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How to Learn from DFS Winners (Fantasy Basketball)

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jun 27, 2020

Beyond our daily fantasy basketball content, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Basketball Tools. From our Lineup Optimizer – which allows you to build winning DFS lineups in seconds for Cash and GPP contests – to our DFS Cheat Sheets – that helps you get a quick read on the day’s players – we’ve got you covered this fantasy basketball season.

So you’ve been playing NBA DFS contests for a while now, and you’ve reached a plateau. You win some nights, you lose some nights, but you just can’t seem to take the next step forward into big-money territory. What can you do to improve your play and start cashing out at a high rate? Studying big winners is a great place to start. Here are a few ways to learn from DFS winners.

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Where can I do my Research?

Your best resource for studying DFS winners is going to be RotoGrinders. These guys track and rank DFS players and update rankings weekly based on the activity of leaders. These rankings are calculated based on a number of factors that are explained on the site’s FAQ. You can also click on the top users and view their profile, which keeps track of that player’s biggest wins, recent entries, finishes in notable contests and other helpful insights. To take your research even further, some of the top player’s profiles have links to articles or forum posts they’ve authored, which can give you a first-hand account. RotoGrinders’ top overall player, awesemo, has his own website (awesemo.com) that offers great information from the man himself. This is another excellent resource for DFS players of all skill levels.

Frequency of Play

How often does a big winner play? Is he entering contests daily with multiple entries, or is he playing in only the biggest contests? Fortunately, RotoGrinders keeps track of contest entries of its top players. Just a cursory look at the data tells us that the top DFS players enter contests nearly every day, and they typically enter at least a handful of entries into any contest they’re playing in. The information isn’t surprising for a few reasons. Even the best DFS players in the world stumble sometimes. In-game injuries, ice-cold shooting performances, and fluke games are all factors that can cause a quality lineup to falter. In addition to research and strategy, playing the numbers game based on volume is a must in DFS lineups.

Contest Type and Budget

This is another important aspect of DFS strategy that should not be overlooked. Which types of contests are big winners playing most often, and how much are they spending? Another glance at the data and we can see that the top DFS players go after GPPs more often than not. This isn’t a shock, as the biggest payouts are from tournaments. These guys aren’t just slapping a couple bucks down, either. The average buy-in of RotoGrinders’ top five overall DFS players is currently $197.29. That’s per entry. Most of these players are professionals with a lot of knowledge and even more practice, so the beginner and casual DFS player is encouraged to stay away from games with massive buy-in costs.

However, there are still a few takeaways. First, it’s more profitable to play in tournaments because of the large prizes that can be won. Second, you have to spend money to make money. Playing NBA DFS is a form of gambling, and as such, there will be plenty of losses. Spending up and playing enough can offset those losses and eventually turn into a money-making venture.

Differentiation

If a DFS winner has multiple entries in a tournament, take a look at all of them to get an idea of how much differentiation goes into his lineups. Are there a handful of guys who crop up frequently on more than one entry, or is there a lot of variance from entry-to-entry? As we’ve discussed in other articles, differentiation is important when setting lineups for a multi-entry contest, and you’re sure to find that to be true among DFS winners. Pay attention to just how much differentiation these guys employ, and use that knowledge to guide your lineup-building strategies moving forward.

Lineup Construction

There’s more than one way to set a DFS lineup, but not all of those ways are conducive to success. Here, we want to pay attention to a few things. First is price. Did the roster utilize every single dollar of the allotted $50K or $60K budget, or was there a little change left over? A few hundred dollars may not seem like much, but if most big winners are spending every penny, you should too.

Second, is strategy. There are two basic schools of thought when setting an NBA DFS lineup. Going with a balanced lineup consisting of mid-priced options is one way to go, while others employ the “Stars and Scrubs” method which utilizes a few top-dollar options mixed in with some cheaper, less valuable players. The “Stars and Scrubs” method seems to be the most popular among winners. Take a look at winning lineups whenever you’re able to examine the high-priced and bargain players that were included. Specifically, keep matchup, slate, and opportunity in mind. When you play in a contest, always look at winning lineups in real time. Your familiarity with the contest and the day’s slate will give a winning entry plenty of context. That’s a great learning opportunity.

Conclusion

NBA DFS players can learn a lot of quality information by studying the the biggest daily fantasy winners. By taking winners’ habits into account, including the frequency of play and average entry costs, contest types, and lineup construction strategies, you can learn how to be a successful DFS player and improve your chances of taking home big prizes. Pay attention to the habits listed above, and use them to your advantage. There’s nothing like learning from the best.

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

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