Best Resources for Daily Fantasy Sports Strategy

Laptop Studying

Daily Fantasy Sports is a blend of many disciplines. At a high level it is mostly economics.

Many successful players come from a Poker background or Finance. Among these, I’ve been shocked by how many successful people are philosophy majors. See George Soros and Jonathan Bales. I think it must be an approach to how they view learning, uncertainty, and drawing inferences. As an aside — Karl Popper and his friend Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Hayek are a good read on Wikipedia if you’re interested in counter-culture economics that don’t embrace predictability.

For me personally, I’m fascinated by how unpredictable the contests are and how to make decisions in such a chaotic environment. I’ve compiled a list of resources I’ve found useful and I’m sure you will too.

Forums for DFS

Rotogrinders has great set of free tools and an active community on their forums. New or Old, check out their dump of strategy articles here. It will give you a great idea of strategies for difference contest types.

/r/dfsports Lots of big winners like Nickelback4Lyfe of DFSForecast.com post on there. I do my best analyzing lineups but when the real big deal winner shows up you should read too.

Relevant Research

DFS isn’t just for bettors. Academics have taken a stab at it and come up with interesting papers of interest for those with a more mathematical bent

  1. How to Play Fantasy Sports Strategically (and Win)
    • This paper is proof for me that understanding ownership is vital to DFS. In it they generate lineups while taking into account ownership and correlations. Their results show ownership to be predictable and a useful component to your lineup generator.
  2. Picking Winners Using Integer Programming
    • This paper highlights the effectiveness of different constraints. Applied to Hockey
    • Most interestingly it shows that different constraints are best for different numbers of lineups generated in a contest.
      • This is hugely important to realize as a DFS player. Your strategy should be different if you do 20 lineups, 40 lineups, or 150. Don’t mirror the max entry guys too closely if you don’t play 150 lineups in a similar slate.

2 Books You Must Buy

Frankly I love books. Every year I spend $1,000 on books alone. Back when I was classically employed my thought process was that if I could learn something that helps me increase my hourly wage by $1 per hour that equates to $2,000 more in salary. And that’s $2000/year for each year I’m working!

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Books can be great for self-development and often times the quality is far better than free internet articles. I get it if you don’t want to drop $1k on books every year but if you were open to the idea of buying a book or 2 I would recommend you get these two.

Antifragile will change the way you view risk and daily fantasy. In it he argues for a new class of systems, those that benefit from disorder. The “Anti-Fragile”. Whereas banking systems are fragile a daily fantasy player focused on large GPP’s must be antifragile. You want to have the best lineup or at least be in the top 10 of thousands of contestants. To do this you need to be make decisions that help you gain from the different types of uncertainty rather than become defeated by it. Taleb’s book will change the way you think in daily fantasy sports and how you approach games in general.

Example: Tweak your projections and watch how fragile your optimizer is! Constraints can counteract that but the system is still “fragile”.

Antifragile is also recommended by Fantasy Labs co-Founder Jonathan Bales. Bales is a prominent DFS player who utilizes Taleb’s “barbell” approach to daily fantasy sports. Whereas Taleb’s book will change the way you view the world, Jonathan Bales’ book will change how you view Daily Fantasy Sports. In Daily Fantasy Football for Smart People book he goes over countless examples of scenarios you can take advantage of when you play. Many of these are now a part of tools like Fantasy Labs, but the most important part of the book is seeing how Bales approaches information. And this will give you ideas on how to improve your own strategy.

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Other Books I Would Recommend for Daily Fantasy and Why

If you’re like me and don’t mind spending up to $1k on books or at least more than $30 see below.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Nobel Prize winning economists go over cognitive psychology and biases. Many, many of these are directly applicable to Daily Fantasy Sports.

Logic of Sports Betting

The Logic of Sports Betting

The Logic of Sports Betting is great for better understanding the new sports betting landscape in the US. It goes over how bookmakers work and how edges emerge. Not useful if you only like DFS but a very interesting read if you like sports betting. I finished it cover to cover within 1 day of buying it.

Football Scouting Methods

Football Scouting Methods

Bill Belichick is an amazing coach. But did you know his dad was a scout? This book goes over how to scout games and gives you deep insight to how coaches look to scouting reports. I don’t think I’ll be able to get much of a daily fantasy edge from scouting but if you are all about CB-WR matchups or watch games on NFL Gamepass I would highly recommend this book. It has changed the way I look at football games in order to size up what the defense is doing, their alignment, and formations. It’s also helped me find certain “tip-offs” that players give away. Certain teams and certain cornerbacks that study film are more in tune with these and could be a decisive edge in fantasy. Look no further than Xavier Rhodes vs Julio Jones. I would say this is a hard edge to use but it is definitely an edge.

Paid Sites for Strategy

Paid sites are a tricky beast for me to recommend. A common path is to get a few big wins and then become a “tout” selling advice so exercise caution. Twitter is great for real time updates/weather. Not to mention it’s FREE!

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Evan Silva is probably the best subscribe given the love for his “matchups” column used by retired DFS great CONDIA. Who, in my opinion, is the best DFS player ever even though he manually entered 150 lineups like a masochist. Many, many people love his matchups column where he goes over game flow and highlights key players.

Podcasts

Perfect Lineup Podcast interviews DFS players about how they created their winning lineups as well as other relevant fantasy football related people.

Chilling With Charlie is the best podcast I’ve found about Sports Analytics. It’s more of a broader scope than just DFS but there is a bit of DFS too. Sad that Daily Fantasy Edge is now behind the Establish The Run paywall.

TV

Watch “Action” on Showtime. Thrilling show about sports betting in general and you can get an inside look at papagates aka Martin Crowley’s DFS process in episode 2 and 3. He uses FantasyCruncher.

Action Trailer

Think I should add something? Let me know in the comments below

Matteo Hoch

Matteo Hoch is the founder of Sports Data Direct and maintains a personal blog called Ergo Sum where he writes about data visualization and coding. You can generally find him in the DraftKings Sunday $3 early only contests under username mhoch2

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