DFS For Dummies

Written by Rob Schwarz Jr., Writer and DFS Expert, @chiruxin on the Fantasy Life App and @chisportsnut25 on Twitter

Welcome to FLAFFL House (pronounced like those salty, I mean tasty, balls of fried dough)! FLAFFL House is the happening place where all the cool kids hang out! Alright, well there is me and one or two others. Just know, we are all fantasy football junkies in one form or another.

Me? Well, I am the resident DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports for those of you living under a rock) guru. Have I won millions of dollars like those guys on television? No, of course not! If that were the case I would not be writing this article. I’d be sipping cocktails on a beach on my own private island. However, I have come out ahead every year in all the sports I play and I am here to share my secret with you dummies. That is dummies in the most sincere way of saying it.

Let us think of this as a strategy guide on different ways to attack your DFS lineups. However, before I say or start anything, just know that no matter how much time and research you do, DFS can be a crapshoot.


STEP 1. - Where do I Play

Okay, this is the first step of my foolproof, 48-step plan. Okay, I lied. Honestly I have no idea how many steps I have, but they are good ones! So before you start doing anything, first you need to choose a site. You have many options, but for the sake of time we will look at FanDuel and Draftkings. These sites offer two different roster configurations.

FanDuel has a lineup that looks like this….


Personally, I am not a fan of this lineup configuration. However, I do dabble in it each week. Having to pick a kicker is what makes me dislike it so much. As you can see, you have a salary of $60,000. FanDuel will assign player salaries to each player each week, and you must create a lineup that fits within your salary cap.

DraftKings has a lineup that looks like this…

Again, another salary cap, but this time no kicker. Instead you need to pick a flex, which could be a RB, WR or TE. I find this more fun, but either site you choose, the possibility of different outcomes is endless. This brings me to step 2.


STEP 2. - Overthink?

Do not overthink it! Seriously, inside all of us is a little Rodney Ruxin. A guy or gal looking to tinker with his or her lineup. Whether it's while sitting on the toilet or watching your children play at the park, no matter where you are, leave it alone!

There is more to DFS than luck and chance. But let's face it, luck and chance can play a part in just about anything.


STEP 3. - Look, Look, Look

These steps just keep coming! Who knows, maybe I do end up around 48! I could call it my Daily Fantasy Manifesto? Alright, I get it. Someone more popular and a million times older than me has already laid claim to a similar title.

Step three is important though. This is my strategy before choosing my strategy step. This is when I decide which strategy I want to use for my lineup. That said, step three has sub-steps.

1. Look over player salaries and get a feel of guy’s values.
2. Look at matchups and I do not mean just team matchups. Individual ones matter more.
3. Look for any trends that stand out, such as a player seeing increased workload.

We can call those “my three looks!”

Now that you have “my three looks” out of the way. You can pick a lineup strategy. If you are saying, what the BLEEP are you talking about - I am still stuck at the home screen. Well, then I will need to refer you to another article called “DFS for Those of You Who Should Not Attempt It”  If you are saying, get on with it already, I feel your pain, but this is for dummies. I must speak slowly. I'm talking to you Brandon.

Alright...on to step 4.


STEP 4. - Path to the Glory Land

Picking a strategy comes down to two basic lineup approaches. You can either go with a balanced approach or a studs and scrubs approach. I know, even a dummy can figure out what I mean based on the names of the approaches. That said, I’m going to describe them anyway.

If you want to go studs and scrubs, I suggest two ways of attacking your lineup. First, look at the values of all the players and identify guys who stand out to you. (see Step 3.) For shits and giggles I am going to create a lineup on DraftKings with you for Week 1. (Note: I would not suggest using this lineup since many things may change between now and September)

At quarterback, a few guys stand out to me. On the higher side we have Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. However, I could go scrub at QB and take Brock Osweiler against my beloved Bears. For now, I’m going to settle on Matt Ryan at $7,100.

Now to running back. Since this is studs and scrubs I am going to look at Lamar Miller at $7,000. For my second back, I will plug in Langford for $4,700. Tough matchup, but he should see the bulk of the carries in Week 1.

Wide Receiver is flooded with upside this season. I will pair up Matt Ryan with Julio Jones who has the highest salary for the week. After implementing him into my lineup I am already down to an average salary of $4,360. I scroll down and see a guy with great upside. This is what you need from your so-called scrubs. Tyler Boyd could be the second option in Cincinnati and is only $3,700. Boom! In my lineup! I searched for Kevin White (yes I am a homer, but wanted to see his value and I think he is priced too high for Week 1). Scrolling through and I see a guy who helped me last year. Rishard Matthews is $3,300 and likely a starter in Tennessee with DGB traded to Philly. Bam! Another guy in my lineup!

This brings me to the tight end spot. I hardly spend up here and I am close to an average of $5,000 per position now. I see Zach Miller who will be targeted often by Jay Cutler and wow, now I have $5,600 to spend at each position left. If you cannot remember, that would be defense and flex.

I will go defense first. This way I can spend up at the flex position. Just like tight end, defense is not one I typically pay top dollar for. Vikings (a top rated defense last season) against the Titans? And only $3,100 you say? Sign me up!

Nice, I now have $8,100 to spend on my flex. What I like to do now is see who stands out at that price range. In this situation we have Keenan Allen, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall as the top three in that range. Jeffery is screaming for me to take him, but for the purpose of this article, I will put my fandom aside. I scroll down to see who else is there and a guy jumps out at me. Now, I am not high on this guy for yearly, but in daily I say he is definitely worth it and has a good matchup. Jamaal Charles is only $7,100 and I like that price.

Now this is where experience comes into play. Instead of putting him in my flex, I am going to sub him in for Lanford. Why did I do this you are probably asking? Well, simple. Now I have $5,700 left and it does not limit me to one position. Instead, I still have three to choose from. In this range we have Ryan Matthews, Latavius Murray and Michael Crabtree. Dion Lewis could be a great option if he proves healthy by Week 1, however, I am a receiver guy and will grab Crabtree. Voila! There it is, our first lineup!

One thing to note. We could have left Langford in play and spent up at quarterback. Drew Brees would have been the best guy at that price range and I’d probably play both lineups. Oh, and do not worry if you have money left over. I have won with lineups that still had close to $1,000 left in salary.

Now that you have the idea, the same thing could be done with the balanced approach. The only difference is instead of spending up on guys like Lamar Miller, Jamaal Charles and Julio Jones, you would look at guys like Eric Decker ($6,600), Jeremy Maclin ($6,500) and Michael Floyd ($5,900). If you need further help with this approach, just reach out to me on Twitter or the Fantasy Life App to discuss details.

STEP 5. - You Thought This Was Done at STEP 4?

Wow, I told you that there are 48 steps to this foolproof plan. You really thought STEP 4 was it? C’mon!

Alright, well in all honesty, STEP 5. is my final step to this guide for dummies, wait I mean morons, dammit I mean the highly educated in vast fantasy football knowledge. Ha! Who am I kidding? You know you have no clue what you are doing, that is why you are reading this still. Because we all know if you knew how to play DFS with success, you would have stopped reading after the first paragraph or two.

Okay, okay...back to business! You have your lineup set. Now what do you do with it? The real name to STEP 5 is “Choosing the Right Contest.” DFS offers many types of contests. However, they can be broken down into two main categories. You have GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments and you have cash games.

Personally, I play both, but focus on cash games because that is how I win consistently. For cash games, I like to make sure I have consistent players who have a high floor. This way I am in the running most weeks and if one or two guys break out I will walk away with a profit. For GPP, I typically do the studs and scrubs approach. I use guys who have high floors, but I also use guys who have very high ceilings! A guy who could walk away with only one catch, but it goes for 40 or more yards and a touchdown. Remember, like many games, you need to play the odds! Do some research and follow this guide. Find a strategy that works for you and run with it.

That about does it! Make sure to look for my weekly lineup advice column coming out this season. Until then, see ya later sports fans!

Oh shit! Before I forget, make sure to follow the most important rule of DFS. (Yeah, I lied, there is a STEP 6 to this guide) STEP 6. - HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!