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DraftKings Fantasy Football: Tips for Success

Joel Bartilotta

Joel Bartilotta

Joel has 11+ years of Fantasy experience, and can recall riding a young Dante Culpepper to a FF championship back in the 2003-04 season. He covers EPL Soccer and Daily Fantasy Football for RotoWire. He's extremely active with EPL, NFL, MLB and NBA fantasy games. Do not disparage his beloved Denver Nuggets, Everton Toffees or Oakland Raiders.


Instead of focusing on players this week, we'll take a look at ways to help improve your play on DraftKings, with a goal to simplify the format as much as possible. As the daily game grows, so does the knowledge of the users who are playing. Now more than ever, people are getting better at the daily format and there is no such thing as easy cash. The idea here is to implement some simple ideas to help solidify your game and to eliminate any rookie mistakes. Success in daily fantasy is not easily attainable and can be a grind. While hitting a big cash prize in a large tournament is nice, the odds of such a score are against you. The best way to succeed is to grind profits out and slowly build your bankroll. Despite the short-term format, daily fantasy is a marathon, not a sprint. Therefore, our first and most important tip is to manage your bankroll.

Managing Bankroll

A common issue for new users to daily fantasy is their lack of bankroll management. Bankroll management is more than managing your money, itís understanding how to use your money to make a profit. Yes, itís fun to be in the big guaranteed tournaments every weekend, but the odds of cashing in those arenít in your favor. There are so many different types of games on DraftKings, like head-to-head matchups, double-ups, multipliers, and satellites. Double-ups and head-to-head matchups are fantastic ways to keep a bankroll in check. The best part of a head-to-head matchup is you only have to beat one other person to cash. Also, with the head-to-head matchups, you can even see whom you are playing before you sign up. By monitoring the leaderboard and understanding whom the good players are, you can avoid the sharks and abuse the newer users. Yes, it sounds immoral, but we're playing for money here, do what you have to do! The double-ups are a great way to keep bankroll in check as well. All you have to do is finish in the top half of the pool, as the top 50 percent of entries cash every time. By putting the majority of your money in play on these formats and just a small fraction into big guaranteed prize pools, youíre ahead of the game. So letís get into how to approach these bigger guaranteed prize pools.

Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP)

Everyone wants to be that guy, the one who won a million dollars in a fantasy tournament, right? Well at DraftKings, you can be that guy. The best way to get into these big buy-in tournaments is to earn a spot through a satellite or qualifier. In 2003, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker ($10,000 buy-in) with a $39 satellite and parlayed that into $2.5 million. On DraftKings, there are satellites and qualifiers ran everyday to get into bigger tournaments. DraftKings understands that not everyone has $200 to throw down on a tournament, so they open the door for smaller players to get into these tournaments by making these qualifiers. You can even enter these qualifiers for as little as $0.25. Itís important to understand how to play these guaranteed prize pools as well. The most important factor is to stand out from the crowd. The only way to finish at the top of a guaranteed prize pool is to pick some players who wonít be owned by the masses. You have to have one or two guys on few rosters who just blew up for crazy numbers unexpectedly. A great way to build a GPP lineup is to use the studs and duds moniker. This simply means to fill your roster with canít miss studs and high upside duds. Yes, missing on the duds is bad, but every dud has his day. If you can fill out your roster with the perfect alignment of studs and well-timed duds, itís a recipe for a GPP first place cash. Every week there is one or two players on the ďperfectĒ fantasy leaderboard who make you shake your head, spotting these guys is key to winning a GPP. Another great way to approach GPPs is stacking. Stacking simply means to use multiple players from one team in a particularly good matchup. Using these strategies and other sources in GPPs is a gateway to success. There are numerous outside sources that are mandatory to be successful in daily fantasy as well.

Outside Considerations

There is plenty of homework that goes into daily fantasy, and youíll want to make sure to track all of the below considerations to ensure youíre not behind the curve.

Weather

The first must use source is weather. This is a bigger deal in baseball, but it is still a major factor in fantasy football as well. Itís not necessarily snow or rain that scares me as much as wind does. If there are crazy swirling winds happening, itís probably a good idea to avoid any quarterbacks or wide receivers in those games. Coaches know more than anyone that a passing game is just not as effective in swirling winds. This is why itís smart to look to running backs in these types of games, especially those who can catch the ball out of the backfield. Coaches love to use short passing games in swirling wind games to avoid turnovers and to maintain a resemblance of a passing game. As for rain and snow, itís tough to predict exactly how the players will react. Iíve seen snow games where itís impossible to move the ball and seen snow games where no one can make a tackle. A heavy monsoon rain-game is another time to avoid the quarterbacks and wide outs, and deems for more of a running environment. Once or twice every year, there will be a monsoon game in Miami or Jacksonville, where itís nearly impossible to throw the ball. These are great games to use fantasy defenses as well due to the potential for turnovers. Before you set your lineups, take a peek at the weather reports and make sure nothing bizarre is going on.

Over/Under

Another key outside factor for success in daily fantasy is to use Vegas lines. Over/Under lines are a great prediction of who will win a game and how many points will be scored. More often than not, the odds makers are in the ballpark with their over/under totals. Itís good to use a multitude of players from the game with the highest total, while avoiding players who are in the game with the lowest scores. Donít use this as the end all be all, but itís just a great baseline for what to expect in any given game.

By using over/under lines and weather reports, we have eliminated numerous sources of risk that most users wouldnít even know..

Know the Scoring Format

Every season-long league has different scoring and it goes the same for the daily format as well. DraftKings has its own designated set of scoring that youíll want to know inside and out. For instance, DraftKings is a point-per-reception (PPR) format, which rewards receivers and running backs who haul in catches. Also, DraftKings offers bonus points for certain yardage milestones. Having players who reach these special milestones puts more emphasis on having a big game and can sometime make for ugly bad beats. Kickers have been banished from DraftKings this year, which is something that should be implemented across the board. Nothing is worse than having your fantasy week determined by a kicker. DraftKings lineups consist of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, and D/ST. With PPR scoring, three wideout spots and a flex, DraftKings clearly emphasizes wide receivers. So, before you fill out your lineup just take a look at the scoring and rules of your daily format, just to have a better idea of which positions are rewarded higher than others.

Track Injuries

All week we are bombarded with big red Q's, P's and D's next to our favorite players names, but this designation is not the full story. Most of the time when you see that big red P (probable) next to a guyís name, he'll play the game. When you see a Q (questionable), his status is up in the air. And when you see a D (doubtful), just avoid that guy. It seems simple, right? Wrong, many of these injured guys will not be used the same way as they would when they are fully healthy. Whenever a player has an injury designation, itís best just to avoid that guy all together. More often than not, an injured player who is playing will be used as a decoy and will not see the ball as much as usual to avoid further injury. We can also use these injuries to determine potential breakouts from backups. Very often, itís smart to target an injured starís backup, as his opportunity will be enhanced for that week at a cheaper value.