Welcome to The Daily Fantasy Dork


I am here. I am not supposed to be here, but I am anyway. None of us are. We are all winners of a genetic lottery and don't we act like it. Look at ourselves. We are vainglorious, self-obsessed, arrogant, egotistical, and spoiled. Why are we here? No reason. There is no greater purpose. We are not special. What is the meaning of life? I don't fucking know. Find a rainbow, inherit the sea, fuck a supermodel. We all have different visions of what life is, which is why it is easily possible for us to live in alternate dimensions.

The purpose of this blog is to talk about DFS. If you don't know what that stands for, then you should probably go somewhere else. So you're into DFS. Join the club. We're all trying to learn more about this game and how to manipulate data to turn a lifelong obsession into monetary gain. Why? Because we love sports and we love money. For many of you, you're just starting out in the DFS world and you want to understand more about the industry and how to exploit it for personal gain. The bad news is that you're about 4 years too late to be ahead of the curve. The good news is that DFS is still a relatively new format in competitive fantasy sports.

By now you understand the main sites to play and how it works. The most popular sites are FanDuel and DraftKings. You know them well. They shove their commercials down our throats during every televised sporting event. DraftKings is the one that spends a considerable amount of money marketing to produce more modern commercials where young bearded males within the 18-35 target demographic are using the product. FanDuel may as well be hocked by Ron Pompeil as their commercials tend to come off like one of those pay-per-bid auction sites where old ladies from New Jersey win iPads for $3.26.

Maybe you prefer one over the other, or maybe you play on both sites as I do. Their formats have some variance but the basic premise is the same: select a team of players from a slate of games (usually single days) and build an optimal lineup using a salary cap. Enter your lineup to compete against a single user or thousands of users. Win $1 or $1,000,000.

First of all let me tell you a secret. You aren't going to win a million dollars. In fact, unless you're a significantly skilled data miner with a Rainman brain full of sports information, you aren't going to turn a profit. Why? It isn't because DraftKings and Fanduel want you to fail, if anything they want you to win, it is because there are already sharks in these waters. These people are professional players in every sense of the word.

Just like you wouldn't fancy your chances at a poker table at a casino next to Daniel Negreanu and Phil Helmuth, You don't want to enter a H2H against condia or maxdalury. It isn't that you can't catch a hot hand and take down a pot, it's that the odds are not in your favor. If you do manage to win, good for you, but you'll probably lose 8-9 out of 10 times and then you'll be just another fish hanging above condia's luxurious fireplace.

"So what is the point? If I can't win against these guys why even bother? I know my shit. I'm a 5 time Domination League Champion. I'm the guy who drafted DeAndre Hopkins when these other guys were taking Jordan Matthews!"

Look, I'm not saying you can't win at all at DFS, I'm just saying you need to understand the field. You must be able to know your enemy and his territory or some other Sun Tzu shit.

Case in point, somebody I know. This dude is a very sharp guy. He knows programming languages, he knows how to build robots, he understands systems, electronics, engineering, architecture, he's basically a genius. When he told me he was going to play DraftKings and go for the millionaire maker I smiled and said "good luck" while thinking to myself "here is fresh fish if there ever was."

Why did I think that? Because this man has below level sports knowledge at best. He's the geek in the room who watches the game and then - trying to be part of the regular crowd - makes a completely irrelevant comment about the wedge on the kick return not being good enough to spring the kick returner.

I see him on Tuesday and he says "Damn I lost, I'm not playing that bum O'Dell Beckham again, he really sucked!". To which I replied, "You mean the same O'Dell Beckham who currently averages more fantasy points per game than any other wide receiver in football history?" See, he was making a snap judgment based on no historical frame of reference. His understanding of expected player values, ceilings, and floors is rudimentary. He is simply staring at a list of average points per game vs defensive rankings and picking accordingly.

This is what most fish... er... beginners do. This is as good of a strategy as throwing darts at a dart board. Don't get me wrong, you should know the points per game and defensive rankings of the players, but that information alone isn't going to help you. Why? Because the guys who do this and do this well work full time to dig deeper into the data to unearth the hidden gems and the so-so average guys who will look like Marshall Faulk for one week and then never do much of anything again.

So how do these guys do it? Well, they work really hard and invest a lot of time and money. It isn't all data-mining and data-manipulation, either. If it were that easy, only the geeks themselves would be making the money here. It involves strategy, systems, football knowledge, and up to the minute roster knowledge.

Example: Why did I play Ladarius Green last week? Because the Raiders give up the most fantasy points to tight ends, and Antonio Gates was unlikely to play. Gates didn't play, and Green put up 18.5 points at $2900. That is what we refer to as 6X ROI which is a damn nice ROI in DFS. 6X meaning roughly 2900 x 6 = 18.5. That seemed like a pretty smart play right? Well, 37.5% of the players in this particular field knew exactly what I did and also started Ladarius Green.

It isn't always about the savvy play. High ownership of Ladarius Green in this case means I knew what everybody else did as well. This is what DFS really is. It is a mix of analysis, knowledge, gamesmanship, and sometimes a little luck.

Over the next few articles I'll be outlining some common strategies in DFS as well as showing you some of my lineups and thought processes. Full disclosure: I'm not a professional DFS player. I'm not sponsored by DraftKings. This blog isn't an attempt to get you to pay me money for my knowledge. This blog is for the benefit of the game and for the novice and for myself. We must all learn.


Derek Finley

Existing in a world of psychotic monkeys. Writing about sports for passion. Thirsting for knowledge and beer.