Interview with Derek "Notorious" Farnsworth After $100,000 Win
He’s one of the hardest working people in the industry, writing the massive MLB Grind Down each day as well as providing other Premium content, along with appearing on various podcasts and GrindersLive shows.
When he’s not busy providing great expert advice, he’s winning all the money in high buy-in GPPs, and he’s been crushing it all summer long.
We’re talking about none other than Derek Farnsworth, also known as Notorious, and he did it yet again last night by winning the $300K, 10 Max Championship and the $175K Broken Bat for $100,000 in prize money. Noto took to Twitter afterwards to let everyone know…
Truly grateful for DFS and this community. Beers are on me. 🍻 pic.twitter.com/QGH8wRfZfL— Notorious (@RG_Notorious) September 1, 2017
We sat down with Derek while he took a break writing the Grind Down to ask him a few questions about last night and life in general.
RotoGrinders: First off, congrats on another huge night in DFS with another $100K night. You’ve had a huge summer with multiple big nights. What would you attribute this run to if anything?
Notorious: A lot of people say that streaks don’t exist in sports or in DFS, but when things are going your way, you tend to have more conviction in your picks. You aren’t second-guessing yourself nearly as often. I’ve obviously been very fortunate to have a few great lineups that have carried me to some big scores, but hard work and a positive attitude can be half of the battle sometimes.
“Hendricks might be the safest play in the slate tonight. We’ll get to Madison Bumgarnerhere in a bit, but there might be merit to using Hendricks as your number one pitcher. For starters, he’s $1,300 cheaper than Bumgarner on both FanDuel and DraftKings. He’s a larger favorite and he has the better offense behind him. You can argue that he also has the better matchup. While the Braves don’t strikeout all that often, they are ranked 23rd in team wOBA against right-handed pitching. “
“Tonight’s matchup against the Red Sox looks awful on paper, but Sabathia has owned Boston’s current roster, holding them to a .243 wOBA with 35 strikeouts in 189 plate appearances.”
So obviously you liked Hendricks a lot and went with the safety and cost savings he provided. C.C. was a tougher call going against a talented Red Sox team but as you mentioned he’d owned them in the past. Tell us how you ultimately narrowed down your choices to these two.
Notorious: Hendricks was a fairly easy call. The wind was blowing in at Wrigley and he was a large favorite with a red-hot offense behind him. I was going back and forth on Sabathia vs. Wacha all night, but once I saw that Bumgarner was scratched, I knew everyone would pivot to Wacha. I mentioned some positive trends for Sabathia in the Grind Down and knew he was going to be lower owned than Wacha.
RotoGrinders: You went with a fairly contrarian stack in the Brewers facing Gio Gonzalez. Again let’s look at what you said about the Brewers in the Grind Down…
“The Brewers have hit Gio Gonzalez fairly well in the past. Their current roster owns a .356 wOBA with 11 extra-base hits in 88 plate appearances. Milwaukee will likely roll out nine right-handed hitters tonight, which will certainly make it tough on Gonzalez, who is considerably worse against righties than he is against lefties. I’m not sure a full Brewers’ stack is necessary, but there are certainly some intriguing one-off and mini-stack options. The best part is that the Brewers are dirt cheap across the industry. Every hitter in their projected lineup is priced under $3,500 on FanDuel and under $3,700 on DraftKings.”
Explain a little bit your thought process here in utilizing the Brewers – what role did cost and ownership play in your decision making here?
Notorious: If anyone has ever read the Grind Down, they know that I’m not a Gio guy. I’ve been expecting regression for quite some time, so I had no issues targeting the Brewers against him at home in Miller Park. With Milwaukee’s bats being priced so cheap, it allowed me to pay up at some of the other positions. Anytime you can get a cheap stack that you like and then expect it to be low owned, it’s hard to pass up.
RotoGrinders: Your four one off’s were Gary Sanchez, Kendrys Morales, Tim Beckham, and Adam Jones. Morales was obviously the huge play here with 55 DK fpts but the other three all put up double digit performances as well. Again we’ll look at your Grind Down analysis because it explains your thought processes well.
BALTIMORE “ The Orioles could hit four or five home runs tonight. They are playing at home in a hitter-friendly ballpark and they are facing Marco Estrada, who has an extreme fly-ball rate and a HR/9 of 1.42 this season. Meanwhile, the Orioles have hit the second most home runs in baseball. The chances of this being a ‘bombs away’ game are pretty great with these two fly-ball pitchers on the mound. Baltimore should also benefit from Estrada’s reverse-splits, as they have a right-handed heavy lineup. A stack is firmly in play here and there are a number of viable cash game options as well.”
MORALES – The Blue Jays’ offense can disappear at times, but tonight’s matchup against Jeremy Hellickson is a favorable one. He has a low strikeout rate, a low ground ball rate, and a SIERA over 5.00 on the season. Most of Hellickson’s struggles come against left-handed hitters, as he has allowed a .342 xwOBA to lefties in the last two seasons. As StevieTPFL and the Seige always point out on the Morning Grind Podcast, the Blue Jays don’t hit sliders very well. Luckily for them, Hellickson doesn’t throw a slider. This is an intriguing stack that should get overlooked and both Justin Smoak (if active) and Kendrys Morales are elite options at first base.
SANCHEZ (listed as ELITE option) – While Eduardo Rodriguez has an above-average strikeout rate and is generally good at limiting hard contact, he has an extreme fly-ball rate, which leads to a lot of home runs. He had a 1.35 HR/9 last season and it hasn’t gotten much better this season at 1.20. High strikeout fly-ball pitchers typically aren’t the best to stack against, but there is certainly some upside that we can try to capture in this lineup by using one-off targets.
Outside of your Grind Down thoughts what led you to utilizing these four in your lineup?
Notorious: Kendrys Morales, Tim Beckham, and Gary Sanchez were all easy decisions. Morales was cheap and playing in a good ballpark against a pitcher that struggles with lefties. Beckham saw a bump once Miguel Montero got the start at catcher (he’s terrible at holding runners). Sanchez was clearly the best catching option and was facing a fly-ball pitcher in Yankee Stadium. Adam Jones was the more difficult choice and he actually was the last player I put into the lineup. I liked the matchup, I just didn’t want to pay $5,100 for him. In the end, I’m glad I did.
RotoGrinders: You are perhaps more “notorious” for being a cash-game player but have had crazy success lately in GPPs. What is your current ratio of cash-to-GPP play? Has that changed over the years and if so why?
Notorious: I’m often referred to as a cash-game specialist because I usually only play one lineup per site, but the majority of my entries are into tournaments. I take more of a blended approach with my lineups in that I want them to have some safety and some contrarian plays. Most people make different lineups for cash and GPPs, but the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Most of my big wins have come with my one “cash game” lineup that I entered into tournaments. But yes, my GPP play has increased over the years, especially in the daily sports (NBA & MLB).
RotoGrinders: Much of your success this summer has come in high buy-in contests with smaller fields. Obviously the competition is much tougher at these levels but do you think it’s easier to be a profitable GPP player at these levels when you don’t have to compete against massive fields?
Notorious: This goes back to my one lineup approach that I use in both cash games and tournaments. Typically, my one lineup does’t have enough contrarian plays to take down a tournament with 20,000 entries, but it’s certainly capable of taking down a tournament with 100-1000 entries. Your strategy should always change based on the league size and the payout structure. I’m not a mass multi-entry guy, so the higher buy-in, smaller field tournaments match my style of play.
RotoGrinders: What is your general GPP approach when playing in these high buy-in contests?
Notorious: This might sound like a broken record since I’m basically giving a similar answer in three straight questions. For the most part, I build a lineup that I feel comfortable using in cash games and tournaments. I don’t avoid the chalk completely, but at the same time I look to make a few pivots here and there (like Sabathia over Wacha last night). When it comes to baseball, I usually try to have some sort of correlation, whether it be a mini or a full stack.
RotoGrinders: Have you always been a high-stakes player? If not, tell us about the climb those levels. What did you do to get there?
Notorious: I’ve been around forever, so it feels like I’ve always been a high stakes player, but I actually started with a deposit of a hundred bucks back on DraftStreet. I had to re-up a few times before figuring it out, but eventually just started building my bankroll from there. If you want to be profitable at DFS in the long run, bankroll management is essential. I’ve had my ups and downs just like everyone else, but good bankroll management has allowed me to be here for the long haul.
RotoGrinders: You produce a massive amount of content for RotoGrinders on a daily basis and play DFS at the highest levels. You have a young boy – how do you balance those commitments with family life?
Notorious: Let me start by saying it is a dream come true to have this job and to work with so many amazing people. The fact that I get to talk and write about sports all day for a living is truly incredible. I always try to remember that, because some days are certainly harder than others. There are a lot of long nights, but they are all worth it. As far as my little man, I absolutely love the #DadLife. I always try to balance work, DFS, and family time. This season, I’ve done a much better job of taking off slates, so that I’m not looking at my phone or checking scores all night. A good balance is key. The only downside to having a little one is that I watch more Trolls, Sing, and Moana than I do sports these days.
RotoGrinders: Any plans for the substantial winnings you’ve had this summer? Any last words for the RG community? Thanks again for taking time out of your day for us!
Notorious: No major plans for the winnings. I did buy myself a new car a couple months back and I’m sure we will start a college fund for our little man. I’m also going to make some donations. I’m lucky enough to do this, so the least I can do is give back when I’m able to.
As far as the RG community, I love you all. The fact that you still read my articles after this many years is incredible. If I ever meet any of you in person, beers are on me!