Applying Strategic Thinking to DFS Contests

Matt Brown
By Matt BrownPublished: February 15, 2024
Applying Strategic Thinking to DFS Contests

In the DFS industry, where players are pitted against each other in a battle of wits, strategy, and prediction, finding your edge is crucial. The thrill of constructing a winning lineup is unmatched, but achieving consistent success requires more than just luck.

It involves deep strategic thinking and a nuanced understanding of the game. If you want to become a professional DFS player, you have to get your mind right and approach the game in a different way than a casual player would.

Understanding the Game Inside Out

Before diving into complex strategies, the foundation of your DFS success lies in a solid understanding of the game mechanics. This might sound obvious, but you would be amazed at how many DFS players are playing a game just to play it without an in-depth understanding of the sport.

We're talking about going well beyond the basics. This includes knowing the scoring system, player selection rules, and how different contest types (cash games vs. tournaments) require distinct approaches.

In cash games, for example, consistency and safety are prized, as finishing in the top half of the field often secures a win. Tournaments, however, reward high-risk, high-reward lineups due to their top-heavy payout structures. On top of that, with tournaments, you want to vary your lineup compared to the rest of the pack while still racking up fantasy points.

Analyzing Player Performance and Matchups

One of the keystones of DFS strategy is the ability to accurately analyze player performance and matchups.

We get it; it doesn't always pan out. Sometimes, players have off-days, hot streaks, and other variations in their performance. But in general, you should have a good understanding of player performance.

This means looking beyond surface-level statistics and diving into advanced metrics that can provide a more comprehensive picture of a player's potential output.

  • Recent performance. Evaluate how the player has performed in recent games. Consistency and recent spikes in performance can indicate a player's current form.
  • Opponent matchup. Analyze the strength of the player's opponent. Consider the opponent's overall defense and defense against the player's position specifically.
  • Injuries and health. Check for any injuries or health issues affecting the player or key teammates, which could impact performance.
  • Playing time and role. Consider the player's role in the team and their expected playing time. Changes in team dynamics or coaching strategies can affect this.
  • Historical performance against an opponent. Some players perform better against certain teams. Look at past encounters to identify potential patterns.
  • Weather conditions. For outdoor sports, weather can significantly impact player performance. Factors like wind, rain, or extreme temperatures can influence game dynamics.
  • Venue. Home vs. away performance can be significant in many sports. Also, specific characteristics of the venue (e.g., turf type, dimensions) might benefit or hinder certain players.
  • Team dynamics. The overall strategy and form of the player's team can impact individual performance. A high-scoring team might provide more opportunities for offensive players.
  • Price value. Assess the player's cost against their expected performance to determine value. Identifying undervalued players can be key to DFS's success.
  • Ownership percentage. In tournaments, considering a player's expected ownership can be strategic. High-performing, low-ownership players can differentiate your lineup.

Tools and platforms that offer in-depth analytics can be invaluable in this process, enabling you to make informed decisions when selecting your lineup.

Embracing Variance and Leveraging Ownership

Variance plays a significant role in DFS, and understanding how to use it to your advantage is crucial. In tournaments, selecting lower-owned players who have the potential to perform well can differentiate your lineup from the masses.

This strategy, known as contrarian playing, can lead to higher volatility in your results but is necessary for winning large tournaments. The problem with a lack of variance in tournament play is that many DFS players will have similar or even the same lineups.

That results in a tie and splitting of an award or position.

However, variance gets around this and allows you to stand out from the pack with a unique lineup.

Embrace variance by recognizing that not every decision will pay off, but over time, making intelligent, calculated risks will lead to greater rewards.

Bankroll Management — The Unsung Hero of DFS Success

An often overlooked aspect of DFS strategy is bankroll management. If you're serious about your DFS game, then managing your bankroll should be a priority in your overall DFS strategy.

No matter how skilled a player you are, surviving the inevitable ups and downs of DFS is challenging without proper bankroll management. It's game over when you run out of funds.

A common guideline is never to risk more than 3% to 5% of your bankroll on any contest. This approach helps mitigate the risk of a significant loss and ensures you have the staying power to weather the storms.

This is also true when it comes to sports betting. Professional bettors will manage their bankroll closely and resist the urge to go big on any given bet. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

On top of all of that, diversifying your contest entries can spread risk and increase the likelihood of hitting on a winning lineup.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

The DFS industry is constantly changing, with player performances fluctuating and new trends emerging. After all, there's a reason you're here right now.

Staying ahead means being committed to continuous learning and adaptation.

This involves keeping up with player news and injuries and staying abreast of broader trends in the sports you're playing DFS in.

Engage with the DFS community, follow expert analysis, and use every contest as a learning opportunity, win or lose.

Strategic Thinking in DFS

Applying strategic thinking to DFS contests is about more than just picking the right players; it's about understanding the game on a deeper level, making informed decisions based on comprehensive analysis, and managing your resources wisely.

Approach the game like a business. You're making financial decisions with the hopes of a reward, just as you do with investments.

By focusing on game understanding and player analysis, embracing variance, managing your bankroll, and committing to continuous learning, you can significantly improve your chances of DFS success.

The goal is not to win every contest but to make decisions that increase your chances of winning over the long term. With patience, perseverance, and strategic thinking, you can turn DFS from a game of chance into one of skill and strategy.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Head of DFS

Matt's deep-rooted enthusiasm for sports betting and daily fantasy sports infuses the EatWatchDraft team with valuable expertise in football, hockey, and baseball. His forward-thinking perspectives are grounded in a solid academic foundation, including a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and an M.S. in Project Management. This combination of sports passion and technical knowledge fuels Matt's innovative input to the platform.