100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 66: 7 Lessons on Daily Fantasy Sports
At rotoViz, I wrote an article titled 7 Lessons on Daily Fantasy Sports You Can Only Learn from the Pros. It contains pro tips from my book Fantasy Football for Smart People: Daily Fantasy Pros Reveal Their Money-Making Secrets.
Here’s an excerpt:
LESSON 1: “EMPHASIZE BOTH VALUE AND MATCHUPS.”
In baseball, it’s 99 percent matchup stuff. It’s basically all matchup-based. In basketball, it’s the opposite end of the spectrum; it’s completely value-based. I know who the great players are in a given night, matchups don’t matter as much, and I’m just looking to see how much value I can get out of you.
I think football is a mix of those two sports. You want the value in terms of the salary, you know, but you also need to consider the matchup. It’s just a unique situation because neither one should be the only thing you consider, or even close.
Sometimes you can kind of disregard a poor matchup if the value is there, and other times a guy might have a juicy matchup and you might be a little more hesitant because of his salary. But you can’t just load up on one or the other. If you’re purely value-based, you might not have the best team just in terms of putting up a whole lot of points. Some guys might be poor values but can just go for 200 yards in any game.
If you’re strictly matchup-based, you’re ignoring a big part of puzzle. If we just stuck to matchups, everyone would have pretty much the same lineup. You can’t just plug in a running back who’s playing the worst run defense or something like that. But I’ve seen plenty of times when good offenses just explode on great defenses and not a lot of people used players from the game because it was considered a bad matchup.
LESSON 2: “USE THE VEGAS LINES DIFFERENTLY BASED ON THE LEAGUE TYPE.”
In cash games, I think Vegas can really help with your own projections. In tournaments, I think the biggest value from the lines comes in using them as a prediction market for ownership. So the higher the over/under on a game, the more player utilization there will be in those games. Even if the general public isn’t using the Vegas lines, they still have a sense of which games are going to be high-scoring, so Vegas can act as confirmation of where there’s going to be heavy player usage.
That’s important because, unlike in cash games, it’s important to have a unique lineup in tournaments. So if there’s a game that’s an outlier in terms of the projected total, just way ahead of everything else, it’s kind of hard to recommend players from that game because they’re going to be so popular.
That doesn’t mean I never use players from the highest-projected game in tournaments, but if I do, I need to create some elements within my roster that I think won’t be as common elsewhere. It’s not that you can’t win by using all highly utilized players, but just that it can improve your tournament odds by adding at least some contrarian elements into your lineup when you otherwise go with the chalk.