How to Consistently Win in DFS (Fantasy Football)

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Recently, Kyle Borgognoni and I began the process of laying down a framework for approaching DFS for the 2020 season…the smart way. There’s nothing more frustrating than setting those lineups on Sunday only to be disappointed that you didn’t cash that week. On The Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast, Kyle and I are here to help you rethink your process when it comes to building DFS lineups so that you’re putting a little bit of extra cash in your pocket each week. I would encourage you to go back and listen to the DFS 101 episode in order to understand our framework for approaching NFL DFS. On the most recent episode, we discussed how to consistently win in DFS by highlighting our favorite research tools, most of which can be found in the DFS Pass.

1. First Look Pricing

Player pricing on the major DFS platforms is available to us well before we even start our process of building lineups. Often times, the salary pricing is set well, and mean well, before we have the information we need to make optimal decisions. As Kyle pointed out, you can treat DFS salaries like a market, with the value of certain salaries changing literally on a day to day basis. As the week moves on, we collect more information – injury updates (my weekly injury article drops on Tuesday each week), coaching changes, and/or adjustments to a player’s playing time can all affect how that player is valued in DFS for the upcoming week…but that player’s salary doesn’t change.

First look pricing helps us identify massive inefficiencies in the market of DFS while also providing us some names we might want to target, especially for backup players who can excel if given the opportunity. The best example of this is backup running backs, who are always underpriced relative to their production should the starter go down with an injury. Last season, Jaylen Samuels was just $4,000 when James Conner was out, and he ended up with over 20 fantasy points or 5x what he was expected to produce. In reality, his salary probably should have been around $6,000 but the DFS sites didn’t know Conner was going to miss time, allowing us to take advantage of first look pricing.

2. Understand Vegas Lines

Sports gambling can be overwhelming, so if you’re not familiar with lines and game totals or what they mean, that’s okay! I’ll be writing up a weekly article in the DFS Pass looking at how we can use Vegas lines to target high scoring games that have shootout potential…a.k.a. fantasy gold. The bottom line is that the algorithms the sportsbooks use are extremely accurate. There’s a reason they say, “Don’t mess with Vegas.” While beating those lines in sports gambling can be tough, according to a blogger at Dominoes Gold, we can use them to our advantage in DFS.

I typically like to look for an over/under line of at least 47 or 48 when choosing which games we want to target for stacking because these are the games that are most likely to lead to scoring opportunities for our fantasy players in DFS. On this week’s episode, Kyle and I each discussed one game we’re targeting for a stack attack in Week 1. My example, the Seahawks vs. the Falcons, is the third-highest over/under on the board at 48.5 points, suggesting we could see a high flying (pun intended) affair between these two offenses. Knowing this is the potentially likely outcome, one way to attack this game would be to play a Matt Ryan/Julio Jones stack then bring it back with D.K. Metcalf and/or Tyler Lockett in the same lineup.

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3. Keep Up The Pace

The pace of play is such an underrated metric when trying to predict offensive success for fantasy football. The explanation of how to use pace of play could probably be its own article, so I would encourage you to listen to Kyle’s explanation on this week’s show. He’ll also be covering pace of play in the DFS Pass, but here’s the general idea: We typically want to target up-tempo offenses who can keep the ball moving so that they run more plays per game. By snapping the ball more quickly with more time still on the play clock, offenses can run more plays, thereby creating more opportunities for players in our lineup to rack up fantasy points.

It may not sound like that big a deal – what does it matter if a team snaps the ball with eight seconds on the play clock versus 13 seconds on the clock, but for every 5 seconds, a team runs 15 more plays per game. That’s a massive edge in fantasy where volume is king. In 2019, on average, teams ran a play 0.8 seconds per play slower in positive game scripts than they did in neutral game script. In other words, if a team is losing, they are more likely to slow it down and run fewer plays and vice versa. Last year, there were five teams who sped up their pace of play when in a positive game script: Chargers, Buffalo, Washington, New England, and Indianapolis.

4. Knowing How to Leverage Roster Percentage

We all want to play Christian McCaffrey in fantasy each week, and that’s obvious, but think of it this way. If you’re playing in a DFS contest with 100 people, and there are 80 people who play him in their lineup, McCaffrey’s ‘ownership’ percentage would come in at 80%. If McCaffrey rattles off 100 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards, and two scores, you’re probably doing cartwheels in your living room…but so are 79 other people. In reality, the lineup that has McCaffrey in this example probably didn’t actually help elevate you above your opponents, or at least the majority of your opponents. In order to win in bigger tournaments where you’re trying to take down upwards of a few thousand people, you need to be willing to play less obvious players, those that aren’t receiving buzz in the DFS community.

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In the DFS Pass, the Buzz Report helps us understand which plays are expected to be heavily owned in DFS in a specific week while also identifying which players might be a sneaky start. If you’re playing in a cash contest or a head to head matchup, this concept doesn’t really apply, but if you’re going to try to down a GPP, you’ll need to feel uncomfortable when lineups lock. What exactly do I mean by that? Lineups that win DFS tournaments have at least one player who comes in at 2-5% ownership. The Buzz Report can help us identify which players are likely to give us that edge in GPPs.

5. Use a Lineup Generator

Building DFS lineups is like a puzzle – you’re trying to figure out where the pieces will fall and trying to figure out how many ways you can make it work. While I absolutely love this process, it can be extremely time-consuming to put together multiple lineups across multiple sites, especially if you’re trying to play upwards of 50-100 different lineups that week. Fortunately, the lineup generator in the DFS Pass takes literally seconds to spit out as many lineups as you want it to.

Here’s how it works. You identify certain players you want to definitely play in DFS as well as those you want to exclude in your lineup. Tell the generator how many lineups you want to download and boom you have several different combinations of lineups that you can then export and post to your DFS platform you like to use. Think of the lineup generator as your DFS administrative assistant, saving you a ton of time throughout the week.

Looking to start prepping for your DFS season? Be sure to read up on Ben Cummins’ pass defenses to attack in DFS and read more on Kyle’s DFS backwards design strategy. In the meantime, subscribe to the DFS Podcast, and we’ll catch you next week!

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