Daily Fantasy Football Basic Strategy: Part 1
It’s time to get ready for daily fantasy football. This is the first of our series of strategy posts covering the basics of lineup building for NFL DFS. In this introductory post, we will be demonstrating the importance of research and telling you the best places to go to get the information you need to make a winning NFL lineup.
When it comes to daily fantasy sports, information is always going to be king. As DFS players, we have an absolute wealth of information available to us. The hard part, however, is trying to figure out what we need to focus on and what is just noise. If you get into a solid research routine, it will help you not only for the games you’re entering now, but you’ll also get stronger in the future as your research habits strengthen.
The suggestions in this article are flexible. If you find a source of information or statistics that works better for you, that is fine. The important thing to take away is that you need to build a solid base of sources to draw your research from at the beginning of each NFL DFS week that you’re competing in.
I also want to mention the importance of doing your own strategy work rather than just looking at sites that give you specific information on which players to pick. Forming your own opinions and beliefs based upon your research is very important to your growth as a DFS player. Using such sites is great after you’ve done your own research, however.
The advice below applies to both cash game and GPP strategy. In future articles I’ll be going in depth about the differences in lineup construction for these two types of DFS contests, but for now I’ll be taking a look at baseline research that is applicable to all NFL DFS.
This is where we should start each and every week. Whether we like to admit it or not, the folks in Vegas certainly know their stuff. There’s a reason why the saying “the house always wins” is a thing. But because we know that Vegas has to ensure they get the lines for their games correct week after week, we can use this information to learn which teams and players we should be focusing on for DFS.
Our site of choice for looking at game lines and odds is Pinnacle. Here we can take a look at how big of a favorite or an underdog a team is as well as seeing what the over/under of a particular game is. The over/under is often a big clue of the games we should be targeting. Generally speaking, games with a high over/under means a lot of potential fantasy points.
We should also be watching which way lines are moving as it gets closer to game time as it’s generally a pretty good clue of any adjustments we should be thinking about making with our lineups. For example, we may choose to cut a player if Vegas decides that his team isn’t going to score as many points as they originally thought.
While various forms of research are interchangeable or replaceable, I feel that using Vegas as a guideline is a must.
Both of these sites are great sources of analytics during the season. On Football Outsiders you’ll be able to check how efficient an offensive line is or how effective a quarterback is. You can look back at past years for various positions and players to help get a better idea of their true values and whether their production was variance or actual quality. There’s a lot of advanced statistics at work on Football Outsiders and it’s well worth your time to get familiar with them.
Pro Football Focus is another site that relies heavily on advanced metrics and statistics. One of the best features Pro Football Focus has to offer is their wide receiver matchup chart. This chart allows you to see how often a specific cornerback lines up on a certain part of the field. Then you can see how many targets they face a game, how their coverage rates, and the number of fantasy points per target they give up. This ends up being a very effective tool going into Sunday when trying to figure out which wide receivers we want on our team based on who is defending them.
Both sites have a lot going for them in terms of effective research, and they reward players for spending time seeking in depth statistics. There are definitely other sites out there that fall into this category, and if you enjoy them more or find them to be more informative, you should use them too.
As I mentioned earlier, doing your own homework is of the utmost importance. However, once you’ve done your research and you have an idea of which players to target, you can check certain sites for player specific picks and/or player projections.
My personal favorite site for projections is numberFire, an analytics based website. Many sites require payment for use of their player projections, but at numberFire the projections and many other useful sources of information are free.
As I said earlier, projection sites can’t replace your own research. It is certainly tempting to have all of their pretty information at hand when starting your NFL DFS week, but sometimes it can cause you to miss things you would have found with proper research. Overall, sites like numberFire are a great way to check your work and essentially get a second opinion.
Up-To-Date Information on Players, Injuries and Situations
Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to injury and roster information. Because a lot of your lineup construction should come from finding good value plays stemming from injuries, it’s very important to always know what’s going on. There are several ways to do this, and the more efficient you get at gathering the information, the more time you have to utilize it.
My preferred way of keeping track of the latest news is Twitter. In order to filter out for information relevant to NFL DFS only, you should make a list of people that tweet valuable information or subscribe to someone else’s list. Some favorites of mine to follow for NFL news include Jay Glazer, Evan Silva, Adam Levitan, and Adam Schefter. These Twitter accounts and more can be found on our Stack & Fade NFL News Twitter list.
As mentioned earlier, most of the information in this guide is flexible, save for Vegas. The amount of time you have to devote to DFS will ultimately determine what you’re able to look at in a given week. In the end it’s about having a process you’re comfortable with so that you’re able to build lineups with confidence.
There’s going to be several more posts coming up to get you geared up for NFL DFS, so stay tuned. If you have any questions or want to discuss anything in this article, please post in our Building Blocks: Research discussion topic. General questions, comments, or ideas for future articles in this series should be posted in our daily fantasy football forum.