A beginners guide to NFL DFS

THERE’S a reason why Daily Fantasy Sports is becoming one of the biggest investment pools for sports punters and lovers alike.

We’ve put together a handy guide on everything you need to know to get involved in NFL DFS this season.

Simple GPP Strategy for NFL DFS

GPP tournaments are probably the most popular type of DFS in Australia. They are a great way to throw a small amount of cash in to and potentially come up with big money.

GPP’s also tend to be more exciting than the cash type games (50/50) where you just need to finish in the top 40%-50% to double your money. Let’s be honest, doubling your money isn’t that much fun; you want to win cash, and plenty of it. That’s what makes GPP exciting, the chance that this can happen.

The problem is that GPP takes some real strategy, and plenty of luck, to hit that coveted top five finish. This is where each sport has its own strategy and NFL is no different. We’ll cover off on some strategies and things to keep in mind when shooting for the GPP stars with NFL.

Set up a player pool

This is the first step in my weekly process of looking at who I’ll potentially be using for the week ahead. Have a look at the real world game matchups and have a look at the odds Vegas is giving.

This will give you a great idea on which teams are expected to do well, which games will likely be a shootout and most of all who you should target as a result. I always make a list of names at each position that I like and put a short sentence as to why that player should be a part of the player pool.

Don’t get too complex at this point, just make a simple player pool of guys who have a solid spot and why. I list a few stack options, two or three at each position, as well as value guys. This helps you narrow your field of choice when it comes time to pick your actual lineups.

Keep your player pool relatively tight however, you can’t have everyone across every game if you want to be somewhat efficient. At this point, don’t worry about chalk plays, just list them if you like them.

Team and Game stacks

Stacks tend to work very well in the NFL. Unlike in the NBA where you’re typically looking for that one guy from each game, in the NFL you really want to maximize a team going large. This also works well in MLB too.

Team stacks (correlation) are a great way to attack a game where you see a high team total as the expectation is that team will score plenty of points. When that team scores, chances are you have a number of players involved and every time they score you’re likely to get a nice bump to your fantasy score.

The obvious stack is the QB-WR1 pick, which not surprisingly is the most successful stack you can do. When a QB throws a TD to your WR, you get to double dip on the points.

This isn’t the only stack you can go with; the second most successful stack is the QB-RB1 stack. This is becoming increasingly popular given how the NFL is changing to a more dual threat type RB rather than the standard smash and grab RB from years gone by. Think Gurley, Gordon, Kamara and now Barkley. All great receiving backs. I recommend taking some time to read up about stacking and why it will take you a long way to hitting success in DFS.

The other stack option you can run with is the game stack, which is a great way to get as many fantasy points as possible from one game. As a guide you generally want to pick the highest scoring total on the slate and ideally one that has a close spread. This is very important when it comes to picking the right players from either team. I’ll talk more about game scripts shortly.

Picking players from both teams in that game can bring great reward, especially if the game plays out as per the expectation from Vegas and you see the total go over. Think back to Week 3 when we saw Atlanta and New Orleans play out a 43-37 shootout, or Week 2 when Pittsburgh and Kansas City finished up 42-37. These are the kind of games you want players from. They have the best chance of scoring maximum fantasy points. It’s a great way to get exposure to cheaper players as well, something essential in GPP’s to be successful. The above-mentioned Atlanta and NO game saw Calvin Ridley go mental at the cost of about 7k – huge!

As I mentioned, stacks will depend on game scripts and how you think they will play out. I will use the weekend just gone by with the Chargers and 49ers game. The Chargers had a high team total and you instantly think not a bad option, however, the spread is something you must take in to consideration. If the game played out as per the Vegas expectation, stacking Rivers/Allen might be a risky option if they jump out to that 10+ point lead and hold or build it. You would likely see Rivers shut down a bit and the Chargers milk the clock with Gordon doing all the work. In hindsight, the game was very close and unfortunately my 49ers just fell short so we saw Rivers throwing more than what we expected going in to the game. Game script is important, formulate your thoughts on games. It will help build your knowledge long term.

Chalk and Pivots

Identifying the chalk (most popular) plays can be a key component to GPP strategy, depending on which angle you approach it from. Some approach it from the ‘I must be contrarian at every opportunity’ and that is fine, but I can’t imagine that is a very successful route to take week after week.

Sure, it might come off every now and again but in NFL it’s much safer and more profitable if you identify the right chalk to play. Don’t be scared to play a chalk pick if they are in a smash spot. If Gurley is playing a poor defence, you pick him no matter what. Look, you probably pick him most weeks anyway, but you 100% take him if he’s going to smash.

You need to try and get the edge elsewhere for your pivot, identify the key value guys who are in great spots to exceed value and might go a bit overlooked. Find a key injury or potential game note on twitter from a beat writer. Read articles (there are thousands) and try to highlight guys who you would put in a lineup together to go with stacks.

Get exposure to cheap guys in high scoring games to fill out stacked lineups. You have to be somewhat contrarion to build a winning lineup, it’s just picking the right guys to fade and who to replace them with. Remember, these guys should be from your player pool. Don’t just pick a random guy as you’re building your lineup. You should stick to the player pool once you have finalised it.

This is probably as simple as you can get it down to. We can talk about all types of data and analysis that you can find in the NFL but there is so much noise out there that it can scare people off playing. Hopefully with this ‘beginners guide’, and my weekly DFS article, you can build some sound NFL knowledge and go on to win some dollars while having fun.

As always I’d love to hear from you so reach out on Twitter (@ausmojo) for a chat.