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NFL DFS: Cash Game Strategy & Advice (2022 Fantasy Football)

NFL DFS: Cash Game Strategy & Advice (2022 Fantasy Football)

Our own dwindling attention spans are to blame here. There is a market for everything these days. Some people fart in a jar and sell it. Others peddle delicious cookies in front of cannabis dispensaries. Daily fantasy sports companies rely on our impatience in receiving our fantasy football winnings to rake in dollars every day of the year.

Mathematically speaking, DFS is just like any other business. Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings “host” fantasy sports contests and are simply tasked with divvying up the winners’ payouts. Their prize is the “rake,” a percentage of the pool of entries that goes to the house as penance for taking the leg work out of being the commish, usually 10-15%. The more entries, the more prize money at stake and subsequent rake for the hosts.

Beyond our daily fantasy football content, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Football 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 football season.

CTAs

Naturally, the model is extremely marketable. You could win a million dollars! The odds might be worse than getting mauled by a polar bear and grizzly bear at the same time, but you’re telling me there’s a chance. There are plenty of smaller contests hosted by DFS sites that offer less risk and a higher likelihood of a payout. I’m talking about cash games, and they are your ticket to playing those big lottery-style tournaments on someone else’s dime.

Although not as glamorous as a big-money guaranteed prize pool tournament, DFS cash games offer players a virtual 50/50 chance of doubling their entry fee. Other forms of cash games offer slightly lower odds of winning with a multiplied winning prize, aptly named “multipliers.” The most common is still the double-ups and head-to-head matchups. DFS sites offer cash games for virtually every sport in existence, including E-sports (professional video gaming). For the purpose of this piece, we will stick to what I know: NFL DFS cash games.

NFL DFS has all the things you love about season-long fantasy football, except you don’t need to play all year to cash in. That sentence is a longstanding hook for DFS companies to wrangle more players into their contest lobbies, but it’s true. Cash games are just as alluring if you understand the goal: to profit off playing the game. Strategically, in order to profit from NFL DFS cash games, one must simply increase their odds of winning to greater than 50%. Here is how.

Volume Pays the Bills

In DFS tournament play, the big winners often use a tactic called leverage to separate their lineup builds from the rest of the pack. They want the players who could have a huge game but aren’t necessarily the obvious choice. Avoiding the “chalk” is of paramount importance in tournament play. Translated into English, it’s like when your mom snidely questioned whether you’d follow so-and-so off a bridge. Whether the popular choice predictably comes through or busts, you share the experience with many others. In cash games, one might be inclined to load up on a few of those obvious plays. Simply put, it increases the odds of a winning score. You only need to outscore half of the other entries to double your money. Cash games are not the kind of contests where getting cute works out.

The key strategy that has helped me enjoy a very high DFS cash game winning percentage over the years has been loading up on players whose number of “performance touches” is high relative to their salary. RBs who will have a lot of rushing attempts and/or receiving targets are a great place to start. Don’t avoid the low-hanging fruit. If a defense is atrocious versus a certain position, you bet your britches I’m exploiting that edge in cash games. I once went nine straight weeks rostering a TE versus the 2019 Arizona Cardinals, who were historically terrible at defending the position and allowed 16 touchdowns. NFL teams have access to the same data and can see the same tendencies on tape as we can but are really sharp at putting it into action. Volume, and the path of least resistance, are the keys to doubling up in every DFS cash game.

 Know the Scoring Format

DraftKings and FanDuel are quite similar in a lot of ways, but their differences must be noted. Both utilize algorithms to assign a salary to every active player on a given slate of NFL games, but there are often edges to certain players that don’t carry over from one site to the other. DraftKings uses PPR scoring and assigns bonuses for yardage milestones. This scoring, on one hand, favors the high-volume PPR-type players who might not put up big yardage totals. On the other hand, the bonuses incentivize the DFS manager to try and build around players who will hit those thresholds. Those bonuses are pivotal in cash games, often making the difference between winning and losing.

2020 DraftKings NFL Milly Maker Winners: Trends, Strategies, Roster Construction - Roto Street Journal

FanDuel uses a Half-PPR scoring format and the same nine-position roster, but no milestone bonuses. The scoring might be a tad lower than on DraftKings, but there isn’t a huge difference in strategy when it comes to cash games. The more traditional scoring has little bearing on the results compared to DraftKings, often mirroring the optimal plays from week to week. The main nuance is putting a bit less emphasis on the receiving RBs and low aDOT slot receivers, but those players often are priced modestly on the site, in turn. A good DFS player will weigh the player’s floor and ceiling based on personal or site-based projections.

TJ's #Taek: Week 1 NFL DFS Recap | 4for4

 

Any Number Under the Cap is Fine

The main difference between the two main DFS sites is their use of the salary cap. DraftKings limits a build to $50,000 in salary to fill the nine positions, while FanDuel bases their salaries on a $60,000 cap for the same nine spots. NFL DFS is often a simple bit of arithmetic to determine what percentage of the cap each player takes up on each site. Sometimes an edge is as simple as one site underpricing a good play relative to the other.

There is something psychological about the salary cap system. Humans can’t help but try to hit the number exactly on the head or die trying to get as close to it as possible. Mistakes are made when a good play is replaced by a bad one because it gets the lineup closer to the salary cap number. Many millions of dollars have been won in DFS by leaving hundreds of dollars on the table. The best plays are the best plays, and they don’t follow the arbitrary rules of DFS. This is true for any DFS contest, including cash games.

Contest Selection

This seems obvious, but it’s usually easier to win if there are fewer people to compete with. All of the main DFS sites have cash contests that range from two-person head-to-head to mega double-up contests with hundreds of thousands of entries. Since the goal is to simply outscore half of the field, the large double-ups are almost like tournaments in that you need to pay some attention to ownership percentages and get a little bit riskier in your lineup build. If you’re in for the thrill of that sort of thing, all to cap out at twice the money, good on you. For most cash players, profiting is much easier when attacking small to medium-sized fields. Personally, I like to enter 5-10 double-up contests at $10 each for every Sunday main slate. A good week will net $50-100 in profit. Even if you only win 67% of the time (I won over 80% of my cash games in 2020 and 74% in 2021), the bankroll looks mighty fine after the season.

May the Odds Be Ever In Your Favor!

To tie this up into a bow, NFL DFS cash games are a great way to snowball a very nice bankroll over the course of the season. I like to use my profits to fund my entries into the big tournaments with huge payouts. Take the path of least resistance; you’re a lot less likely to get burned by a stud RB against a bad run defense than taking a flier WR in your flex who is only 1% rostered in a Milly Maker. You’re only going to double up each time, but the key is to do it consistently each week from September through February. Winning is a thrill, no matter how many dollars are awarded. Make sure you check out Chalk Blocked on YouTube every Thursday night during the regular season as Scott Simpson, and I break down the main slate for cash and tournament play. Good luck, and let’s get to cashing!

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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