Most fantasy football players’ understanding of Game Theory barely sniffs the surface of what the methodologies actually mean. How many times have we heard the term “contrarian” used in close conjunction to Game Theory? Being contrarian just to be contrarian is one of the single biggest mistakes fantasy footballers make. Unless you are max-entering every single contest every single day, the variance needed to remain +EV from simply being contrarian are borderline mathematically impossible. With this in mind, there better be a damn good reason why you are deviating from solid-in-a-vacuum plays. Now, this doesn’t mean we eat chalk every slate; it simply means, in most cases, players are chalk because they are solid cost-considered plays. Where we make our money is identifying the players on a given slate that are solid cost-considered plays that also come with low projected ownership (there are usually 2-3 players each slate that fall into this category; this is one of the areas where we will focus in the weekly Game Theory articles this year).
Another massive mistake I see players make is with roster construction (this is also an area of theorem that JM has mastered and has done an amazing job at explaining to OWS members, so this next bit should sound rather familiar). Most fantasy footballers start their roster construction from a top-down approach, in that they look for the “must-have” expensive players and force-fill the rest of their rosters. What we should be doing is looking for acceptable-in-a-vacuum cheap plays that have the best point per dollar (ppd) expected on the slate, and seeing what room on the remainder of the roster that creates for the expensive plays. If there simply are none for a respective slate, we shouldn’t be forcing the expensive plays into our rosters, and instead should be looking to adopt a more balanced approach (which is the case almost 30% of the time!).
Recency bias is one of the hardest aspects of DFS to both recognize and control, and is especially hard to do with the middle tier of wide receivers and teams as a whole. Because of this, it is my personal technique to completely research a slate before ever looking at pricing for individual plays (emphasis added by JM; this is something I talk about more than once in the NFL Profitability Masterclass!). This allows me to identify the best in-a-vacuum plays first and foremost, get an idea of where the field is most likely to go, develop a condensed pool of players, and THEN compare my ideas to the player pricing to find the value.