If you want to make consistent money over the long term in daily/weekly fantasy leagues, you need to play in Head-to Head leagues, with a large bankroll and a diversified “portfolio” of multiple entries in straight up H2H matchups, or better yet, in multiple 50/50 leagues with a high number of entries. You only have to be marginally better than average to turn a profit. I won’t be discussing that here. Instead, we’ll look at some strategies if you want to increase your percentages in search of the big carrot – a million greenbacks.
Kickers are a crapshoot. Period. So always spend the absolute minimum here unless you have some extra payroll to burn. Beyond that, you want kickers on winning teams, preferably with strong legs that are as accurate as possible. You want these traits in THAT ORDER. The most important thing at any position is opportunity. Obviously, teams that are ahead or at least close are more likely to attempt field goals than teams that are being blown out, so pick kickers on teams that have at least a chance of winning or being competitive. Longer field goals are worth more than short ones, so leg strength is the next important factor. Avoid horrible weather, rainstorms, snow, and heavy winds. If you have the luxury, select kickers playing in a dome, which eliminates Mother Nature’s fickle elements. If you can’t get ALL of those things, that is OK, just don’t waste money. Note that Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and Soldier Field in the Windy City are notorious for swirling winds that can give kickers fits and decrease accuracy.
In contrast to kickers, I advocate spending a premium on Defense. You want a defense with talent on the defensive line and at linebacker going up against teams with issues on the offensive line that have trouble protecting inexperienced and/or poor quarterbacks.
The rest of my roster: running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks, I like to implement strategies that will maximize my total points. This will usually be at the expense of average points. I will often implement what I call clustering mixed with some form of “stud-and-scrub” combination. Clustering is simply selecting players that have related outcomes. The most obvious is a quarterback and receiver on the same team. A good way to illustrate this is a real lineup I submitted Sunday morning in a qualifier for a million dollar contest:
QB – Tony Romo
QB – Matthew Stafford
WR – Calvin Johnson
WR – Dez Bryant
TE – Rob Gronkowski
Defense – Kansas City
RB – Andre Ellington
RB – Chris Ivory
Flex – Kenny Stills
Flex – Marvin Jones
Dallas was giving up the most points to QB’s and Calvin Johnson is one of the most prolific receivers of all time. I figured that would translate to a lot of Detroit points, forcing Tony Romo to throw to Dez Bryant to keep pace. If one team scores, it increases the odds of the other team scoring. Plus, they’re all elite fantasy performers. Gronkowski and Kansas City rounded out the studs, though they both disappointed. Kenny Stills is merely a situational deep threat, but situational deep threats do bust out with huge games every now and then. I think you can see the idea here. The “scrubs” were all relatively low percentage plays with huge ceilings and low salary requirements. You’re just throwing darts here, but select intelligent darts. It wasn’t perfect, but this cluster did very, very well. In fact, heading into Monday night it was sitting in second place out of 2,612 teams, just shy of the prize. I had another lineup that featured Robert Griffin III, Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon and Eric Decker. That lineup crashed and burned. That’s to be expected. It’s an all or nothing contest, so that’s the approach you must take.