As we draw even closer to the start of the NHL season, I’m continuing my beginner’s guide for DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports). In the first piece, Getting Started, I spoke about some playing styles and the importance of game selection.
In this next piece, I talk about a few strategies of DFS that many new players fail to incorporate into their research when setting their teams. Again, these are a few ideas aren’t always relevant on a weekly basis, but aimed at the player who needs a place to start when it come to learning or developing a strategy.
Game script is a piece of the puzzle that definitely gets overlooked by new DFS players as they fail to incorporate it into their roster decisions. Game script is defined as a pre-imagined scenarios of what could happen or in what way the game will unfold based a multitude of factors.
Understanding game script requires a lot of research. Good research will include basic stats, analytical info, insider knowledge, weather, birthdays, revenge, hometown, or other ‘intangibles’. It’s not something that is relevant to every decision you make when rostering players, but can help you make the tough choices that are sure to come when dealing with a limited bank roll.
For an example of how game script can be beneficial, here’s a scenario I encountered in August for the first leg of the Fed Ex Cup at the Barclay’s Open. The one intangible was the wind and how it was going to affect the first two days when players were trying to make the cut.
I knew the course from watching it on TV for years and knew that it played very hard, especially in gusting winds. The weather forecast called for calm winds in the morning but as the day progressed the wind was forecasted to gust up to 20 knots or more.
After examining the tee times, and incorporating all my research, I opted to make my primary cash lineup, along with my tournament teams, composed of players only teeing off in the early groups, going as far as even focusing primarily on tee times before 8:20.
All the players in these groups also stood out and were very high on my radar already, and when factoring all the research with the tee-times coupled with the reality of what the wind was forecasted to do, I trusted my research. The final result was a one of my bigger weekends in golf as I went on to win almost every cash game I played, plus a few single-entry GPPs.
Spiro Agnew once called the media “Merchants of Chaos” and for good reason. The Vice President had the second-best seat in the world to watch how the media affects the population’s perception of events. Today, this is even more true, especially when it comes to sports content.
So when researching and reading, it’s hard not being swayed one way or the other when it comes to a specific team or player. Be aware of any bias you may have, consciously or not. One way I combat or counter this is to have a few people you trust to bounce ideas and rosters decisions. Try bouncing ideas off some third-party DFS players that are neutral, or even posting questions on Twitter/Facebook.
An alternative viewpoint can point out critical issues when you’re blinded by bias, such as favoritism for a team or player.
Today, a majority of all DFS players are using some form of guide (subscription or not), research stat site, and reading some form of DFS site for that sport in question. Everyone has their favorite writer or research tool that they believe in and swear by. Is one more right than others? Honestly, I think you can gain something from every site or writer, good and bad, right and wrong.
There is always something new to learn. So with all the sites and writers, it leads me to believe that every DFS player has a player/team his is favoring in some way or another. Everyone has a favorite player, or hero, or lives in proximity to a specific team. So be aware of any unconscious bias you may have that can affect your decision-making.
So how do you know when to listen to the media or when to make the maverick move? It’s all about finding a balance between risk and reward.
One of the most important things to remember and an intelligent way to start your day is reviewing what Vegas has to say about the night’s games, for whatever DFS sport you are playing that day. Vegas has far more money and far more brain power and more experience than everyone put together.
They have been successful since their inception for a reason.
They set the lines and spread accordingly and should be the first place you look to get an idea of the daily odds of every game. Remember, if everything happened the way you it was supposed to, Vegas would be just another town in the desert and we would all be driving a Porsche, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Still, Vegas should always be the first place you start, especially when considering which goaltenders to target. Vegas sets specific goal amounts for each team along with total team goal totals. On the higher side you will notice a combined team total of 5.5 goals and 5 to even 4.5 on some occasions.
These implied team totals and combined totals are based on specific stats like teams goals allowed and team scoring. As the day goes, I like to review any changes Vegas has made to the current line on any specific game in question. Even if it’s small, indication of a change in Vegas’ projected outcome that may help you make a decision for that night.
As for social media, you definitely want to consider using Twitter and other social media sites to give you any up to the minute change or addition that can affect the game in question. Sometime these last-minute changes can severely affect not only the games, but will directly impact the ownership of that player.
I have seen goalies taken out of games, or players scratched within 10 to 5 minutes prior to rosters locking, so always do your homework. Luck favors the prepared.
Losing is an inevitable part of playing DFS. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing. In the Art of War by Sun Tzu one of most important parts of winning a battle or war, or in this case DFS, is knowing your enemy.
Knowing who you are up against and what you have to do to win is the first step towards being a successful player. Playing head-to-head against some of the best players in the game allows you to learn from them, too. Examine who your opponent rosters and speculate why they used that player or particular strategy.
To this day, I still pester some of the upper echelon players to pick their brains. You can never learn enough. When I began, I scoured over the winners’ lineups every night to reverse-engineer why they won.
DraftKings lobby allows you to view live games that are being played, regardless if you are entered in them or not. This way you can view the more expensive games to learn the strategies of the high rollers. Over time I began to see what worked and what didn’t, allowing me to tweak my personal game strategy.
Don’t look at losing as negative when it has the ability to teach you so much more. You don’t need to spend $10 head-to-head every night against the best players, but a $1 matchup can go a long way for the sake of learning. Do your homework about who is who and make sure you know who you are playing.
You can also block any user via their screen name, if there are some you’d rather avoid, too. When you set up head to head games on DraftKings there is an option that blocks specific users from coming along and filling the open spot. There are sharks in the shallows, so be careful where you wade.
Sun Tzu also stated that every war is won before any battle very takes place. Knowing who to avoid and who the big players are can help you sidestep a loss before you even roster a single person. Take a minute to peruse the night’s games and look at who has entered. If you want to help yourself when you are starting out, knowing your competition will save you a ton of money while helping you navigate the DFS landscape.
Stay tuned for the next article where we cover building your team and stacking strategies.