dollar in most weeks. In this position, I am looking for projected carries and snap counts. Buck Allen and Spencer Ware are great examples of this. In Week 12, they were both projected to receive the majority of the team’s carries and be heavily involved in the offense, and both were priced below $4,700. This automatically put these two backs on my radar. Now this concept is only something I consider when I’m not expecting a running back by committee like in the Texans or Redskins backfield where the backs are cheap, but the volume is inconsistent.

As far as quarterbacks are concerned, I rarely use up a ton of my salary on this position. Besides Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, not many quarterbacks have been consistent on a week-to-week basis, so why pay up? And even they have bad games. I usually look for mid salary or low salary quarterbacks with favorable matchups that have been fairly consistent and offer a safe floor. I’m not throwing a quarterback out there who is capable of throwing three picks and no touchdowns, in other words Jay Cutler. He’s just too risky for my likings when it comes to cash games.

As far as the flex is concerned, it varies from week to week. I have played all possible positions in my flex on any given week. It’s just a matter of getting the best value for the dollar you spend.

Keep in mind, value changes every week. Sometimes it makes sense to pay up for running backs and sometimes it doesn’t. The same can be said about players at every other position. I am very risk averse when it comes to my cash lineups and take the very conservative route. In a nutshell, I’m playing all the chalk.

Tournaments/GPPs

This is a completely different animal than cash games. My goal here is to roster high upside players and maximize my team’s ceiling. In tournaments a player’s floor isn’t necessarily a major concern and I actually do consider potential ownership. I’m not as conservative with my salary as I am in cash games.

For example, Rob Gronkowski is by far the best tight end available, but he’s also always the most expensive one. He offers 2-3 touchdown upside anytime he is on the field. While in cash games, I may be reluctant to pay up for him because he isn’t the best value every week in terms of points per dollar, in tournaments I’ll give him a go because of his high ceiling. Another example is a player like Sammy Watkins. He’s not the most consistent player on a weekly basis, but tends to come out of his shell at times for huge games. In the past four games, he’s topped 30 fantasy twice and has two games with fewer than 10 fantasy points. These types of players are high variance plays and are usually not cash viable, but they do make great tournament plays. Granted, it has to be a good matchup and at the right price.

Be contrarian in tournaments, don’t be afraid to go against the grain, but do it wisely. Don’t just roster a random player because you’re trying to be different. Take your time, do your research. Things you want to consider are Vegas lines, price, matchup, volume, snap count, targets, potential game flow, being aware of positive correlation spots, and you can even go back and see if a player has a good or bad history against the team he’s playing against.

Lastly, you will need chalk plays to win tournaments, so don’t overthink a situation. If a player makes perfect sense to you and you’re expecting a pretty high ownership, don’t completely fade him because of just that reason. What I would suggest is not to over expose yourself to that player.

Keep in mind, each week is different. Prices change, injuries occur, and matchups are different each week. That means that while your general approach is similar, the players you roster are not.

As you can see, I take a far more conservative approach in cash games and I’m much more frugal with my salary than I am in tournaments. I look forward to another great week!