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A Quick Guide to the Lineup Dominator

A quick guide to the Lineup Dominator, from getting it set up to digging into the deepest and most compelling features.

The offseason is over. You've already dominated your draft, and after you got your team rated you know that with solid in-season management you're a shoo-in for the playoffs.

There's just the little problem of that "solid in-season management" thing. Thankfully, Footballguys' staff of 60+ paid experts has you covered, and with the ability to integrate your league into MyFBGs, managing your team has never been quicker or easier.

But let's say that you're aiming higher than "solid" in-season management. Let's say you want to dominate in-season like you just dominated the offseason. Luckily, there's an app for that.

The Lineup Dominator

The lineup dominator is the ultimate tool for owners who want to leave no stone unturned, no advantage unmined, no beatdown undelivered, no... well, you get the idea. Just as the Draft Dominator uses advanced and ever-refined algorithms to give you the best possible advice tailored to your actual league, the Lineup Dominator takes things like in-season projections and dials them up to 11, giving you roster advice tailored not just to your roster and your scoring settings, but even to your weekly opponent.

(What does your weekly opponent matter? Isn't your goal to just score as many points as possible? No! Your goal is to win the game, and the strategies you pursue to maximize your odds of winning are subtly different than the strategies you pursue to maximize the points you score.)

Before we start getting into the nitty-gritty of what it offers, though, let's walk through setting it up.

When you first boot up the app, you'll see a prompt to log in to your Footballguys account or to register a new one. Why do we need this? Because we want to do all of the heavy lifting to make your life as easy as possible. With a Footballguys account, all of the details of all of your leagues are centralized so that every single Footballguys app and service can immediately pull your roster and scoring systems and customize our advice to your specific needs.

If you've already used the Draft Dominator app or you're already a Footballguys subscriber, you already have an account. If you drafted with the draft dominator or you've already set up MyFBG, then that account will already have all the details on your team and your league. Which means as soon as you sign in, you'll be ready to roll. If you haven't, then never fear, the linked quick-start guides will walk you through the process of creating and setting up an account.

Once you're linked up, you'll see a screen something like this one:

That's your current roster, along with projections for week 1 based on your league's scoring system. (Well, technically that's my current roster, but you should see your roster in its place.) This is going to be your "home base" in the Lineup Dominator, the place where 95% of the action occurs. To get here at any time, just click the tab represented by the little football in the bottom left corner, (highlighted in blue in this screenshot).

You might notice those "Floor" and "Upside" columns alongside the projected point total in bold. We'll get to those in a second. First thing's first; let's address that red exclamation point in the top-left corner. Go ahead and click on that drop-down arrow.

You'll see the first thing the Lineup Dominator wants is for you to tell it who your opponent for this week is. This is because, as I said, there are a host of algorithms going on behind the scenes to let it tailor its advice as much as possible to your specific situation. Go ahead and set your opening-week opponent, then scroll this page down and let's talk about the rest of your choices.

First, you can either let the Lineup Dominator assume your opponent is going to use his or her best possible lineup, or you can tell the Lineup Dominator just what lineup your opponent has set. If it's early in the week or you're facing a team that's known for playing mind games or waiting to the last minute before setting a lineup, you should probably stick with "Best Lineup" for now.

But if your opponent has already set a lineup, go ahead and use "Actual Lineup" so that the Lineup Dominator can give you the most specific and tailored advice possible.

After that, notice the box that prompts what you want to optimize your lineup to. "Highest Score" is the traditional choice across the industry-- without access to the intricate specifics of your league, the best anyone can do is suggest which players they think will score the most points.

But the goal of fantasy football isn't to score points, it's to win games. Scoring points is a means to that end, but ultimately you play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game! You don't play to just to play it.

How do these two things differ? Let me give you an example. Let's say you've got a weak team and you're facing the best team in the league. No matter what you do, your odds of winning are low. In order to pull off the upset, you're going to need a lot of longshot events to come through. As a result, you're a lot less concerned with how many points your players will usually score, because if they score what they usually score you're going to lose.

Instead, you want to know what your players could score. You're chasing upside, in other words. And, thankfully, Footballguys projects upside, too. And the more the other team is favored, the more the algorithms are going to favor the upside projections over the baseline projections.

If you're the heavy favorite instead, (which is more likely if you've been using the Draft Dominator and the Lineup Dominator to this point), then your concerns reverse themselves. Instead of maximizing upside, you know your opponent's clearest path to victory involves your team laying a major egg. So you're far more focused on players with high floors to make that final win a little bit more certain.

Think back to the floor, upside, and average points projection on the first page of the app. If you choose to optimize to maximize points, then the lineup dominator's advice will be the same regardless of your opponent it's just going to tell you to start the guys with the highest baseline projections, (the bolded number).

But if you optimize to winning games, the lineup dominator will give you different advice when you're facing a juggernaut than it will if you're facing a doormat, in an effort to help you perhaps squeeze an extra win or two out of your roster over the course of a season. And in a hobby where one win can mean the difference between making the playoffs and missing the playoffs, or between earning a bye and playing on week 1, those little edges can be a big deal.

The rest of the options here are pretty self-explanatory. If you select "Include Free Agents", then the Lineup Dominator will show you any free agents who are projected to be an improvement for your starting lineup this week. (Here's a screenshot of this in action; note the light blue background behind both C.J. Anderson and Eddie Lacy.)

If you select "Show Bench Players", then the Lineup Dominator will show your entire roster. If you deselect it, the Lineup Dominator will only show you the players it recommends that you start.

The former approach is useful if you want to see how close some of your bench players are to some of your recommended starters. The latter makes for a cleaner-looking set of recommendations. Fortunately, both the Free Agents and Bench Players settings can be easily toggled on your main roster screen.

The final section of the settings screen lets you set a custom projections mix. By default, the Lineup Dominator will use a blended set of all available projections with a slight emphasis on those from David Dodds, one of the founders of Footballguys and a Fantasy Football Hall of Famer. But you're free to change this mix at any time if you want to place more or less emphasis on one projector relative to the others.

Once you have all your settings to your liking, hit the blue "X" on the top right to return to your main roster page. Like I said, this is where 95% of your interactions with the app will be, but let's go over a few more background settings before we get to the real meat and potatoes of the app.

I mentioned that your home will be the tab represented by the blue football at the bottom left of the screen. Let's click over to the numbered list right next to it. This is the "cheatsheet" page, which by default contains a custom cheatsheet for your league with your own players highlighted in red and free agents highlighted in light blue.

But while default settings are fine, the fun lies in the customization, which in this case means that blue wrench in the top right.

The option to filter the cheatsheet based on gametimes will be extremely useful to the DFS nuts out there, since it lets you quickly remove players who aren't eligible for specific contests you might be entering. The ability to highlight other owners' players can be a handy one if you want to quickly check how your opponent this week stacks up, or if you'd perhaps like to see what owners are strong at a position and therefore good targets for trade negotiations.

When you're done with the cheatsheets, click over to the tab on the bottom that's shaped like a trophy. This is the schedule tab, where if you want you can set all of your matchups for the whole season up-front rather than setting them week by week. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot to dig into here.

The final tab, represented by an ellipsis in the bottom-right corner, is your app settings.

The Lineup Dominator will update itself automatically in real-time as new projections are uploaded to Footballguys' servers, (in fact, you may have already noticed a pop-up notification telling you data had been updated while you've been exploring, like this one).

You'll probably see that data update alert pop up a lot, but for peace-of-mind purposes, you can manually force an update at any time here.

On this page, you can also add new league profiles or edit existing league profiles, and gain quick access to some of Footballguys' most useful features like its newswire or its always-up-to-date NFL depth charts. You can also find out information on other Footballguys products, such as the Insider PRO subscription and the Draft Dominator.

You'll also find the Help and Support center here in case you have any problems with the app or any other Footballguys product or service.

Now, with everything set to our liking, lets return to our home page by clicking over to the football tab in the bottom left corner.

Your players will be listed in the order that the Lineup Dominator recommends them, with the names of projected starters normal and the names of players to bench italicized, (provided you've selected the option to show them in the first place).

Additionally, you might notice some icons by some of the player names. A little television means that player is playing in a nationally televised game. An alarm clock provides a reminder that the player is in an early game typically a Thursday night game. There's also a symbol of a stadium with a fully-shaded roof for players who will be playing in a dome, and a stadium with a partially-shaded roof for players who will be playing in a stadium with a retractable roof. As always, there will be the red first-aid kits, too, to indicate players battling injuries.

If you're just looking to the best possible recommendations as quickly as possible, then this is all you'll need. Boot up the Lineup Dominator, look at its recommendations, set your lineup, and be on with your week.

But if you're the type of person who likes digging a little bit deeper, well... things only get cooler from here. For instance, let's say you tap on one of the players' names.

The first thing you'll be confronted with is a visual representation of the range of possible outcomes for this player. This range might be relatively bell-shaped, or it might be skewed to one side or another for players with a more prominent upside or floor value. It will also show you where each individual projector falls on the spectrum for this player.

Across the top of this screen you can tap to look at the player's matchup, his year-to-date production, or any recent news concerning him. This far before the season, these pages will be a little bit spartan, but by the time the season rolls around they will be populated with rich information to assist in any decision-making.

Okay, so to this point, beyond the ability to give hyper-customized advice, the Lineup Dominator has shown several useful tools and probably looks like a pretty solid app. Now let's get to the really, *really* cool stuff. Let's go back to your main lineup page and tap on the chart icon in the top right corner.

The first thing you see is a projected range of possible outcomes for your team and for your opponent's team. If you're a favorite or if you're an underdog, this is a tremendous visual representation of just what that means, along with a projected score, upside, downside, and estimated winning percentage.

But knowing you're a favorite or underdog is useless unless you know what to do with that knowledge. I've already discussed the importance of high-upside players if you're an underdog and of high-floor players if you're a favorite. But the truly groundbreaking, revolutionary, bleeding-edge advantage that the Lineup Dominator provides is the ability to analyze and optimize player combinations. To see what I mean, scroll down a little bit on this page.

There are a lot of people who talk about whether you want to get or avoid "hookups", defined as quarterback/receiver pairs. The advantage of a hookup is when the quarterback throws to the receiver, you get double the points. The disadvantage is that if one player struggles, the other will likely struggle as well.

This concept is known as "covariance", or the tendency for one player to vary in relationship to another. Quarterback / wide receiver pairs have high covariance; in other words, they make your lineup more volatile, simultaneously increasing your ceiling and decreasing your floor.

On the other hand, running back / wide receiver pairs have historically had a weak negative covariance. If a running back has a bad day, the wide receiver on his team is slightly more likely to help pick up the slack. This decreases your roster's upside, because the more your team is running the ball the less it is throwing the ball. But it also increases your roster's floor, because the less your team is running the ball, the more it is throwing the ball.

Covariance is neither good nor bad in and of itself. Again, the point is maximizing upside if you're an underdog and minimizing downside if you're a favorite. So the Lineup Dominator presents all player pairs with a "covariance factor" highlighted in green if that pair increases covariance (and is therefore better for underdogs), or in red if that pair decreases covariance, (and therefore is advantageous to favorites).

And the really awesome part is it doesn't restrict itself to player pairs on your own roster. If you have a wide receiver who plays with your opponent's quarterback, that can increase or decrease covariance, too! The Lineup Dominator can tell you when it's in your interest to try to neutralize the opponent's wide receiver by starting his quarterback, for instance, or when you're better off starting a different wide receiver on the same team to increase volatility.

A quick note about these covariance calculations: they were made by Footballguy Doug Drinen, a college professor with a PhD in statistics and the man who created Pro Football Reference, the single most comprehensive database of historical NFL stats this side the Elias Sports Bureau, official record-keepers for the NFL. When I say these are bleeding-edge, I mean they're really bleeding-edge.

Tapping on the "By Position" tab at the top of the screen takes you to a spider chart illustrating the position-by-position comparison with your opponent, while tapping "Read More..." at the bottom will bring up a list of the starters for each team.

Tapping the "By Time" tab takes you to a timeline of projected scoring, so you can estimate when a team's points will likely be coming. This is a very useful feature on gamedays; if you find yourself down by 15 points after the early afternoon games, you can always check the timeline to reassure yourself that most of your production was back-loaded into the late afternoon and night games, so that 15-point deficit leaves you right on schedule.

The final tab, labeled "FA Blocking", is a fun place for the particularly Machiavellian among us. This provides a list of the available free agents that would most help your opponent's lineup, so if you have extra bench spots you can feel free to grab some of them to "block" them from being used against you.

This is yet another sneaky, (and potentially game-changing), advantage that you won't be able to find anywhere else in the industry. But then, it's not the Lineup Helper, it's the Lineup Dominator. At Footballguys, we take the promise implicit in that title very seriously.

That's it for the features, but please play around with the app and familiarize yourself with all the different functions. If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to reach out to us and let us know. And thank you for letting Footballguys be a part of helping you win your league.