In this Q&A series, we’ll take you inside the minds of our DFS analysts at One Week Season! Consuming content such as this can help you gain a much deeper understanding of what you’re getting right (and what you can be improving) in your DFS play!
I’ll share two, if that’s all right.
Early in my Showdown “career,” I was playing a slate with the Patriots. Their running back corps had been banged up, and they had been giving Cordarrelle Patterson a few carries each game, so I figured he could see 10+ carries and a couple of targets. I put him in 100% of lineups and he scored a rushing TD at very low ownership. Near the end of the game I had lineups scattered all around the very top of the big tournament, so that almost whatever happened I was going to win. I ended up taking down first, and the Discord I was in at the time was just going nuts, baffled that I played 100% Cordarrelle Patterson. What I learned from this is that when you find an edge you’re confident in, hammer it. The “safe” move here would have been to overweight the field by playing something like 20% or 30% Patterson, but I felt confident he was the best value on the slate, so I locked him. If I hadn’t, odds were I wouldn’t have taken down first, because 149 of my other lineups didn’t make it all the way up there.
My worst bad beat (and there have been quite a few in my DFS career) was a Draftkings afternoon-only NFL tourney. I was in first for $100k going into the 4th quarter of all of the games. As the games were ending, I looked around at the other top lineups and realized the one thing I had to avoid was something like four more points from Julian Edelman. The Pats were getting smashed by the Steelers at the time, and I was hoping they would just give up and rest their vet, but Edelman ended up catching a 33 yard pass, which pushed a whole stack of lineups past me. I still had an out if Dante Pettis could catch one more ball, but on the final 49ers drive of the game, he drew a target and the defender just shoved him down for a (very obvious) pass interference call. The 49ers kicked a field goal, the game was over, and I won something like $1k instead of $100k. The learning there is trust your process. DFS is an incredibly high-variance game, and you can’t evaluate your tournament results based on just wins. Having “bad beats” like that means you’re putting yourself in good spots where if the little things break right you can have a big score, but they won’t always break right. What I like to do is evaluate what percentage of my lineups ended up in the top 10%, 5%, and 1% of a tournament. If I get lineups into those top tiers, that means my process is sound, and I just need to wait for the little things to break my way.
After my first year of DFS I was feeling on top of the world. I had a really successful year, I thought I knew everything and could become a DFS professional, all of that. I started buying and consuming every piece of content out there, figuring it would all make me a sharper player. Hint: it didn’t. There’s a lot of bad content out there, and a lot of groupthink, and if you try to absorb every piece of content you can find, you’re going to end up justifying using every player on the board in at least some percentage of your lineups.
What I realized here was two things:
Slow down on the content intake and find the few content producers I really trusted, whose style aligned with mine and who helped me to sharpen my own thinking and not just give me a list of “good plays” (hi, JM!).
When I’m just grinding away at reading content and building lineups, I’m not actually spending enough time thinking. Your mileage may vary, but for me, I need to step away from the content and the optimizer and just spend some quiet time on my own thinking through each slate without being distracted by all of that other stuff. (Note from JM :: This is something I talk about as well. And is something CubsFan talks about as well. And is something Sonic talks about as well. Hey; maybe there’s something to this!)
The first year Showdowns came out. My first reaction to Showdowns was, “Play DFS based on just one game? That sounds like crazy high variance,” and I skipped them. A few weeks in I started trying it out, and I was hooked. I quickly figured out that I had an edge in Showdowns because I’m really good at diving into a single game and analyzing it very deeply (but I just don’t have time to do it for every single game on a full slate). Over time I’ve moved more and more of my total weekly buy-in over to Showdown; last year, I think I played something like 90% of my NFL action in Showdown slates. Find your edge and hammer it!
Oh, it’s hard. In one of my earlier responses I mentioned evaluating your process and not just results, but it’s hard to actually do that. One potential trap here is being overly confident and assuming your process was good and you just ran bad, no matter what actually happened. And I’m certainly vulnerable to feeling frustrated when a really good play doesn’t work out and it costs me a lot of money. I also have a tendency to just mark some players as “bad” in my mind and, even if I’m broadly correct about them, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re always bad plays on every slate at their price. Those are the bad parts of my DFS Psych. When I work out how to overcome them 100% of the time I’ll let you know!
For me, this is relatively simple because I mostly play Showdown, and I’m also someone who is all right with a lot of variance. I’m totally fine playing those big Showdown tourneys where the vast majority of the prize pool is at the top, and I build my lineups with a high-variance approach to try and maximize my chances not just of winning, but of having a low-duplicate lineup when I do. I also play as much Showdown cash action as I can possibly get at buy-ins of $25 or under (above that level you start just playing against other people who are also really sharp, and I don’t think there’s long-term profit in trying to beat the “big names”; at best, you’re trading back and forth and just generating rake).
In Showdown, the big tourneys. I’m totally fine gunning for first in those with high variance. On the main slate, I like the Slant on DK; it’s the $9 buy-in tourney, and it has a much flatter payout structure. Oddly, on Showdown I like the variance and am happy to chase first, but on the Main Slate I don’t like the Milly Maker. Like I said, my edge is focusing on a single game, and I just want to push that edge as hard as I can.
My obvious DFS goal is to make money, but more broadly, I will list a few brief ones:
I’d love to get better at playing larger slates. I used to be consistently profitable on them, but they’ve taken a backseat the last couple of seasons. Realistically, that probably isn’t going to happen, as between my day job and family I just don’t have the time to research them like I used to. The other more realistic one is becoming better at identifying value vs. value traps, as sometimes I get too fixated on a cheap guy (like Cordarrelle Patterson) who is not in as good of a situation and end up looking back afterward and saying, “duh.”
Showdown cash games are the highest ROI investment you can make in DFS right now. Do it!
From JM :: If you’re taking Showdowns seriously this year, I strongly encourage you to check out X’s Unfound Optimals and Single-Game Mastery. These two courses are legitimate game-changers for Showdown players (as always, the first lesson of each is free, and can be found in the Marketplace). If you didn’t pick up X’s Advanced Showdowns last year, the Everything Xandamere bundle saves you over 15%!
On Showdowns // On Xandamere (an excellent listen if you’re wanting to get inside of Xandamere’s mind and see how he sees a slate!)