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Lesson 2: Building Lineups from the Bottom Up

Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

Interview after $100,000 Win

I’ve mentioned this approach in a couple of my RotoAcademy courses, but I have yet to fully dive into the benefits behind the process. Seeing as how this is a course devoted strictly to lineup building, it makes a lot of sense to include it here. Our natural inclination as fantasy sports players is to be drawn to the superstars. I have no idea the actual number, but I’d guess that the majority of DFS players start their lineups with their favorite superstar or two and build from there.

While a superstar may be an excellent play in a vacuum, it may not lead to the optimal lineup construction that we are always striving for, especially in cash games. We have to learn to treat each slate as its own puzzle. I hate when people box themselves into a corner by creating rules for themselves that they heard from experts around the industry. You’ll often hear the following:

“Always punt the shooting guard (or small forward) position.”

“Always play a point guard or center in the flex.”

“Always play the backup when a player gets hurt.”

Over the course of the season, we may end up following these lineup suggestions more often than not, but we certainly don’t need to do it every slate. If you create these rules for yourself, you will force yourself into making certain plays, even if there is a better lineup construction out there. There will be nights when we need to take James Harden at shooting guard or roster a small forward in the flex. There will also be times when we should fade the backups getting spot starts. To tie this into my original point – we shouldn’t make rules for ourselves that lead to bad lineup construction.

Now, there isn’t one thing that you can look at in particular that will tell you whether or not you should spend up on superstars in a given slate. Obviously, they have to be in good spots and at attractive price points. For more information on how to identify good plays at certain price points, you’ll have to check out my other RotoAcademy courses. But even more importantly we have to be able to afford superstars and still be able to fill out a good lineup around them.

More than any other sport, I love building lineups from the bottom up in NBA DFS. The process is easy enough; you go through each position and take the cheapest player you can realistically see yourself playing that night. At some positions, there will be good values and you can add them to your lineup. At other positions, you may have to spend up. The key is to fill out a lineup with the cheapest players you can realistically see yourself using.

I do this for each site that I’m playing on and then I look at how much salary I have remaining. Some days, there will be a lot of salary left on the table (usually in bigger slates). Other days, I will hardly have any of the salary cap remaining. Based on what is left over, I can quickly tell if it’s a good night to go stars and scrubs or whether it’s better to have a more balanced lineup. The next step is to start making upgrades. Your entire lineup construction should hinge on the value that’s available in the slate and what you are able to do under the constraints of the salary cap.

The all-value lineup approach is more geared toward those who play one lineup in each slate (whether it be cash games, tournaments, or both). If you are making multiple lineups, you can obviously afford to stray away from the optimal lineup construction in order to look for leverage. However, even if you are making multiple lineups and you want to start with the all-value approach, it certainly won’t hurt. You will quickly realize the best positions where you can pay down.

About the Author

  • Derek Farnsworth (Notorious)

  • Derek Farnsworth, aka Notorious, is one of the most recognizable names and faces in all of DFS, thanks in large part to the great advice he gives on a daily basis in RotoGrinders.com’s Grind Down for NBA and MLB as well as the First Look column that gives a preview of the day’s games from a DFS perspective. Before joining the RotoGrinders team, Derek received a Masters Degree from the University of Utah. When he’s not busy providing content, he’s dominating the industry as evidenced by his consistent top rankings in multiple sports. Farnsworth provides expert analysis for RotoGrinders Premium members on a daily basis during the NBA season and has also been nominated for five different Fantasy Sports Writer’s Association (FSWA) awards.

    Interview after $100,000 Win

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