Happy 2023 NFL Football, GPP Bros!
I couldn’t be more excited for the return of football, and I’m thrilled to be able to write this column for you all once again. If you’re unfamiliar with my style of play in large-field tournaments or some of the macro ways I think, I would direct you to last year’s Week 1 column, which you may find helpful for this upcoming weekend, and will help you learn a bit about my background and the way I approach tournaments.
I also want to direct you to Adam Levitan’s How to Win DraftKings’ Milly Maker in 2023 article, as well as the recent Episode 619 of The flagship Establish The Run podcast in which Levitan, Mike Leone, and Drew Dinkmeyer speak about large-field tournament strategy in great detail.
These are all fantastic resources for tournament strategy, as is of course the can’t-miss Establish the Million show with Leone and Dink on Saturday mornings.
One thing that might be different about the way I study tournaments compared to others is that I analyze perfect lineup data, not necessarily historical winning and top-1% lineup history. While there is, of course, value in this information, I remain interested in what was exactly optimal. As Vince Lombardi said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
And that is exactly what I hope to accomplish with this column. It is pretty much impossible to hit the perfect lineup on a main slate, but if we strive for it, we’ll become better DFS players, and hopefully see better results. This column will largely be a running stream of consciousness for me on my thoughts each week. We’ll talk about both macro and micro concepts, including analyzing optimal constructions, groups, correlations, and general DFS theory. No two weeks will be the same. That said, let’s dive into one of the wonkiest DFS weeks of the year — Week 1.
Week 1 pricing came out on July 28. We’re sitting here on Sept. 8 now, nearly six weeks later. That creates many instances of mispriced players, overanalyzed games, and extreme galaxy-braining.
However, that galaxy-brain mentality is likely never more viable than the first week of the season. Not only do we have limited datasets to work off of, but DraftKings and FanDuel make their flagship GPPs as large (and cheap) as possible to draw everyone in at the beginning of the season. We have over a million entries on DK, and 950K on FanDuel. With these kinds of numbers, we have to get as unique as possible.
Before we dive into some of the specifics, I want to talk about the meaning of the word leverage. What does it mean to gain leverage on the field?
I think there are a few truths, as well as misconceptions, out there about what exactly leverage is and how you can attain it. The traditional way, and maybe the most direct way to gain leverage, is to be correct on a low-owned player. As GPP players, we will always want to be looking for those diamonds in the rough, the forgotten plays with high ceilings. However, what about when chalk hits? How do we gain leverage there? Is it possible? Are we GPP bros and ladies just screwed, like it seemed we may have been for much of last year?
It sounds obvious, but at the end of the day, we simply need the right plays to win. Usually, there will be some sort of contrarian piece in a winning or perfect lineup, but there are times when chalk is chalk for a reason. We can still gain leverage in those spots, but you have to be willing to attack it head-on. I’m not talking about playing a 30%-owned defense (that’s never a good idea), but there are times when a mispriced player is simply the right play, and we should be looking to get contrarian elsewhere. We can still gain leverage on the field by going over on chalk. It’s not something I’ll always recommend, but I do think as tournament players we can begin to get out of the mindset to ONLY and ALWAYS fade major chalk. I’ll do my best to talk through the scenarios that I look at as good chalk throughout the year, and when might be a decent spot to attack it head-on. We’ll still want to keep our cumulative and product ownership within certain ranges, but depending on the look and pricing of a slate, those can, at times, be malleable. (It varies by week, but I am usually maxing my MME runs around 120% cumulative ownership).
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