NFL Expert Survey: Cash Game Strategy Edition
Want to know how Notorious approaches cash games in NFL DFS? Wondering what Hoop2410’s game selection looks like each week? You’re in luck. Our daily fantasy sports experts will answer a handful of questions to help you become more profitable in NFL DFS cash games.
NFL Expert Survey: Cash Game Strategy
Do you prefer head to head, 50/50, or three-man “cash game” formats?
Notorious: 50/50 & three-man
Hoop2410: All of the above
Dean79804: H2H and 50/50 mostly. I’ll dabble in three-man contests.
meansy53: H2H and 50/50
KillaB: Equal love for H2H and 50/50
Do you prefer to select your opponents or post games yourself?
Notorious: Post H2Hs early in the week. Join three-mans late Sunday morning.
Hoop2410: Post early in the week and repost as they fill at each price level
Dean79804: Post games myself
What stakes do you prefer best for NFL cash games: High (> $100), Medium (> $25), or Low (< $25)?
Notorious: In terms of total $ in play, I definitely play more high stakes (>$100).
Hoop2410: Most of my action is at the higher stakes, above $100
Dean79804: Depending on how I feel about the week, I’ll post H2Hs at all price tiers up to $25-$50, so, Medium
meansy53: Medium if possible but will play High if I need/want to get more in play
KillaB: NFL has way more action, so I play a lot of $25-$200
Do you play multiple slates such as 1 PM only, Showdown slates, and other partial slates? Please select your favorite type if so.
Notorious: Generally I’ll only play the main slate unless my teams get off to a rocky start on Sunday. If that’s the case, I’ll join the afternoon and primetime slates.
Hoop2410: For NFL I typically play most of the slates. On occasion, I will use these secondary slates as hedge opportunities since most of my action is on a couple main lineups.
Dean79804: Typically I don’t stray much from the main slates, but if my 1PM players get bust and I really like multiple players in the late slate (who are now on bad teams) I may fire at the 4 PM slates.
meansy53: Very rarely
KillaB: I play all the classic salary cap slates (and a little Showdown).
When selecting games, what day of the week do you find you enter your first contest?
Notorious: I try to post H2H games as soon as the slates are posted. As far as GPPs and 50/50s, it’s usually on Thursday or Friday.
Hoop2410: I always try to post games as soon as possible. Mon/Tue I try to check out all the GPPs around the industry and develop a game plan in order to figure out what I plan to play.
Dean79804: I will post my H2Hs as soon as possible.
meansy53: I want to post H2Hs as soon as possible. I honestly have no plan for the rest of the contests.
KillaB: Monday or Tuesday
What day do you consider the softest for finding opponents and getting action?
Notorious: Sunday morning right before lock (within 15 minutes).
Hoop2410: Right before lock
Dean79804: Sunday morning all the way up till lock time. If I have time I will cancel my bigger H2H games that have not been claimed about 5-10 mins before lock, Most players who post H2H are generally sharp so getting auto-matched vs them isn’t optimal for H2Hs.
meansy53: Late Saturday night and the hour or two leading up to kickoff.
KillaB: 1-2 hours before kickoff, regardless of slate
Do you prefer to play one lineup, few lineups, or many lineups in cash games?
Notorious: Most weeks I play one lineup per site. Sometimes I will rotate defenses and cheap tight ends, so I’ll end up with two or three cash lineups that only have one or two player differences.
Hoop2410: I always play one main cash lineup per site. I live the anti-hedge life for the most part. However, I can see the argument for multiple lineups during NFL.
Dean79804: I usually end up w/ 3 cash lineups. Almost always I’ll play a core of players on every cash lineup while shuffling through several two vs two options (or 3 v 3).
KillaB: One lineup, sometimes split when I stack QB/RB in 50/50s.
Do you consider your style to be mostly chalky, selectively differentiated, or somewhat contrarian in cash game contests?
Notorious: I use my cash game lineup in tournaments (mostly single entry and three-max), so mine are more contrarian than most. I’ll eat some chalk, but also differentiate in spots.
Hoop2410: As chalky as they come in cash games
Dean79804: I’m all about that #ChalkLife in cash games
meansy53: Chalk City
As a general rule, do you play on a single site or multiple DFS sites?
What is your favorite site for cash game action?
Dean79804: DK H2H opponents collectively seem a little sharper than FD in my opinion
meansy53: FanDuel (H2H action is better over there in my opinion)
KillaB: FantasyDraft (lower rake), but side with FanDuel over DraftKings when looking at the two big sites
Please select all that apply: I use my main cash lineup in A) single entry B) three-entry max C) multi-entry contests.
Notorious: A & B
Hoop2410: A, B & C
Dean79804: All apply. I always intend on entering my cash lineups into GPPs. Sometimes I’ll import my cash lineup and flip a chalky player (or 2) for more of a boom/bust option as a way to differentiate my lineup.
meansy53: A and sometimes B
KillaB: A and B
What percentage of your weekly budget is allocated to cash games?
Notorious: Not as much as it used to be, especially since I enter my cash lineup in tournaments. I’d say maybe 30-40% of my weekly bankroll ends up in H2H, three-man, and 50/50’s.
Hoop2410: I would estimate 70% range
Dean79804: It fully depends on how I feel about the slate. Theoretically it could be as high as 80%, while other weeks I may split my action 50-50.
meansy53: Depends on how much I like that week’s slate
Are cash games sustainable and why?
Notorious: The edge is dwindling in other sports, but there will always be an edge in cash games for NFL. There are so many casual players that throw money into NFL that cash games are still sustainable. The key is contest selection. You need to choose your H2H opponents carefully and avoid small field double-ups that are filled with pros.
Hoop2410: In NFL DFS, yes. The overall skill level in NFL cash games is much lower than the other sports. MLB/NBA cash games are becoming increasingly difficult to beat. The margin for error is the lowest it’s ever been across the board for cash games.
Dean79804: It is undeniable that the edges in DFS have shrunk (thanks in part to a site like RG), but the silver lining is that NFL cash games tend to not be as sharp when compared to MLB/NBA contests. So many people play season long and everyone thinks they know the NFL. No other sport has more casual players and there are enough decision points on a full slate that it is easy to make lineup construction mistakes if you are indeed a casual.
meansy53: I definitely think so in NFL; the margin for error in NBA and MLB is much thinner. It is much easier for the casual fan to put together a competitive NFL fantasy lineup, and we know that there are already more casual fans for that sport to begin with. There will be some of the most obvious plays of the year that you will find with only 60-70% ownership in those BIG double ups.
KillaB: Yes, the player pool is so massive in comparison to other sports, and it’s such a shortened DFS season, so plenty of bad players will actually be profitable in that shortened span.
What’s the best tip you can offer on selecting games?
Notorious: First and foremost, you have to be rake conscious. Even though I’ve been playing for years and years, I still have to remind myself to look at the rake rather than just clicking the join contest button over and over again. The second is to use your H2H blocker on DraftKings wisely. The third would be to avoid small field double-ups that are filled by a lot of the same pros that you will see each and every week.
Hoop2410: The most important thing is to identify what type of player that you are. Is DFS recreational for you? Or is this something that you hope to be successful long term? Are you going to be a GPP type player or focus on cash games? Regardless of your answer to the above questions, playing within your means is the most important thing. If you are playing GPPs, make sure you are entering contests that you can come close to maxing out the entries. This may mean that you need to drop down stakes.
Dean79804: The optimal 50/50 contests to enter are those w/ the largest field while being single entry. I would not suggest entering the very small fields as there are a certain amount of sharp people (some likely in this survey) that enter every 50-50 contest. An easy way to say it is that you will encounter a smaller percentage of “sharks” in a 1000 person single entry 50-50 on DK than you would a 50 person 50-50 contest. On DK I highly suggest you limit the number of games your opponent can pick up. I want the widest variety of H2H opponents as possible. Don’t be afraid to block opponents. On FD, where you are vulnerable to getting scooped, especially if you don’t have a “highly experienced” badge, I’d suggest posting only a few games at a time. Lastly, always be rake conscious.
meansy53: You should always be looking for the cheapest entry fee contests with the most entrants. For starters, the lower the entry fee, the less skilled the field usually is (especially with the sites implementing certain thresholds on experienced players). Secondly, in regards to the size of the contest, my thought process is that the more entrants there are in the contest, the more people there are to make mistakes. So if you want to play $100 worth of cash games (notwithstanding H2H of course), you should theoretically be looking for 100 $1 contests with the most entrants as possible.
KillaB: Avoid higher raked games (choose 50/50s over double ups). Lower your variance by going up against as many opponents as possible. Choose 50/50 games with the highest amount of people to get a broader exposure of weaker players. Use your opponent blocker on H2H games for the sites that allow if players are scooping your posted H2Hs.
What is the biggest leak in your game you’d like to plug in 2018?
Notorious: When it comes to NFL, there are two leaks that I’d like to fix in my game. The first is falling for the fancy play trap. There are players each and every week that I get stuck on for no apparent reason. Fancy play syndrome will lead to more frustration than anything else. The second is weighing opportunity more than matchup. 20+ touches for a running back or 10+ targets for a wideout can lead to good fantasy production, even in difficult matchups.
Hoop2410: In terms of NFL… 1) Avoid chasing the huge prize pools. This at times has led to focusing on the wrong things prior to lock. 2) Avoid chasing the Qs. Those things can get expensive very quickly.
Dean79804: The obvious goal for me is to have more positive weeks than negative ones. As hard as you try to avoid it, you’re gonna have a bad week. I think this is a good spot to talk about salvaging a bad week. Even in a crummy week you can potentially win a few H2Hs you weren’t necessarily suppose to. How? As the 1 PM games are winding down, cycle through your H2Hs one by one. Consider who you have left to play as well as your opponent. You can see how much $ they have left and best guess who they have rostered (I believe there is an RG Chrome extension for this). Of course you won’t guess correctly 100% of the time, but if you are behind, you likely need to consider pivoting off players you like (assuming you conclude your opponent has them as well) to players you like a little less, in the hopes variance is on your side. I’m going to be focusing on this more this season.
meansy53: I think the biggest leak in my game is not taking players against good defenses when the data tells me that they are still good plays. Often times there will be cheap ‘value plays’ that I eschew for an inferior ‘value play’ just because the former has a stiffer defense to go against. However, that math is already accounted for in the projection to begin with, so I’m basically counting that against the player twice (which is obviously silly). Sometimes I will use that for a tiebreaker (can’t decide between two players), but there is no reason to use that train of thought on a frequent basis. Especially if that player is cheap and opens up spending at other positions.
KillaB: Well, FanDuel was nice enough to remove the kickers, so I won’t have to spend hours thinking how my kicker’s failures are going to keep me less profitable. In all seriousness, DK has stronger opponent-based pricing vs FD. In past years I’ve given too much credit for what defenses have done in the past instead of who they currently are and have avoided studs in tougher perceived matchups early in the season. Not going to happen this year!
What mistakes do you see most often in your opponents’ lineups?
Notorious: For cash games, we shouldn’t worry about ownership (unless you are entering tournaments as well). I often get asked, “Player A is going to be 35% owned, is he an auto-fade in cash games?” Absolutely not. The goal of cash games is to create the highest floor possible, regardless of ownership. It’s also not necessary to stack in cash games. We often feel the need to pair a QB with his wideout or a RB with his defense, but that correlation is better for tournaments.
Hoop2410: In tournaments I would definitely say lineups that do not correlate, ie: QBs not paired with WRs, players vs your DEF, things like that. In cash games it seems like a lot of people get tied to certain QBs regardless of price and matchup.
Dean79804: There is so much talk of ownership in DFS in these days (and it’s certainly justified when it comes to GPP strategy), that some people think its a thing to be concerned with in cash games. It’s not. While not sexy per se, Its totally OK and advisable to roster the “obvious” players. Are they aways gonna work out? Of course not. Nonetheless, I’m happy to take the cleanest path to DFS points in cash games, and if my opponent happens to beat me while taking the scenic route, so be it.
meansy53: Nothing specific really comes to mind, but I can say you will be shocked at how the “obvious plays” don’t come with as much ownership as you’d think in NFL cash games. As I alluded to above, we can spend all week saying “oh, well everyone is going to play Player X anyways”, but that guy will ultimately be on only 75 rosters in a 100-man 50/50. If Player X crushes like we assume and/or project he will, then that 50/50 shrinks to a 75-man contest in a way.
KillaB: Not grabbing the chalk value from a min-priced RB backup guaranteed to get as many touches as a workhorse starter. Correlating a QB/WR (not necessarily a mistake) when that just adds variance to your overall lineups. Spending up at QB, which doesn’t allow them to grab an elite play at a skilled position.
What is the most important element to consider when determining how to allocate salary cap / determine roster construction?
Notorious: My biggest piece of advice is to treat every slate individually. Don’t box yourself into a corner by saying that you always have to pay down at quarterback or pay up at running back. Every slate is different. If there are great value RBs, start there. I typically like to start with my favorite point-per-dollar plays and then build from there.
Hoop2410: In cash games you obviously want to maximize the value in your lineup; price/$$$ is a very important thing to look at. In GPPs you want to look at correlation/game stack type builds.
Dean79804: Being able to recognize the good plays only gets you so far in DFS. Roster construction is where the real skill lies – we live in the world of a salary cap after all. Every week is a new puzzle and therefore you can’t have a set strategy. You must be flexible when it comes to lineup construction. Some weeks you’‘ll want to jam in RB studs while other slates will offer multiple dirt cheap RBs in line for 20+ touches due to injury. Ideally you want to compile the most potential touches, looks, and targets in positive spots as possible. Weighing opportunity cost and projected fantasy points per dollar is a good starting point.
meansy53: I am a “build from the bottom” kind of player. By that I mean, I like to start with the cheap value plays first, as that lets me plug in the best point per dollar plays from the get-go and see which positions I can focus on making my big spends. So depending on the slate and cheap value we have available, I will plug in 1-3 of those first and then start deciding where (and on whom) I will be spending the bulk of my cap.
KillaB: I’d make a list of your musts for the week to try and clear it up. Make a core group with value and studs. The best way to gauge value is through opportunity for each player. Opportunity for a skill position = carries + targets + TD equity. Some weeks it’s pretty obvious to go cheap at RB and pay up for stud WRs. Each week is different though. Like I said previously, we shouldn’t be as confident early in the season with team defense metrics until we have more data.
When a decision is very close between players, what advice can you offer?
Notorious: We often hear that you should only be using one cash game lineup per week. While your “optimal” lineup will be more profitable once you get into a huge sample size, there are only 17 weeks in the NFL season. In such a volatile sport, I don’t mind making two lineups when I can’t decide between two players. Keep the rest of your lineup the same and take 50% exposure to each of the players in question.
Hoop2410: Flip a coin! Just kidding, but I would be lying if I told you I haven’t done something similar. On occasion I will ask the wife or kids to decide (not recommended). The logical answer would be to just spilt/hedge.
Dean79804: I feel like I’m in the minority here, but I’m OK not taking a stand and just chopping two players that I project basically the same. Football is a violent game and your guys are always one hit away from being done for the week. It stings a little less when this happens having just 50% ownership to a player. that said, if forced to answer the question I’d consider floor vs ceiling, team totals, projected touches, if a team is favored, field conditions, etc.
meansy53: First and foremost, I think the best thing to do is trust your gut and research. If you have spent a lot of time studying numbers all week, chances are you will make the right call on a ‘tiebreaker’ more often than not. Past that though, I will use a variety of other things, such as weather, recent form, team total, health, and other teammates already on my roster (e.g. if my last decision is between Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, I am more apt to use Julio if I have already plugged in Matt Ryan as my quarterback that week).
KillaB: These coin flip situations are the spots I research the most. If you are unsure about a play, I’d keep researching every key variable and listening to what other respectable industry guys say about the players. Hopefully come Sunday one player has edged the other out considerably. If not, you may want to hedge by splitting up your action 50/50 between the two players.
What is the best advice you can give a new cash game player in four sentences or less?
Notorious: Here are the four most important aspects of cash games in my eyes: 1. Contest selection – this includes being rake conscious and avoiding the pros as much as possible in H2H, three-mans, and 50/50’s. 2. Don’t worry about ownership in cash games — you can play the chalk since your goal is to get above the cash line, not finish at the very top. 3. Take the best point-per-dollar plays at each position and don’t force stacks into your lineups. 4. Know each site’s scoring system. For instance, DraftKings gives a full point per reception, while FanDuel gives half of a point.
Hoop2410: A lot goes into being a successful cash player, but most importantly, make sure you are actually profiting in cash games (DFS Analyzer can help you see your ROI and which game types you have been most profitable in). If you are not seeing a winning trend over time, don’t be afraid to give GPPs and multi-entry a look instead.
Dean79804: Absorb as much content as possible. You can go into the RG Forums or ResultsDB and pull up contests where you can study lineups from the top players. Be rake conscious. Lastly, play within your means and have fun.
meansy53: If you are a new player, I would take in as much content as possible just to learn the nuances, language, roster construction process, etc. of DFS as a whole. As you get more comfortable, I would slowly start to whittle that down to a select group while incorporating your own research process. The other thing I would do is study the rosters of some of the best players out there (like Noto, Hoop, Dean, and KillaB, for instance) and try to figure out why they were on certain players and you weren’t. Reach out to them too and see if they will give you some insight!
KillaB: There is so much great DFS content and a ton of players on RG to learn from. Consume all the content with a purpose of building better lineups in mind. Be strict with your bankroll guidelines. Analyze the higher stake 50/50s every week to compare your lineups and learn from the best!