Thursday, February 19, 2015

Creating a Lineup - The Basics

Often times you will hear people mention that a player is better fit for cash games or GPP's and what is important to know is how you want to set your risk/reward tolerance level.  I often will label players a tag of "hit or miss" and others have tagged it "boom or bust."  These kind of players are better to take when you need a miracle.  To win a field of hundreds or even multiple thousands requires a lot of luck and the hit or miss style players often fit this category very well.  In regular fantasy leagues I often times played these kinds of players in a week where I am a decent underdog and focused on a players ceiling mainly, but in games where I am favored then taking safe picks is fine with me and looking at players floors being high.  These boom or bust players are great for every kind of game in daily fantasy but 50/50's, heads up or even 3x multipliers.

In daily fantasy you must pick at least one lower cost player, and usually two or three are needed.  You need to fill around nine slots for your team with a 50,000 cap, that gives you around 5,555 average salary per position.  Highest cost players should be between 9,000 and 11,000 with the lower cost ones between 2,000 and 3,500.  I will start every lineup looking to find two or three punt picks to tart my roster.  Punt selections are the low cost guys and take a chance for a big play.  If you pick two players at 3,000 each  your remaining cap would be 44,000 and with seven positions to go equals an average of  6,285.  That is still a low average limiting the amount stud players you can add to your team, but it makes it easy to fill the rest of your lineup with quality players.  If you have three punt players that cost 9,000 you would have an average of 6,833 left.  Four punt players gives you a 7,600 average to finish a lineup and there you can go for major studs.  I'll explain more on this when analyzing the math behind picking a player within' their salary.

I will look for players who have been in backup roles and now start usually because of injury to a regular starter.  When you find out the likes of any starting player is not active, then sometimes the backup is minimum cost or close to it and good enough to start at the cost.  If a player like Arian Foster is injured then you maybe able to get his backup for minimum cost.  In 2014 that was the case in a week and Alfred Blue came in for a good score.  After I place my two or three punt plays the next thing I do is I plug in any Must Starts (if any) and follow up with the best value pick I can.  My next player will be someone well below the remaining average as it is required to have at least one player below this cost anyway.  If my remaining average is 6,800 at this point then I will look for someone in the low 5,000 cost range as the most expensive.  The final step is starting the top players with your large remaining cap.   The goal is to choose the lineup that generates the largest Expected value.  I'll talk more about this when I post an article on how to predict expected value.

Lets assume that the day is Wednesday and there is an NFL game coming up on Thursday.  You are looking at the previous boxscores of the two teams that are playing and see that one running back that you never heard of before had a stat sheet of (6 car, 44 yds, 3 rec 21 yds).  This is a home game for the team and this player has been getting first team reps in practice from a source that is very reliable.  With this information what is the next steps to take as a fantasy player?  The answer is to first verify the first team reps to be true.  After verifying this you want to then research the player to find out how good he may be.  You search his name on the internet and look for videos and articles.  Lets assume you seen a tape from a preseason game and you seen this player was pretty good.  He was fighting for extra yards well and often with great moves showing styles of a Demarco Murray.  Next you need to view the players matchup and determine if it is good, bad or neutral and to what degree.  The opponent through eleven games has allowed 4.8 yards per carry and zero touchdowns allowed to running backs and ranked 3rd best in fantasy points allowed to RBs.  Not allowing touchdowns does help the rankings, but 4.8 yards is very high making it very good with the home game.  You then notice that this player is minimum cost making him a must play.  This will give you a head start for the week as well.

If this player does great then you got eight positions to manage Fri-Sun with a larger cap to work with.  You may want to consider playing safer players.  If he does poor than you are forced to taking chances with your lineup and maybe even consider joining new leagues that start on Sunday.  What is important when playing the entire week that starts Thursday is to play on a site that allows you to edit your lineup to the selected games kickoff.  If your league locks Thursday at kickoff, then you are forced to play safe guys and that sucks as often times the injury statuses come into play.<br><br>This event was in play during the 2014 NFL season when Latavius Murray took the field for the Raiders versus the Chiefs.  Oakland started by playing McFadden who was terrible.  The next series Murray ran the ball for about seven yards.  A few plays later he runs a counter sweep for a 20 yard touchdown and is close to ten fantasy points which is the amount you are looking for at minimum cost.  Next series he runs 80 yards for a touchdown and is now well over twenty fantasy points and lots of time still left with three quarters to play.  His next carry is about ten  yards which ended his day with an injury of a concussion.  He had 26 fantasy points which then set me up for a major advantage going into Sunday.  When the 2015 NFL standard fantasy drafts take place he is on my radar for every league.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


 My first inclination to fantasy sports occurred in the late 1980s with baseball. Back then you would choose one of around eight or so players in a group with several group.  There were ways of making changes mid-season even though there was no internet, and back then snail mail was used a lot more as it was here.  You were usually aloud so many changes for free and additional moves would cost money and I only took the free ones.   I was a big fan of baseball then as just a young child and maybe the Jays success had something to do with it. Living close to Toronto, they are my local team  were winning every year until 1994.  In the eighties I played baseball all the time in the summer and play hockey in the winter.  I got to know many players during this era for both baseball and hockey.<br><br>In the Mid 1990s and now a young adult of around twenty years young, I was invited to a live Fantasy hockey draft which was my first. I cheer for the Montreal Canadiens and living in Canada it is almost religion to play and follow hockey.  I guess it was because the Leafs were so bad in the eighties that I decided to loath the Leafs and Montreal was winning.  Montreal had recently traded my icon in Patrick Roy and there wasn't any players on my Habs I liked.  I suppose it made it easy to learn to throw favorite biases aside and go for best value.  I prepared hard for this NHL live draft by buying two fantasy magazines and then using a spreadsheet to print off rankings for the live draft.  Try to figure out players on the rise and decline, how to mix your positions and so forth.  I clearly was many steps ahead of other people and almost everyone older than me.  I won that pool and finished second the next year.  The year after that I was not invited to the next draft. As I got older and other methods of sport gambling opened up, it was the NFL that ended up being the game that I loved the most and could follow very well. I played a bunch of Madden franchises on a video game platform and am confident today I can talk advanced game theory and play calling with the best of them in the NFL. I started playing the fantasy drafts in 2005 and have not looked back as I have participated each year since. Being so good at drafting, picking the right guys off waivers and doing good with my sit/start or projections I did very well every season.

Many years ago I seen fantasy leagues with buy-in fees, but after seeing rake that was close to 50%, I stayed with the free leagues on Yahoo and did very well with them usually dominating via waiver wire and being good at Sit/Starts.  I understand rake is needed for these companies to exist, but the rake has to also be low enough where players at least have a chance of grinding out profits and at 50% that is not the case.  In the 2013 NFL season I heard about daily fantasy and didn't try it and didn't even knew how it worked.  Originally I boycotted this because fantasy is not supposed to be just for one day,

 The Summer of 2014 I was now interested in playing that I created an account with DraftKings and FanDuel. Weeks later, I made a deposit of $42 into draftkings when the season started. I'd play single lineups for around $2.00 and didn't do that well. There is luck involved, but as a player your job is to put yourself in the best chance to have luck on your side. It was early in the NHL season where I did very well and built my bankroll to over $80 and then started playing multiple NFL lineups and success was immediate that lasted all the way to the conference championship games. Hockey got very unlucky and turned to negative ROI for the year, but because NFL was winning I was able to continue to build the bankroll into triple digit values. Mid way through the season I put a deposit of $50 into Fanduel and every lineup I played there lost. I didn't like playing there because it was harder for me to put a lineup in that I would really like which I could easily do on Draftkings and on FanDuel I couldn't make late game changes. Thursday night NFL comes, you put your lineup in and find out on Friday, I can't change my lineup.  I am always making changes to my lineups over the weekend as new information comes in.  This makes late game changes mandatory or I can't play on Thursday.  I emailed FanDuel asking how I edit players or why they have a rule that I can not edit my roster and I got no reply back. With $27 left in my bankroll and about eight straight losing lineups I decided to bet it all on one big lineup and it was unlucky on that site.  Later on another blog i'll discuss bankroll management to explain situations to go all-in with your bankroll, but in this case it was frustration on the site.  I have no reason to play again on FanDuel again as Draftkings has me covered for very large field games.

Many sports I don't know I would fool around and play games for just a twenty-five cents.  I learned after one soccer card to not play that again when my stud player didn't even start and the site didn't have a Q, D or O tag on, UFC is something I am not good at and NCAA hoops or football I tried and have already given up on.  A few weeks into the start of the 2014-15 NBA season, I decided to play for 25 cents and hardly knew anyone who played in this league. All I did was find as many minimum price guys or close to min that could get enough points. On draftkings the min cost for a player is 3,000 and the top players cost over 10k.  The top guys netted you between 40-50 point averages.   I figured then by getting only around twenty points each from three min priced players could end up in success because top players were easy to pick.  I was actually winning at this, so I upped the stakes and played the $2-$5 games the rest of the way and have endured tiny profits in this sport. It became harder to find cheap players as the season rolled, but newer knowledge would start to give me more strategies to use and I kept on chugging a small ROI (Return on Investment.) The rest of this season is all for learning in the hopes I will dominate the start of the 2015-16 season as new learning experiences occur.  I figure that when the next season comes I will do a lot better.  I've watched about six or seven games this year and I am getting the hang of being able to predict how the course of a game is done from a roster point of view.