There are certain Cardinal Sins when it comes to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Things that experienced players pick up over time can almost always help you when making decisions about your lineups on DraftKings.
Here are 5 of the most important mistakes to avoid when playing fantasy sports on one of the most popular sites out there.
1. Don't Mismanage Your Bankroll
Like in most pursuits of an easy fortune, new DFS players are always looking for the big win. The constant commercials that used to run on most networks seemed to indicate that any average person can begin playing Daily Fantasy Sports and turn $40 into $62,000 within a few weeks, but that's simply not the case very often.
Tournament wins are a nice bonus when you've hit a groove and your lineups are close to perfection, but perfection is obviously hard to reach on a nightly basis. That's why the best option for players with moderate bank rolls is to play a lot of cash games (50/50s, Triple Ups, or H2H formats) in an effort to build up to the point that they can play big tournaments.
Always insert your cash game lineups into at least a $.25 or $1 GPP in the event that you happen to create one of the best possible lineups on DraftKings. At the same time, make sure that you diversify your lineups and create multiple lineups for multiple contests so that you're not "All In" on any one player.
Put a small percentage of your bankroll in play each night. Play the long game, because you're not going to get rich too quick without a Sports Almanac from the future.
2. Don't Set it and Forget it
It's almost impossible to win on DraftKings without at least checking in on your lineups once during the final hour before a game starts. By the mid point of the NBA season, for example, there are lots of Game-Time Decisions and late scratches due to injuries or rest, so you have to be aware when the biggest names are suddenly announced as inactive.
This isn't to say you can't make your lineups in the afternoon and continue with your day. Simply check Rotoworld.com or browse Twitter for major injury news shortly before gametime and think about how that might affect the players that are either in your lineups, or that you're fading by keeping them out of your lineups.
3. Don't Play With Your Heart
At its most basic, DFS is supposed to be fun. There's nothing preventing you from using several players on your hometown team, which is often appealing if you're going to be watching that game anyways, but don't get carried away.
The best games to target are often quite apparent when you look at the Vegas Lines and Point Totals for a given slate. In the NBA, you'll want to get high-usage players in high-scoring games to maximize their potential, and if you happen to root for the Memphis Grizzlies or Utah Jazz, chances are your team is not getting into any shootouts.
In football, stacking your Cleveland Browns offense against the Denver Broncos might add a little more fun to the game if you're sitting in the stands, but don't be surprised if you finish near the bottom of the leaderboard.
This goes for individual players as well. Say Anthony Davis has burned you every time you've used him, while Draymond Green has helped you cash every time you roll with him. That doesn't mean that you should go with Draymond because "he's been good to me" if the Warriors are expected to win by 20+ points at home. Instead, try to have a short memory and roll with the better option on that given night.
4. Avoid Groupthink
The easiest way to win in cash games or tournaments is to develop your own logic. Many DFS players will look at well known experts on different sites and deploy a lot of the players suggested by those writers.
While you shouldn't ignore the research and opinions those successful players are espousing, you should draw your own conclusions about different athletes on a given night.
Sure, everyone is touting Cam Newton because he's put up 30+ fantasy points in four straight games and faces a bad defense, but will the game remain close enough for him to be throwing all four quarters? Is he simply due for a let down?
If you believe that is the case, then you simply "fade" that top player and move on to other options that you believe will come through for you. This is absolutely key in tournament formats, where you can't win without separating your lineup from the "herd."
5. Don't Enter The Wrong Contests
The biggest issue for beginners on DraftKings is their huge multi-entry contests where experts can enter up to or over 100 lineups. Those "trains" of lineups can bump you out of the money if you're only .25 points from cashing, and that is why it's best to avoid those type of contests unless you're feeling very comfortable with your lineup or are willing to build a huge train yourself.
If you're playing lower stakes, than you should look for single entry contests and H2H contests against players with similar skill level. Try and recognize the names of bigtime players, or simply look at the fact that the player you're squaring off against has entered 45 different H2Hs. You don't really want to compete with someone who is investing far more time and effort into their DFS lineups than you might be.
As mentioned above, you have to be able to build your bankroll slowly by mixing cash games in with tournament lineups. Always look at the payout structure in a GPP format and consider what it might take to "make the money." If you're entering a tournament that costs a good portion of your bankroll but only pays out the top 15% that might not be a wise investment.
Again, DFS is a long game for everyone, especially beginners. So don't get frustrated and try to win it all in one night. Take a steady approach, grind out wins, and hopefully you'll be able to turn out enough of a profit to freeroll in whatever big tournaments you please.