The Five Biggest Wastes of Time in NFL DFS Analysis

The NFL DFS season is upon us, and it is time to let the podcasts rain like fire. When you listen to a podcast for NFL DFS, you should expect the following things to occur:

1. Industry leaders will work tirelessly to dig up stats and insights on Monday and Tuesday.

2. Many, many, many hours will be spent recording early week content and writing articles.

3. Dozens of podcasts will have heard the original insights and combined parroted takes with their own.

4. By Friday, you will have an absolutely INSANE amount of man-hours and time spent listening that is all for nothing, as late week news has destroyed the validity of that work.

This is a vicious cycle. Content providers including RotoGrinders must give the people what they want, but it may not be what they need if they are playing DFS.

To be fair, tons of what you can learn is applicable for the week. However, most of what you will end up doing is wasting your precious time.

In this article, I will help you avoid wasting your time in NFL DFS this season.

TL;DR: Early week content lacks complete information. The LineupHQ optimizer will help you save time. Accurate player projections late in the week account for all relevant information. The optimizer organizes everything you need to focus more on the difficult challenge of building lineups vs. the far less significant challenge of analyzing player expectations.

The Five Biggest Ways to Waste Your Time Researching NFL DFS


1. Listening to multiple early week podcasts and consuming other content too early.

2. Spending too much time on stats and data already factored into projections.

3. Over-Analyzing matchup factors.

4. Looking at ownership projections before Saturday.

5. Analyzing individual players vs. analyzing total lineups.

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Stop Wasting Time With Early Week Podcasts and Content

RotoGrinders media kingpin Dan Back is not going to happy about this one.

I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but forming decisions based on early week content is similar to the dilemma faced by poker players who must act first. Analysts are working with limited information, and if you make the wrong move based on early takes your opponents will exploit this with the benefit of better information later.

The difference here is that you have the choice to wait. You don’t have to listen to hours of podcasts, particularly since it has been my experience that much of the information is either parroted in an echo chamber or simply repeated by analyzing the same data points and arriving at the same place.

What you should do instead: Carefully select some key voices and sources. Limit your exposure to content early in the week, and focus on the shortest path to insight late in the week. RotoGrinders has multiple late week projections focused content including The BLITZ, _The Ownership Report, and the consistently updated LineupHQ optmizer.

Much of the Data You Research is Already Factored into Projections

The “me” from 2 years ago is not gonna be happy about this one.

If you compiled all of the analysis in the fantasy football world and put it in as few buckets as possible, this is what I think that would look like.

— Bucket 1: Will this player be on the field and how much?

— Bucket 2: Will this player touch the ball and how much?

— Bucket 3: Will this player be efficient when he touches the ball, and how efficient?

— Bucket 4: Will this team score touchdowns and how many?

— Bucket 5: Will other players draft this player and how often?

— Bucket 6: How can I use the first five buckets to create competitive DFS teams?

— Bucket 7: Words and information that waste your time.

Now suppose I wanted to take those 7 buckets and put those in buckets. This is what that would look like:

1. Information that is included or can be derived from projections.

2. Words and information that waste your time.

To be crystal clear, there is such a thing as uncertainty of information that cannot totally be accounted for by projections. Projections are based at some level on assumptions, and sometimes those assumptions are proven wrong at the last minute (example: active / inactive) or could have been adjusted by information that exists outside the scope of actionable projections information (such as a coach following through on a revised use of a player that had not previously occurred.

Otherwise…the vast majority of the time of the time you spent time researching a data point or listening to others discuss their research is a waste of time. You are doing work that is already being done for you.

What you should do instead: If you must have your own look at past usage or other data accounted for by accurate projections, use time-saving tools like GridironIQ or The Premium Usage App. Otherwise, trust the projections sources you subscribe to and focus on the important task of building and managing rosters in LineupHQ optmizer. If you must, use multiple sources of projections and combine them in LineupHQ using the aggregate projections feature. Make sure you wait until as late in the week as possible to aggregate.

Appendix – The 10 Stats and Data Points That People Spend the Most Time Researching on Their Own That Are a Waste of Their Time (because they are in projections already)

— Usage Stats (targets, snaps, market shares)
— Red Zone Usage Stats
— Pace of play / Projected Plays (a misunderstood discussion annually)
— Run / Pass Ratios, including situational usage
— Player efficiency stats including short/deep passing
— Points allowed stats and matchup efficiency
— Injury Information (especially early in the week)
— Game Script and Team Scoring Expectations
— Pressure, Sacks, Turnovers, and Other Disruptions
— Team Level Advanced Metrics and Indicators

Stop Over-Analyzing Matchup Factors

You’ve heard the argument that defense doesn’t matter, but that’s not how it should be stated.

The statement should read “Past defensive performance may not predict future results well.” There are absolutely times when you’ll look at matchup data and arrive at a player who does well, and at that point you’ll experience cognitive bias and remember it.

However, your brain will quickly dismiss the equal or more number of times that matchup data did not accurately predict the outcome.

Matchup data has its place, and it is nearly impossible to ignore because it is being shoved down your throat by everyone in the industry including RotoGrinders and yours truly. I am part of the problem.

We should all stop obsessing about defense vs. position, WR vs. Cornerback charts, backwards-looking defensive efficiency data like player grades and DVOA, and certain other data that attempts to describe the quality of the matchup. By all means, let’s have a look, but if we are not making our own projections and determining how much specifically each piece of information should matter to the player’s range of outcomes… we should agree to spend less time looking.

What you should do instead: Once again, if you must have your own look at past usage or other data accounted for by accurate projections, use time-saving tools like GridironIQ. Otherwise, get back to DFS basics and spend more time analyzing the quality of your lineups relative to projections. Spend more time researching game theory and the behavior of sustained successful players. Perhaps most importantly, spend more time in the LineupHQ optmizer building teams and selecting your ammunition. The lineups you create are the bullets in your gun, and nobody (including me – who could stand to listen to my own advice more often) wants to shoot blanks on Sunday morning.

Stop Looking at Ownership Projections Before Saturday

If you’re going to trust me on anything, trust me on this one.

Yes, there will be players who are popular regardless of what happens later in the week with injury information and fpts projections updates. However, I cannot even tell you number of cringes I do each week consuming content where people are either guessing wildly at player popularity (often not even close) or looking at high quality ownership projections sources that are displaying assumptions based on incomplete information (including the projections operated here at RotoGrinders).

The NFL schedule sets early week ownership projections up to fail. Coaches (Hello, Kyle Shanahan) have no incentive to provide complete information to us, as their opponents would receive the same. Likewise, the NFL injury reporting construct provides teams incentive to play coy with the health of their players while still operating within the rules early in the week. It is not until Friday that we have the clearest possible picture of who attended practice on what day, and whether or not the nature of their ailment will truly limit their popularity in DFS on Sunday.

What you should do instead: Watch the Ownership Report on Saturday where Tuttle and I review late-breaking ownership expectations. Subscribe to RotoGrinders premium and get a complete set of data for slates integrated in LineupHQ.

Analyze Total Lineups vs. Individual Players

For the 5th time in five sections, I really wish I took my own advice more often here.

DFS is not a game of players, but of lineups. However, the content industry (out of necessity really) spends the vast majority of its time talking about individual players. This is largely a waste of time.

What you should do instead: I wrote this week about 6 ways to win at NFL DFS using an optimizer, and I think this is the way to ween yourself off of the idea that the majority of your time should be spent thinking about individual NFL players. Instead, we should focus on a totality of resources that help to build effective DFS lineups including:

— Accurate projections and managing trade-offs in tournaments

— Creating correlation within your lineups

— Effectively differentiating your lineups

— If you will build multiple lineups, properly diversifying your lineup set

— Effective roster construction techniques and managing uploads/updates

— Maintaining a steady stream of relevant information that impact the above

In addition to those 6, DFS players including myself (especially myself!) should also spend more time:

— Selecting games and maximizing win expectation by lowering opponent quality when possible.

— Setting DFS Goals and understanding if you are here to profit, have fun, gamble (responsibly), or perhaps all of the above.

Somebody has to perform the intense labor of setting up models, projecting players, following the NFL in detail, recognizing what information impacts projections and what does not, following injury updates, monitoring practices, studying offensive lines, researching defensive pressures, and a whole universe of other information. Somebody has to hire developers to build an optimizer, and create features that keep you on rails towards winning lineup construction. Somebody has the life-consuming responsibility of taking fantasy football dead seriously, and spending all of their waking hours ensuring that the information displayed is to the best of their ability the most accurate they are capable of producing.

That person does not have to be you. You can leave that to me and the team here at RotoGrinders, while you turn off the damn Tuesday podcast and pay attention to your life and family. Stop by later in the week, and relax in the meantime.

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About the Author

Chris Gimino (ChrisGimino)

Chris Gimino is a top mind in the industry and one of the primary contributors at RotoGrinders. Together with our team of experts, his work is powering projections, simulations, ownership, and analytics across 10+ sports for betting, DFS, and fantasy pick’em contests. A multiple-time Live Finalist and shipper of 6-figure wins, Chris delivers actionable tools and advice for RotoGrinders Premium subscribers. Follow Chris on Twitter – @ChrisGimino