How To Play Fantasy Football the Smart Way
You log into your account. You choose the league, tournament or contest you want to play in, or create one. You pay the entry fee, unless it is a freeroll, and then you pick your team according to a salary cap, pick ’em format, auction or snake draft. While it is literally that easy to play daily fantasy football, it is infinitely difficult to play the smart way unless you know specific strategies, tips and tactics. Did you know you can instantly keep more money in your pocket, even if you draft the same way you are doing now, by using the correct bankroll strategy? Is it smarter to play in lots of guaranteed prize pool (GPP) leagues, 50/50 contests or head-to-head (H2H) games? And did you know that simply by holding accounts at multiple daily fantasy sports providers you can instantly improve your bottom line? The least you need to take time considering if you want to make some serious money playing fantasy football are the following factors:
• Player Selection
• Game Format (H2H, Draft, Auction, Snake, etc.)
• Applicable Weather
• League or Game Size (Number of Players)
• Selecting Where You Play (Which Daily Fantasy Sports Site)
• Entry Fee
• Prize Payout Structure
• Selecting Your Opponent
• Team and Player Tendencies at Home Versus on the Road
• Dozens of Other Variables …
Let’s take a look at those proven strategies that consistent fantasy football winners use which will help get you ranked on your DFS fantasy football cash leader board, and put more money in your pocket.
Fantasy Football Tips And Strategies
Following are some great tips and strategies that we acquired from some rather successful professional fantasy football bettors. This information should be very helpful in improving your results and achieving better payouts than ever. You’d be surprised how dramatically a few tweaks to your betting approach can affect the results of your wagers.
Professional Fantasy Football Player Strategy Rule #1
You absolutely must hold open accounts at all of the top daily fantasy football websites. Just this past season, there was a $5 entry contest with a $25,000 guaranteed prize pool at FanDuel one weekend. Because there were not enough entrants to cover the GPP money (fewer competitors), that created a $5,000 overlay, meaning free equity for you when you joined that contest. One smart player started 50 different entries and cashed for $7,000. You drastically improve your odds of finding the “perfect game”, the best bonuses, and the biggest promos when you can check all the top sites.
Daily Fantasy Football Bankroll Management
If you do not know what bankroll management is, or have never taken the time to approach your fantasy football in this way, you are in luck. An average fantasy football player can outperform someone with better research and statistics over the long haul, simply by using a smarter and more proven bankroll management system. Understand first that there are plenty of different winning bankroll management strategies. Why is that? Because as long as you look at your play and then cater some type of money management strategy to your tendencies, and stick to it, you will show positive results.
But the first step is to obviously take advantage of sign-up bonuses. I know it is easy for us to tell you to deposit more money, but if you can, you really need to. Your initial deposit will receive the biggest percentage welcome bonus when you deposit a substantial amount of money. If your DFS site requires $100 to receive a 100% match, that is really how much you should deposit, at least. Having said that, never deposit more than you can afford to lose. (Fantasy pro tip: Never spend more than 5 to 10% of your entire bankroll on any one day, and you will find your winnings come more consistently, while you minimize your losses.)
Guaranteed Prize Pool Strategy – Be Very Careful Here
Guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) are very attractive. The enticement to win thousands or tens of thousands of dollars with a small investment can be hard to resist. But since you may enter multiple lineups in one GPP contest, be very wary here. This is where many of the big-time players making six figures a year earn their bread and butter. Just remember that if you choose a $10 GPP league because you are absolutely in love with your lineup, each of the big name players could have 10+ teams each going against you.
You Must Be Playing 50/50s
50/50 leagues are so-called because you only have to beat half of the field to advance to the next level. This takes the pressure off of you, and is an instant strategy employed to dramatically increase your winning percentage immediately. You only have to be better than half of the entrants, and finishing 25th in a 50 team 50/50 league pays the same as finishing 1st. You’ll second-guess your decisions less frequently, and your odds of success are greater than other league formats.
Calculate and Compare Players’ Baseline Strengths and Values
You are choosing between two wide receivers. Which do you take? This simple and basic daily fantasy football decision can either make or break your career. You first must determine what DFS websites call a player’s Baseline Strength. This is how each website determines the fantasy cash value of a fantasy player. (Fantasy pro tip: Almost every major DFS site uses this season’s fantasy performances to figure a player’s value. So if you know tendencies at home versus on the road, and against certain opponents for a player, you can see if you are paying too much or too little for that athlete. A huge piece of information to remember.) This means that early in the season, whether playing NFL or NCAA games, your ability to notice player values which are out of line will be much greater. Here is where you consider matchup factors, weather conditions, road versus home variables and other attributes when comparing players against each other.
Go for Value Before Big Names
You are probably thinking, “this is common sense.” But if it was, we would not have to mention it. One quick way to equate value, no matter which player you are considering drafting, is to divide average points scored over this season and the past few games by the amount of money you are spending for that athlete. In this way, you can easily and quickly compare Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson against Philly’s Darren Sproles, or any other running back, selecting according to Fantasy Points per Dollar. This is exceptionally valuable when you are choosing a flex position, where you may have to compare WRs against TEs and RBs. It may turn out that the big-name superstar is the right pick, but the big-name daily fantasy football cash money winners will consistently have a lot of lesser-known names on their winning entries.
Understand Intimately the Rules of the Site Where You Are Playing
There are a handful of outstanding daily fantasy football sites that we recommend. But scoring can be vastly different at each, or just slightly so. For instance, as we write this strategy guide, FanDuel subtracts 2 points from your overall score for every fumble lost by a player in your lineup. They also award 5 points for a field goal made of 50+ yards. DraftStreet only subtracts 1 point for a lost fumble, and they use no kicker at all. DraftKings also penalizes 1 point for fumbles lost, generously awarding 5 points for a field goal made of 50+ yards as well. And FantasyFeud also awards bonus points for long field goals, but they are harsher about fumbles too, subtracting 2 points for every fumble lost.
However, if your field goal kicker is not that efficient, you may be in trouble. Three points are subtracted for every missed field goal from 0 to 19 yards at FantasyFeud, but a missed extra point only costs you 1 point. Never assume that all fantasy sports scoring systems are the same. Understand where you are playing, and learn the rules inside and out by participating in freeroll and $1 tournaments and leagues first. Using the exact same lineup in the same type of game at different sites is often times the difference between a win and a loss.
Fantasy Stacking Strategy and Why It Can Be Good for Daily Fantasy Football
Stacking is the practice of combining two players from the same team on your fantasy lineup. One of the most common strategies here is to combine a quarterback and wide receiver from the same team in a favorable matchup. This happens a lot in traditional season-long fantasy football formats, but it can provide even more firepower in the daily fantasy football format. (Fantasy pro tip: Stacking is not usually advised in Double Up leagues because it could backfire horribly. And there is too much downside if your players do not hook up in a 50/50 league, where all you have to do is finish in the top half.) This is a smarter strategy in the larger leagues where you use a QB – WR, QB – TE or QB – pass catching RB combo that you don’t think most other fantasy league owners will be starting.
Watch the Weather (and a Little-Known Weather Strategy)
For games played outdoors, tune into the Weather Channel for weather updates. Obviously, inclement weather can have a severe impact on your players.(Fantasy pro tip: Nearly everyone these days knows to check the weather before choosing players in outdoor contests. But use this little-known and effective weather trick. The key here is to “fade” the general opinion concerning weather. Newer fantasy players tend to overcompensate for mildly negative weather reports, and you can take advantage of this.)
Spend A Lot Of Time Lurking and Socializing
You can make more money than you currently are playing daily fantasy football simply by watching other players. The bigger and better DFS sites post gobs of information as far as which players are entered in which leagues. There are also chat rooms, forums and message boards at all of the top sites. Use this information to your advantage. If you see certain players entered in multiple games day after day, they probably know what they’re doing. Avoid their action. Invaluable info can be obtained simply by reading all the past posts concerning fantasy football in the forums offered at the top sites. This means opening multiple accounts at different sites, and taking the time to do the research.
Become a Specialist
Take a look at your performance, and see where you do the best. A great mid-level 50/50 player may not be that good at high dollar H2H contests. You may intimately understand how snake drafts work, and may perform better with this type of game and then with the traditional salary cap league. It is very infrequently you come across a player who is excellent at every particular game, contest and league, offered in the many formats which are available. Diligently track your performance, and spend more time in those contests where your winning percentage is higher.
Fade the Big Games, Especially Thursday Night Football (NFL)
Whether you enjoy NCAA or NFL daily fantasy football, fading the biggest games can be a huge moneymaker. When the NFL offers Thursday Night Football games, the majority of daily fantasy football players use a high percentage of the athletes in those games. This is because of the human tendency to want to get results quickly. This is the first game of the week, so a lot of fantasy football players want to be involved. Stay away if you can. Any time you can go against (fade) the opinions of the majority of fantasy football gamblers, you will have a better chance at success.
Push for “Guaranteed Points” in H2H, 50/50 and Double-Up Contests
In a huge leagues, you are going to want to try to hit that home-run. You want a player like Percy Harvin that can give you 20 or 30 points, in a best case scenario. You are swinging for the fence. But in H2H, 50/50 and Double-Up contests, you want as close to guaranteed points as you can possibly get. Pay extra for consistent performers at the positions where your particular scoring system delivers the most points. This is usually going to be QBs, WRs and RBs, but in recent years, consistent TEs have actually been regularly outperforming expensive RBs on a more consistent basis, as the “running back by committee” strategy has gone league-wide in the NFL.
In GPP Contests, Take a Chance
As we hinted on above, the optimal strategy when playing daily fantasy football for real money with a guaranteed prize pool (GPP) is to always think upside. Roll the dice on a value priced quarterback with huge upside. You can have one of the largest fantasy performances of the day without paying much for it. (Fantasy pro tip: Draft your value QB from the team that you believe will be involved in a shootout. You also want value priced QBs that you think will be losing and trailing for most of the game. Conversely, you want a value RB on a team which will build up a big lead early and simply run the ball to kill the clock.) Just remember to go for players that have the potential for huge days, as opposed to consistent and average performers when you are playing GPPs.
Daily Fantasy Football Trivia: Peter Jennings is “CSURAM88” in the daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry. Why should you care? Because he won $150,000 in the FanDuel Fantasy Football Championship in 2012, with just a $10 qualifier.