For this NBA DFS strategy article, The Seige goes in depth to teach you about what to expect and look for when using an optimizer to build your lineups!!
Using DFS Optimizers isn’t just as easy as opening the optimizer, hitting the 50-entry button and hitting optimize. There are tons of tricks and ways to build your lineups that promote maximum correlation and in turn higher probability chances of victory.
We will talk about a few of these strategies in this article and explain why they matter. Just a note for those starting out, don’t be afraid to MME smaller BI’s than you normally play.
If you play 5-10 $10 GPP’s a slate you don’t need to go to 50-150 $10’s every slate as you learn. FD has large-field GPP’s as low as a nickel (and lots of ticket Q’s as well which overlay a ton) and DK goes all the way down to a quarter.
As you learn how to optimize and develop your specific optimizer strategy, you’ll be able to keep those growing pain losses to a minimum. (There will be growing pain losses, this article should help keep them to a minimum, but it’s just the nature of the beast).
150 Optimal Lineups Does Not Mean an Optimized Lineup Set for GPP’s
This is the biggest learning curve of MME. While you want to optimize your lineups, you don’t just want 150 optimal lineups based on projections. Why? There is randomness and variance in NBA.
Some players shoot well some games, some players shoot poorly, some players get four steals in a game, some get zero. While a projection averages that out, those averages don’t exist on a night-to-night basis, there is a lot of variance. When you optimize based on good projections your goal is to account for some of that variability across your lineups.
What do I mean by variability?
Let’s say you have three PG’s on a slate with projections of 29.5, 29.4 and 29.3 fantasy points. 29.5 points is higher than 29.3 points obviously so when you do 150 optimal lineups the 29.5 points guy will end up on a ton more than the 29.3 points guy.
Does that make sense though? 29.5 and 29.3 are basically the same, shouldn’t you have close to the same amount of each player?
There are a lot of tools inside an optimizer (randomness being the big one) that will help balance that out, but if you built 150 “optimal” lineups, it wouldn’t come out that way and you’d take a big stand on something you really have as basically identical.
Playing MME Doesn’t Mean You Get to Play Everyone
One of the biggest misconceptions about MME and optimizers is that they let you just play everyone. That couldn’t be further from the truth and one of the biggest learning curves using an optimizer while playing MME is figuring out how big or small your player pool should be.
While that is slate specific, what is not is that you can just go overweight on every chalky player and make money in GPP’s across an entire season. You can try, but I’ve found from past experience that it doesn’t work.
Even across 150 lineups you need to continue making decisions. Do I want to play this chalk player or not? Don’t completely change how you approach a DFS slate simply because you have 150 lineups. The goal isn’t to hedge against yourself, it’s to make the best 150 lineups you can.
The Optimizer is Optimizing No Matter What You Think
One of the best parts of an optimizer is that it optimizes. It isn’t blinded by recency bias or love of a certain player or players that play a certain position.
There will inevitably be a slate where you plug in your projections and you are expecting to get a ton of James Harden and instead you get a ton of Giannis.
Position scarcity is something that hand-builders struggle to understand (in my opinion) because they don’t have to optimize hand-built lineups. Sometimes a slate has a bunch of good mid-tier guards and no small forwards so Giannis is a way better play in terms of optimizing your lineup than James Harden, even when you project Harden for a higher number of points.
There inevitably are slates every year where I want to go against the will of the optimizer, and, sometimes I’m right, but the key is to remember that no matter what the optimizer (especially FC which is the only optimizer I know of that actually optimizes) is optimizing what you are inputting. Trust the optimizer to optimize.
Using a standard set of projections is totally fine, you don’t need to build your own set. They take a ton of maintenance time and generally come out the same as what’s already out there.
What you do need to do is have opinions on specific players. Do I like Kyrie Irving more in this match-up than the projection shows? If you do, increase it. You can do that by hitting the thumbs up on the left side (which is good for an 8% boost) or you can manually edit the projection in the projection column.
I personally adjust the projections in the column but both are totally fine ways to go about it. The other thing you want to figure out with projections is what is the lowest projection you want to be included in your crunch.
If you are crunching on a 10 game NBA slate there can be over 240 players of which you are only considering 40-80. By eliminating all the players with tiny projections, you can crunch faster (and with some of the other factors to come, crunch better).
When you are playing large field tournaments, you can build more variance across your lineups if you require more than one unique player per lineup.
By having two or more unique players per lineup, you are not 1v1ing your own teams and as a result you will have more variability across your teams. While these teams on their face will be less optimal, this is one way to help spread out your exposures between similarly projected players.
Also, when you are MME’ing something like a low dollar qualifier, it makes a lot less since to 1v1 yourself when all the money value is to 1st place so using unique players in this situation makes more sense.
When I started, I used unique players to help me diversify my player pool but I no longer do it because some of the other (advanced) features promote that randomness across my lineups naturally but when you are starting out it can be a nice crutch to use.
Last year when I was doing Twitch streams, I went really in-depth about the value of randomness in NBA and there are a ton of ways to do it. When you are starting out, I’d suggest using a standard randomness for each player.
This can help you get diversification across your lineups without doing too much tinkering in the settings. I’d recommend starting at 15-20% and seeing how that works.
Remember, you can always sort out your crunch by proj. score and eliminate lineups you think are projected too low because of randomness and crunch some new ones, but I don’t tend to have that issue too much.
I’m going to do a video on the power of the new and improved groups tool but I wanted to mention it here in general form. Groups on FC now allows you to increase or lower a projection for other players depending upon if another player is in a lineup.
For example, let’s take the Brooklyn Nets. You can set it up for every lineup Kyrie Irving is in to lower the projection of Kevin Durant by 10%. Why would you do this? If Kyrie Irving has a ceiling game to put you in GPP consideration, it’s less likely that Kevin Durant has one as well.
By doing this group you aren’t eliminating KD entirely in lineups with Kyrie but making it appear less often which is what happens in real life. If Kyrie does well, it’s less likely KD does well as well. Also, this is another way to get game stack correlation, you can create a group that says if three players from this group are in a lineup (say if three Celtics), then include one of the Celtics opponents.
This will eliminate you from having to prevent there ever being three Celtics on a team but ensures if it does happen you get at least one from their opponent.
This is a VERY basic breakdown of groups, and more will come in future videos/articles as we get further and further into depth about how to use groups as I actually get to use it in regular season NBA (It’s a new feature that came out during NFL so haven’t gotten to use it in practice yet!).
If this seems overwhelming, it’s because the FC optimizer provides us a ton of different ways to accomplish the same goals and the way you find works best for you will take time to figure out.
That’s why practice in the nickel and quarter contests can be perfect. You can learn and improve without taking a huge chunk out of your bankroll. Also, these contests tend to be the softest on the site (no experienced players) so it can also serve as nice BR booster over time.
This is going to be the first of a few articles/videos on the FC Optimizer for NBA but if you have any questions leave them in the chat or reach out on twitter @TheSeigeDFS.
Good Luck and Happy Crunching!