Optimal Lineup Strategy - One Lineup to Rule Them All
I’m doing this write up mostly for me because I don’t track my results all that well and I want to improve that part of my game… but once I started doing the analysis I thought it might help other people.
So, this is my 3rd season playing NBA DFS on Fanduel.
Year 1, I was strictly a low-limit GPP player. Over the course of the season I made somewhere between $1500-$2000.
Year 2, I used my profit from NBA to increase my bankroll for NFL and I made about $40k playing NFL. For NBA, I moved to high limits and played the $300 Monster almost exclusively. I ended up break even and decided to withdraw my bankroll to pay for a house, a wedding and a kick-ass honeymoon in Bora Bora with my wife.
Year 3, I’ve set aside $2000 to play NBA. I have been experimenting with different strategies all year… playing the $300 Monster, mass multi-entering the $3 shot, cash games, single entry… and after about 5 weeks I think I have come up with my strategy for the year. I’m calling it “Optimal Lineup Strategy”. It works like this:
– Make 1 lineup every night using RG Tools (First Look, Grind Down, Podcasts, B2B tool, etc)… seriously they are the best in the business
– When I make a lineup I’m looking for 6x value (we’ll get to why think 5x is bad in a minute)
– Enter the optimal lineup in cash games ($5 and $2 100 man single entry 50/50s), single entry GPPs ($1, $2, $5, $10, $25) and the $3 Shot just in case its the nuts
– Play $150-$200 a night with a 75% Cash and 25% GPP split
So, for the last 3 years I feel like cash lines have been moving up. Scores that used to cash based on 5x, no longer do. Even in some cash games on certain nights the cash line is over 300 points. However, if we are judicious, we can identify plays every day that can yield 6x+ value. This strategy leads me to a lot of unique lineup combinations. Since I am making what I consider an optimal lineup, I’m very rarely looking at expected ownership percentages other then to look and see what I might be missing in my own research. The only time I’ll caveat this is on short slates or on slates with no big stud players. The only time I am ok with 5x is if it is a $10k+ player and I have the value to offset with other 6-8x guys. I’m shooting for 360 points every night.
Cash game breakdown:
14 $5 100 man 50/50s–100% cash rate
17 $2 100 man 50/50s–100% cash rate
Total profit: $93.20
$10 Dime, $5 Assist, $2 Block, $1 Dribbler, $3 Shot ($21 in entry fees)–0% cash rate
Total profit: -$21
If Russell Westbrook is on the slate, I am usually playing him no matter what price he is. Value always opens up. Same with Demarcus Cousins. It just so happened I got both of them in my lineup. I also liked John Wall and Bradley Beal in what was expected to be a close game. I don’t really pay that much attention to Vegas totals in my research. I am looking for close games regardless of totals and high usage players in those games. I generally think high Vegas total games are over owned and have a much greater probability of blowout.
My last spot I settled on DeMarre Carroll who ended up only being 5% owned. He’s a ballhawk with lower usage and gets a lot of his points from steals and rebounds. I expected a lot of turnovers and missed shots against Philly.
Overall this lineup was good enough to sweep cash games but finish just outside the money in GPPs. I got 2 big bust games from 2 of my value guys and got less then 20 points from them combined… but going for 6x still got me over 300 for the night.
Cash game breakdown:
20 $5 100 man 50/50s–60% cash rate
10 $2 100 man 50/50s–90% cash rate
Total profit = $38.40
$10 Dime, $5 Assist, $2 Block, $1 Dribbler, $4 Clutch Shot ($22 in entry fees)–0% cash rate
Total profit = -$22
This day was a mess with injury news. Blake Griffin ended up sitting and opened up the Clippers. A lot of sharps went Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan when this happened. I was all over the Jazz all day though. I loved Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward in this spot with no Hill, Hood or Favors. Deandre Jordan and Rudy Gobert were only $100 apart and I ended up sticking to my guns.
News came out late that Holiday was starting at SG and I liked the discount he offered me while still being able to roster Lebron James against Milwaukee and Anthony Davis against the Lakers. Once again I ended up getting duds from 2 punt plays (Jeremy Lamb and Mo Speights) but ended up cashing in most of my 50/50s.
278.90 is not a score that will cash GPPs, so no luck there.
I did know that people would shift to Paul and Deandre Jordan, and that was one of the reasons I stayed off of them. They combined for 100 points though so I’m still lucky I cashed my 50/50s without them.
Cash game breakdown:
20 $5 100 man 50/50s–100% cash rate
15 $2 100 man 50/50s–100% cash rate
Profit = $104
$25 And One, $10 Dime, $5 Assist, $2 Block, $1 Dribbler, $5 Layup, $3 Shot ($51 in entry fees)–100% cash rate
Profit = $272.08
See Russell Westbrook, play Russell Westbrook. When value opens up its impossible to not put him in my lineup. A lot of injuries also opened up opportunities for start dising players. With no Joakim Noah, Porzingis was a lock for me. His usage spikes much more than either Melo or Derrick Rose without Noah. I also liked Beal in a high scoring affair going up against RWB. I would have liked to also have used John Wall in this spot–this game ended up going to overtime… but I couldn’t find a value center I liked to get me off Whiteside.
I’ll say this about Hassan Whiteside. I hate playing him. His game is so ugly. He disappears for long stretches of time. He can get in foul trouble. He seems so disinterested in playing basketball. I always look for reasons to NOT play him, especially when his price is up at $9000. But Denver was short-handed with no Jokic or Arthur and it seemed like the right spot to play him even though the numbers suggest Denver is much better against bigs than they really are.
This was Karl Anthony Towns night though… I think he almost had 80 points and I didn’t even really consider him. Louis Williams also had a much better game than Clarkson at a lower price, so those were really the two spots I could have improved.
I’ll say this about value at starting PG. If I can get a starting PG in the NBA for less than $4000, I’m usually going to end up playing them. I was really surprised Harrison was so low owned in this spot, especially with Westbrook on the slate.
On the single entry GPP front I took 29th in the Dime and 18th in the And One. So it was a pretty big GPP night after not cashing the last 2.
Wowsers… a double OT game between Houston and Golden State was the big story here. All day people were talking about where to punt at other positions to fit in Harden and Durant. I decided that going super stars and scrubs was the way to go.
I went back to the well with Harrison and he delivered a 7x game after an 8x game the night before. D.J. Augustin was awful in this one though and was the last player in my lineup tonight. I wanted Delladova here, but didn’t wan’t to drop down to Jarrell Martin from Try Lyles and have 3 Memphis players in my lineup.
Again, Utah and Miami was a low total Vegas game. But with the usage that Hayward had I had to get him in my lineup somehow. He ended up 7x for me too. I also like Lyles off the bench in this one with no Hill, Hood or Favors. Even though he wasn’t starting he’d been playing big minutes and is a shooter.
I picked 4 guys from the highest total games of the night, but the real key to this lineup was John Henson. He was getting over 1 fp/min since he started starting and BKN is terrible against bigs. I didn’t expect 8x, but I thought 6x was certainly in play with a 5x floor.
Then Durant and Harden did Durant and Harden things.
It was my 3rd clean sweep of the week in cash and I had an even better GPP night then the night before. I took 18th in the Dime and 12th in the And One. I decided to bump up my play for Friday night since I was up about $900 for the week.
Cash game breakdown:
21 $5 100 man 50/50s–9 out of 21 cashed
24 $2 100 man 50/50s-12 out of 28 cashed
Profit = -$41
$50 Swish, $25 And One, $10 Dime, $5 Assist, $2 Block, $1 Dribbler, $5 Layup $3 Shot–0% cash
Profit = -$101
Ouch. I was so confident going in to this slate. Embiid was a stone cold lock. Rondo was a stone cold lock. They both delivered HUGE games. The problem was everyone else had them too and I missed everywhere else.
I didn’t like Brow in this matchup. I didn’t like Porzingis’ price. I just had SO MUCH salary left when I was building lineups. This is a problem I run in to sometimes. I have value guys that I love and then roster construction leads me to plays I wouldn’t normally consider just because I have the available salary.
In hindsight, this was a spot I should have scaled back my play or just made 30 $3 lineups and called it a day. I had already decided I would bump up my play for the day. It was Friday and I didn’t have anything else to do so I just went with it. I was even tinkering with my lineup with 2 minutes left before lock which I never really do.
To cap it all off, I entered the $50 Swish even though I didn’t like my lineup.
This was such a bizarre result too. I had numerous 7-8x guys and then my top dollar guys went 3x. I could have literally picked anyone else and I would have done better.
I learned a lesson from this though and took Saturday/Sunday off to focus on NFL and come back fresh for Monday.
Overall for the week my numbers looked like this:
Cash games profit = $270
GPP profit = $431.08
Total profit = $701.08
I will probably scale back next week in to the $150-$200 zone instead of pushing it further than that.