Decision Making in DFS: The Perpetual Torment of The Mortal Mind

"It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be." - Isaac Asimov

Good Job! You ruined the world!

Every decision you have ever made has made an impact on the world as we know it. When you decided paper instead of plastic, another tree had to be cut down. That tree housed a colony of bees that were polinating nearby flowers. Those flowers died without the bees and the soil dried up and it turned into a barren wilderness. That wilderness was sold to a construction development that made a white guy rich enough to gentrify an entire neighborhood. That neighborhood saw increased violence and 12 people were murdered last year. You were directly responsible for the death of 12 people. All because you chose paper instead of plastic. You stupid bastard.

Alright, that is probably highly unlikely, but it does illustrate the point. Decisions control everything. The future is built on decisions and risks. If Hitler hadn't been such a shitty artist, maybe the Third Reich wouldn't have come to be. If the Beatles didn't start doing a shitload of LSD, we would have never had the White Album. If Julian Assange didn't create WikiLeaks, I'd have no idea the NSA was monitoring how many times I've texted my mother the score of the Vikings game.

Decisions, Decisions

What is a decision? A decision is weighing the consequences of a particular action and trying to ascertain the best possible course of action given the circumstances. Sometimes a decision requires no thought, like when someone asks you "Do you want hot fudge on top of that?". In DFS, we are faced with thousands of decisions every week in the NFL. If you know anything about statistics, calculating the number of different lineup combinations possible would produce a number that would make your head explode.

So we weed out the plays we don't like to make it a little easier, right? Not really. Even a couple of variances thrown into selecting 9 roster spots makes for thousands of different combinations. Like Poker, the objective is to calculate the odds and react accordingly. It is a numbers game. DECISION IS RESOLUTION! DECISION IS JUDGMENT! That is perhaps why we enjoy sports and competitive games in general so much. It provides us with decisions on a nightly basis. Outcomes. Judgments. Rulings. Sports gives us resolution, even when life doesn't.

Keep it simple stupid! Well... most of the time

Sometimes what appear to be the simplest decisions even have to be pondered when we're talking about GPP entries. This is the week to fade Chris Johnson against the Seattle Defense. Right? Don't get caught up too much in the contrarian thinking. Remember, sometimes the chalk play is the right play. Sometimes the contrarian play is the stupid play. Don't be stupid. That is the best advice you will ever get in your life. You're welcome.

Try to keep your thinking as based on logic as possible. Don't overthink. Don't under-think. Don't look immediately for the play nobody else is going to touch because of the matchup. Analyze the matchup more carefully to see if there is a crack in the armor. Like last week when the less-educated novices assumed Randall Cobb would be shut down by Josh Norman. Well, Randall Cobb lines up in the slot on 87% snaps, meaning he was facing Bene Benwikere most of the day, who is considerably worse at coverage compared to Josh Norman.

This is how we produce decisions. The past (research) is all we have as a conduit to the future. This is why poker players take to DFS like flies on excrement (Don't read into that analogy). Nothing is certain. All we can do is trust the odds when they are in our favor. Sometimes the only out left shows up on the river. Even if it does, there was no other correct play. If we lose, we can always take solace in the fact that in that exact same scenario, we'd win 99 out of 100. It doesn't erase the pain of the bad beat, but it does validate your decision.

The Ultimate Decision

I am walking down a long hallway, I see 2 doors. One to my left, one to my right. The door on the left says "Eternal Life but no Sex or Beer" the door on the left says "Sex and Beer but no Eternal Life". There is a sign hanging straight ahead. It says "You may keep walking down the hall, but you cannot enter these doors ever again if you do".

Which door should I choose? Immortality is man's greatest ambition! What is the point of life without sex or beer? Live forever without the embrace of a woman or Belgian ales brewed by Trappist monks? WHAT IS THE POINT I ASK YOU! I can't decide. So I'm going to just go ahead and give up eternal life and go into the next room.

This illustration is made to put your mind in agony. Unless you don't like sex or beer, which in that case, just substitute x and y variables sex, beer here for anything else you see fit.

So I continue walking down the hall and now I see 2 more doors. "Eternal Life with Beer but no Sex", "Eternal Life with Sex, but no beer". Again, I can also choose one of these, or keep walking and they go away forever.

Ok. This is much better than those first 2 doors. Now I can live forever and choose 1. Which one do I choose? Well now this seems more obvious, right? Not so fast. What if there are 2 more doors down the hall that are better? Now I'm faced with a decision on top of a decision. Do I choose one right now and live with it, or do I keep walking down the hall?

Based on logic, from the past I have learned one thing. The options over the door seem to get better if I keep going down the hall. But there is absolutely no guarantee they will.

I am taking what I have learned and applying it to my decision. I again choose to keep walking. The next 2 doors appear. "Mortal Life with Sex but no Beer", "Mortal life with Beer but no Sex.".


Things just got worse. Now I can't live forever and I have to choose between beer or sex. Now, the sign straight ahead says "There is one more set of doors ahead, but they are the last 2, and you will forced to choose from one of those."

So now I'm faced with a hard decision on top of another hard decision. The doors got better the first time, then then got worse the next time. There goes my theory that the doors get better as I move on.

Now a huge monkey wrench has been thrown at me. The next 2 doors determine everything. I have to choose between those last 2 doors if I choose to go there. But there is no guarantee if those doors will be better or worse. I can choose to go back to a normal, mortal life right now, and I just have to give up sex or beer. That isn't so bad I guess. Or is it? If I would have chosen the door from the last room, I'd at least get to live forever and only give up one thing.

Now this is the penultimate decision. I decide to go to the final room. The sign above the door says "Choose a door". I gulp and slowly look at the door on my life. It simply says "Your life as it was". Ok, thats not so bad. I just get out and call it even. Whew. Then I look at the sign on the right and it says "Eternal life with Sex and Beer"

Now what the hell is going on?

This is my final decision. I have to choose one of these doors. This seems so obvious. Why am I not running into the door? Eternal life with only sex and beer! SO OBVIOUS! Right? Now I'm thinking about it. What if these were the options on the first set of doors? Would that have made a difference? I certainly would have chosen eternal life with sex and beer over my current mortal existence.

But now I'm thinking: "Eternal life. Sex and beer." Everything sounds good. But the journey caused me to weigh all the options before me. Back when I was deciding between sex and beer, I really wished I could have just gotten out and gone back to my normal life. I started thinking about how great eternal life would be, but I also kind of wondered if it would get boring. Isn't death a part of life? Do I really want to keep going on forever? Seems like even sex and beer would get boring after about a trillion years or so.

The point of that stupid story was to illustrate decisions, choices, and experience. Experience will always influence choice. What we perceive as a good thing may not actually be the best when we really think about it, but would we have thought of it? It all depends on how you think about things.

So keep thinking.

-- DF

Derek Finley

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