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Establishing Routine for Researching and Submitting DFS lineups (Fantasy Football)

by Sam Hoppen | @samhoppen | Featured Writer
Jun 6, 2020

Establish a weekly routine to craft DFS lineups throughout the NFL season.

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The edge in fantasy football DFS continues to shrink. With all of the information and resources currently available to fantasy football players, it has become that much more difficult to get an advantage over others in the field. However, DFS players — new and experienced — can take three easy steps towards planning out their week in order to improve their game. While this article is focused on preparing lineups for the main Sunday slates, these timelines can be adjusted to any Thursday or Sunday Night Football games, assuming the content you need is released in time.

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Updating Your Model

If you’re like me and many other DFS players, you have your own model filled with stats, formulas, and conditional formatting. Whether it’s a simple Excel spreadsheet or a comprehensive programming tool, models can help narrow down the subset of players that you may want to include or exclude in your lineups.

One major consideration for your model is to only include the data you truly need. As you go throughout your process during the week, keep in mind which stats you’re paying the most attention to and using most for your decision-making process. Maybe you’re including yards per carry, but you never take that into account for evaluating running backs. If that’s the case, then remove it from your model and save some time, or replace it with a more value-added statistic.

Another recommendation I have is to wait until you have all of the data you need before updating your model. Then you can upload the information at one time, as opposed to entering new data as it comes in throughout the week. There’s no sense in going into your model five separate times to update five different data points when you could spend that time in other ways.

Finally, before the season starts, think about ways that you can automate your model as much as possible. You can also use the offseason to make any changes to your model that you’ve made note of throughout the regular season. It may not make sense to upgrade a model in the middle of a season as doing so will take time away from researching potential week-winning lineups.

Absorbing Podcasts and Articles

Another popular way to get an edge in DFS is to learn who other industry analysts and players are targeting or avoiding. This can be done through any number of podcasts, articles, or videos. Early in the season, figure out when your favorite content is posted so you can plan to set aside time to absorb the information. Most weekly features will come out around the same day and time each week, so it’s easy to plan for a specific article or podcast release.

For example, Mike Tagliere’s weekly primer during the season typically comes out on Thursdays, so set aside time on Thursday afternoons or Friday mornings to read up on all of the players you’re considering for your Sunday lineups. Similarly, a lot of DFS-related podcasts don’t release until the end of the week because the hosts want as much data as possible before sharing their thoughts. Because of this, you may have an overload of podcasts to consume over the weekend, in which case you may need to narrow down the list of episodes you listen to.

If you’re like me and prefer podcasts over articles, think about ways that you could multitask while listening to podcasts. One easy way to do that would be to listen while updating your model. Typically updating a model involves a lot of data manipulation, so it’s easy to focus on the podcast as you upload and clean up your data.

When digesting written or recorded content, you must also take account of when exactly it was posted. If something gets posted on a Monday or Tuesday, that information could become irrelevant by Thursday with how fast NFL news changes. Some authors are good about going back to early-week articles and making relevant updates, but that isn’t always the case. An easy way to keep track of this is to build a weekly calendar, listing each day of the week and the different articles and podcasts posted on each day.

Setting Your Lineup

The final, and most important, part of your routine is actually setting your lineup. I mean, that’s the only way you can win, right? Unless you’re playing in a small tournament with limited entries, there’s no need to set a lineup on Tuesday afternoon. At this point, you won’t have all the information you need on injuries, prior week data, etc. to make an informed decision.

A big factor in waiting to set lineups has to do with player injuries. While some teams are transparent about players who will miss the upcoming game, others will wait until the last possible second to announce that information. For reference, teams are required to announce their inactive players 90 minutes before the start of their game.

Because of this, you should wait until Sunday morning to prepare and submit your lineups. You don’t get any extra points for submitting lineups early, so patience is key here. Obviously, you can spend time throughout the week identifying players you want to target or avoid. But you never know what could happen at Friday’s practice that could cause a player to miss the upcoming game.

If you don’t have one built into your model, you should consider using a lineup optimizer. If you’re not familiar with these, they collect several inputs from users (players to target and avoid, game slates, contest type, etc.) and will automatically build optimal lineups based on your preferences and weekly projections. While these can be used to build single lineups, they’re particularly helpful when entering dozens of lineups into multiple tournaments. If you’re a FantasyPros premium subscriber, be sure to check out FantasyPros’ Lineup Optimizer to help build your lineups!

Hopefully this guide helps organize and establish your weekly activities for playing DFS and ultimately bring you success!

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Sam Hoppen is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Sam, check out his archive and follow him @SamHoppen.

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