Welcome to the 2016 version of The Daily Grind, a look at Daily Fantasy Football from several vantage points. Together we will look at many different topics this season – from managing expectations and bankroll to what Footballguys has in store for 2016 and how to best use what this site has to offer to maximize both your enjoyment and your bankroll by Super Bowl LI. So let’s jump right in with some thoughts on both expectations for playing this year and also a first take at a guided tour for Footballguys’ DFS coverage this season:
I’m a Loser Baby – The Life of a Tournament Player
Here’s an interesting test to see if you are really a tournament player or not. Take a look at your FanDuel lifetime record (just click the word “History” on FanDuel once you are logged in) and see if you have more wins than losses. If you do, you probably are more of a cash game player than a tournament player, and that’s perfectly fine. But if you don’t have a winning record, and you have been playing for a while, then you probably are one of those tournament players.
So how can someone have a losing lifetime record in DFS and still be a successful, winning player? Welcome to the life of a tournament player.
The Life of a Tournament Player
I wil start by saying that playing 100% of your DFS games in tournaments is not for everyone. The reason I say that is rather straightforward – you will lose far more often than you win. Even in the deepest of tournament payout structures, only 25% of the participants get any type of return. That means 75% of the time (or more) you “lose” your entire entry fee. This is why Footballguys continuously recommends a split game play approach where you play about 80% of your entries in cash-type games and a maximum of about 20% of your play in tournaments. The belief here is that more often than not you will win the cash games and lose the GPP entries, but the winnings in cash will more than cover the loss in tournaments.
That is, of course, much easier said than done. The reason I say this is not about winning and losing contests in either format, but the complication of the change in mindset every DFS player must do when switching from building strong cash game lineups to constructing GPP rosters, and vice versa. The mindset and approach is remarkably different. Cash game lineups require “high floor” players, with conservative choices that will most likely hit value each week. Tournament rosters take on far more risk and are much more “What if” type lineups where if a game goes a certain way, the players in that lineup could put up big numbers. This is the hidden challenge of trying to play both types of contests.
For some of those reasons alone, some experienced DFS players have chosen to play exclusively in one type of game or another. I completely respect and understand those decisions, but more me I could not give up on either type of game. Cash games build bankroll more consistently, but at a far slower pace than gunning for a big payday in a tournament. Swinging for the fences every week in GPPs would require a bigger budget of Tums than I am willing to handle for the DFS season, so I tend to play both types of contests. For some players, however, this is the path towards success that they choose, and it works for them. It all comes down to what works for each DFS player, and their risk tolerance profile. I could not personally endure going 3-4 weeks of the NFL season without winning some contests, yet that is a very realistic outcome for DFS players exclusively playing in tournaments. After all, it only takes one big win each season to pay for the entire NFL year. The problem is you never know which week it will be, so bankroll management is extremely important for GPP players – even more than any other type of player. The irony is not lost on me that these high risk, high reward approaches require the most conservative utilization of their bankroll.
So is there one right answer? Not at all. You can play 100% cash, or you can play 100% GPPs, or you can play both. You just have to understand the different mentalities and bankroll management concerns for both styles of play. What is important is to determine which type of player you are, and that is why looking at your own personal history to help self-identify where you have had the most success, and to see if that is the path you want to continue down for your DFS play.
Winning tournament players often have losing records. It’s okay to be a loser, if your wins more than cover your losses. Just be sure to know that is how you are really doing, and the end of the season of a sport or the page turn of a calendar year is a great time to do that analysis.
Best of luck this week.
The WFFC – FanDuel’s Biggest Tournament
Last weekend I had the privilege of attending my second live final, and the stakes could not have been much higher. FanDuel held their 100-man final – “The World Fantasy Football Championships” – in Los Angeles, California on the weekend of NFL Week 15. The event was great, but the Main Event of the WFFC had 100 of the best players in the world all competing for some amazing prizes.
Amongst all of the weekend activity was a lot of concern and worry for many of the participants, who wanted to put the best possible lineup out there to shoot for those top monetary awards. All weekend long, players considered who to roster for Sunday’s contest, but come 10AM that day, all you could do was sit back and watch. Despite all the great setups and fun times, stress does set in as for the next 6-7 hours, there is nothing any of the players can do but hope that the games turn out in their favor.
My personal pinnacle of the afternoon came shortly after the second set of games kicked off, where I learned that my one semi-gamble of a roster decision – LeGarrette Blount – was not only low owned, but exactly 1% owned for the contest. That’s correct, I was the only team that had him on my squad. The NFL leader in rushing touchdowns was chosen by no one else despite a favorable matchup against Denver, so I thought I had a good shot at a big afternoon. Even with a touchdown, however, Blount joined the rest of my team in the “good call, but underperformed” category as my team landed well outside the Top 10 in the standings but respectably in the top half of the field. A good return on my investment? Absolutely. But in the moment of the day, as with about 90% of the players that were at the WFFC, disappointment did settle in as the results were not as great as the hope that filled the venue. Only one winner emerged, with several others very happy with a Top 10 finish and a much more sizable payday.
This was my second live final that I have qualified for, and the feelings are similar. My advice to anyone who ever gets this opportunity – and I hope that you all do – is to enjoy the moments that you get at each event and have low expectations. More often than not you will be falling in the lower tiers of the results, just like any other GPP tournament you enter. Take your best shot, absolutely – but do not worry so much that you do not enjoy the full scope of attending a live final and all the surrounding activities that lead up to the Main Event. Enjoy the trip of getting there, because it is far too hard to even make it that far.
A GUIDED TOUR TO FOOTBALLGUYS’ DFS 2016 COVERAGE (FINAL EDITION)
Over the past three weeks I have provided you a guided tour to all the DFS coverage Footballguys is providing this season. Here at Footballguys, we have dedicated a good amount of the staff and resources to give you the best DFS content possible, and the intent of this tour was to highlight as much of the content and how to use it as possible. As a courtesy to you the reader each week, I will leave this placeholder so you can find the tour in the future and can find the articles and tools you use the most. Just remember to check the week number in the link, as it will take you to Week 3 content.
Here is the final version of the tour:
Good luck to you in all of your contests!
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.