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Where to Spend & Where to Save in DFS (Fantasy Football)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
May 4, 2019

While no two NFL slates are created equally, some general spending guidelines will help lead to DFS success.

It’s Sunday morning, and you’re ready to set your DFS lineups for the day’s slate of football games. You only have so much salary with which to construct your roster, and you might ask yourself: “How do I spend this money?” I’m here to help today with a quick hitter on where to spend and where to save when building your daily lineups.

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TIME TO PAY UP

Stud WR or RB
You need to pay up for at least one stud in your lineup, whether it be a receiver or back. There is such a thing as overthinking your strategy too much, and not getting at least one elite option into your lineup is a mistake in any contest. The RBs and WRs tend to be the highest-scoring daily options overall, and that’s why it makes sense to spend at those positions. Tight end is volatile, and the QB position offers a lot of value down the rankings because there are so many productive signal-callers. We can save at those positions.

The whole purpose of saving on some players is to have the resources to spend up on others. If you cut costs enough elsewhere, usually you can get at least two big-ticket options into your lineup. Let’s take a look at where to save.

BALLING ON A BUDGET

Tight End
The most volatile position in season-long formats, tight end is certainly the diciest spot in DFS, too. The top three or four scorers make up an elite tier, and the drop-off in production is steep after that. As such, the price point follows the same pattern. A top-tier TE will often cost as much as or more than an elite WR, but it makes more sense to pay up for the receiver and save at tight end. An elite receiving option can pop off for the occasional 200-yard outburst, but huge games like that are rare from even the game’s best tight ends. While a few tight ends put up receiver-type numbers on a regular basis, the potential for a massive game is far higher for a wideout. Spending up at TE can occasionally be useful in cash games depending on the available players for the slate. If there’s absolutely no depth after the top one or two options, paying top dollar makes sense to try and cash out.

Defense/Special Teams
There is almost always value to be had with the D/ST position. Spending a lot of money on an elite option is not recommended because of how much uncertainty exists. There are two guarantees in life: death and taxes. Noticeably omitted from that old maxim is “a sure-fire D/ST.” No D/ST is a lock for a high-scoring game, so it makes sense to look down the rankings and target defenses playing at home, facing opponents coming off of a short week, playing opponents with injuries, or defenses that are boom-or-bust because of their ability to force turnovers. One additional strategy is to throw away the D/ST position entirely by selecting the team with the lowest salary. The amount of money saved allows you to spend up on even more elite options.

Players to Target
This may seem obvious, but when rostering value plays, target players who have a realistic shot of scoring enough points to make their placement in your lineups worthwhile. Spending $5,000 on an off-the-wall receiver who has no chance of scoring (let alone playing 20 snaps) is foolish. Instead, make informed decisions based on the latest injuries and projected starting lineups. Injuries that are designated late in the week can often thrust a backup into a starting role, leaving his price dangerously low and an absolute steal for daily players.

IT ALL DEPENDS …

Quarterback
I’ve paid down for my quarterback more often than not in daily contests, but that strategy is not the only one that yields productive results. With the prevalence of the passing game in today’s NFL, there are a lot of quality QBs available at some cost-effective prices, especially when the matchup is friendly. Grabbing a value at QB is a fine route, but sometimes it makes sense to spend big. If an elite QB is playing a poor defense or will be involved in a likely shootout, you won’t want to miss out on the high point totals. In fact, failing to select an elite option can sometimes put you behind the eight ball. The available players and matchups on the slate will determine how you should spend at QB.

CONCLUSION

There are many ways to construct a DFS lineup, but some basic guidelines on how to spend can be useful. When setting DFS lineups, managers need to understand where they can save and where they can spend and act accordingly based on a number of factors. No two slates are created equal in daily fantasy football, but some core tenets of lineup construction and budgeting can be applied universally.

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Zachary Hanshew is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

DFS, DFS Advice, Featured, NFL, Vault