Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
We all have them. For the biases we have that we know of, we wish we didn’t have them. For the biases we have that we don’t easily know, they can be impossible to ignore. Biases are important in DFS. They lead us to click or not click on player’s names. And they can come from anywhere. This won’t be a thesis on different types of psychological biases, but in DFS, selection bias, confirmation bias, and anchoring bias all play prominent roles in how we build lineups.
I’ve long been a proponent of every DFS content provider writing disclaimers next to the names of players they write about, stating if that player has won or lost them money. This is selection bias. For instance, I’m Larejo, and I’ve had my biggest wins with: Austin Ekeler, Sammy Watkins, and defenses against Jameis Winston. Now, every time you read me mentioning Ekeler or a defense vs. Jameis, you know. Our guy Sonic (thinking of you this week, my man) is maybe the best example of this. He always makes it known that Deebo Samuel was the catalyst to his Milly Maker win a few years back. He lets us readers and community members know right up front that he has a bias toward Deebo. It makes him a better DFS player, content provider, and it benefits all of us.
Selection bias is one of the primary reasons why I have not landed on tournament-winning game stacks in the last few weeks. See, I’m a New York Jets fan, and I endured a few years of Geno Smith at QB, so regardless of his price and matchup, it’s highly unlikely I’m clicking his name on a DFS roster. Geno, I have watched you throw. I also have a bias toward Pete Carroll. He’s an old-school coach, with a mentality that matches it, and I think his best coaching years are behind him. His formerly (until what seems like now two weeks ago) run-first ways, have historically led me to play a lot of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, and sometimes that has worked out. All of this factored into the reasons why I just could not get behind a Lions and Seahawks game stack last week. We all saw how that worked out. I played Jamaal Williams and TJ Hockenson but I could not round out the rest of that game to build a better lineup. Looking back on Week 2, I could make the same excuse for why I could not play Tua in Week 2 against the Ravens. The negative narrative on Tua was too strong and I’ve watched one too many videos on social media showing just why he should not be a starting QB in the NFL. Six passing touchdowns later . . .
Anchoring and confirmation biases can be similar in how they affect our DFS process. Anchoring bias is catching that one bit of news or statistical nugget and holding onto it for dear life. I can tell you how many air yards Chris Olave has through four weeks, for instance, and show you how it leads the NFL by a WIDE margin, and you could take that and justify 100% Olave on your rosters this week. That’s anchoring. Confirmation bias, similarly, is coming up with some sort of hypothesis, like Jared Goff throwing for 300 yards at New England this week, and only justifying why this will happen with the one or two stats that support it (DET number one offense, NE could build a lead, etc.). Meanwhile, you’d likely ignore the fact that the Patriots are currently 2nd in yards allowed per pass while ranking 31st in rushing DVOA.
I bring this up to encourage you to think through your biases when building lineups this week. I also bring this up because as we frequently discuss at OWS, it’s all about identifying the right games to smash. Great lineups start there. The best way to avoid some of these biases (and one I don’t always practice) is to spread your wealth across multiple game environments. And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing this week in my three to five lineups.