There are numerous differences between daily and seasonal fantasy football but the main difference is in the aforementioned words above.  Seasonal leagues are much more forgiving with faulty roster moves; there’s always next week to rectify a mistake.  The margin for error is extremely slim as underachievement in DFS can prove costly in both cash games and GPPs.  Essentially, it’s the rush of the fantasy playoffs each week on the daily sites.

FanDuel and DraftKings boomed in 2015 when every other commercial during an NFL telecast was a commercial for one of those sites.  New players blossomed in the hopes of becoming the person at the end of the commercial holding that winning check.  New players meant increased competition and more people to topple to get to the top of the mountain.  For instance, take the week 1 NFL 2M Play-Action contest on DraftKings.  This contest will fill 792,707 seats to kick off the 2018 season.  It’s foolish to think that you’re going to face that many opponents since some enter multiple lineups.  However, 792,706 lineups will need to be conquered to win this contest.  New fish will be among the competition to feast on while sharks will also be in those murky GPPs waters.  As DFS players, what can be done to improve our chances of winning on a weekly basis?  

Good chances are if you’re reading this in August, you’re doing more preparation than most of the competition is doing at this point.  However, there are many that have also started even earlier, as early as the conclusion of the previous season.  The importance of gaining an edge in DFS is critical with the amount of competition you’re dealing with on a weekly basis.  The preparation conducted during the offseason and between Sundays will be the foundation by which sound roster decisions will and will not be executed.  Be mindful that even the best will hit ruts and cold streaks.  The aforementioned preparation, a thirst for knowledge, and persistence are excellent remedies during the dry spells when nothing seems to go your way.

1. STUDY, STUDY, STUDY

Scroll back 10 years ago and travel through memory lane.  The tools and resources available in 2008 fail in comparison to what exists today.  Now you can revisit previous NFL and college games to look at film regarding a certain player at your leisure.  NFL.com has game logs for all players to discover previous performances against certain teams. You can discover anything from how many FPPG Shaun Alexander scored in a game as an underdog to what percentage of games played in rain went over the total to the home/road splits of Isaac Bruce throughout his career.  The amount of databases at your fingertips is limitless; the only limit is your imagination and time invested in quality research.

Philadelphia didn’t give up a touchdown on the ground at Lincoln Financial Field in 2017.  Minnesota allowed a league low 10.3 FPPG to quarterbacks at the friendly confines at U.S. Bank Stadium last year.  Alvin Kamara had a +5.86 FPPG differential in games played outdoors in 2017.  These tidbits of knowledge are all figures that can be discovered and can play significant importance in lineup construction.  Identifying trends and useful statistics can be easier as an NFL season reaches its halfway point vs the first few weeks when trends from the prior year are still being utilized.  The key is putting the time in to crunch and analyze the numbers and use that information to make better informed roster decisions.  Believe me, there won’t be any sympathy for those who fail to prepare and have busted lineups.

2. REMAIN A STUDENT OF THE GAME

Did you know that not one quarterback in  FanDuel’s perfect lineups in 2017 played in a game with winds exceeding 10 miles per hour?  I discovered this when reading an article on numberfire.com that broke down the perfect lineups in a multitude of ways.  For as many statistical databases that exist, there are even more fantasy writers that are at your disposal. 

From our staff at Top2 sports to others in the industry, there is a plethora of writers that strive to provide different insights and impart valuable knowledge.  I make it a point to read at least three articles a day to keep educating myself and improve as a fantasy football player.

Keeping up with injuries and current events in the NFL is critical to fantasy football success.  I try to read as much as possible from the reporters that have direct access to the coaches and players.  There’s a huge difference between a fantasy analyst predicting that Christian McCaffery may get 25-30 touches in 2018 vs Norv Turner telling reporters that it’s a realistic possibility to give Christian McCaffery 25-30 touches a game in 2018; always consider the source when reading about player news and information.  The beat writers at ESPN do an outstanding job of being the conduit between the teams and their fans during the season as well as the offseason. 

I follow each team’s representative on Twitter and turn on notifications that alert me to what and when they tweet.  The following are the ESPN’s beat writers for the 2018 season:

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Arizona: Josh Weinfuss

Atlanta: Vaughn McClure

Baltimore: Jamison Hensley

Buffalo: Mike Rodak

Carolina: David Newton

Chicago: Jeff Dickerson

Cincinnati: Katherine Terrell

Cleveland: Pat McManamon

Dallas: Todd Archer

Denver: Jeff Legwold

Detroit: Michael Rothstein

Green Bay: Rob Demovsky

Houston: Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis: Mike Wells 

Jacksonville: Michael DiRocco

Kansas City: Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers: Eric Williams

Los Angeles Rams: Lindsey Thiry

Miami: Cameron Wolfe

Minnesota: Courtney Cronin

New England: Mike Reiss

New Orleans: Mike Triplett

New York Giants: Jordan Raanan

New York Jets: Rich Cimini

Oakland: Paul Gutierrez 

Philadelphia: Tim McManus

Pittsburgh: Jeremy Fowler

San Francisco: Nick Wagoner 

Seattle: Brady Henderson

Tampa Bay: Jenna Laine

Tennessee: Turron Davenport 

Washington: John Keim

3. KNOW THY OPPONENT

One of the advantages of reading the cornucopia of fantasy football articles published weekly is that you get a general idea of who the analysts are leaning towards inserting into lineups.  Lazy competitors take these suggestions as gospel and plug these players in their lineups without thought.  That’s not to say that the predicted chalk will flop because there will be weeks where that chalk will perform to and exceed expectations.  However, there are plenty of scenarios where the chalk underperforms and someone else on that team vultures their points, thus giving us an opportunity to pivot from the competition.  For instance, considering his impressive rookie year and Mark Ingram being suspended, Alvin Kamara could be the highest owned player in Week 1 come September 9th in a game where the Saints will be favored by more than a touchdown.  There are other Saints options for those that want to pivot that will be less owned.  The Buccaneers secondary is bringing back almost the same personnel that hemorrhaged yards in massive chunks to wide receivers.  Michael Thomas will be a costly option but one that could see 8-10 targets while Ted Ginn Jr can return value with a deep shot and a score at a much lower cost.  

There are projected ownership tools that are available that can help you identify who is slated to be the higher owned players in each slate.  For those that don’t want to spend money for those tools, you can search a player using Twitter and see how many posts they’re generating between Friday and the start of the first set of kickoffs on Sunday and get a rough idea of who could be the plays for the week.  You can weaponize this knowledge to your advantage to go with the flow or fade the projected chalk, all knowledge that is essential towards selecting cash game plays and identifying pivots that are necessary in winning GPPs.

4. KNOW THY SELF

Revisiting the past isn’t necessarily enjoyable but it may hold the key towards future improvement.  You can revisit your previous lineups submitted through FanDuel and DraftKings and see what went right and what went wrong.  I do this every offseason and compare each lineup to that week’s perfect lineup and I am left scratching my head at times with some of my roster decisions.  The biggest flop I made all last year was inserting Rashard Higgins into my FanDuel lineup in Week 3 vs the Colts.  I look back now and realize all of the red flags that were associated with that boneheaded move.  Higgins posted a 7/95/0 clip for 13 FD points in his previous game against the Ravens.  Recency bias alone should have dictated that he shouldn’t have been in that lineup, let alone against a Colts team that gave up minimum points to receivers lined up in the slot in 2017.  After he reached his 95 yard ceiling in Week 2, he averaged 15.5 yards per game the rest of the way.  All this because I wanted to squeeze a minimum salary player into my lineup to afford more expensive options; Higgins’ ceiling had already been reached and I was too late to that party.  

Analyzing past lineups against successful ones will yield answers to why your lineups fell short.  You could have started a running back for a team that was an underdog of seven or more points in a spot when gamescript wasn’t going to dictate success for that selection.  Maybe you played a defense with an over/under of 48 or more that Vegas viewed as a higher scoring game that played out as such.  Figure out what you did wrong and then look over what perfection looked like.  9 out of 17 weeks featured a QB paired with his WR or TE in the FanDuel perfect lineup last year.  4 out of 17 perfect lineups had a RB, DEF stack with Leonard Fournette pairing with the Jags D twice in the first five weeks in 2017.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Reviewing old lineups and remaining cognizant to why past roster decisions were made will only improve future decision making moving forward.

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