Daily Fantasy Football: The Mike McDermott Rule Revisited August 19, 2014  |  Rich Hribar


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Hopefully by now you’ve caught wind that I’ll be doing the Daily Fantasy Sports Football Cheat Sheets this season for The Fake Football. In case you haven’t, you can get a sneak peek at just what they are and the information they’ll have in them all season long including the playoffs.

By now, I’m assuming that a good amount of the public has played NFL DFS, or at least heard about it. If you have yet to try it out, you can go to any site of your choosing and play for free if you’d like to test the waters. NFL DFS is particularly great as an outlet for those that can’t play in seasonal leagues or for those in seasonal leagues that have things go south but still want to have some tangible fantasy action to cheer for each weekend.

When I first came on board here to cover dynasty, my first article was about being self aware of what type of owner you are. Playing DFS is no different. You need to know what type of player you are and what you want out of it before you can pick out what types of games you should be playing and how to set lineups in those games. That original post centered on the movie “Rounders”, so I’m going to tie the room together by doing the same thing here with three characters in that movie and their DFS counterparts as they pertain what your end goals for playing DFS are.


Joey Knish (John Turturro)

The definition of a rounder, or grinder, the owner who is looking for the best practical investment so that they can profit consistently. The crux of your bankroll should be put into 50/50 double ups and head to head games each week. You’re looking to play calculated and conservative, setting out for your roster to have a safe floor while making the proper selections for high floors.

When looking for consistency, you’re looking to avoid the weekly volatility that a position like wide receiver has and pay up for quarterbacks and running backs that have the least week to week variation. Since you’re looking to avoid volatility, there’s no reason to pair a quarterback and one of his wide receivers. When selecting receivers and tight ends, you’re looking to acquire high volume players whose targets come with a high success rate. A guy like Kendall Wright is far from a sexy play in your games, but he’s an easy safety net for lineups that allow you to pay for an elite volume combo back. That doesn’t mean you need to ignore the extreme values at any position that may present itself in a given week, but generally you’re sticking with investing in runners and quarterbacks. If you find clear values at those spots, you also create cap space to make educated plays for higher floors.


Worm Murphy (Edward Norton)

This is the weekly player who is in it to chase the end of rainbows. They’re going to put their cash into the biggest tournaments, guaranteed prize pools and large leagues every weekend with the goal of winning the most money at one time. Tournaments can offer a long term opportunity to profit, but the majority of casual players don’t have the discipline or large enough bankroll to maintain a high amount of tournament victories on their own.

Setting tournament lineups are the inverse of playing in double ups or heads up games. Since these games increase the amount of players involved that will likely be in on the obvious optimal plays for the week, you need to add some high upside variance into your roster construction. Placing in the middle of pack is just as good as bricking the week completely, so you need to be able to correctly and consistently be able identify ceilings.

This is where you’ll pursue high variance receivers that can put up a crooked number in a given week like a T.Y. Hilton. You don’t just blindly want to chase volatility throughout your entire lineup however, so there’s a few ways to help you formulate a good hypotheses on when to pay for it.

You’ll also be inclined in these formats to stack a receiver and a quarterback from the same team because you want to increase your scoring upside. If you have a quarterback who has a high probability of going nuclear in a week given the matchup and/or predicted point total from Vegas lines, there’s better than coins flip odds that one of his receivers is going to score along with that point total.

Vegas lines are big friend in making educated dart throws for tournament plays. If San Diego is expected to score close to 30 points this week, you may plug Ladarius Green into your tournament lineup. You can also use Vegas lines to help you choose a big play running back or save salary since you may be paying up for high end receivers. If a team is a heavy favorite, you can chase the potential volume that the teams’ lead back may have that isn’t baked into his daily salary on sites. If that back also happens to be a big play guy like C.J. Spiller, even better.  38 percent of all NFL turnovers came when the offensive team was trailing in the fourth quarter last season. That can help you accurately select a defense in relation to price point that may not look attractive based on prior fantasy output.


Mike McDermott (Matt Damon)

Of course, in the movie, Edward Norton’s character ends up busting out and Turturro’s character never can quit his day job because they each only abide by one side of the coin. In the end of the film, Damon’s character closes with the line “You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle. But you can’t win much either.”

Being successful in DFS centers around mixing in both elements of game selection. When doing this, you need to correctly manage your bankroll on a weekly level and split that weekly total up with a few high variance games centered on a heavy handed percentage of cash games. I set out to have a season long winning percentage in those cash games that covers all of my tournaments entries so that the tournaments I do win are the profit. On average, you need to win 60-65 percent of those games to make that worth your time at the end of the season.

It’s important to remember that no matter what types of games you play, in NFL DFS you’re going to have to deal with natural variance and you and your decisions no matter how good in a given week will be fallible. Ian Goldsmith just wrote a piece on handling losses you should definitely check out. You’re not going to win 90 percent of your games over the course of a season. The suggested amount of weekly bankroll you should have in play varies from person to person, but I normally won’t play more than eight to ten percent of my money in a given week.  When setting my lineups, I will play one cash game lineup and one tournament lineup. I don’t necessarily play as many tournaments as others, but there are smart folks out there that encourage diversifying your tournament lineups as you play in more each week.

If you’ve never tried DFS, give it a shot. As mentioned, you can dabble in it for free everywhere and it’s more fantasy football. Who doesn’t like that? The important thing is to know what you want out of it before jumping in.


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