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DFS Football 101: DFS Starter Kit, Part 3

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

As we continue with our DFS Starter Kit series, which explains the best practices for new players for this football season, here are the previous two weeks articles to reference:

DFS Starter Kit, Part 1 – Site format, Opponent Selection, Practice Making Lineups
DFS Starter Kit, Part 2 - Managing the Salary Cap, Lineup Construction

Knowing which "Slates" to Play

One of the biggest differences between seasonal and daily fantasy football is that in season-long leagues every game for the week is in play. In daily, there are several schedules or "Slates" of games you can play.

Here are the slates that will be available in Week 1:

Thursday–Monday – 16 games
Sunday Only – 13 games (Main slate)
Sunday 1 p.m. – 9 games
Sunday 4 p.m. – 3 games
Sunday 4 p.m. + SNF – 4 games
SNF + Monday – 3 games
Sunday–Monday – 15 games
Monday–Thursday – 2 games

The main slate is Sunday only, which is 13 games. That will be the one with the most contests and the one you should focus on playing the most. The next slate to look at is Sunday 1 p.m., which is 9 games.

I would advise that you do not play in any of the other slates for a variety of reasons.

Playing in the slates with 2-4 games is a death trap for new players. First, because there is a limited amount of games, the player pool is small. That means there will be a huge amount of overlap in player ownership. The only way to win these slates is to fade most of the popular plays and hope they bust. You gain the advantage by taking lesser-owned players that outperform projections.

The Thursday-to-Monday slate is tricky because a lot of players will just play it and load up on the Thursday game just to have interest. It only makes sense if looks like Thursday will be a low-scoring game and you take players on Sunday/Monday. If the Thursday games looks to be high scoring, there is no edge to be gained as the ownership will be even higher. You can still play it, but you want to get some exposure to Thursday, but less than the field.

Advanced players love to exploit this slate, which is why I recommend to stay away.

Playing one lineup vs. multiple lineups in cash games

A lot of people don't like putting all of their eggs into one basket, so they play a few cash lineups. My recommendation is you play just one lineup in your cash games. Playing one lineup helps to keep it simple for you. Also if you play two or three lineups in your cash games, those lineups are not as strong as that first one. Sure, you can keep the core of the lineup and switch out the QB, one of the RB, one of the WR and maybe the TE, K or D/ST. But more times than not what ends up happening is one of them will cash, the other one won't and you break even or end up in the red. At least with one single lineup it is cut and dry. You are either going to win or lose with that lineup.

If you want exposure to more players, you can play tournaments and enter multiple lineups or you can play on more than one site.

Deciding which site to play

Because there is so much lead time to research Week 1 football, play as many sites as you can. Take advantage of any first-time deposit bonuses and beginner contests. After Week 1, settle in on the sites that you feel most comfortable wit.

Look at the ones you thought were easiest to make a lineup and won on. As a new player, a smaller site like FantasyDraft or a new site like Fanball presents more opportunity to win because the larger volume players are not on there and the contests are smaller.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.