One-Week Fantasy Football 101

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The Games
The Bankroll
The Strategy
The Tournaments
The Links
The Resources

 

 

 

 

Overview

When most people hear the phrase “fantasy football” they probably think of the traditional game of where owners draft a team and compete throughout the season. But did you know that there are many other options available which come under the fantasy football umbrella? Whether it’s picking against the point spread, competing against your friends in a pick’em survival league, trying to select the best QB/RB/WR trio each week, or selecting a team using a salary cap, one-week fantasy football is quickly becoming the preferred way to play fantasy football. You can play in more games and win more money and because the NFL plays each week, isn’t all Fantasy Football weekly?

This article is going to focus on one-week fantasy football contests, often referred to as DFS or Daily Fantasy Sports, and will provide you with all the information you need to get started. We scoured the internet to find information on the different games from different websites, and tips and strategies you can use to win the money.

 

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The Games

Weekly (one-week) fantasy football contests have really gained traction over the past 12 months or so because of the ways it separates itself from the traditional season-long variety, but the truth is that it’s both the similarities and differences between the two game variations that make these games so much fun. The similarities allow season-long owners to pick things up right out of the gate, while the differences create a more exciting version of the game we all love.

Just like with season-long fantasy football, weekly fantasy football boils down to a fundamental understanding of risk and reward. If you can accurately assess a player’s floor and ceiling—his range of potential outcomes in a given week—you can be a successful weekly fantasy player.

You can truly be profitable playing daily fantasy football. The games can be played for real money, and a whole lot of it.

It can be intimidating at first. Don’t worry, we are here to help.

The first thing you need to do (and you are on your way) is to read this article to understand the different types of games and the strategies you can use to win. Next, you need to sign up at one of the big 5:

FanDuel

Draft Kings

Fantasy Score

Draft Day

Fantasy Feud

Next, you will go their game lobby where you’ll find many different types of games. There are seemingly thousands of contests to choose from, stemming from different categories, prize pools, entry sizes, and buy-in levels. It can all seem a little overwhelming at first, but this article will provide clarity on the different contest types and the inherent strategy involved in each.

To make it simple, One-Week Fantasy Sports can be broken into 2 categories:

CASH leagues and TOURNAMENTS.

 

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Cash Leagues

Of course, each site has its own style of play and variations of cash leagues. They range from Head-to-Head, Multi user leagues, and 50/50′s also known as double ups. 50/50 games are where 50 percent of the field doubles its money. These are the best way to build your bankroll. This means you want to field the safest team possible. Pick the most consistent players and do not take too many chances.

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Head-to-Head

This is the most classically pure form of fantasy football, battling one-on-one against another user for bragging rights and a nice prize in process. Head-to-head leagues (abbreviated by H2H) are fun, simple, and easy to track.

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50/50′s

In these contests, the top 50% of the field receives a flat payout. For example: In a 40 entry league with a $10 buy-in, the top 20 entries would receive a payout of $18 each (the $2 difference goes to the site for administering). Your goal in this type of contest is to construct a safe, reliable roster that will be “better than average” and beat out half of the league. After all, in the example above, 1st place pays the same as 20th, so it doesn’t make sense to take unnecessary risks deviating from safe, trustworthy players.

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Multi User Leagues

In the lobbies of the above sites, you may notice a plethora of options from 3-team, 5-team, 10-team, 20-team, and so on up to 100-250+ team leagues. The 3-team and 5-team leagues are “winner take all”, while the 10+ team contests usually have tiered payouts to the top 20-30% of the field. These leagues require a little more discretion when constructing a lineup. Instead of producing a safe and steady “above average” roster, it may be beneficial to take a chance on a few lower-salary sleepers that could perform just as well as the expensive studs.

 

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Tournaments

If you peruse the tournament lobby of these sites, you can find all sorts of different contests with different payouts. For example, if you are just dipping your toe in the daily fantasy waters, you may want to start out with the $1 entry “NFL Squib” that pays out $750 to 1st, tiered down from there.

Now, the catch is you will be competing against 1,000′s of other entries to finish in the prize pool (top 20%). The key to winning these tournaments is striking the perfect balance between value picks and top studs. Your goal isn’t to just win slowly when you enter a big tourney – you want to win it all. You want to walk away with a massive profit. And typically, to do this, you’d build a squad that has a high-risk, high-reward profile.

Tournaments are interesting because there are multiple ways to make money. Most may assume that you need to rank high in order to get paid out, but that’s not the case. You do need to perform well, but you can still at least make a little bit of cash by placing just a bit above average. If you want large payouts, you’re going to want more volatility. Your goal may be to look at high-risk, high-reward players rather than safe options you’d typically find in 50/50 and head-to-head lineups.

It’s all about finding the right value within the salary cap system. If you can pinpoint a QB to replicate/surpass production of the true #1, for a fraction of the salary, then you have a leg up on the competition. Of course, every week provides a new set of circumstances, and value plays will emerge with different matchups and inevitable injuries throughout the season. That’s what makes One-Week Fantasy Football so compelling; you are able to take advantage of any matchup/development you choose. If you lost the waiver wire battle for that promising backup RB now assuming starting responsibilities in your season-long league, fear not, you can still take advantage of the situation by clicking him into your daily fantasy lineup.

The key to winning these tournaments is striking the perfect balance between value picks and top studs. These tournaments are often won by users who find the breakout cheap #2 and #3 WR’s to complement their star RB’s and QB.

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The Bankroll

Before joining a contest, you will need to make a deposit. This is what makes everyone nervous. Is it illegal? Is it gambling? Will I lose my house and have my kids taken away from me? The answer to all of these questions is no, but the last one is up to you.

If you are still reading then you have an interest in fantasy football and you should know by now that we have always provided you the tools needed to do the research and make your decisions. It’s not so much gambling on outcome of games, it’s a game based on the outcomes. And it’s all legal.

Most traditional forms of fantasy football are protected from federal scrutiny based on a special exemption granted by the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. But if you live in a handful of states such as Arizona, entering into an online, pay-to-win, fantasy football league could constitute a misdemeanor. In various other states, it may simply be difficult to collect winnings.

 

Here is some information that all fantasy football enthusiasts should know before entering a league in 2014:

 

In many cases, playing fantasy football for money is entirely legal under federal law. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 includes an explicit carve-out for fantasy sports games that meet three criteria: (1) the value of the prizes is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of fees paid; (2) all winning outcomes reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants; and (3) the fantasy game’s result is not based on the final scores of any real-world games. Based on this carve-out, many traditional versions of fantasy football seem to comply with federal regulations. (This seems to place the Yahoo!, CBS, ESPN, and NFL contests all in the clear under federal law).
 
Some states’ regulations are stricter than federal law and thus participants must be more cautious. A limited number of states such as Arizona, Louisiana and Iowa clearly disallow pay-to-play contests that involve any chance at all. In these states (known as ‘any chance states’), most forms of play-for-cash fantasy football would violate the state gambling laws unless they fall under state-specific “social gaming” or “in-house gaming” exceptions. In ’any chance states,’ it is not advisable to play in online play-for-cash fantasy football contests, even though federal law may be more lenient. One of many risks is the inability to collect league winnings. Another, at least in theory, is criminal action.

 

All that being said, before you make your 1st deposit, it’s advised that you play in free contests and freerolls (free tournaments) until you feel more comfortable with the site. The worst feeling is putting up big money in one shot then losing your entire bankroll. You may have heard of One Million dollar prizes and it is great for the industry but if you are not careful, you can easily go broke chasing qualifiers if you do not manage your bankroll properly.

To do this, first figure out how much you want to spend on an entire season of One-Week Fantasy Football. You probably have already drafted your season-long team, and your confidence level for that league and how much you are already in for, will go a long way in figuring this out.
Just like the stock market, you want to diversify.

For example if you are willing to spend $350 for the year, then figure $20 for 17 weeks of play. Make your deposit and a good rule of thumb is to put 10-20% of your bankroll in play each week. If all goes well, you can win back and grow your bankroll each week.

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Working the Bankroll

 

Week 1 example:

You want to play a mix of season – long leagues, a couple of weekly 50/50’s, tournaments and freerolls.

So take your $60 bucks and…

- Enter a Season Long League = $20
- Enter a Qualifier = $20
- Enter a 50/50 = $10
- Enter a 50/50 = $10
- Enter a NFL Weekly Freeroll

If you are able to win both Double Ups, it allows you to offset your qualifier fee and part of your season long entry the 1st week you are playing. The 2nd week, you can start building your bankroll.

 

Then next week…

- Enter a Head-to-Head Contest = $10
- Enter a Qualifier = $20
- Enter a 50/50 = $20
- Enter a Tournament = $10
- Enter a NFL Weekly Freeroll

 

By playing in Head-to-Heads and 50/50’s you have a great chance to build up your bankroll and fund your Qualifier to get you closer to that big prize.. The $10 in Tournament entries give you a shot for upside to win more money. It only takes a couple of top five finishes to build your bankroll.

 

If you follow a bankroll management plan for each site and sport, you will be much further ahead of the pack when it comes to turning a positive ROI. Keep track of your results each week to see where your success comes from. You can always adjust your money in play for each contest type if you find that some are more profitable than others.

If you end up losing your first week, you can adjust your bankroll in play slightly down to minimize your risk. So in week two, if you need to drop from $60 to $50 it is ok.
These are just some basic bankroll management tips to get you started in your daily fantasy sports career. 50% of winning is based on your player strategy and 50% is your bankroll management. If you are able to master both of these, you will have a very profitable daily fantasy sports portfolio.

 

Don’t expect to win right away

Reality is this – there are a lot of people playing weekly fantasy football and many of them have been playing for a while with tremendous success. If you don’t win out of the gate, don’t quit; keep playing. Enter some different Freerolls, try different sites and find the ones you like the best.

Make a deposit that you are comfortable with and remember, if you want large payouts, you’re going to want more volatility. That is, your goal may be to look at high-risk, high-reward players rather than safe options you’d typically find in 50/50 and head-to-head lineups.

The greatest thing about this game is that every week is different. Every week is a clean slate and lucrative opportunity to showcase your fantasy football savvy.

 

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The Strategy

Weekly fantasy football is no different than Wall Street. It’s a marketplace. You want to find value and dependability. Try to find players who consistently get work, and snaps, carries and targets are a good indicator of that. The more a player is on the field the better your chances are of not being burnt by that player. You can have a player that breaks every tackle and has speed to spare, but if he isn’t on the field it’s all for nothing.

Many One-Week Fantasy Football sites rollout standard rosters (QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, K, DEF) and scoring systems, but you’ll often see the occasional tweak made to the roster structure or scoring system which need to be taken into account.

A common mistake new players make is signing up on a few sites and running the same lineup on all of them. Each site has a different roster format, scoring system, and salary structure making each player’s value unique. Peyton Manning would have greater value on a single-QB site than a multiple-QB one because he’s the top player at the position. Notice, for example, whether the site is 0.5 PPR or 1 PPR, 4 or 6 points for a passing TD and -1 or -2 points for an INT. Six points per passing TD means that Matthew Stafford gets a bump up and Colin Kaepernick is downgraded because Kaepernick’s rushing TDs confer no extra advantage over Stafford’s hurling TDs through the air.
To win at weekly fantasy football, you have to find value in players to fit them all under the salary cap. The best way is take your weekly projections and enter in the contest’s scoring system to get projections for that particular contest. After that, take the salaries for each player and divide them by the projection to get a dollar-per-point value. This will help you determine the best values of the week on a particular site. Let’s say Peyton Manning is projected for 25 fantasy points and has a salary on DraftKings of $10,000. His dollar-per-point value would be $400.

A typical cash game lineup would be a top-five QB, two top-10 RBs, top-10 WR, top-20 WR, sleeper WR, top-10 TE, best value K, and a mid-tier D/ST with a favorable matchup.

You want to spend more of your salary cap at the QB/RB positions which are more consistent.

For tournaments, you can jump outside the Top 10 at QB and RB and emphasize matchups more heavily. You are trying to post the highest scoring lineup possible, so be prepared to whiff on some of your plays.

So when should you consider rostering high upside risk/reward picks? As a general rule, you could field the same safe lineup used in H2H and 50/50′s for 3-man and 5-man leagues. When you start getting into the 10-man, 20-man, 100+ man leagues, it is beneficial to differentiate with some high upside picks that could give your team a nice shot in the arm.

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Defense and Special Teams (DST)

Don’t spend a lot of your budget on a DST. In 2013, every single defense finished with at least two top-12 finishes, a usable defense in a traditional 12-team fantasy league. No defense had more than nine top-12 finishes, while 23 finished with between four and eight. In other words, the turnover at the position each week is pretty substantial, and you should take advantage of it in this game. Play the matchups, using cost-effective defenses that are facing middling offenses.

A lot of players overlook DSTs, thinking it’s a crapshoot. The idea that DST is insignificant could not be further from the truth, and often the players who win large-field tournaments in weekly fantasy football are the ones who have the top scoring units.

Home defenses historically average 20 percent more points than road defenses. Target defenses at home against offenses with bad quarterbacks (opposing QB Rating is a strong indicator). Sacks can be more of a constant and predictive measure than other stats, and they often lead to turnovers.

 

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Quarterback

The quarterback position like the DST gets a lot of attention because you only play one each week, and they are not Tight Ends. And really, who likes 2QB leagues anyway? With so many NFL teams dropping back to pass at least 30 times per game – all but two of them did it last year – spending on a passer in One-Week Fantasy Football isn’t always necessary. You can also consider replacement QBs. When a quarterback is replaced, you know the passer stepping in is going to have opportunity. And when you know there’s opportunity, you’re a little more confident that he’ll get you fantasy points. Given the fact these replacement-level quarterbacks are cheaper than regular starters, going after them isn’t a poor investment. Don’t assume a backup passer is worthwhile in this game, just know that they’re capable of being incredibly valuable.

So how much to you spent on a QB?

Spending less at quarterback can bring winning results, but if you are putting the safest team together as possible for head to head matches, it is always a good idea not to skimp on your quarterback. The top quarterbacks rarely have completely disastrous games so you can feel good about paying that extra cash to get a solid player.
The quarterback position is predictable each week because, as noted, every quarterback in the NFL is going to have a chance to do something with 30-plus passes. That’s why people that play this game aren’t afraid to start a player like Kyle Orton or Kirk Cousins.

Those are the extremes and you should play them. The difference between middle-tier quarterbacks and low-end ones on a weekly basis wasn’t necessarily significant. A QB like Andrew Luck typically will have a significant cost, but won’t necessarily give you a Peyton Manning-type performance. The signal-calling position is predictable in fantasy football. Spending on Peyton Manning or Drew Brees will typically lead to more wins for your team than using someone like Robert Griffin III.

Bottom line an extreme approach may be smartest at the position it’s not necessary to spend on quarterback. But if you do spend at the position, going for a high-end QB would be the way to go.

 

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Running Back

Similar to quarterbacks, when a running back goes down to injury, you’ll often find a player to step into a lot of opportunity. It’s not as immediate or obvious as it is with quarterback, but it happens. And it happens a lot. Running back injuries are your friend. The running back position is fairly replaceable in real football, which means a backup running back can typically perform like a starter. So when an injury occurs to said starter, don’t be afraid to plug the backup into your lineup. He’ll be cheap, and should be able to produce.

Running backs are a bit more variable than quarterbacks as far as fantasy consistency goes, but are still more consistent than wide receivers and tight ends. So if there isn’t great value somewhere at running back then it could be better to pay up for a guy you know will get every-down work, including goal line looks. Stay away from situational running backs as best you can when making a safe lineup. That of course is easier said than done in today’s NFL, but they are still out there, you just have to pay for them.
The main reason you go for running backs early in season-long fantasy football is because, barring injury, top-notch backs give you a larger weekly advantage than any other position. And you’re also trying to play the odds, ensuring you get usable pieces in your lineup each week. But there are no season-long commitments to players in One-Week Fantasy Football, and you can take advantage of this fact at the running back position.

If a running back injury occurs, remember to keep an eye on the guy replacing said injured running back.

Like the quarterback position, the running back list is full of stars and scrubs. Marcel Reece, Matt Asiata, Joseph Randle and Andre Ellington are all on it – players who didn’t start for their respective teams during the regular season, but got a week or two of production due to an injury.

On the flip side, you’ll still notice high-end options like Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy, and Adrian Peterson. That’s because these players totaled 25% of the top-100 PPR performances at running back last year. For reference, a top-100 performance was roughly 22 fantasy points in 2013.
Because of this, you need to understand the settings of your league if the scoring rewards pass-catchers with a full point per reception, it’s wise to ensure your RB is getting third-down work. You also don’t want your running back to fall victim to game script.

There won’t always be an obvious fill-in at running back in a given week. The key, in that case, would be to use the information you know about the quarterback position, spending cheap there when you can’t at running back. Because as you’ll see, opting to not spend at wide receiver may get you in trouble.

 

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Wide Receiver

The wide receiver position in daily fantasy football may be the most important.

Unlike the other positions, you’ll barely find random backups on this list. Why? Because not only is the wide receiver position inherently volatile each week, but a potential player stepping in for an injured wideout isn’t guaranteed volume.

When it comes to spending at wide receiver, look for targets. Don’t spend on a guy ranked outside of the top 23 in wide receiver targets. There is no value in them.
You should build your lineup around elite pass-catchers – at least one. Users who spent more on their wide receivers last year won at a higher rate.

The natural instability at the wide receiver position tells us that we should spend at the position. Players like Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant should be in your lineup almost every week because they not only provide a safe floor, but they’re capable of putting up monster weeks no matter the competition.

Since the tight end and wide receiver positions are volatile, remember that paying for them allows you to see a significant advantage at the inherently unpredictable positions. And because you’re not spending a lot of cash at quarterback and defense, you should be able to have an additional stud or two in your lineup at wide receiver and tight end. These players, too, are the ones who will typically produce monster weeks in fantasy.

All that being said, the key to winning this game is to have week-to-week consistency. Many variables impact how a receiver will do each week. His quarterback, the weather, the defense, red zone targets, etc.… When you pay for the top wide receivers you are risking a dud from them just by his team running the ball in the red zone rather than throwing it or a defense could scheme to completely take away the opposing #1 receiver, leaving the rest of the team showered in fantasy points while your player acts as a decoy.

It’s a tough call, but don’t be afraid to spend your cash at wide receiver.

 

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Tight End

Five of the top-eight most valuable players at tight end last season were top-10 in terms of cost at the position. Much of this, like the wide receiver description above, has to do with the natural variance at the position. It’s difficult for tight ends to consistently post solid numbers week in and week out due to the fact that they see the least amount of playing time among the starters in the fantasy lineup. So rather than spending a little above minimum salary for a player like Martellus Bennett, it’s more reasonable to up the money spent a bit at the position and go for a game-changer like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should always spend on one of the elite tight ends in the league, as Gronk and Graham are capable of putting up goose eggs, too.

Like wide receiver, the tight end position is tough to predict. Not only are they not on the field very often, but they’re reliant on quarterback play as well Graham is amazingly consistent, but with that consistency comes the highest price possible. Elite players at this position rise to the top in terms of win-loss ratio, showing that they’re quite valuable.

But if the price is too high for you to get one of these TEs, then look for tight ones who are getting the most red zone targets and guys who may have lost an integral part of their receiving core for that week, before ponying up for likes of Graham.

 

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FLEX

When playing on sites with a flex position, you should lean toward RBs in your cash games because they have a better floor and see more touches than WRs. But again, understand your league settings, if you are on a league that awards one point per reception and there’s a three-point bonus for 100-yards receiving, WR has a much higher value.

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Play the Matchups

A big key to success in weekly fantasy football is using opposing fantasy points allowed by position. This is where you typically find your value plays each week. Knowing what the best teams are to play against at each of the skill positions will help you build a weekly “cheat sheet” of players to target.

 

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Last Week’s Bad Game/Matchup Can Be This Week’s Fortune

In the NFL, great players usually bounce back from bad performances. Especially if they had a difficult matchup the prior week followed by a favorable matchup. You can take advantage of this because chances are the player’s salary has dropped, giving him value that particular week.

 

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Risk vs Reward

The manner in which you create your weekly fantasy lineup is in large part dependent on how much you can trust their anticipated production—how consistent they are.
Weekly fantasy football is filled with elements of game theory—specifically in tournaments, where you’re trying to juggle finding value with creating a unique lineup, which necessitates predicting which players will be popular among other users.

Weekly fantasy football boils down to a fundamental understanding of risk and reward. If you can accurately assess a player’s floor and ceiling—his range of potential outcomes in a given week—you can be a successful weekly fantasy player.

You are free in weekly fantasy football in a way that isn’t possible in season-long leagues. While season-long lineup decisions are generally easy and can be made in a matter of minutes, your weekly fantasy research can take as much or as little time as you’d like for the sole reason that you have options.
Because of the options you have, you will spend a lot more time looking at player matchups than in season-long leagues. Again, you only have so many lineup decisions to make when you have a roster of 15 or so players. When you can start anyone in the entire universe of NFL players, on the other hand, you’ll find yourself spending a whole lot more time on matchup analysis. This will force you to look at football in a way that you never did before.

In One-Week Fantasy Football, you only have to project what the players will do in one specific game rather than 16. There are many ways to evaluate players, and how much time to spend on it and where you get the information is up to you. The great thing is that you can use the article as your resource guide.

Start with this:

Look at how well each defense has fared against each particular position.

How many rushing yards per game does a defense give up to running backs? Yards per carry? Receptions?

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Finding Value

You will always be able to find some value; a player who is priced lower than he should be compared to his projected points scored. There are a few different ways to find them.

 

Injuries

One of the easiest ways to find value is through injuries. When a starter is out for the game, the next man up inherently has possible value because his price on is related to his past performances, which usually aren’t that good since his playing time has been limited behind the starter. Of course not all backups are created equally, but opportunity is a huge quality to look for in daily fantasy.

 

Matchup Potential

Sometimes the matchup is so good that even the most average of players has a good shot of putting up points. Much like the Bears last season, any warm body was going to have some success against them. So maybe this player has a low price due mainly to the fact that he is not really that good, but he can still have value in the right matchup.

 

Circumstantial Stats

There are just 17 weeks of the NFL regular season and each site’s game pricing will fluctuate from week to week based on performance. Say Week 1 Eddie Lacy is completely shut down by the tough Seahawks defense. In turn his price will fall. We know that Lacy is a very good back and will bounce back against most defenses so he will hold some value in his next game. This can often become more pronounced when a player faces a stretch of tough defenses. You can see his price drop significantly, which will set him up for great value once his schedule gets easier.

 

Know When to Focus on Ceiling vs. Floor

In cash games, focus on floor – you are simply trying to field a solid, above-average team. In GPPs (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments, focus on ceiling – you’re swinging for the fences even if occasionally it results in a whiff. To that end, you need to know which players and positions are the best to run in each contest. You want to make sure you avoid the pitfalls at QB by taking a top-12 QB against a poor defense. It’s the same with RBs because they touch the ball more than any other position except the quarterback.

 

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Quarterback and Wide Receiver Stacking

In tournaments, many daily fantasy players will use a stacking strategy in order to aid in this high-risk, high-reward endeavor. The tactic is logical: If your quarterback goes off, your wide receiver more than likely will too. Stacking is a high-risk, high-reward move, so it shouldn’t shock anyone to know that a lot of stacks don’t work out. The general notion here is to stack when it’s obvious. If you run projections and see a quarterback and receiver combo who are looking to blow up, then you should use them both. Pairing your QB with one of your WR (usually the top WR) or an elite TE (Brees/Graham) increases your ceiling because they score together.

 

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Punting Positions

To punt a position means to use a minimum salary at the lineup slot in order to spend a lot of money elsewhere. It may be best to punt at least one position no matter the contest type. Obviously it all depends on the player your spending the minimum salary on, but if you can get some production from him, it’s a worthwhile thing to do.

 

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Don’t Build to Lose

A common mistake new players make in weekly fantasy football is not realizing their roster construction is hurting their chances of winning. For example, taking a QB and RB from the same team (stacking) caps your upside. Chances are one will have a great game, but the other won’t because there are only going to be 3-4 touchdowns scored in the game, and only one of your two players is likely to be involved in any of them.

Every week provides a new set of circumstances, and value plays will emerge with different matchups and inevitable injuries throughout the season. That’s what makes this game so compelling though; you are able to take advantage of any matchup/development you choose. If you lost the waiver wire battle for that promising backup RB now assuming starting responsibilities, fear not, you can still take advantage of the situation by clicking him into your weekly fantasy lineup.

 

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The 5 Simple Rules of Budget Allocation

 

  1. Never spend a lot of money on your defense. And to this point, you’ll probably want to fill the rest of your lineup before choosing which defense you want to play.
  2. Go big or go home at the quarterback position. The signal-calling position is predictable in fantasy football, and that goes for backup quarterbacks as well. Don’t be afraid to use quarterbacks who are stepping in for an injured starter, but remember to evaluate carefully. On the flip side, spending on Peyton Manning or Drew Brees will typically lead to more wins for your team than using someone like Robert Griffin III.
  3. Running back injuries are your friend. The running back position is fairly replaceable in real football, which means a backup running back can typically perform like a starter. So when an injury occurs to said starter, don’t be afraid to plug the backup into your lineup. He’ll be cheap, and should be able to produce.
  4. Spend at wide receiver. The natural instability at the wide receiver position tells us that we should spend at the position. Players like Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant should be in your lineup almost every week because they not only provide a safe floor, but they’re capable of putting up monster weeks no matter the competition.
  5. Spend at tight end, too. Like wide receiver, the tight end position is tough to predict. Not only are they not on the field very often, but they’re reliant on quarterback play as well. Because of this, we saw elite players at the position rise to the top in terms of win-loss ratio, showing that they’re quite valuable.

 

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There are of plenty of metrics that help in researching matchups, and here are some, use the links provide below for more information.

 

Advanced Stats

 

Run/Pass Ratios – It can be a great source to determine DST; focus on pass-heavy teams with weak running games. The more passes they attempt, the more the likelihood for sacks, interceptions and defensive touchdowns.

Points Per Target (Fantasy Points/Targets) – This is a great source to find value on sleepers. If a player inherits a starting role, you need to project his potential based on a full workload. Backup players who inherit playing time are a huge part of winning weekly fantasy football.

Yards Per Completion – A lot of people look at YPA (yards per attempt), but also look at YPC because it tells you how aggressive your quarterback is. This is a great measure for deciding your weekly quarterbacks.

Points Per Touch – This is a better measure for running backs instead of PPT (Points per target).

Red Zone Percentage – This is a great stat for WRs that lets you know which players see a higher percentage of usage in the red zone.

ADOT – (Average Depth of Target) – Another great stat for WR because the sample is larger than just receptions and can be an indicator for future scoring and big-play likelihood.

 

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The Tournaments

Tournament Games: When allocating your money for tournaments (or GPPs: Guaranteed Prize Pools) you don’t want to make the safest team possible, you want a chance at hitting it big. You’ll want to spend on someone like Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson because they will most likely give you the best chance for maximum wide receiver and tight end points. And then you want to find value and upside at quarterback and running back. Your goal here is to spend a third of the money for the same amount of points as LeSean McCoy and Peyton Manning are going to give you. You will diversify from the crowd while giving yourself the upside for maximum points.

Your goal isn’t to just win slowly when you enter a big tourney – you want to win it all. You want to walk away with a massive profit. And typically, to do this, you’d build a squad that has a high-risk, high-reward profile.

This is where the fun really begins. Some sites have a prize pool of $1M, with $100k going to first and tiered payouts from there and you could get in for as little as $25 to join.

If you peruse the tournament lobby, you can find all sorts of different contests with different payouts. For example, if you are just dipping your toe in the daily fantasy waters, you may want to start out with the $1 entry “NFL Squib” that pays out $750 to 1st, tiered down from there.

Now, the catch is you will be competing against 1,000′s of other entries to finish in the prize pool (top 20%). This is where those aforementioned high upside picks can really pay off. It’s all about finding the right value within the salary cap system. If you can pinpoint a QB to replicate/surpass Peyton Manning’s (easily the most expensive player on FanDuel) production for a fraction of the salary, then you have a leg up on the competition.

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Tourney Odds Are Great

Tournaments are interesting in the One-Week fantasy world because there are multiple ways to make money. Most may assume that you need to rank high in order to get paid out, but that’s not the case. You do need to perform well, but you can still at least make a little bit of cash by placing just a bit above average.

In fact, according to DraftKings-specific data, it may be advantageous to enter tournaments if your goal is to make small amounts of money, week by week. Not only do you need fewer points in a tournament to get paid, but the average points scored by winners was significantly lower than what is seen in 50/50 contests. That matters in tournaments, as first-place winners will make more money than simple “winners”. But in 50/50s, every winner’s getting the same amount of cash.

Again, this may not make a whole lot of sense, but the reason for it has a lot to do with the players participating in these contests. Tournaments are heavily advertised, so you’ll find a lot of casual players in them each week. That’s good news for an experienced player. This is nothing against casual fantasy footballers, but they’re not doing the type of research high-volume players – sharks – are.

You’ll notice that 50/50 and head-to-head contests are pretty similar, which makes sense considering your odds of winning both are 50 percent. The reason you see 50/50 games with a higher average first-place score is because more teams are involved.

 

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Spending in Tournaments

We now know that it takes a lower score to actually get a payout in a tournament than it would in the other two contest types. This should lead us to generally believe that our approach wouldn’t change as we enter tournament play versus another game type.

But the difference is that a One-Week Fantasy owner entering a tournament should still strive to get top-dollar payouts. Does that mean you should structure your team differently than what has been outlined here?

 

  1. Never spend a lot of money on your defense.
  2. Go big or go home at the quarterback position.
  3. Running back injuries are your friend.
  4. Spend at wide receiver.
  5. Spend at tight end, too.

 

These ideas still hold true in tournaments, but the key is to remember that, if you want large payouts, you’re going to want more volatility. That is, your goal may be to look at high-risk, high-reward players rather than safe options you’d typically find in 50/50 and head-to-head lineups.

Let’s take a look at number one above: never spend a lot of money on your defense. This, in truth, should remain constant in tournament play given the massive turnover at the DST position each week in fantasy football. Spending on a top-notch defense is rarely worthwhile, even in tournaments.

The quarterback position, however, is a little different. Folks who win in One-Week fantasy football spend less than the average team at the quarterback position. This is mostly because quarterback production is easy to predict each week, as the position is less volatile than the others in fantasy.

Even still, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were high-end players in terms of win-loss ratio last year, and their salaries were far greater than the rest of the quarterback position. But this is because they were consistent, easy-to-predict producers, which can often times win in head-to-head and 50/50 leagues.

In tournaments, players tend to spend more money on quarterback than they do in other contest types. But the winning teams see a larger difference in spending at quarterback than you’d see in 50/50 or head-to-head games. In other words, teams that are willing to spend less money at the signal-calling position in tournaments tend to perform better than a team doing the same in a 50/50 or head-to-head contest.

In general, the other three strategies remain fairly constant. If a running back injury occurs, remember to keep an eye on the guy replacing said injured running back. Since the tight end and wide receiver positions are volatile, remember that paying for them allows you to see a significant advantage at the inherently unpredictable positions. And because you’re not spending a lot of cash at quarterback and defense in tournaments, you should be able to have an additional stud or two in your tournament lineup at wide receiver and tight end. These players, too, are the ones who will typically produce monster weeks in fantasy.

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Key to Winning Tournaments

You will need to score a whole lot of points if you want to make the big bucks in a tournament. Paying for volatility makes more sense in tournaments than regular coin-flip contests.

Having only a high-risk, high-reward team doesn’t necessarily benefit your bottom line given the score you need to achieve to get a payout is lower than other contests. You will wnat to strike the perfect balance between value picks and top studs.

 

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The Links

 

The Big 5:

FanDuel

Draft Kings

Fantasy Score

Draft Day

Fantasy Feud

One-Week Fantasy Football Information:

Fantasy Football Freak – One-Week Fantasy Football

Rotoworld – One-Week Fantasy Football Archive

Fantasy Sports Hero – Fantasy Football Contests

Sbnation – Fantasy Sports Info

RotoExperts – Daily Fantasy Football Page

SportsGrid – powered by RotoExperts

RosterWatch – tools

Advanced Stats Links:

FF Today – Stats Page

Football Guys – Stats Page

Cold Hard Football Facts

Team Rankings – Stats

Sporting Charts – NFL Player Stats

Gridiron Experts – Fantasy Stats

Rotowire – Fantasy Football Stats

Rotoworld – Run/Pass Ratio Projections

ESPN – Yards per Attempt (YPA)

Pro-football-reference – Yards per Completion (YPC)

Team Rankings – Team Yards per Completion (YPC)

Team Rankings – Team Red Zone Percentage

Profootball Focus – Introducing  ADOT – (Average Depth of Target)

The Resources

Fox Sports – Comparing Season-Long to One-Week Fantasy Football

Rotoworld – Beginners Guide to FanDuel

4 for 4 - Daily Fantasy Football Contests

Rotowire - The 10 Commandments of Daily Fantasy Football

Number Fire – How to Win Playing Daily Fantasy Football part 1

Number Fire - How to Win Playing Daily Fantasy Football part 2

Rotoworld – FanDuel: Contest Introduction

Forbes.com – Why Survival Leagues are Illegal

Fantasy Football Freak – 5 Reasons to Play One – Week Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football Freak – Quick Start Guide for Winning FanDuel

Fantasy Football Freak – Quick Start Guide for Winning DraftKings

USA Today - Everything you need to know about daily fantasy football

 

 

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Our Favorite Writers:

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Tony Cincotta

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Fantasy Pros Experts:

Fantasy Football Experts – sorted by site

- 228 Experts -

Adam Levitan – Rotoworld
AJ Mass – ESPN
Alessandro Miglio – Pro Football Focus
Allie Fontana – Fantasy Football Confidential
Andrew Garda – FootballGuys
Andrew Holm – Sons of Roto
Andy Behrens – Yahoo! Sports
Andy Hicks – FootballGuys
Anthony Perri – InsiderFootball
Antonio D’Arcangelis – FFToday
Arturo Galano – FFToolbox
Ben Doughty – Fantasy Sharks
Ben Standig – FFToolbox
Bloomberg Sports
Bob Henry – FootballGuys
Bob Lung – Fantasy Sharks
Bob Magaw – FootballGuys
Brad Evans – Yahoo! Sports
Brad Richter – RotoPilot
Brandon Funston – Yahoo! Sports
Brian Conti- FFToolbox
Brian Murphy – FFToolbox
Bruce Henderson – FootballGuys
Bryan Fontaine – Pro Football Focus
Cecil Lammey – FootballGuys
Chairman Mao – The Fantasy Ninjas
Chase Stuart – FootballGuys
Chet Gresham – The Fake Football
Chinstrap Ninjas
Chris Eakin – FFToday
Chris Maier – NFL Draft 101
Chris Smith – FootballGuys
Chris Weeks – FFToolBox
Chris Wesseling – Rotoworld
Christopher Harris – ESPN
CJ Englander – FFToday
Clayton Gray – FootballGuys
CocoaButter – The Fantasy Ninjas
Colin Dowling – FootballGuys
Corey Koehler – Fantasy Football Goat
Cubsfan4evr1 – Game of Inches
D.J. Nestrick – FFToday
Daniel Dobish – OPEN Sports
Daniel Kalles – FFToolbox
Dave Richard – CBS Sports
David Baker – FootballGuys
David Dodds – FootballGuys
David Gonos – OPEN Sports
David Sabino – Sports Illustrated
David Yudkin – FootballGuys
Dennis Hoffmeyer – FFToolbox
Derek Lofland – Fantasy Football Maniax
Derrick Eckardt – Fantasy Ethos
Doug Drinen – FootballGuys
Doug Orth – FFToday
Eli Mack – FFToday
Eric Fairbanks – FFToday
Eric Huber – Fantasy Sharks
Eric Karabell – ESPN
Eric Stashin – Rotoprofessor
Erik Kuselias – ESPN
Evan Silva – Rotoworld
Expert Dashboard
Expert Participation Form
Fantasy Baseball Experts
Fantasy Fan Play
Fantasy Football Experts – Page 4
Fantasy Football Nerd
George Bissell – FFToolbox
Greg Brosh – Fantasy Knuckleheads
Gregg Rosenthal – RotoWorld
Jacob Sloan – Fantasy Football Fools
James Alder – About.com Football
James Elvins – Fantasy Sharks
James Hatfield – Hatty Waiver Wire Guru
Jamey Eisenberg – CBS Sports
Jared Smola – DraftSharks
Jason Sarney – Fantasy Phenoms
Jason Wood – FootballGuys
Jay Clemons – Bleacher Report
Jeb Gorham – FFToolbox
Jeff Boggis – Fantasy Sports Empires
Jeff Haseley – FootballGuys
Jeff Pasquino – FootballGuys
Jeff Ratcliffe – Pro Football Focus
Jeff Tefertiller – FootballGuys
Jene Bramel – FootballGuys
Jim McCormick – ESPN
Joe Kilroy – FFToday
Joel Beall – Fox Sports
John Halpin – Fox Sports
John Hett – OPEN Sports
John Norton – FootballGuys
John Paulsen – 4for4
Josh Moore – 4for4
Keet Bailey – NFL Soup
Ken Daube – ESPN
Ken Moody – Dynasty League Football
Ken Zalis – Fans Fantasy Football
Kevin Hanson – The Daily Blitz
Kevin Roberts – NFL Soup
Kramerica Sports
Kurt Turner – Fantasy Knuckleheads
Louis Tranquilli – BFD Fantasy Football
LukeNukem – The Fantasy Ninjas
Major Gray – GeekWeek
Marc Caviglia – Bruno Boys
Marc Griffis – Fantasy Sharks
Mark Wimer – FootballGuys
Matt De Lima – FFToolbox
Matt Pitzer – USA TODAY
Matt Schauf – SportsBuff
Matt Waldman – FootballGuys
Matthew Berry – ESPN
Maurile Tremblay – FootballGuys
Melissa Jacobs – The Football Girl
Members – Fantasy Fanatics
Michael Blunda – ProFootballWeekly
Michael Brown – FootballGuys
Michael Harmon – Fox Sports
Mike Clay – Pro Football Focus
Mike Davis – FFToday
Mike Gilbert – RotoExperts
Mike Herman – FootballGuys
Mike Krueger – FFToday
Mike MacGregor – FFToday
Mike Woellert – Pro Football Focus
Nick Pagliuca – Fantasy Sharks
Pandamonium – The Fantasy Ninjas
Pat Fitzmaurice – ProFootballWeekly
Patrick White – Fantasy Sharks
Paul Greco – FantasyPros911
R.J. White – FFCafe
Ray Tannock – Fantasy Knuckleheads
Rick Hawes – Fanball
Rob Warner – FFToolbox
Robb Perkins – Fantasy Football Trader
Roger Rotter – Roger Rotter Sports
Ross Miles – Pro Football Focus
Russ Bliss – Fantasy Football Starters
Ryan Fowler – Fox Sports
Ryan Lester – Lester’s Legends
Ryan O’Connor – FFToolbox
Ryan Parr – Fantazzle
Sablich Brothers – The New York Times
Sal Marcoccio – FFToday
Sara Holladay – FFLibrarian
Scott Engel – RotoExperts
Scott Pianowski – Yahoo! Sports
scoutPRO
Sean Douglas – Fantasy Info
Sexy Rexy – Game of Inches
Shawn Larabee – FFToolbox
Sigmund Bloom – FootballGuys
Site Projections – CBS Sports
Site Projections – ESPN
Site Projections – numberFire
Site Projections – Yahoo! Sports
Staff – 4for4
Staff – Ask The Commish
Staff – BFD Fantasy Football
Staff – Bruno Boys
Staff – CBS Sports
Staff – Coach Box
Staff – Dynasty League Football
Staff – ESPN
Staff – FanHouse
Staff – Fantasy Depth Chart
Staff – Fantasy Football Cafe
Staff – Fantasy Football Freaks
Staff – Fantasy Football Geek Blog
Staff – Fantasy Football Jungle
Staff – Fantasy Football Maniaxs
Staff – Fantasy Football Oasis
Staff – Fantasy Football Whiz
Staff – Fantasy Football Xtreme
Staff – Fantasy Fortunes
Staff – Fantasy Knuckleheads
Staff – Fantasy Lounge Sports
Staff – Fantasy Sharks
Staff – FantasyFootball.com
Staff – FantasyOmatic
Staff – FantasyPros911
Staff – Fantazzle
Staff – FFChamps
Staff – FFToday
Staff – FFToolbox
Staff – Football Jabber
Staff – FootballDocs
Staff – FootballGuys
Staff – Fox Sports
Staff – Gridiron Experts
Staff – KFFL
Staff – NFL.com
Staff – No Offseason
Staff – OPEN Sports
Staff – Pro Football Focus
Staff – ProFootballWeekly
Staff – RotoExperts
Staff – RotoScoop
Staff – RotoWorld
Staff – Sports Grumblings
Staff – Sports Illustrated
Staff – The Big Lead
Staff – The Fifth Down
Staff – The Hazean
Staff – The Scores Report
Staff – TheHuddle
Staff – Ultimate Fantasy Football Strategy
Staff – WhatIfSports
Staff – Yahoo! Sports
Stephania Bell – ESPN
Taylor Smith – NFL Soup
Tenny Stegman – FFArmory
The ‘Bright’ One – Game of Inches
Tim McCullough – RotoExperts
Tom Digliani – Fantasy Knuckleheads
Tony Nowak – FFToday
Tristan Cockcroft – ESPN
Vin Sadicario – FFToolbox
Vito Chirco – FFToolbox
Walter Cherepinsky – Walter Football
Walter Collazo – Fantasy Sharks
Will Carroll – Sports Illustrated
Will Grant – FootballGuys

 

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- INDEX -

The Games
Cash Leagues
Head-to-Head
50/50′s
Multi User Leagues
Tournaments
The Bankroll
Working the Bankroll
The Strategy
Defense and Special Teams (DST)
Quarterback
Running Back
Wide Receiver
Tight End
FLEX
Play the Matchups
Last Week’s Bad Game
Risk vs Reward
Finding Value
Player Stacking
Punting Positions
Don’t Build to Lose
The 5 Simple Rules of Budget Allocation
Using Advanced Stats
The Tournaments
Spending in Tournaments
Key to Winning Tournaments
The Links
The Resources

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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