The One Question You Keep Hearing

The first questions we often hear from anyone entering any DFS chat or discord is potentially the most audacious.  It is not a lack of respect to the community, and it isn’t in any way an insult towards those who are failing at DFS.  Yet, if there were “rules” in place to win a GPP every month why in the world would anyone share it? 

The questions we hear range from player pools, max entering, lineup construction and even how much money we should leave on the table.  Seeking out these answers is limiting your lineup build potential.

Human minds, as advanced as they are, are simplistic by nature.  One of my favorite reads is Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and even though his “swan” song has kind of passed, there is much relevancy in what he believes is part of human cognition.  Taleb notes a few things, but one quote comes to mind particularly with daily fantasy sports.  Taleb states in Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (you should read this book), “People overvalue their knowledge and underestimate the probability of their being wrong.”

We ignore the fact we could be wrong, and we seek the answers to the aforementioned inquiries. When one asks these questions there is the inherent belief that there is an answer that provides a highly correlated and linear result. You believe you have the right golfers selected for a tournament.  You’ve listed to all of your favorite Podcasts.  You’ve even looked at several models to identify who you feel the best plays are.  Again, hard work and review should create a linear outcome.  You go one step further.  You research player pools and find that most DFS players believe a player pool you need for your entries should be 20-22 golfers, and so you follow suit in your optimizer.  You’re going to crush.  The cut comes and your best lineups have only 4/6 golfers through and its onto next week.  What went wrong?

Your engagement with the slate was determined with a set of rules.  You followed those rules without even considering random events, that you could be wrong on some of the choices you made, or that your player pool was too large or too small. Again, you’re limiting yourselves to rules and concepts that just simply aren’t meant for volatility in player outcomes on PGA Tour.  Forget your rules.  They don’t exist.  Forget your players pools, and your projections.  Wager on risk.

Risk tolerance is where your mind and analysis should be a focal point.  Identify the players that are going to be double digit owned and identify how they can fail.  Look at the 6K chalk and realize that they are min priced for a reason.  Identify a golfer who is 2K more than his average salary and understand why.  Furthermore, identify your player pool with that risk tolerance in mind.  When everyone says Brooks Koepka is a terrible play, it might be best to invest your time in determining how much potential he has and realize that he is a strong leverage play.  I digress, so back to the player pool debate as an example.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s understand these principles in a 3-max.  If you were to roster a different golfer in all three lineups, your player pool would be 18 total golfers.  While this gives you the ultimate in terms of exposure, it doesn’t necessarily give you the best opportunity to win.  You’re essentially banking on the random event that you were the one guy who pieced together the right lineup for this particular Draft Kings entry.  To be fair, the likely hood this occurs is sub 1% for those of you entering a 3-max like the Mayo.

This is where risk tolerance comes into to play.  Taking the same scenario, but locking in 5 golfers in all three of your lineups creates a player pool of 8 total golfers.  So why is this an advantage?  Again, you’re banking on the same randomness as stated above.  You’re hoping that your lineups hit and win. Still, when compared to the rest of the entires, your winning percentage is still sub 1%.  The odds aren’t changing.  Yet, what does happen is that your win equity increases immensely when your lineup strikes gold. 

You have three lineups in the running for the top spot, and this gives you a higher win equity.  You’ve outperformed those who built three random lineups, and in addition you deviated from what was the common strategy by the masses.  You’ve given yourself and edge in the fact that the likelihood or percentage that you win the tournament is higher than those with only one lineup in play. 

Locking in 5 golfers in every lineup is highly risky.  Of course, you can lock in 1,2,3,4 etc.  It all comes down to how you want to create leverage to lineup building principles and ownership.  Risk tolerance is what you should look at when constructing your player pools.  With more risk comes higher rewards, but with it comes the risk to have a losing weekend.

So all that being said, you’re all in on Rahm when he’s only 4% owned.  A risk play would have him in 80% of your lineups and not just 5-10% more than the field.  The risk is what wins tournaments...and that little thing called luck.