You might think that the worst mistake in daily fantasy football (DFF) is drinking too much on Saturday night, then drafting hungover on Sunday.
And this is no doubt a mistake. But the DFS world features far more blunders than just drafting the day after binge drinking.
Your ability to avoid these gaffes will go a long way toward winning money through DFF. That said, here are seven huge daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid.
1 – Drafting Too Early in the Week
NFL daily fantasy is unique in that it gives you a full week to prepare for Sunday’s games. Nevertheless, some players jump the gun and fill out their lineups on Tuesday or Wednesday.
I applaud these drafters’ enthusiasm. However, they’re giving up information advantages by submitting their lineups so early.
The NFL features more injuries than any other sport. Those who submit their rosters early and fail to revisit them after injury updates are taking a big risk.
Beyond this, coaches give certain players more or less playing time each week. They may allude to these moves through the media during the week.
You don’t have to turn your lineup in at 12:59 PM EST. However, you should wait to ensure that your chosen players will be taking the field and resuming their normal roles.
Personally, I like paying attention to the news throughout the week and setting my lineups on Sunday. This way, I don’t have to waste time editing my roster multiple times. Drafting too early in the week is definitely one of the few daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid.
2 – Spending Too Much Money on Big DFF Tournaments
DDF offers multiple “cash game” contests, including 50/50s, double-ups, and head-to-head matches. But big tournaments with guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) are definitely the most popular format.
These events give you a chance to win a large prize comparative to your buy-in. For example, you might pay $50 and a $5 fee to compete for a $10,000 top payout.
The large prizes in these tourneys create lots of excitement. But the downside is that only a small percentage of the field cashes out. This is one of the many daily fantasy football mistakes that aspiring professionals make.
Only between 5% and 10% of the field earns a payout in most cases. GPPs have high variance due to the low chances of cashing.
You might win a payout worth between 10x and 100x your buy-in on some occasions. However, you’ll also go through long cold streaks where you don’t win any prizes.
Unless you have a large bankroll, cash games are the easiest way to play DFF. They provide a strong chance to make money and better sustain your bankroll.
Of course, you should still take shots at larger tournaments if you enjoy doing so. But don’t make GPPs the staple of your plan, especially with a small bankroll.
3 – Putting Too Much Attention on Stars
Many DFF gamblers start filling out their lineups with star quarterbacks, running backs, and/or wide receivers. After all, these are the big names that draw all of the attention and score the most points.
However, the key to consistently winning in daily fantasy football is finding value. You don’t normally get a lot of value with big name stars, because their production is already priced in.
Le’Veon Bell often puts up a lot of rushing and receiving yards. But his lofty salary usually reflects his stats.
Meanwhile, daily fantasy football sites constantly have undervalued players each week. You can often find a mid-level receiver or running back for a bargain price.
Given these scenarios, I spend most of my time looking for value Daily Fantasy picks. I’ll then evaluate my remaining salary cap then look to add a few stars at the end. Some of the most common daily fantasy football mistakes can be avoided by following this example.
4 – Being Too Into Stats
You’ve probably heard of stat geeks who make a killing in daily fantasy. They may create their own algorithms and/or analyze the most complex stats that football has to offer.
But you don’t need to know how many passing yards Derek Carr produces in the third quarter of turf games to be successful. Instead, you should concentrate on mastering the fundamentals.
You want to have a good handle on bankroll management, lineup strategies, and how to spot value. Once you have the basics down, you can begin worrying more about stats and advanced programs.
There are numerous daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid and this is one of the most important. When it comes to statistics, the simplest numbers can provide the best return on your investment. Touches, red-zone efficiency, fantasy points per opportunity, receiver-cornerback history, and defense vs. position are the some of the most important stats to take into account.
5 – Rolling out Too Many Lineups
One of the best aspects of DFF is that it allows you to create unlimited lineup variations. You can use these variations to spread out your risk in big GPPs.
For example, you might love your first lineup. But you wonder if Kirk Cousins will produce better than Cam Newton.
So, you make a second roster with Cousins in Newton’s place. You’ll probably make even more changes than this, but the point is that it’s tempting to create lineup after lineup.
Do you really want to keep firing bullets into a tournament with lesser rosters? This is one of the many daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid.
Diversification can be a good strategy under the right circumstances. However, your first lineup will often be your best one.
6 – Failing to Look at Vegas Lines
The tendency for most DFF players is to put all of the focus on the athletes. This approach makes sense when considering that you win and die by how many points your chosen players score.
But if you do this, then you’re missing out on one critical resource that can help your cause—Vegas oddsmakers.
These oddsmakers analyze football matchups for a living. Chances are that they know more about football than you and even many DFF pros.
Their picks don’t translate perfectly to daily fantasy. However, their totals (a.k.a. over/under) lines are definitely worth checking out.
An over/under refers to how many points two teams will combine for. A line of 47.5, for instance, requires you to either bet on the teams scoring over or under 47.5 points.
Oddsmakers set higher totals for games that they think will produce lots of fireworks. You’ll benefit from choosing one or more players from these games.
7 – Making Simple Draft Mistakes
Some daily fantasy football mistakes can easily be avoided with a little know-how. For example, you don’t want to pit your offensive players against your defense, especially in large tournaments.
Now, some people will claim this is akin to hedging your bets. But it also limits your potential ceiling. Either your offensive player or defense may underperform against each other. The result is that your peak potential score will be lower.
Another easy lineup mistake to avoid involves pairing running backs and quarterbacks from the same team. In this case, you have to rely on a really explosive all-around effort from a team to score big.
After all, quarterbacks and running backs often take touchdowns away from each other. Unlike a QB-wideout paring from the same team, they don’t complement each other as well.
You can always find exceptions to the norm with defense-offense and QB-RB pairings. Generally, though, you want to avoid such moves.
Daily fantasy football requires a lot of skill. It also requires avoiding the same pitfalls many losing players succumb to.
Most of these daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid are rather simple. For example, you don’t want to draft your team too early. You can miss critical news by picking your team on Tuesday or Wednesday. If you do draft early, you may need to make edits as news comes out later in the week.
Another one of the daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid is focusing on stars too much. You have a large roster to fill, so you’ll need some value picks to succeed.
You also want to avoid diving too heavy into the stats until you’re a big expert. You’ll get more return on your time by focusing on basic, yet critical, stats.
Creating too many lineups is another common problem in DFF. Some gamblers worry too much about diversification when their first few rosters are probably their best.
You’re better off spending this extra line-creating time on checking out Vegas’ picks. These oddsmakers have great opinions on which teams will produce lots of points.
Long story short, you can win more than the average DFF player just by avoiding errors. Once you’re aware of all of these daily fantasy football mistakes to avoid, you can begin concentrating on a deeper strategy.