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DFS Roundtable: Tips for Beginners

Beginner DFS Tips from 12 Footballguys Staffers

What's your biggest piece of advice for someone new to DFS?

Justin Bonnema: Don't get blinded by the get-rich-quick lure of GPPs. Everyone wants to win a million dollars, but your odds of taking first place in a tournament with 300,000 to 600,000 entries are incredibly low. That's not to say you shouldn't play in these tournaments; they can be a blast. But don't make them the basis of your strategy. Targeting big paydays is a quick path to blowing your bankroll.

John Lee: It sounds self-promoting, but read our staff's e-books on DFS: Cracking FanDuel and Cracking DraftKings. Both were intensively written by our expansive staff of football experts who specialize in DFS. They are very detailed and will give a new DFS player all the tools he/she will need to be profitable over the course of the NFL season. If these books existed when I started playing back in 2012, I could have avoided a very large learning curve and started making money a lot sooner than I did.

If one doesn't have the time to invest in reading an entire e-book, at least go back to the "DFS for Dummies" articles I wrote for the site a few years ago (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4). They are succinct but will provide a general overview of what you need to be thinking about when building rosters. The player examples used in that series are likely outdated, but the game strategies described should still be largely relevant in 2017.

Jeff Haseley: I would say first and foremost, don't blow your bank roll and dive right in to a $27 Million Maker or big game GPP. Start with simple cash games for $2, 3, or $5 until you feel comfortable with the games, the opponents and the prize structure. Start with some 50/50s and Head-to-Head games and work your way into a GPP. And if there is a beginner pool to choose games from, use it.

David Dodds: I will echo John Lee's comments that people should read the books to become better players. There is no one silver bullet to go from limited knowledge to be very good. The books do a great job of showcasing the very things we all learned the hard way (mostly through losing play as those lessons are retained). Apply the book concepts in the smallest games and move up in stakes (and play more contests) when you become a winning player.

John Mamula: Have realistic expectations when starting out and only risk what you are willing to lose. Be sure to devote sufficient time to research and build your lineups. Don't force yourself to play every week if it doesn't work with your schedule. With DFS, you can always take a week off if you don't have the time to research or watch the games.

Maurile Tremblay: Figure out what your goals are. If you are playing mainly for entertainment, play the contests that you think are most fun, and put most of your effort into the aspects of the game you enjoy the most -- which for most people is research on specific players and matchups. If you are playing mainly to try to earn an extra income, a lot of your effort should go towards tasks that might seem more boring -- seeking out contests with overlay or at least below-average rake, opponent selection in head-to-head contests, and sound bankroll management. Either way, be realistic about the fact that the great majority of players do not experience immediate success, so only play with money you can afford to lose.

John Mamula: Develop a weekly DFS process and stick to it every week. Contest and opponent selection will help boost your return on investment (ROI). If offered, Concentrate on Beginners Only games and contests under the $5 threshold. Read the e-books before dipping your toe in the water. Feel free to ask questions if you are unsure about anything.

Justin Howe: If time permits - and it should if you're serious about profiting - get scientific with your investments. Don't cut corners when weighing your contest options. Generate a spreadsheet with formulas that sort through the multitude of games, considering investment, contest size, and prize pool. Your sheet will calculate the return on investment (ROI) of the contest pool and will point you to the games which best fit your goals.

Jason Wood: You may try DFS out of curiosity, looking for another approach to playing fantasy sports. But most of the people you're competing against take DFS very seriously. When we join a new redraft league, there's no such thing as a "professional redrafter." In DFS, you're up against a ton of professional and semi-professional players. That means start slowly. Manage your risk. Create a budget where losing 100% of your investment will not bother you whatsoever. Assume you're going to lose a lot for a while, and steel yourself for that outcome.

Justin Howe: In your cash games, don't lose sight of the fact that this game is based on NFL football. DFS can have wild swings, and there is no ideal cash lineup - especially in Week 1. There is no easy money that will roll in from some obviously rock-solid batch of players. Injuries will ravage all 32 teams, and plenty of misleading preseason coachspeak will be exposed quickly. Diversify your lineups around a small nucleus of players; you don't want to swing and miss on the strong plays, but you also don't want your best lineup to disappear into a sea of suboptimal ones. Chase the chalk: seek out expert analysis on which players will be especially high-owned and keep your lineup floating along. A rising tide lifts all boats - yours as well as the lineups crafted by more experienced DFS players. Use the Projecting Ownership guide by Footballguys' Chad Parsons to help construct your first Week 1 cash crew.

Chad Parsons: Bankroll management and expectation setting are key out of the gate. Instead of a $100 entry fee for the entire season of a redraft league, for example, a DFS player needs to set a bankroll for the season and manage it with the weekly money in play. It can be tempting to play a higher rate of the entire bank roll in DFS than is advised. Blending a few GPPs (tournaments) with cash games will provide a range of outcomes and prevent complete losses. And contest variety will help a new DFS player find the games they enjoy playing most.

Chris Feery: As the others have mentioned, the books are an excellent starting point for new players. For an individual piece of advice, I would tell new players to put visions of immediate success and grandeur to the side. While the lure of a massive payday is always enticing, taking down a massive tournament with a huge prize is far from a given for DFS players of any skill level. Start small and get your feet wet on the low dollar games, and you can gradually ramp up your play as success warrants.

James Brimacombe: Don't go into DFS blindly, even if you have played Fantasy Football for 20+ years. I feel like DFS is all strategy and numbers. Listen to podcasts and read articles on strategy, study past lineups from the week before of the players that are at top of the leaderboard and look for the top DFS players and what their lineups look like. Find a mentor who can talk to you about how to build a lineup and give you advice on the entire landscape of DFS. Most of all if you are new to the DFS game, make sure you are having fun playing each week. Just like Justin said above, it is not a game you want to start out playing just to get rich quick. A lot of us have been playing for more than five years. It can be a grind at times. But our love of Fantasy Football and the excitement of a big win keep us coming back for more.

Devin Knotts: Enjoy playing and have realistic expectations. We have tremendous tools as part of our Insider Pro Plus subscription, so be sure to use those. But don't get too high or too low on a given week (unless you win a big GPP). Once the games begin, sit back and enjoy them just as you do with your season long league.