Climbing the Rankings: An Interview with KillerBrees09
Almost all RotoGrinders members have looked at our leaderboards and dreamed of seeing their name steadily climb the ranks. For RotoGrinders member KillerBrees09, this dream has become a reality. His red-hot start to 2019 has landed him several huge scores already, including a six-figure GPP win in March. Firmly within the top 1,000, he looks like a major threat to continue his ascent.
Luckily, KillerBrees09 (George – @KillerBrees09 on Twitter) was kind enough to share his background, some of his research techniques and much more.
RotoGrinders: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your background? How did you get started in DFS?
I’m originally from uptown New Orleans – Gentilly Terrace to be exact. Graduated from LSU and went to law school for 3 semesters before I realized that I’d rather do almost anything else instead of making a living as an attorney….and I come from a family of lawyers, so I have no problem saying that. Dropped out of law school to play music and moved to Austin, TX back in 2000. Our band, Fauverdog, was actually voted as one of the top ten new bands to Austin in 2002 – and then it all fell apart after our drummer had a panic attack on stage in the middle of the first song of the night and walked off stage while we were playing – no lie. I’ve made and lost a couple of small fortunes in software sales and real estate investment before I got into DFS. Even though I’ve been playing season long fantasy football for 20+ years, I just didn’t know about DFS until a buddy of mine moved into my house in November of 2017. I noticed he was always buried in his phone from 4:00 or 4:30 in the afternoon until 6:00 or 7:00 that night…and that was just during the week. He was on his phone or laptop all day long on the weekends. I finally asked him what he was doing, and he showed me the games he was playing on DraftKings which happened to be NBA. I played the late slate that night and was hooked from the word go.
I think I was drawn to DFS because I’ve been betting on sports since I was in high school, and playing DFS is very similar to betting on games. I loved everything about sports betting, not just winning the money. I’m competitive as hell…I’m the guy who gets pissed off when he’s not warming up well enough, much less playing poorly when keeping score. So for me, I enjoyed researching the games and picking winners so I could do some trash talking as well as collect some money. Similar to how much I enjoy researching for DFS, I used to meet one of my best friends, Rog, in the halls of LSU before class to research the games we were going to play. We would go through the sports pages of the Morning Advocate and USA Today to research the lines, totals, and any movements, and then record all of our notes in our dedicated gambling ledger…damn we were goofy, but we could not get enough. Researching a slate of college games or a DFS slate, and then finding plays that work out the way the research suggested they’d work out is so enjoyable….and profitable.
RotoGrinders: You’ve been a RotoGrinders member for quite a while – can you tell us what brought you to RotoGrinders to help you with DFS?
After I got my ass kicked on that first late NBA slate, the next day I got online and googled “DFS” to see what was out there to help me with the upcoming slate. I’m pretty sure the first site that came up was RG. I was immediately drawn in by all of the content, and after doing just a minute amount of research, I found a couple of reviews that said if you were only going to pay for one site, RG was the best spend overall. I looked at a couple of the other sites for a little while, but it was clear early on that RG was just a cut above the rest. For me, it’s all about getting as much information from as many different trusted resources as possible, and by that measure there is not another site out there that has as much fresh content as RotoGrinders….and now that RG has added the weekends to the rotation, I can go to RG and get relative stats and analysis for the upcoming slate no matter what day of the week it is – that is a big advantage over the competition.
Last but not least, the pros at RG are very accessible to their members – especially the premium subscribers. Very early on I sent a tweet or DM to Andy Means asking him for suggestions on podcasts that he liked. I remember he answered me pretty quickly, and anybody that knows the content that Meansy contributes on a daily basis knows that his time must be extremely limited, so the quick response stood out right away on its own. He took the time to think about the answer and gave me 3 podcasts to try out – The Lowe Post, WOJ, and the Locked On NBA series. I listen to all 3 of them religiously to this day, so the time he took to help me really helped and still helps to this day. That didn’t cost me a penny, and that happened only because I was a RG member. I could go on all day about RG.
RotoGrinders: You’ve been rapidly climbing our rankings over the last year with your six biggest wins all coming in 2019 (highlighted by a six-figure win last month). Has this success coincided with any kind of change in strategy?
It’s been an unbelievable start to the year – $5k and $100k wins bookended by a couple of $10k wins with dozens of smaller but significant hits along the way. I expected better results this year, but it would be an outright lie to say that I expected this kind of start to the year. That said, the spike in performance absolutely coincided with probably the biggest strategic change I’ve made to date. I actually wrote about it recently in one of my “Chatroom Nothing” articles. For me, everything changed when I stopped building lineups with the players that the RG pros gave out, and started emulating the style of the RG pros I admired instead, like BobbyFi. In other words, instead of playing the value play that BobbyFi suggested on the afternoon show, I researched to find another low-owned player from a condensed lineup because I know those are the things Bobby looks for when he’s building his player pool, and Bobby is one of the best GPP players out there. If you are building lineups with all the players you got from reading the Expert Survey or listening to the Morning Grind, you are doomed to fail….and it will probably be a miserably slow and painful death. At some point, you have to take ownership of your own play and build your own lineups.
RotoGrinders: Which tools, articles, or shows do you find most helpful when preparing to build your lineups?
Great question. If I was only able to use one tool, without any hesitation, it would be LineupHQ. I’d be willing to bet a large sum of money that most people have no idea that LineupHQ has so much functionality. That is the biggest tool that I use when building lineups because it allows me to access every single thing I need from one place. The articles, rankings, lines, spreads – EVERYTHING is in LineupHQ, so that’s primarily what I use to build lineups….and I should add that I use LineupHQ whether building lineups by hand or using it to build 50 at a time.
With regard to podcasts, interestingly enough, the first DFS podcast I listened to was the Morning Grind with Stevie and CJ. I loved it the first time I listened to it, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have listened to the Morning Grind every single day since then without missing a show. It is the perfect way to start my research each day. I always tune into the flagship show with Dean and guests, and then my research ends every day with Crunch Time – no exceptions. Nobody can touch Meansy or Cheese in their respective sports, and having access to them during the last minutes leading up to lock has undoubtedly helped me win money by saving me money with critical information I wouldn’t have otherwise had, so Crunch Time is a must. It doesn’t hurt when you add America’s favorite weatherman, Kevin Roth, to the mix. His input on the weather for MLB is as powerful a tool as anything.
RotoGrinders: Every DFS player seems to have their “go-to” stats/tools they trust most when doing their research (whether it be wOBA in baseball, usage rate in NBA, PlateIQ, etc.) Do you have any stats or tools that you’d struggle to live without?
Definitely. Right now I’m infatuated with two MLB tools – PlateIQ and Weather Edge. I was just talking with my roommate Matt, aka mkestl2 (another skilled DFS player), and we were talking about how amazing and powerful we find PlateIQ because it allows you to break down every matchup – pitch by pitch – between the pitchers and hitters that day. It’s one thing to be able to see a hitter’s K rate, but it’s a completely different ballgame (no pun intended) to be able to see that his K rate goes up or down when they face a pitcher throwing sliders, and tonight’s pitcher throws the slider 40% of the time. If I have to explain why that is incredible, you should stop playing DFS for real money. The new Weather Edge tool is amazing because now when I’m done researching the slate and I have my player pool set based on PlateIQ, Weather Edge will now tell what kind of impact the weather will have on offensive production. Just the other night, Weather Edge was showing a 33% increase in HR’s in St. Louis, and the players were relatively low-owned, so I stacked the game on both sides, and both teams went bonkers hitting dingers seemingly every other at-bat. LOVE Weather Edge!
RotoGrinders: What’s your average day of research look like? Do you start at a certain time? How much time do you spend?
I do a lot of research….but the research is one of the things that draws me to DFS in the first place, so I have never minded putting in the hours that it takes, and for me, it takes a lot of time. My research starts each morning when I listen to the Morning Grind in the shower. I’m a big podcast guy, even before I was playing DFS, so I listen to a couple of them each day. I reached out to Meansy when I first started playing and asked him for some podcast suggestions, and he suggested Woj, The Lowe Post, and Locked On for NBA, and I listen to those religiously as well. Now that I’m doing this full-time, I try to knock out whatever errands I need to run in the morning while I’m listening to the podcasts, so I can start doing the research I need to do online after lunch. With MLB, I pull up LineupHQ and PlateIQ, and I break down each game looking for the pitchers and hitters that are in good spots, and run through Twitter for any context (narratives) that might be relative to the slate that day. I try to have my lineups built by the time Crunch Time starts so I can calmly listen to what they’re saying and make any changes I need to make accordingly. Most of the time, however, I’m building lineups all the way up until lock because life got in the way and interrupted the schedule I made. I’ve got to get better at that though because typically any mistakes I make come from me rushing to make changes at the last minute….happens to the best of us.
RotoGrinders: Can you tell us a little bit about your bankroll management and thoughts on game selection?
I think this is an area of DFS that is currently in the process of changing. There seems to have been a fairly consistent standard of bankroll management that consists of playing anywhere from 10%-20% of your bankroll daily and having that daily portion of your bankroll divided into somewhere around 80% cash games and 20% GPP. I tried doing that twice, and it was categorically a complete failure. DFS quickly changes from the thrill of my life to the boredom of watching grass grow when I play cash games…hell, it’s in the name itself, isn’t it? Doesn’t “the grind” comes from the grind of playing cash games to build a bankroll? Whether it did or it didn’t, even when building a bankroll through cash games works, it is still slower than pouring molasses on a winter morning and boring as hell. From what I understand, the reason all the pros played cash games back in the fledgling stages of DFS was because there was such a large edge from all of the dead money being played every day. If I had to guess, I’d bet 20% of the entries were losses as soon as they went live back then, so you were just guaranteed wins in a lot of H2H’s, and the cash line for 50/50s and double-ups was effectively much lower. That’s not the DFS world we live in today. I hear people all the time talking about leveraging ownership in double-ups and 50/50’s. Well, guess what, if you’re leveraging ownership, you’re building a GPP lineup. In my opinion, the score it takes to hit the cash line in GPPs and cash games is getting closer and closer, so why not just put all the money in GPPs and effectively get the benefit of odds on your wager? I guess you could make the argument that min cash in GPPs is usually only 1.5x as opposed to a full 2x in double ups and 1.9x or so in 50/50’s, but if that’s the only reason you’re playing cash games over GPPs, you’ll have to excuse me while I giggle my ass off. My play on any given day/night depends on the contests available and the size of the slate, as opposed to a flat % of my bankroll.
RotoGrinders: What is your favorite “real life” sports franchise? Who is your favorite athlete currently (judging by your DFS name, I’m guessing we already know)? Do your personal allegiances ever affect your DFS play?
I’m from the Big Easy, my DFS name is KillerBrees, and I have a 12 lb pup named Archie – as in Manning….I’m guessing that tells you everything you need to know about my favorite sports franchise. Loving the Saints is my religion. If you love New Orleans, she’ll love you back; hate New Orleans, and she will hate you back hard. I love everything about NOLA – it defines me. The love NOLA has for Archie Manning and what he sacrificed would never be matched, in my opinion. I’m pretty sure Archie hasn’t paid for dinner or drinks in New Orleans since 1973. That said, the love we have for Drew Brees is just as deep, and as real as it gets. Seeing the devastation Katrina left in New Orleans changed me…I’ve just never seen anything like it. But I knew I was leaving in a few days for my comfortable home in Austin. I’ve heard Sean Payton joke about the day he picked Drew Brees and his wife up from the airport in NOLA when he deciding where he was going to sign as a free agent. Payton said he thought to himself he may as well just turn around and drive him right back when he was leaving the airport and looking at the disaster all around them. The fact that Drew Brees committed to the Saints and New Orleans at that time still amazes me. He brought his wife and family to a city in shambles and more representative of a straight up war zone than a city…also, let’s not forget that he was choosing between playing and living in South Beach versus playing and living in what may as well have been downtown Hiroshima or Nagasaki. And he didn’t just sign a contract to play QB, he devoted his life to rebuilding New Orleans. Neither I nor anyone from South Louisiana will ever have anything but love for Drew Brees. The mayor’s office in New Orleans and the Governor’s mansion of Louisiana are just being held for him whenever he’s ready to take them, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up as POTUS one day. So yeah, I love the Saints and Drew Brees, and I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t affect my play in DFS because I definitely tend to play those players more than I should….but it’s so fun when they help me win!
RotoGrinders: Some of your biggest victories have come from the NBA, but it also appears you’re doing quite well to start the MLB season. What is your favorite DFS sport to play and why?
NBA is my favorite DFS sport by a wide margin. My only complaints with NBA are the injury reporting (or lack thereof) and the fact that we have to wait around 10-15 min after lock before the games actually start…..fairly minor issues in the long run. You just can’t beat the action in NBA DFS…when you have that winning lineup constructed, it’s a blast to watch your lineup dominate. NBA is also the one sport that is the easiest to predict based on minutes and production per minute, so I think it’s fair to say that the NBA is the most profitable sport for most DFS pros, and it certainly has been for me. I do enjoy playing MLB a lot though, and at the end of last year, I did better in MLB than I did in NBA, so I hope the same improvements in my GPP results occur in MLB this year like they did for me in NBA.
RotoGrinders: Judging from your RotoGrinders profile, you spread your action across all stakes. Does your approach change any as the stakes increase? Have you noticed any interesting trends?
Game selection was the first major change to my game. The big top prizes in the featured GPPs are always fun, but the reason you can have a shot at big money for a $10 or $15 entry fee is because you’re playing against everyone on the planet and their cousins. Spending up on the entry fee to bring the size of the field down is what I’m looking to do when I’m trying to win. That said, those contests have very little – if any – dead money, and they are full of nothing but man-eating sharks, so it’s not like all you have to do is have the balls to play a $100 entry and then “poof” all of a sudden you start winning more than before. Since the competition in those higher entry fee GPPs is usually a lot more seasoned and sharp, I’ve noticed that the players that Gimino (he’s awesome by the way) projects to be low owned are typically much more popular in the smaller field tournaments. Makes sense though, those are the plays the sharp players play, and those are the games with the sharpest players.
RotoGrinders: Have you made any lavish purchases with any of your recent winnings?
I’m looking at a new set of Callaway clubs as we speak, and my new Johnny Cash edition Martin acoustic guitar is on the way. Next up is the ’68 Charger….my dad had a ’69 GTO Judge…might be one of those in my future too…know what I’m saying?
It’s been quite a run for George to start off the new calendar year, and it doesn’t seem likely to slow down considering his wealth of intelligence and dedication. We appreciate George taking the time to sit down with us to share so much about himself and his DFS process and we look forward to seeing him back atop the GPP leaderboards in the weeks/months ahead! Hopefully, another RotoGrinders member soaks this all in and is inspired to be the DFS player highlighted in a similar interview article in the near future! Congratulations on the amazing run George!