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DFS Football 101: Building a Weekly Regimen

Michael Rathburn

Known as ďRathĒ 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 I was thinking about the article this week, I got to thinking about my weekly regimen for fantasy football and if it's the same as other guys in my situation. I have a full-time job outside of fantasy sports, am married and have a 21-month-old son. I know a lot of guys who work in the industry and are single, so they have a lot more time to dedicate. But also there are guys who have multiple kids, jobs, and commitments, so Iím kind of in the middle.

I think itís important to develop some kind of routine throughout the week and maintain it. Otherwise, you forget about something or fall behind and it ends up costing you in your results.

So, here it is: my weekly routine of fantasy football.

Sunday

Morning Ė Everything is ready to go, Iíve already made lineups and just need to enter contests. I try to play the same contests every week. Around 11:30 AM ET is when the inactives come out. If there are any surprises, I evaluate how that might impact my teams and roster construction. For example, the news about the Bears WRs last Sunday made me look at Zach Miller. Iím also looking at line moves and how that will impact the landscape. If I see a total or line move two or more points, itís something to pay attention to. It generally means there is a lot of sharp money coming in on that team.

Afternoon Ė Iíll watch the early slate on the NFL RedZone and, if the 4 PM slate is light, I usually start dinner prep and cook on the grill.

Evening Ė After finishing up dinner with the family and spending time with my son, I write my RotoWire article during the Sunday Night Football game. If I have enough time I will review box scores and take note of any notable news, hit the RotoWire news page, and look ahead at the Vegas lines that are posted.

Monday

I will listen to FNTSY in the morning on the way into work and throughout the morning until 11 AM when the RotoWire show comes on Sirius XM Fantasy. I like both because the hosts play in a number of leagues, both industry and high-stakes. Having skin in the game is important and why I listen. Iíve also started listening to VSIN (Vegas Sports Information Network) in the afternoons before going back over to FNTSY at 4 p.m. The knowledge of the Vegas guys is solid and gives a different perspective.

I check the Vegas lines just to see what else has been posted. I make sure to hit the targets and snap-count data on RotoWire with the team trends pages.

During the Monday night game, I check to see if the NFL Rewind games have been posted on demand. These are 10-minute recaps of each game posted on my cable system. There are also 30-minute recaps with NFL Game Pass you can subscribe to. Sometimes the game recaps are posted so I can get through them on Monday night. The sooner, the better, because as the week goes on Iím less motivated to try and squeeze them in.

On Monday nights, I also review the DFS contests and lineups that I played. I look at ownership percentages in cash games and tournaments to see the differences. Where did things go right and wrong, along with who was on the winning teams and who was on the losing teams?

Tuesday

During the day Iím listening to the same radio shows on FNTSY and Sirius XM to hear their takes on the games the previous week and the ones upcoming. One of the things I am careful about is being influenced by opinions. I make it a note to follow and listen to particular people who give context behind their analysis. If someone is only saying ďI think they will do thisĒ without any context, I usually stop following. Listening and following to too many people is one of the biggest mistakes fantasy football players can make. It leads to confusion and then not knowing who to trust.

I look at the overall results on the season to date for both FanDuel and DraftKings using these two leagues that someone made: FanDuel League and DraftKings League. Iím looking for who are the most consistent players on the season to determine the best cash-game players for the week. Iím also looking at the players who have had the highest scores for tournaments.

Another article I make a note to check throughout the week is Jeff Ericksonís Value Meter report because it is not based on projections. He puts a lot more emphasis on matchups and is not afraid to drop a player several spots below the consensus or vice versa.

I also start to follow the practice reports each day and take note of who might be out that week and the impact upon making lineups.

Wednesday

I dedicate Wednesday to taking care of all my season-long teams. Most of my leagues are on MFL now making it easier to manage. Iím putting in all of my FAAB bids, etc. I read a lot of the trusted waiver columns in the industry and take notes on anyone I think might be a matchup play for DFS. If I have not been able to watch the game recaps, I will try to finish them by Wednesday night.

Thursday

One of the few podcasts I listen to is the RotoWire DFS Podcast with Scott Jenstad and Vlad Sedler. I trust these guys because, not only have they been playing in high-stakes season-long formats, but they understand the process of how to break down games and players. A lot of times I'm already on players they mention, so itís the nuggets when they talk about someone who I wasnít on that are crucial. I then apply my own thinking and decide if Iím in agreement or not. A few weeks ago Vlad and I disagreed on Dez Bryant. That's just how it goes.

During the Thursday Night Football game, I start to build a cheat sheet of the players I will consider for lineups in cash games and tournaments on both FanDuel and DraftKings. I create two separate sheets as not to confuse myself. I try and make sure that I am not overexposed on players in cash games on both sites, meaning the QB is usually different, RBs might be one of the same, WR might be one of the same, TE might be the same Ė which is OK Ė and D/ST is different. I break them down by position and put the salary next to them. I then start putting some lineups together on the Rotowire Optimizer. This is strictly for lineup construction purposes.

Pricing, roster construction, and scoring systems are different on both sites, so you cannot just run the same lineup on both. It doesnít work.

Another part of cash games versus tournaments is determining the ownership of players. A good way to determine this is who are the players ranked much higher compared to what their salary is ranked on the DFS sites. I also look at the FanShare data which tracks what players are being mentioned through several online platforms.

Friday

This is when I will start to reach out to a couple of guys I trust in the industry and bounce some stuff off. I strongly encourage you to do the same. Find a friend or two that you can have a conversation with about the DFS plays for the week. It is good to get another personís thinking. I canít tell you how many times Iíve been off on a player only because I wasnít even thinking about him, and was put on him by the weekly conversations I have. Again, limit this practice to only a couple of guys because the more peopleís opinions you have, the more likely it could cloud your judgment. I also make sure that my DFS buddies give context for why they like a certain player or do not. Donít just tell me I think they will do this, but give me a solid reason why.

The final practice reports come on Friday night and this is where Iím not only paying attention to the skill position players, but Iím looking at the team units as a whole. Does a team have two offensive linemen out? What does that mean for their offense and the opposing defense? Does a team have three members of the secondary out? How does that affect the passing game on the other side? The RotoWire practice report page has every playerís practice status by day all on one page.

Saturday

I try and block out Saturday for my family. Depending on what my wife has planned, I will put off any fantasy football prep until the later evening after my son has gone to bed. Often times, it will be after my wife has gone to bed also. It is a lot easier to manage fantasy sports when your spouse just "doesnít see it" is what someone told me a long time ago, and I agree. If you wake up early and get an hour in during the week, or do it late at night, it will go a long way to helping the marriage side.

That brings me back to Sunday and another week of fantasy football. I hope I was able to give you some insight and help your weekly fantasy football "routine." Iíd love to hear about tips with yours in the comment section.

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.