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Where to Start

JM Tohline (JMToWin)

JM Tohline (Tuh-lean) – DFS alias JMToWin – is a novelist and a DFS player who specializes in high-stakes MLB and NFL tourneys, with a strategy geared toward single-entry play in multi-entry tourneys. He joined the DFS scene at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, and has since won five DFS championship seats and two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders articles and RotoAcademy courses. You can find JM on Twitter at JMToWin.

The reason it is so important to understand — and avoid — that second mistake discussed in the last lesson (focusing too heavily on points-per-dollar) is because this approach will often lead to an entire team of mid-priced players.

More often than not, mid-priced players will be the guys likeliest to hit the points-per-dollar multiplier you are targeting!

You might be wondering why that’s a bad thing.

You’re in luck! Because I am going to tell you.

As you pay attention to player pricing, you will start to discover that the higher-priced players are not priced at a higher level because they necessarily have a higher floor than the mid-priced guys, but instead, these higher-priced guys are usually priced where they are because they have a substantially higher ceiling than the mid-priced guys!

“You’re saying these high-priced guys have a lower points-per-dollar floor, right? That’s not good, is it?”

In a fundamental sense, no. That’s not good.

But this is where understanding “Where to start” becomes so tremendously valuable.

A Quick and Simple Look at Players in Each Price Range

Before we get to “where to start,” I want to show you what players in each price range (if we break things down into three simple and very general categories: low-priced guys, mid-priced guys, and high-priced guys) can typically be expected to provide.

Low-Priced Guys

Low-priced guys who are viable options for your DFS roster generally fall into one of two categories:

1) Fairly low-floor guys who nevertheless have a decent amount of upside for their price.

2) Fairly low-ceiling guys who nevertheless provide a nice, solid floor for their price.

As you start paying attention, and as the season progresses, you will almost always (as in, nine times out of ten, or, in a 17-week NFL season, 16 times out of 17) be able to find a few players each week who fit a third category of low-priced guys: players who are set to receive far more opportunity than their price reflects (either because of injury to a guy in front of them, or because of changing roles, or because of changing offensive philosophy, or because of expected offensive philosophy given that week’s matchup, or due to any of a number of other extenuating circumstances). These players will usually have a very high floor for their price, and they can usually be relied on for a high points-per-dollar ceiling as well.

Mid-Priced Guys

Mid-priced guys who are viable options for your DFS roster generally fall into one one of two categories:

1) Guys who are priced higher than the low-priced guys because they have lots of upside, but who tend to have a fairly low floor for their price as well.

2) Guys who are priced higher than the low-priced guys because of their high floor relative to their price, but who do not have a very high ceiling (think: that “possession receiver” we looked at a couple lessons back, with the floor of around eight points and the ceiling of around ten).

High-Priced Guys

High-priced guys who are viable options for your DFS roster almost always fall into one specific category: in a strictly points-based approach, these guys have a high floor and a high ceiling; typically, however — because they are priced so high — their “points per dollar” floor tends to not be all that great. Sure, their ceiling is substantially higher than what you could get at the lower end of the price range, but their floor for actual points isn’t a whole lot higher than what the mid-priced guys provide, and this means they have a poor “points per dollar” floor compared to those mid-priced guys.

If you built your teams with a strong focus on providing yourself with a high points-per-dollar floor, it would be easy for you to avoid the high-priced guys altogether. Heck, you might even chuckle at the people who are rostering those high-priced players. “What a dumb play — that guy is priced way too high! If he lands at his floor, his points-per-dollar is going to kill that team.”

And if you built your team from the top down — rostering the high-priced guys you “really want to use,” then finding cheap guys to fill out your roster from there, this would absolutely be true.

But if you actually know where to start?

Yeah. The equation changes entirely.

Where to Start

Remember above when we looked at that third category into which low-priced guys sometimes make their way? That category in which we can usually find at least one or two guys every single week? Remember how we said these guys are usually priced far lower than they should be? Well, typically, these guys can (at worst) be expected to perform at the same floor/ceiling level — on a “total points” basis — as their mid-priced counterparts.

And remember when we said that the high-priced guys often have pretty much the same floor as the mid-priced guys, but that their hike in price is due primarily to the much higher ceiling they have?

Do you see where this is going?

Let’s say you are able to build a team with three low-priced guys who all have pretty much the same floor/ceiling level for overall points as their mid-priced counterparts. In other words: as you save money and roster these three low-priced guys, they can pretty much be relied on for the same number of points you would get by rostering three mid-priced guys in their place.

Let’s then say you use these savings to fill out the rest of your roster with high-priced guys. These guys have the same points-based floor those mid-priced guys have, sure — but they also carry much higher upside.

Do you see what happens if you build a team like this?

By building a team such as this, you would gain the same floor you would have with an “all-mid-priced” team, while also providing yourself with a whole lot more upside!

Those who fall for the trap of worrying only about points-per-dollar will never be able to do this because they will hate the “low points-per-dollar floor the high-priced guys have.” But those who see the value in targeting both safety and upside — and who see the opportunity available when low-priced guys can hit the same floor/ceiling for points that the mid-priced guys can hit — are able to significantly raise the overall ceiling of their team, without lowering their overall floor at all!

So, how do you get there?

You start by building an All-Value Team!

Rather than starting “at the top” — picking out the high-priced guys you “really want to use,” then figuring out how to make things work from there — I want to encourage you to start from the bottom and build up from there.

Who is the cheapest quarterback on the board who gives you a higher-than-normal floor/ceiling combo? Okay — put this guy on your roster!

Who are the cheapest running backs on the board who give you higher-than-normal floor/ceiling combos? Okay — lock these guys in place! (A side note: running back is the position at which you will most frequently be able to find low-priced guys who have a solid shot at matching what the mid-priced guys will do. We look at this in-depth in the Picking Running Backs course — examining exactly what you should be looking for in order to identify these low-priced backs each week.)

Who are the cheapest wide receivers and tight ends who have a great chance to match the points the mid-priced guys are likely to put up? There you go — these guys belong on your roster!

Now, you have a full team of guys who are likely to over-perform their price.

Oh — and yeah, you also have a massive amount of salary left over.

Where do you go from there?

You go to Lesson 5 — Where to Go From There.

About the Author

  • JM Tohline (JMToWin)

  • JM Tohline (Tuh-lean) – DFS alias JMToWin – is a novelist and a DFS player who specializes in high-stakes MLB and NFL tourneys, with a strategy geared toward single-entry play in multi-entry tourneys. He joined the DFS scene at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, and has since won five DFS championship seats and two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders articles and RotoAcademy courses. You can find JM on Twitter at JMToWin.

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