Over the past several years of playing college football DFS I have analyzed successful strategies and, in turn from bad experiences, which strategies to avoid. Like most things in life, hands-on experience is the only certain way to gain skills in a trade. Some people choose plumbing or coding, I’m into DFS.
I’ll be working with BeerLife Sports to provide my own insight into maximizing returns from playing college football DFS. I’ll be right sometimes. I’ll be wrong sometimes. The most important skill in fantasy is to be right more than you’re wrong. We win on the margins. Not on the longshot score.
I’m going to start with five common mistakes I see with newer DFS players (and some veteran players as well). Like quicksand, these are more than likely to drag down your points.
1. Rostering Seldom Utilized Wide Receivers
Role and opportunity are, arguably, the most important factors when entering college football DFS contests. I have often noticed that fantasy gamers will roster wide receivers that have minimal roles. This usually happens when a player has a big game the week prior and made one or two big plays in limited action. Snap counts and target share are good predictors of a wide receiver’s role.
For instance, a player may post a receiving stat line of 2 receptions, 100 receiving yards, and one touchdown. That box score looks pretty good on the surface, but we need to dig deeper. We may find out that the wide receiver was on the field for only 20 out of 70 snaps. We also may discover that the wide receiver only received a small number of targets. The likelihood is that the player won’t be able to keep up that efficiency in future games. We’re better off rostering a wide receiver that plays more snaps and is targeted far more often.
You win with max points, not inside-the-game efficiency. The guy who gets twice as many targets is almost certain to get more receptions per game than the lesser-targeted receiver, even if that latter guy puts up a highlight catch on ESPN.
2. Failing to Correlate Lineups
This is a strategy that is popular in NFL DFS guaranteed prize pool contests. It is also a solid strategy in college football DFS. Derek Farnsworth of RotoGrinders points out “positive correlation is a relationship between two variables in which both variables move in tandem.” Essentially, feel free to pair your quarterback with his wide receiver(s). Consequently, when the quarterback throws a touchdown pass to the wide receiver, you will score two touchdowns on only one play if you’ve rostered both players.
There’s no doubt that correlating lineups does increase your risk ratio. If the QB has a lousy game, the WR likely does as well. But part of the strategy is to outdo the field. A minimal risk, highly non-correlated lineup is less likely to lose, and also less likely to win. And winning is why we play. Not losing isn’t the same thing.
3. The Weather
College Football DFS slates typically include ten plus games on the main Saturday slate. The slate will usually include television games and teams ranked inside the top 25. Consequently, games are spread throughout the country. Wind and rain are two elements that have the potential to alter the fantasy football landscape. Josh Mancuso’s study points out the impact of weather on NFL game performance. His study is still relevant to college football. The quarterbacks in the NFL are obviously more talented. Clearly, less talented quarterbacks that are playing college football are likely to be more affected by the elements than their professional counterparts. The first tip-off that weather could be an issue doesn’t come from The Weather Channel, it comes when the betting total falls at least a few points from the opening line.
4. Failing to Account for Tempo
Tempo is typically mentioned in NBA DFS circles when describing the speed or pace of a game. It’s also an underrated variable in college football DFS. The more plays that are run during any given game increases opportunities for all players involved. Looking back at last season, Central Florida ran an astounding 88.0 offensive plays per game. On the bottom end of the spectrum, Massachusetts ran only 56.8 offensive plays per game. The FBS average was 71.9 offensive plays per game. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see that Central Florida’s Dillon Gabriel led the nation in passing yards per game (357.0). Central Florida wide receiver Marlon Williams led the nation in targets per game (13.0). Keep tempo in mind when filling out your rosters, any little edge like tempo can help separate your lineups from other gamers.
5. Targeting too many Players in Blowout Games
When a college football game turns into a blowout, the opportunity for starting players declines significantly. For instance, I researched Alabama’s Najee Harris (led college football running backs in fantasy points per game) and DeVonta Smith’s snap counts last season to validate my point. In games decided by 28 or more points, Harris averaged 43.8 snaps per game. In games decided by 27 or less, Harris’ average snap count rose to 56.4 snaps per game. In games decided by 28 or more points, Smith averaged 63.3 snaps per game. In games decided by 27 or less, Smith averaged 75 snaps per game. Less opportunity means fewer chances to make plays and accrue fantasy points. Don’t be afraid to fade players when their teams are massive favorites on the betting line.