"Luck is not chance, it's toil; fortune's expensive smile is earned."- Emily Dickinson
One of the many things a beginner in the DFS world begins to notice is how the professionals play across multiple formats. NFL, CFB, NBA, MLB, NHL, Soccer, NASCAR, MMA, there are even e-sports leagues popping up on DraftKings now.
Here is a good rule of thumb: If you don't follow the sport religiously, then don't bother playing it. I am avid fan of the NFL, the NBA, and Premier League soccer. These are the formats I compete in, because I am familiar with the players, and the specific nuances of each team. You must understand each league as a whole and the teams within that league intimately.
A DFS player may not understand the NBA fluently and have trouble for a myriad of reasons. Most notoriously, the San Antonio Spurs. They do things differently than other teams. They rest players. In the NBA this concept is mostly unheard of, but the Spurs are visionaries. They manage the workload of their more seasoned players. If a person doesn't understand this, they may have Tim Duncan in an NBA lineup and be burned when he earns a DNP-CD that night.
Each sport has nuances and those nuances translate into lineup building. Baseball is a more predictable game in terms of opportunity, but less predictable in terms of production. You generally know your hitter will be getting 4-5 ABs each game no matter what happens, so opportunity is fixed, but production isn't. In the NBA, production is generally also tied to opportunity. We know James Harden will usually play 38 minutes and with a very high usage rate, will generally score a lot of points. For this reason, production is much easier to predict in the NBA than in MLB.
The NFL provides us with a immeasurable amount of variables on a weekly basis. We have to look at things like game flow and game script. The New England Patriots can generally be thought of as a juggernaut offense, but what if they flip the game script to the run game and Jonas Gray ends up with 200 yards and 4 TDs?
Game flow and game script provide us with what we call correlation. There are positive correlations and negative correlations. These boil down to common sense. If the Patriots are playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Foxboro and the Vegas line is New England -14.5, we know certain things inherently. 1.) New England is probably going to win and win decisively. 2.) Jacksonville is probably going to be losing throughout the entirety of the game.
Based on this assumed information we deduce certain things logically. First, the Jacksonville offense is going to be playing from behind and therefore playing the Jacksonville RB (TJ Yeldon) is a fool's errand. Teams who are down need to throw the ball to try and catch up. We would look at playing Blake Bortles and one of his receivers to take advantage of game flow.
Playing Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson goes hand-in-hand with expected game flow. Playing TJ Yeldon goes against expected game flow. DFS is a process of elimination. We eliminate negative correlations immediately to help us identify our player pool for the week.
Game flow can also affect NBA games. A heavy favorite can mean high production, but it can also mean lower usage. If the Thunder are playing the Timberwolves and are up by 20+ points in the 4th quarter, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will probably not see any further points. Of course they may have already hit their projected totals in the first 3 quarters which built that 3 quarter lead in the first place. Do you trust in that philosophy? This is all part of the game.