Five Simple Mistakes Way Too Many NFL DFS Players Make

NFL logo on the field before an NFL football game between the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski)

Whether you’re new at daily fantasy or a seasoned veteran, there are always ways to improve your game. The first step to a more lucrative DFS experience is to stop making these five common mistakes. 

#1. Spending Too Much On the Quarterback Position

I get it. We all want to have Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers in our lineup. It seems like every week these quarterbacks are lighting up the scoreboard. The truth is DFS players that spend up to own these players are typically the ones losing in the long run. The secret to longevity in DFS is to find that perfect balance of skill set and value.

The downside of drafting high-priced quarterbacks each week is that they NEED to finish as the top quarterback to make the price tag worth it. For cash games, the rule of thumb is to target players that can score you 3x the amount you spend on them. For example, if you drafted Lamar Jackson for 12k, he would need to score at least 36 points to make it worth drafting him. If you load up on expensive quarterbacks, you’re sacrificing talent at other positions and you’re left with a handful of scrubs trying to pick up the slack.

When choosing a quarterback you need to look at three metrics. The player’s floor, ceiling, and price. In some situations, it will be more beneficial to choose someone like Big Ben against the Texans’ defense and not Mahomes against the Rams’ defense. Although the big bastard isn’t going to score you two rushing touchdowns like Mahomes might, he doesn’t need to. As long as he can return value, you saved yourself a ton of capital to splurge on other positions.

#2. Playing Too Many GPP’s

If you’ve played DFS for a while now, I’m sure you remember the commercials. Fans winning millions of dollars after sweating out the last seconds of an NFL game. While it’s possible to win a ton of money on DFS, it’s not going to happen very often — if ever. 

These Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPP) might sound great but there are issues with them. The first issue is that there are hundreds of thousands of entries. Even if you’re lucky enough to finish in the money, there’s a good chance you’ll have the same lineup as someone else and end up splitting the purse.

Because these are multi-entry tournaments, players with larger bankrolls will be at an advantage. A professional with 100 or more entries have a higher chance of cashing than you.

I get it. We’re all degenerates here. It doesn’t hurt to play these once in a while but they shouldn’t be your main focus. These GPP tournaments will drain your bankroll faster than a slot machine.

Focus your efforts on H2H or 50/50 games. This will improve your chances of cashing and lower the amount of variance you experience.

#3. Not Taking Game Script into Consideration

One of the most important things to consider when building a fantasy team is how the games are most likely to turn out. The common mistake DFS players make is spending too much time focusing on the individual player and not the overall picture.

Let’s say the Chiefs are facing the Bengals. Everyone is expecting a blowout which means Mahomes should have a large ownership share at kickoff. While he should have a good game here, this could be a situation to fade him. Targeting Kansas City’s run game instead might be the sneaky play. If the Chiefs get out to a big lead, they might be inclined to lean on the running backs and not Mahomes. 

There’s also Vegas. Lines set by sportsbooks are very telling on how a game will be played out. This is especially true when looking at the total. If a game’s total is high, you can expect a lot of fantasy points scored. Stacking a lineup with players from these high-scoring games will give you a huge edge.

#4. Not Doing Research

Let’s get real. We play fantasy sports for entertainment and distraction. The last thing we want to do is deal with more excel spreadsheets and crunch numbers in our free time. However, it’s important to do some type of research. Spending a few minutes browsing sites like ProFootballReference, not to mention BeerLife Sports, could pay off big time. They do the hard work for you by compiling stats and trends for free. 

As a basic research example, consider Kirk Cousins. This dude is notorious for STRUGGLING in primetime and the stats back it up. Go take a look. If you plan on playing a Thursday to Monday slate and the Vikings are playing the Thursday game, choose a quarterback from the weekend instead.

Ten seconds of research just saved you a huge likely fail.

#5. Ignoring the Scoring System 

This might seem obvious but it’s pretty important to know how many points your players will be scoring per play. There are typically three types of scoring you’ll see in fantasy. Non-PPR, half PPR, and full PPR. While it might not seem like a lot, these extra points can give players a significant edge against their opponents.

Let’s use Derrick Henry as an example. In half PPR leagues such as FanDuel, most weeks he would be the highest-priced running back. This is because players in this scoring format are generating points from yards and touchdowns only. However, if we look at DraftKings which uses the full PPR format, Derrick Henry would not be as useful. 

Pass-catching running backs like Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler would be at a premium due to their receiving skills. If Kamara had 10 receptions during a game, it would yield 10 points. Henry would need to rush for 100 yards to score that many points. This also makes lower-priced players more likely to return value if they catch a few passes.

A few basic tricks and tips can dramatically up your winning percentages in NFL DFS. To get to the top of the heap, you need way more, but why not start in the top half and go from there?

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