Newcomer's Guide to Daily Fantasy Football

While this guide will mainly be geared toward new players, DFS veterans will hopefully take something away from it as well.

Here I’ll provide some insight on how to choose contest types on sites like FanDuel and DraftKings, what to look for during the week, and how to analyze whether or not a player is a good fit for your roster.

Contest Selection

There are two main types of contests. They are generally referred to as GPPs, (Guaranteed Prize Pools) which constitute tournaments with a grand prize along with gradually smaller prizes to typically the top 17-20% of the entrants. The second type is generally referred to as cash games, which are your head-to-head contests, 50/50s (where half the field gets a payout), double-ups, triple-ups, and other multipliers. If you’re brand new to Daily Fantasy Sports, then I encourage you to try out the different types of contests for a few weeks at low stakes and figure out which suit you best. After a while, you may decide to focus more heavily on one type, or split things evenly as you find out which types of contests give you the most success.

GPP Strategy

Much of the prize money goes to the top 1% of finishers in most of these tournaments, so you’re trying to build a lineup that has immense upside. That said, you can’t just fill your roster with a bunch of boom-or-bust players because there’s almost no chance that they’ll all hit on the same day. You want a mixture of reliable superstars, low-cost players with a prominent role and a good matchup, and maybe one or two boom-or-bust types.

Ownership Percentage in GPPs

Many of us will talk throughout the week about players’ ownership percentages (meaning the percentage of lineups that the player is a part of in a given tournament), but how should you use this information? Let’s say a player is going to be 50% owned in tournaments. Depending on salary, he could have a major impact on the tournament because if he has a monster game, half the field will have a difficult time making up those points. If he lays an egg, the half who didn’t take him have a leg up on the other half. Personally, I’m more apt to take a heavily-owned player if he’s also low-cost, but will usually have fewer shares of expensive heavily-owned players. Often times, taking an expensive star player in a less than ideal matchup is a great way to give your lineup upside. If he outperforms a similarly priced player that is heavily owned, then you could be passing by a ton of lineups on the leaderboard.

Cash Game Strategy

You’re basically just trying to put together a lineup of consistent players who have good value in relation to their cost. This can be done by identifying players with good matchups, players who are priced cheaper than they should be, and players who have an increased role due to injury or promotion to the starting lineup. The biggest decisions here also revolve around the most heavily-owned players.

Salary Distribution

First off, there are no hard and fast rules that need to be followed based on player salaries. You don’t need an even distribution throughout your team. Salaries on my teams end up all over the map, and there are plenty of times where I’ll even leave over $500 of cap on the table if I like the way my lineup looks. One piece of advice, though… don’t always go cheap on defense. Sometimes the expensive defenses have matchups that are so favorable that if you go cheap you’ll likely be at a disadvantage. Sometimes these two positions can be what separates a first-place finish from a 1,000th place finish.

What to Look For During the Week

Player salaries are determined just before the next football week, so anything that happens to players once salaries are set can either boost or drive down a player’s value. Be sure to check player news. Sometimes you’ll see news of a QB wanting to look for a particular receiver more, or a coach talking about focusing on the run. These pieces of news can give you that extra bit of confidence that those players will be heavily involved in the game plan. Also, RotoGrinders has an awesome lineup of analysts providing free analysis throughout the week. Reading articles and listening to shows can help you gain insight into how some of the best DFS minds construct their lineups. This helped accelerate my learning curve so much last year and helped me realize the nuances of the daily game that weren’t as much of a factor in season-long fantasy football.

Player Analysis

There are plenty of factors you can look at in order to determine whether a player is a good play on a given week. Talent, workload, matchup, and cost are some of the most important. However, another great way to look at a player is to try to figure out his ceiling (highest realistic production) and his floor (lowest realistic production) for that week’s matchup. Some players come with both a high ceiling and high floor, perfect for both cash games and GPPs. Think Drew Brees, Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, and Rob Gronkowski. There are plenty of others, but it’s always nice to have a few reliable studs like these who can also put up huge games for you.

High Ceiling, Low Floor

These are your boom-or-bust players that can either torpedo your whole lineup or win you a tournament. Often times, talented, young receivers getting their first crack at a starting role will fall into this category. You generally want to avoid these types in cash games, but they make for great GPP plays to help round out your roster, as they can get you big points at low ownership levels.

My last piece of advice is to just have fun. Daily Fantasy Football adds so much more excitement to the game-watching experience. Enjoy rooting for your players and becoming a more and more knowledgeable DFS player.

About the Author

  • Scott Hanson (escot4)

  • Scott Hanson (escot4) started playing Daily Fantasy in September of 2014, but has played season-long since as early as elementary school. In his illustrious DFS career, he has already won multiple $1,000,000+ prizes in daily fantasy football, having taken down both the 2014 FanDuel WFFC and 2016 DraftKings FFWC.

Comments

  • narniak

    Great article Scott, very concise and helpful for new players. You touched on one of my greatest lessons learned from last NFL season, and even gave the perfect example for this upcoming NFL Week 1 with Davante Adams. The lower the salary of a player, the less you should worry about ownership percentage, and vice versa. I look forward to seeing more articles from you! Thanks!

  • ron214

    Really liked your take on Ownership. I talk to so many guys that pass on a player, (regardless of price) just because they think ownership will be high. I try and tell them, why pass up a potential 20-30 point player (in baseball) just because you think others will own him too? The key in my opinion is choosing a mid to low priced player that has a great match up in which he will also get 20-30 points and will most likely be low owned.

  • zeechamp

    • 2015 DraftKings FFWC Finalist

    Ron, it makes sense to fade players in MLB, regardless of the spot, at a certain ownership percentage. For example, if Tulo is playing at home against a weak pitcher he might be 35% owned and maybe he gets or exceeds the points you need 40% of the time, but Jung-ho Kang is playing against a righty, will only be 10% owned and maybe he gets or exceeds the points you need 20% of the time. While both guys would be decent plays and Tulo is more likely to have a better game, Kang would be the better play in those circumstances.

  • evil333

    • 978

      RG Overall Ranking

    Great read as always…. Is the Adams wagon slowing down now w jj signed? Think he steps right in…he knows qb n offence. Just curious ur thought.

  • escot4

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    @evil333 said...

    Great read as always…. Is the Adams wagon slowing down now w jj signed? Think he steps right in…he knows qb n offence. Just curious ur thought.

    I don’t think it will impact Adams at all for week 1, or really even the rest of the year. It’s Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis who lose out on opportunities with Jones in town. Adams is the much more talented player at this stage of his career, while James Jones is coming off of a year with under 10 yards per reception. I’m still all over Adams in cash games. Haven’t decided how much exposure to go with in GPPs yet. I won’t have any James Jones though.

  • eloving56

    This is pretty insightful it touches on things i knew and some things i didnt. Im curious i use mostly my knowledge of football and players but as last year (towards the end of the year) was my first time participating in any weekly contests should lets say a guy like julio jones who i love against eagles should i fade him? I think im ok cause his high price tag

  • nonamejoe

    Question on NFL scoring on Draftkings – do defenses receive points for scoring touchdowns? I know they receive points for interceptions and fumbles but I didn’t see any points for pick sixes or fumbles returned for a TD. Am I missing something?

  • escot4

    • 817

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      $2M Prize Winner

    • 2016 DraftKings FFWC Champion

    @eloving56 said...

    This is pretty insightful it touches on things i knew and some things i didnt. Im curious i use mostly my knowledge of football and players but as last year (towards the end of the year) was my first time participating in any weekly contests should lets say a guy like julio jones who i love against eagles should i fade him? I think im ok cause his high price tag

    I do think Julio will be heavily owned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fade him, it just means you need to differentiate your lineup in some other way. You’ll have a hard time finishing at the very top if your entire team is heavily owned players. Sometimes if I think a player will be 30% owned or more, I’ll purposely have way more exposure than 30% if I’m really confident in that player.

  • escot4

    • 817

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      $2M Prize Winner

    • 2016 DraftKings FFWC Champion

    @nonamejoe said...

    Question on NFL scoring on Draftkings – do defenses receive points for scoring touchdowns? I know they receive points for interceptions and fumbles but I didn’t see any points for pick sixes or fumbles returned for a TD. Am I missing something?

    They do, 6 points for defensive or special teams TD. Finding the D/ST who score a TD is key, but not always easy.

  • eloving56

    @escot4 said...

    I do think Julio will be heavily owned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean fade him, it just means you need to differentiate your lineup in some other way. You’ll have a hard time finishing at the very top if your entire team is heavily owned players. Sometimes if I think a player will be 30% owned or more, I’ll purposely have way more exposure than 30% if I’m really confident in that player.

    Exactly what do you mean mean more exposure than 30% meaning use him most if not all of your lineups?

  • escot4

    • 817

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    • x2

      $2M Prize Winner

    • 2016 DraftKings FFWC Champion

    @eloving56 said...

    Exactly what do you mean mean more exposure than 30% meaning use him most if not all of your lineups?

    I don’t like to use any one player in all of my tournament lineups in NFL just because it could end your week immediately if they get injured in the 1st quarter. With a high-priced player I typically don’t go over 60% in tournaments, so anywhere between 30 and 60% depending on how confident I am that he’ll have a big game.

  • eloving56

    @escot4 said...

    I don’t like to use any one player in all of my tournament lineups in NFL just because it could end your week immediately if they get injured in the 1st quarter. With a high-priced player I typically don’t go over 60% in tournaments, so anywhere between 30 and 60% depending on how confident I am that he’ll have a big game.

    Alright escot i appreciate your input

  • ebarcomb

    Does anyone know where I can find previous Milly Maker and other GPP winning lineups from last year to use as reference?

  • tyrant1014

    Watching TV, first time ive seen you in the fanduel Ad’s, it’s a shame they don’t pay you.

  • jordanisloose

    How do I buy this package for all season long please help

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