Unless you were out of the country saving the rain forests or brokering peace in the Middle East then you know that Le’Veon Bell had the 4th best fantasy performance of all-time in Week 14 (according to DraftKings). He mollywhopped the Ryan Brothers and their Buffalo Bills so bad that Rex was questioning even his choice of quarterback, as if Tyrod Taylor had anything to do with giving up 298 yards and 3 touchdowns. Naturally, all of the monday morning quarterbacks hit the twittersfere with the “I can’t believe you played David Johnson over Le’Veon Bell, he was the stone-cold Steve Austin nuts” or something similar to that. However, that it is a dangerous though to have in fantasy sports. Those of us that play fantasy sports fall into this trap often. We use the outcomes to make definitive statements. We become results-oriented. We dwell on “coulda, shoulda, woulda”.
(Editor’s Note: 2016 was the last year that Skilldraft was in operation, however, much of the advice in this article can still be applied to other DFS sites and contests)
After years of driving my fellow season-long fantasy league opponents crazy because I would wear out the waiver wire. In fact, one league even put in new rules in the middle of the season to limit the amount of activity a player could do in a year. Last year I figured I would try my hand at Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Skilldraft was brand new and so I tried my hand at some of the free games first to get a feel for everything on the site. When I did begin playing for real money, I started small. Fortunately, I began to consistently cash in the lower level contests. Eventually, I even won Skilldraft’s main contest ($20 entry fee) and finished 2nd another time.
You are a football fan. You probably have some favorite players or a favorite team. However, being a big fan is a starting point. If you really want to be good at daily fantasy football, then you need to find some kind of an edge or advantage that will help you. There are 9 starting spots each week for a Skilldraft football lineup so in honor of that, I will provide 9 strategies and insights that should help increase your chances for Skilldraft success week-in and week-out when it comes to football.
You can find some great bargains with team’s #2 WR’s. Everyone wants the stars but is often the secondary players that make you the money. Willie Snead, Allen Hurns, Tyler Lockett and Dontae Moncrief were a few bargains last year that won me some money. Kickers and D/ST’s are wear the best bargains can be found. Skilldraft’s salaries in these two areas will allow you to find low-priced bargains. Don’t worry about paying up for the best ones. Start from the bottom of salaries in these two areas and work your way up until you find the one you can stomach. Low-priced QB’s can sometimes be a bargain, as well, because it is much easier to project how often they’ll have the ball.
HAVE A PLAN
Having a flawed plan is still better than no plan. You need to figure out how you’ll select players. You don’t need a sophisticated computer system to pick a winning team. You just need to have a plan. You need a system that you stick with so that you don’t get caught up in emotion or get distracted by all of the noise that is out there in this social media-driven world. If your system isn’t working, then honestly examine it and decide if something needs to be tweaked. For example, I used to select RB’s as my “Flex” position each and every week because that position was traditionally more consistent and so I would minimize risk. On the surface this seems logical. However, I didn’t take into account the added risk of in-game injury for a RB vs. a WR. Additionally, a possession type receiver in a full-PPR format can be just as consistent or even better than a RB. I was rostering the top RB’s each week. However, if they got hurt or were not scoring touchdowns then they were not as productive as WR’s. I examined this and decided to change up my system and started seeing more profit.
BELICHICK HATES FANTASY
I don’t know if he does or doesn’t, but it feels like it. I am a big Belichick fan, in general, but I swear he tries to stick it to us fantasy football players. They have 37 WR’s that catch passes and 11 RB’s that could be their featured back in any game. Okay, so I am exaggerating a little but just try to predict which players will do well each game. Sure Brady and Gronk are locks to do well if they are actually in the game, but good luck on anyone else. Belichick is a genius when it comes to game planning and game flow. Experts try to guess what he’ll do each game but are almost always wrong. As a fantasy football player, you will save money if you stay away from New England Patriots.
Don’t go on tilt because of losing if you feel good about the process and/or system that you used. Sure, we want to win money. However, the top DFS players win consistently because they have a plan and stick to it. Getting (un)lucky is not indicative of what will happen week after week. If your QB gets hurt, you probably won’t win that week. That is no cause for alarm, unless you picked a QB that was on the injury report that week and there were some questions about his health. That is not unlucky for you; that is risky gambling. Play the percentages and use your head. You can lose even if you do everything right – just like pocket Aces can get beat in poker even though they have an 80% chance of winning an all-in pre-flop. You are risking money each week (though it should NEVER be money that you can’t do without). However, I take the approach that I am playing the percentages. I am playing the odds. If I do my research and stick to my plan, then I will have an advantage over many other players who just throw a lineup together, rely on popular players (name-recognition) or play their favorite players. Overall, the best prepared players are going to be long-term winners. I am probably not going to turn a profit each week but over the course of the season, if I am prepared and make wise decisions then I should show a profit at the end of the year.
Your bankroll is what you have set aside to use for Daily Fantasy Football. Do not allocate more money than you are prepared to lose. Additionally, you need to decide what your plan is for your bankroll. I suggest playing a percentage of your bankroll as opposed to playing a set amount each day. For example, if you had $100 total and played $10 per day and never won, you’d run out of money after 10 days. Instead, if you play 10% of your bankroll each day, you’ll play for 25 days before you run out of money if you never ever win. Playing GPP’s (tournaments) will cause more fluctuation in your bankroll than cash games.
If you want to increase your chances to finish high in a tournament, then you need to stack your QB and WR/TE. This will allow you to double dip and get more bang for your buck. Most people only stack WR’s but a TE can be just as valuable if you are talking a top-notch TE that is a QB’s number one option (e.g. Rob Gronkowski or Greg Olson). You can also find bargains sometimes through stacking a lower priced QB (who is protected a little bit through the scheme) with a good TE. Examples of this are Marcus Mariota/Delanie Walker and Alex Smith/____________. Stacking a RB with his defense is also a very good idea. QB/RB correlation used to be a no-no but the numbers have not supported that the last few years.
Find statistics that are predictive rather than explanatory. The following stats are courtesy of 4for4.com. I highly suggest bookmarking this site. It is as good as it gets in analyzing all the data for you. Five out of every 4 people are bad a math and I am one of those. 4for4.com is for people like us because they give the numbers for the smart people but then summarize them for us normal people.
- Over the past three seasons, WR’s have scored 30+ Draftkings points (similar to Skilldraft scoring) 202 times. RB’s have done this just 101 times.
- Top-5 stats for QB’s that correlate to fantasy success: Total TD/Game, Passing TD/Game, TD%, Total Yards/Game and Passer Rating.
- The backfields in winning tournaments generally combine a chalk play and a low-owned play.
- Top-5 statistics for WR’s that correlate to fantasy success: Receiving Yards/Game, Receptions/Game, Targets/Game, Target Mkt. Share and Receiving TD/Game.
- Top-5 statistics for RB’s that correlate to fantasy success: Total Yards/Game, Total TD/Game, Target Mkt. Share, Receptions/Game and Touches/Game. The total yards per game is far and away the top correlation for RB success.
- In 2015, 4for4.com had a RB projected for at least 18 touches at a DK salary of 4,500 or below 43 times, or 2.5 times per week. Those RB’s averaged 14.5 points and returned a stellar 3.57 points per $1,000.
Also, do not neglect the information that can be gleaned from the Las Vegas wise-guys. They absolutely know what they are doing when they set NFL lines, spreads and over-unders. Check these out and use them to make your selections. Generally speaking, you want players from the games that have the highest projected scores. Consider QB’s that are home favorites with Vegas team totals of 24+ points. Favored QB’s perform markedly better than underdog QB’s.
KNOW THE FORMAT
Regardless what site you are playing on, you need to know the scoring format and rules. For instance, Fan Duel and Skilldraft do not allow you change lineups once the first game of the contest begins. Draftkings awards bonus points for things like a 300-yard passing game or 100-yard rushing game. Skilldraft and Fan Duel does not. Fan Duel uses a half-PPR system, as opposed to Skilldraft and Draftkings full-PPR. Fan Duel and Skilldraft has you draft a Kicker instead of a 3rd WR like Draftkings. One of the biggest question marks is always how the Defense/Special Teams is scored. Make sure that you know this.
DEFINITIONS TO KNOW
Cash Games – Typically are double-up, 50/50’s or heads-up type contests. The amount of money you can win is capped. It is considered a lower-risk, lower-return type of contest with less variance.
Ceiling – Player’s realistic maximum scoring average. Best possible logical outcome.
Chalk Play – Generally agreed upon decision that often times involves the favorites or highest projected ownership players. For instance, if Adrian Peterson is playing against a team that is terrible against the run and his price is not too high, then he’d be a chalk play that week.
Contrarian – Picking players that others are not picking. To finish high in a large tournament, you’ll have to be contrarian and pick a couple of players that no one else is picking.
GPP – Guaranteed Prize Pool (tournaments). A contest in which the prizes are guaranteed, no matter if it completely fills or not. Typically is top-heavy in its’ payout structure. These normally pay out to the top-10-20% of the finishers.
Fade – When you avoid certain players.
Floor – Player’s realistic minimum scoring average. Worst possible logical outcome.
Late Swap – When a player may be swapped out of a lineup for another player until his actual game has started. Skilldraft and Fan Duel do not utilize this feature. All lineups are completely locked as soon as the first game starts (even if it is Thursday night).
Naked – Means you are playing a QB without one of his WR’s or TE’s
PPR – Points Per Reception. Receivers get a point for every pass that they catch. If you are used to playing on ESPN or Fan Duel, then this is different. Every catch that one of your players has counts as a point. This makes third-down backs and slot receivers much more valuable than in standard fantasy formats. Touchdowns are still important, but 3 catches for 10 yards each is valued the same as a touchdown. In some cases, catching three balls is easier than one touchdown.
Punt – Spending very little on a position. This minimizes the risk at that position because so little is invested, but it does add extra pressure to your other positions to perform well.
Recency Bias – Having an opinion on a player based on what they did recently, in particular, last week. This is a common occurance in DFS. Players that have bad weeks will often be lower-owned the next week.
Running Back By Committee – Might be good for real football but it is brutal for fantasy football. This means that there is not a clear cut starting running back. A couple of RB’s might see equal action. Unpredictability and low floors are the fantasy results.
Usage – How often a player is used. RB’s rushing attempts, TE/WR’s targets, QB’s passing attempts. The more a player is used, the more opportunity they have to produce results.
Vulture – A player that takes away opportunities in the red zone from a regular player. For example, Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart gets the bulk of the carries until the goal line and then Mike Tolbert comes in as the goal-line back. It can also be used to describe Cam Newton if he scores on a QB keeper after Stewart has rushed for 39 yards on 5 carries during a series.
Jamy Bechler is a die-hard Michigan Wolverine fan, who feels conflicted and disloyal every week that he doesn’t roster Tom Brady on his fantasy team. He is a regular DFS player that competes under the screen name “DKJamy”. Jamy uses his DFS skills to drive his season-long league opponents crazy with constant waiver wire pickups. He was a college basketball coach for 20 years but now is a full-time motivational speaker who lives in a van down by the river. However, he won enough in the past year with DFS to buy new rims, fuzzy dice and paint a big block “M” on the side. You can follow his DFS site @WinningDFS101 or his personal account @CoachBechler for inspirational and motivational thoughts.