Fading the Chalk: The Best Way to Handle the Worst Slate of the Season

I have been playing DFS just about every single day for a little over a year now. I’m not good enough to be considered a grinder, but I’m also not losing money all that much either. I want to get better. I have read in a few different books that one of the best ways to get better is to take the time to go back and analyze how your choices stack up against the people who are winning the contests you are playing. Taking the time to do that research is the motivation behind these Fading the Chalk articles. If you’d like to talk more about your research process or any other aspect of DFS, hit me up on Twitter: AndyBowsersDFS.

Before I dive into breaking down the absolute chaos that was last night’s NBA slate, I have to break some bad news. Starting tomorrow, I will be on vacation through the end of next week. FanDuel has already informed me that I won’t be able to play from outside the country, and my wife has already informed me that she won’t be tolerating any writing or research on vacation…so it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to provide much content while I’m away. But don’t worry, I’ll be back to the grind starting next Saturday.

As for last night’s slate, I remembered saying after a four game slate a few weeks ago that I was going to have to start reducing my volume on these shorter slates, and that is exactly what I did last night. I just took two head-to-heads so that we could see what the pros did, and then I also entered the $10 single entry tournament. Of course, as luck would have it, I did pretty well and cashed everywhere on my lowest volume night of the year. But once again, we are focusing on process, not results, and the correct process for small slates is to lighten your volume because literally anything can happen.

My Team: The Dougy McDermott All-Stars

Everything last night started with the two studs. I was pretty sure that both of the pros I was challenging were going to find a way to get Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis into their lineups. On a short slate, you need as many raw points as possible, and locking those two guys in early was the best way to get them. In order to make that work, I needed some decent value. For that, I looked to Michael Carter-Williams, Buddy Hield, and Doug McDermott.

From this rough outline, I saw two different directions that I could go. The Pelicans and Knicks had the highest total of the night, and I already had Hield and Davis, so Carmelo Anthony was definitely an option, but I felt like his price was just a bit higher than I could really be comfortable with. My other option was to put together a Thunder stack by adding Victor Oladipo, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams alongside Russell Westbrook.

Since I was just playing one tournament and a couple of head-to-heads, I thought that focusing on the second highest total on the board might give me some differentiation over the people who were going all-in on Pelicans and Knicks. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened, and Enes Kanter was only 11% owned in that single entry tournament.

Head-to-Head With the Pros

I’m not sure if the pros follow that advice about playing less volume on shorter slates, but I had no problem grabbing head-to-heads against any of our regularly featured guests yesterday. As I expected, @csuram88 found a way to fit both Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis into his lineup, but he did it by going double cheap at small forward with Andre Roberson and Doug McDermott.

Saving money at small forward, and then even more with Courtney Lee at shooting guard, allowed Pete to move up to Jrue Holiday as his second point guard. He then filled in with Victor Oladipo, Gorgui Dieng, and Steven Adams. I had made a very similar lineup trying to predict where he would go earlier in the day, and the only difference is that I expected him to go down to Michael Carter-Williams and up a little higher than Andre Roberson at small forward.

Our buddy @BirdWings went with Andrew Wiggins and Doug McDermott at small forward, which is more what I would expect from these two pros, but then he shocked me by passing on Victor Oladipo in order to go with Courtney Lee and Buddy Hield at shooting guard and move up to Derrick Rose as his second point guard. Obviously the Derrick Rose play didn’t work out, but it was hard to see that one coming.

What has me more interested is that both of these pros saw a good reason to play Courtney Lee, who I never even bothered to consider. My guess is that they just played him because he was locked into playing minutes on a short slate with few options, but even then I don’t understand why you would bother with a guy that terrible.

Taking Down the Big Tournaments

Like most short slates, the key to taking down a big tournament last night was to focus on the game that no one was paying attention to. And since the two high scoring games turned into blowouts and Russell Westbrook didn’t make value, putting together a lineup with Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns was exactly the way to do that last night.

We saw @boooourns win the $1065 Baller on Sunday, and now he followed it up by winning the $300 Monster on Monday using that exact strategy. By getting a big game out of Ricky Rubio instead of using Russell Westbrook, he was able to pair him with Jrue Holiday and still save enough salary to move up to Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony and take down the $25k top prize.

My Results: Making in Rain in the Cheap Seats

As luck would have it, on a night where I reduced my play to virtually nothing, I dodged every major landmine across this three game slate and won all three of the contests that I entered. Sure would have been nice to play a bit heavier, right?

As you probably expected, this is what the breakdown by game type looks like. I won both head-to-heads, and then did a little better than doubling up in the $10 single entry tournament.

It was great to see my lineup do well last night, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that variance didn’t play a huge part in that success. Anything can happen on a short slate, and just a few breaks in a different direction could have totally sunk me. So despite having success last night, I am going to continue to play very conservative when it comes to these short slates.

But with that one behind us, we now have the good fortune of looking forward to a beautiful nine game slate tonight. Time to head over to the NBA First Look by @notorious and get to work! I am planning on playing tonight, but will be on a plane early tomorrow morning, so I won’t have time to write about it. After that, I’ll be away from the game for about 10 days trying hard not to exhibit any withdrawal symptoms. Good luck to everyone over the next few weeks and I’ll be back soon!

About the Author

  • Andrew Selby (AndyBowsers)

  • Andy is a restaurant manager that fell head-over-heels in love with the DFS world from the minute he opened his FanDuel account back in early 2015. Since he is also an accomplished freelance writer, it was only a matter of time before those two worlds collided. He currently writes a daily blog called Fading the Chalk where he breaks down his own lineup decisions along with the lineups of some the best in the business.

Comments

  • stoutdawg

    Thanks again for the information. This is always one of my first reads in the morning after reviewing my own line. Have a great vacation!

  • AsherS

    Great read as always, enjoy the vacation!

  • coach232

    • Blogger of the Month

    Nice bounce back for you sir. With all of the uncertainty in the slate I only played one 50/50 and was able to cash. because of the shoulder issue with Melo I played barnes instead and it worked out for me with Melo getting ejected. Gonna miss your blog but I hope you enjoy yourself on your trip the regulars gonna hold it down till you return

  • slakdogg

    This has been a great series. Really enjoying it. Hope you have a great vacation.

  • ArgyleCrocodile

    I’m still pretty new to this DFS thing, and I have to say, I’m hooked. Last night I was hooked in a way that only an unsuspecting fish would understand. No Roses had me seeing red, but oh well! I kept it low-key with the volume, so I escaped with the shred of sanity I hang on to every day. Anyways, I want to throw a huge shout out to you! There are a couple of different writers I follow closely, but I consistently come back to this read. Keep up the great work. Listen to the wife, and enjoy the vacation!

  • extreme469

    very informative as always..thanks

  • clatrndzl

    WHere are you going? I had a great run in MLB 1.5 years ago in Cancun. Making lineups on the beach while stone hammered drunk on my honeymoon. Left there up $700.

  • socrates7

    Great read every day. Enjoy the vacation!

  • aylsg

    Have a great trip and thanks for the great effort! Short slate question (from a first-year NBA DFS player)… All the contributors and sharps were lamenting and grumbling about last night’s slate via every vehicle out there where you can go to for information. Is that because the smaller slates take them off their process or is it because they get frustrated when forced to confront the fact that luck and good/bad breaks have more to do with DFS than they care to admit?

  • NeilCO

    • 364

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #47

      RG Tiered Ranking

    @aylsg said...

    Have a great trip and thanks for the great effort! Short slate question (from a first-year NBA DFS player)… All the contributors and sharps were lamenting and grumbling about last night’s slate via every vehicle out there where you can go to for information. Is that because the smaller slates take them off their process or is it because they get frustrated when forced to confront the fact that luck and good/bad breaks have more to do with DFS than they care to admit?

    On shorter slates, because every player is highly owned, it is harder to differentiate your lineups from the Average Joe who just sets a gut lineup and forgets it. Experts, who have more time to research each day because it is their job, are able to get ahead of the field on bigger slates because they can find players with potential that night that Average Joe might not consider. So if you don’t have time to do research, short slates might treat you better; if you do, you’re better off playing in larger slates with greater variation.

  • jbhfootball

    Andrew: I feel good because I also played Courtney Lee like the pros. But that’s where my DFS happiness ended last night. Didn’t have Rose, but couldn’t cash even though I had Rubio and Towns. Had a lot of other Knicks that killed me as well Little Curry!

    From my research Courtney Lee is one of the most consistent players out there! He’s pretty much a sure thing, he won’t 8x but he usually won’t hurt you either!

    He scored most of his points in the first quarter and then Hornacek sat all the starters the last 16 minutes or so!

  • AndyBowsers

    • Blogger of the Month

    @clatrndzl said...

    WHere are you going? I had a great run in MLB 1.5 years ago in Cancun. Making lineups on the beach while stone hammered drunk on my honeymoon. Left there up $700.

    Sandals in Grenada. Will def be hammered drunk, but prob not going to have access to FD. haha.

  • AndyBowsers

    • Blogger of the Month

    @NeilCO said...

    On shorter slates, because every player is highly owned, it is harder to differentiate your lineups from the Average Joe who just sets a gut lineup and forgets it. Experts, who have more time to research each day because it is their job, are able to get ahead of the field on bigger slates because they can find players with potential that night that Average Joe might not consider. So if you don’t have time to do research, short slates might treat you better; if you do, you’re better off playing in larger slates with greater variation.

    Well said, @NeilCO.

  • UncannyEric

    Nice article! I just won my 1st tourney nothing big 200 bucks but I’m always looking to improve. This provides plenty to think about thanks!

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