Greetings Earthlings, I have decided to descend from the heavens to give unto you the secrets of the DraftKings life. And by ‘descend’ I mean ‘go down a flight of stairs’ and by ‘from the heavens’, I mean from the second floor of my house. It’s hot up there right now! I’ll just type this down on the coolest floor of the house, thank you very much. If you’re not familiar with the baseball side of Razzball, well you’re probably just a football junkie through and through. I’m fine with that. But I did do a similar write up this year for the MLB side of this Daily Fantasy Sports universe so if you by chance did read the Primer and the Pumped editions, you might see some cross over. Yes, I might even be copying and pasting whole paragraphs. But you can’t plagiarize yourself, can you? Who would object? You won’t see me hauling myself to the principle’s office by my own ear…unless it leads to YouTube hits, of course. I’m all about the cash money! The point being is that though the sports are different, the similarities are still there in terms of knowledge base. Since this will be for people who aren’t familiar with DraftKings or the idea of Daily Fantasy, I want to do a quick reach out in the intro to those who are here for just the important parts. First important part: sign up for DraftKings through that link there. First time depositors get a free entry into the week 1, $100K Play Action Tournament. If you already have an account, well send your friends on over to sign up through us as well. The second important part is DK will be the lead article Wednesday Mornings throughout the season so tune in for the fun. Thirdly, if you’d like to know what got my motor running about DraftKings and how to get the strategy down, @BalesFootball has a fantastic e-book series available on Amazon called ‘Fantasy Football For Smart People’. I strongly suggest it even if you’re a seasoned veteran in the Daily Fantasy biz. And with that, I’m spent! Let’s get down to the getting down and cover some ins and outs of the DraftKings world for 2014 Fantasy Football…
What Is Daily Fantasy?
I’m sure plenty of you are familiar with the concept so I’m not gonna spend too much time or detail here. Daily Fantasy is exactly what it sounds like – you can join a league for the week, not play the next week, or play the next week and not the next one after that…it’s your world, baby! Unlike a regular league where you draft your team in August and then make free agent moves and trades as you progress through the season, you are given a salary to fill a line up card for the day of play (well, actually you can sign up for a league as soon as DK prices the players involved, most times days in advance). Basically, you get to draft a new team every night but because everyone can own the same players, you don’t have to waste time waiting for Jay Wrong to go get his 5th glass of Makers Mark – and it’s only the 3rd round – or for Tehol to finish his full body shea cocoa butter massage. Nope, you just stroll into the DraftKings lobby, find a contest that interests you, fill out your lineup, save and move on. Yur dun, son. So basically, if you don’t have the time to keep up with the toils of a fantasy football season but still love to play it, here’s your sweet spot. You can come and go as you please. Set a lineup when you want, don’t when you don’t have time. And since we’re on the subject of ‘what is’ we might as well give you the ‘how to’ here as well. So here’s your standard info regarding Daily Fantasy Football over at Draftkings.
To be clear with you all, there’s a lot of gambling terminology (fade, bankroll, etc) that might be of use. There’s also a lot of investing jargon (ROI, Bullish, etc) that also can get tossed around in this arena. I’m really only going to touch on a few things that I feel are helpful rather than blasting you with a million of them. I’m like the sex ed teacher for 5th graders, really. If you want to expand your knowledge because you kinda get into this thing over time, well there’s this book I mentioned above…
DFS – Common acronym for ‘Daily Fantasy Sports’. Many daily fantasy sports players on twitter will give out their opinions/talk about their woes for the night with a #DFS on their tweet or in their bio. It’s a good way to surf twitter and find follows you think are useful.
Freeroll – It’s a league that you can join for free that has a cash prize. The key part is the free part. It’s the part you should like da mostest.
GPP – Guaranteed Prize Pool. There’s a lot of types of leagues offered at DraftKings. Some of them give out the prize pool they present whether the league fills or not. This means that even if the pool is for 1500 but only 1200 enter, the payout structure stays the same. Thus the ‘prize’ is ‘guaranteed’ regardless of being a full ‘pool’ or not. Don’t think I can break it down any further than that.
High-Low – Also known as ‘stars and scrubs’. Fairly self-explanatory. Paying heavy on studs in your lineup and then filling in the rest of your lineup with low-priced plays/bargain bin players as opposed to a more balanced roster.
Overlay – In a nutshell, favorable odds for the bettor and not the house. Say there’s a GPP (see, you’re learning already!). I’ll give you a personal experience of one such league. During the Thursday prior to the All-Star Break for basketball, there were a bunch of GPP 50/50 leagues (explained in more detail later) where there were supposed to be 200 contestants in each and the first 100 would be in the money. But about 20 minutes before tip-off, those leagues were sitting roughly around 115 to 120 per league. I’m sure you don’t even have to do the math to tell you that placing 100th still giving you money and only competing with about 120 other people gives you a really good shot at making cash back on your bet. I jumped in on three of them and cashed. So yeah, overlay: it’s a good thing for you. Keep abreast of sitches like that.
Stacking – Taking multiple players from the same lineup. Pretty sketchy approach unless you believe the team is gonna drop a 50 spot on the other guys and that they won’t get pulled before the 4th quarter while doing so. So basically, only do it when the Dallas Cowboys are on the docket. More so, you’re simply pairing when you say stacking and you’re pairing the QB with their wide receivers. Pairing a QB and an RB is typically a major no-no unless you think the game is out of hand by the 3rd quarter and the backup RB is in, running wild down the stretch. But if you can see that far into the future, just bet on the flipping game. Sheesh!
There’s a lot of variations on how to play on DraftKings based on what type of league you play in. This section should be brief and very straightforward and then we’ll move on to a bit of strategy/approach. Yes, I know how to be brief sometimes. It surprises me too.
50/50 – This I alluded to in the overlay definition. Basically, 50% of the people who put money in cash. So if the pool is 20 people, then 10 people will double their money (well, minus the 10% DraftKings makes). So if those said 20 people all put a $1 in each, those first ten make $1.80 (.20 being the 10% going to DraftKings). I shouldn’t have to tell you but it’s not often you have a 50% chance to cash. Here’s probably your best place to slowly make your money.
Guaranteed – Any contest can be a guaranteed (GPP – see reference in glossary above if you didn’t read or if you have Memento’s disease). The main question with guaranteeds is the payout structure, i.e. what percentage of the league cashes. In a 50/50, 50% of the league cashes. In a GPP with 3750 contestants and only the top 700 cash, only 18.6% of the league ends in the money. But again, let’s not forget overlays when keeping these contests in mind. If the league doesn’t fill appropriately, your chances of being in the GPP lot increases.
Head-To-Head – Yup, it’s exactly what you think it is. Two gladiators go into the ring and only one comes out. Did I say 50/50′s were the best? Well, let’s call it a tie. Again, you can come close to doubling your money 50% of the time here.
Multipliers – Technically, 50/50s are multipliers too (you’re in essence doubling your money if you win) but multipliers don’t typically take 10% of the winnings from the winners. For example, in a ‘Triple Up’, the first 24 places get $3 back on a $1 bet from a pool of 80 instead of giving 27 winners $2.70. The higher you go up the food chain of multipliers, the harder the game gets because fewer cash and the more risk you have to take on in your lineup for upside purposes. The higher the multiplier, the more likely stacking becomes a viable strategy.
There are also ‘steps’ leagues where you’re building up to a large tournament. Basically the Mortal Kombat of daily fantasy (TEST YOUR MIGHT). Then there’s beginner’s leagues which, yeah, I don’t think I need to explain. The other type of league is a qualifier in which the winner gets a ticket for a big money pot tournament but in the end these leagues really only either have a different payout than what we’ve already covered or are there for you to get your feet wet. Huge discussion not needed.
Ah yes, the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The part where I’m near the end so I can shut up and you can get on with your day. Strategy is going to be fairly brief as it ties to some common practices and from what I read of Bales’ book mentioned above.
50/50 and H2H Strategy – Keep it simple. You don’t need to beat the world with your lineup, you just need to beat 50% of it. Stacking and/or pairing is ill-advised because you’re not looking for high upside with your lineup, you’re trying to create a solid floor. It doesn’t matter if you beat your opponent by 50 points or 1, you just need to beat them or enough of them to cash. A balanced lineup is good here.
Multipliers and Big Tourneys with smaller Payout Percentages – You’re trying to shoot the moon here. Your balanced approach won’t work. You need high upside in your lineup everywhere. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. Pairing becomes much more ideal. The opposing defense gives up the 3rd most points to QBs and the 2nd most points to wide receivers? Well then why not take the QB and his top 2 targets? Again, it’s a risk but that’s the life of DFS tourneys; you’re looking to maximize your potential not minimize the impact of said risk.
Vegas Lines – Look into them. The house wins more often than not. If Vegas thinks it’s going to be a low-scoring game, maybe netting a defense from said game is your best bet. If its supposed to be high scoring, snoop around on the defensive inefficiencies of each of the teams and see if you can get those players into your lineup that will be able to take advantage of them.
Build A Quickly Importable Lineup – Even if you’re not joining a freeroll for the day, create two different lineups by clicking…get this…the ‘Create A Lineup’ link on the main lobby page. Build one for your GPP games and the steadier/safer one for your H2H and/or 50/50 leagues. And then you wait. Maybe you’re just waiting for overlay to occur. Now you have a ready to go lineup to import.
And with that, I’m cashing my chips and going home. Mmmm, doritos! Wait, what? You’ll be seeing my lovely avatar face that’s not my face every day of the week so I don’t want to take the joy of that away from you before the season even starts and we’re about 2000 words in. So if you feel I didn’t cover something that you’re curious about, you can ask me below and if you wonder if the Lord is against DFS, you can ask him above. Me, I’ll just be right here where you left me…until week 1 of course…and on Mondays where I’ll still be doing MLB DraftKings…and on the days where I’m covering for others on said MLB DraftKings…or on Razzball Radio whenever. When the internet ends, I seriously don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I might die, y’all! Peace.