Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

Thinking Through Game Flow


The basic course touched on this, but it’s worth diving deeper into here, as it is, in my opinion, the most important part of Showdown tournament success. You want to be able to look at how a game is most likely to play out, but also consider other viable alternatives. Keep in mind that “the way it’s most likely to play out” is also where the highest ownership is likely to be, so as you’re going through your builds, think about your ownership exposures accordingly. (I’ll talk more about how to actually use a lineup optimizer to build tournament lineups in the final section). 

When I think about “most likely to happen,” that generally means things like:

  • The Vegas favorite wins
  • Each team scores in the way they normally score, adjusted for what the opposing defense is weak or strong against
  • Each team scores about as many points as Vegas projects them for
  • Overall team stats look pretty much like what you’d expect (i.e. a RB who averages 19 touches per game gets 17-21 touches, a WR who averages 8 targets per game sees about that many, etc.), adjusting for opposing defense’s strengths/weaknesses and any personnel changes

So with that, when I say “look for other ways the game could play out,” one obvious way is for the underdog to win, but other, less obvious ways are things like:

  • A team that normally scores on the ground could instead score in the air (or vice versa)
  • A team that normally spreads the ball out could end up having one player hog most of the offensive production (or vice versa)
  • One team could just fail completely (frankly I feel like most players underestimate the chances of a road offense just floundering and failing completely)
  • Workloads could skew significantly from season averages, which is especially interesting and relevant when a defense is best attacked via an avenue that the opposing offense normally doesn’t do well or very often, but could decide to focus on for this particular game. Some teams, such as the Patriots and the Bears, approach each game with an opponent-specific offensive plan, whereas other teams just run their same basic offense no matter what. The former situation can be exploited, often at low ownership.

Overall, thinking about the game before you start thinking about your roster is, in my opinion, the best way to start your approach to each Showdown slate. This is good practice on larger slates as well, but it’s much easier to implement in practice in Showdown as you only have one game to think about. By taking a step back and thinking about ways the game could play out, you’re already giving yourself an edge before you’ve even started thinking about your rosters.


[ JM’s Notes :: I love that Xandamere talked in this area about thinking through the games. We talk about this quite a bit on the site, but this is something that we rarely have an opportunity to really focus on, in terms of emphasizing its importance. This is the same way in which CubsFan333 attacks large-field tourneys on the main slate (netting him double-digit live final appearances, double-digit $100k cashes, and a Milly Maker win), and is one of the clearest ways to gain an edge in NFL DFS. Use your imagination to think through the various ways in which this game could play out. As Xandamere noted above: doing so on the Showdown slate is not only a nice shortcut to profit; it’s also a great opportunity to practice this with a less intimidating number of games than you have on the main slate. ]

Here’s an extra “Audio Lesson” from me that will help you get a deeper understanding of what this type of thinking looks like, and how you can make it work ::