Beginner Mistakes to Avoid When Putting Together a Daily Fantasy Lineup

Fantasy Sports Logo and Man Shrugging

Daily fantasy sports has proved itself to be a viable option for those who love to bet on sports but want to feel a bit more “in control” of the outcome.

If you’ve never played a daily fantasy sports contest before, don’t worry – it’s much easier to learn than it seems at first glance. With that being said, knowing how to compete and knowing how to win are two entirely different stories.

In this article, I’ll get into some of the most common beginner mistakes seen by inexperienced daily fantasy players.

Setting and Forgetting

Most daily fantasy players aren’t going to be setting their lineup minutes before the start of the game. It certainly is advisable to wait in order to make sure all variables have been accounted for, but realistically it just isn’t all that practical.

Race and Sportsbook

The next best thing you can do, aside from waiting until the game is about to start to submit your lineup, is to keep a close eye on any last-minute updates regarding the players you’ve selected. It’s not uncommon for star players to be a “game time decision” when dealing with an injury, and if you’ve already selected them for your team that could put you in a tough spot.

The bottom line here is that the longer you can wait to set your lineup, the better.

Sticking With the Crowd

When the vast majority of players are all making a specific move, it might be tempting to follow the crowd. It makes sense – if everyone’s choosing Anthony Davis, you don’t want to lose your chance to win because you tried to zig when everyone else zagged.

If you want to make the most of your sports betting bankroll, you have to find that happy medium between doing what everyone else is doing, and going off the deep end and making selections just because they’re unique.

It might seem like you need to pick a wildly different lineup than other players in order to win, but this can result in losing just as frequently as it will get you in the winning percentile range. Your focus should be simple: pick the lineup that you think is best and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.

Although there may be a few times when it’s necessary to pick players that differentiate your lineup, the vast majority of the time this isn’t the right mindset. Focus on putting together the best team you can, and let the chips fall where they may.

Not Doing Any Sports Research

It sounds pretty obvious, but for some reason this simple fact is ignored by a huge percentage of those playing daily fantasy: the more research you do leading up to a game(s), the better your outcomes are going to be.

I understand that not everyone has the time to do a deep dive on a Wednesday night NBA game between two teams who probably won’t make the playoffs. With that being said, these types of scenarios are exactly the time when a little research can go a long way.

It’s impossible to keep track of all the relevant data that could be useful when trying to determine which team’s backup center has the best chance to score in double digits on a given night. Use the sports betting resources at your disposal and get an edge on the competition.

NBA Bucks vs Raptors Play

Several sites are dedicated to providing information that is specific to daily fantasy players, and these can be a huge help when trying to make decisions about your team. You don’t necessarily follow all of the advice on these sites directly, but they’re great for thinking about things in a way you might not have previously considered.

In my opinion, if you don’t put in any time before submitting your lineup, you only have yourself to blame if you fall short of the scored needed to win money.

Trying to Spend Your Whole Bankroll Regardless of Player

It makes sense that if you have $1,000,000 to spend on a putting together your team, you’d want to use all of that money toward finding the best players. Theoretically, if you’re leaving money on the table, you haven’t put together the best record “money can buy.”

However, when you really think about it, it doesn’t make sense to take one player over another simply because they have a higher price tag for their services. In fact, one way daily fantasy sportsbooks can manipulate the players’ decisions is by assigning salary numbers to players based on what people will pay – not necessarily the expected output for a particular game.

To put things into an example that illustrates the point, if you have one roster spot left for an NBA contest and $10,000 to spend, focus on finding the best player, not the one that comes closest to $10,000. If you determine (hopefully based on some type of research) that a player who costs $7,500 is more likely to have a good game than one who costs $9,750, go with the first option.

One of the biggest mistakes daily fantasy players make is simply focusing too much on the salary cap, and not enough on the players. Don’t get fixated on spending the maximum amount of money allowed if it’s not going to result in the best roster overall.

Playing Too Many GPPs

GPPs, or “guaranteed prize pools,” are exciting because the payouts are always going to be higher than other types of games. With that being said, they’re probably not the most sustainable strategy if you want to have long term daily fantasy success.

Super Bowl XXXIX Rodney Harrison

The appeal of daily fantasy is that unlike your regular fantasy leagues, you don’t need to come in first, second, or even third place to win money. Sports bettors know that even the smallest of wins add up over time, and when you only need to finish in the top half of a contest to be profitable, that’s a major incentive to play.

GPPs, also known as tournaments or cash games, might be a fun lottery ticket every so often, but stick to the contests that are easier to win in terms of your everyday plays.

Not Tracking Your Gambling Results

Daily fantasy is unique in that it takes the aspects of both traditional sports betting and fantasy sports and creates a whole new type of game. Most of this article has focused on the “fantasy” side of the equation – but now I’ll explain where the typical sports betting philosophy comes into play.

Sports gamblers know that it’s not so much about wins and losses, but rather about money in and money out. For that reason, it’s crucial that you’re tracking your cash flow, or bankroll, at all times.

If you’re just throwing money into the game and then reloading when you’re out (meaning you rarely withdraw), you’re probably going to end up down a significant amount. Don’t get lazy and ignore the financial side of the game.

Betting on What You Don’t Know

Obviously there are a number of different daily fantasy opportunities, but the most popular are undoubtedly the NFL and the NBA.

Although most sports fans are probably going to be familiar with multiple leagues, it never hurts to get more in depth and try to specialize in one league or another. Of course when only one of these two sports is in-season, there won’t be much to focus on outside of that. However, there is typically some overlap between the two, and if you’re focusing on both (aka, neither), you risk losing money quickly.

Simply put, don’t just go throwing together any lineup that fits within the framework of the game. Work to grow your knowledge of the sport and you’ll find that when you have a better understanding of the game than the others competing for the prize, you’ll end up with the money.

Be Better at Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily fantasy sports requires a heightened focus on not just the games, but the players themselves. Those who take the time to do the necessary background research will eventually rise to the top.

Don’t neglect the regular principles of sports betting along the way. Bankroll management, tracking your wins and losses, and betting with value in mind are all still of the utmost importance.