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Daily Fantasy Football 101: A Crash Course for the Upcoming Season

Le'Veon Bell

Le'Veon Bell

The 2017 NFL season and of course fantasy football is nearly here and with this excitement comes the final drafts and increased preparations for your seasonal leagues. Brush up on your trash talk now for your work leagues, or friends and family leagues because hopefully you will get to taunt them if you have been using to help you prepare.

Tevin Coleman: Running Back Rankings Week 11

But as much fun as seasonal leagues (as well as my MFL10 leagues) can be, I personally find myself getting more and more involved in Daily Fantasy Football (DFS). So for those of you have embraced the DFS movement or may be considering give it a shot this season, I thought I would offer a quick primer and a few tips before the fun gets started.

1. Set a Budget Early and Stick to It!

This one is really important. If you have enough money in your account already and don’t want to add to it too much, or at all, following this suggestion should be a bit easier. Plan out 14-15 weeks and divide your balance by that many weeks. For example: $100/15 = $6.66 or $6-$7 a week.

I know this will be hard for many, ESPECIALLY when you are stoked for Week 1 and want to drop much more cash to truly enjoy the opening week.

I am not going to say not to do this, or not to spend more, but if you are a novice and truly learning the ins and outs, play lighter and learn the ropes first. A budget will allow you to learn AND play much longer into the season rather than only three or four weeks before depositing more or quitting altogether.

2. Play it Somewhat Safe with Your Contest Entries

I like to use a ratio of 70/30 for cash games to GPP contests. So if you are playing with the above example of $7 per week you would spend $5 on 50/50 or double-up contests and the other $2 in a GPP contest (Ideally a single entry).

Again if you are seasoned, have a higher bankroll and are more risk-driven that is fine. Play as you like. However, anyone can win, and anyone can certainly lose. If you are not able to lose money each week without anger or stress, you should either not play at all, or play an amount you are a fine losing. Remember, this is supposed to fun and challenging.

Sure winning $4 on a $2 entry isn’t as exciting as winning $12 in a GPP, but 50/50 odds are great, and doubling your money allows you to play more each and every week.

3. Using Site Tools, Optimizers and Articles

There are so many sites out there now that charge subscription fees depending on the services you desire, and the tools you are willing to try and utilize. The key with these is they cost money, can be highly effective, but you need to use them properly. If you are solely looking for an optimal lineup tool with minimal research or customizing then your options are limitless.

When it comes to building lineups do your research, take part in free trials, and see which site seems to accommodate to you the most. I am a part of the team and love their tools and optimizer, but I also understand it isn’t for everyone.

The site tools are only more powerful the more you tweak them, and do your own research. Remember the key is to differentiate from the pool, especially in GPPs and simply using an optimized lineup may not bring you much success.

4. Listen to Podcasts and Utilize Twitter

In many cases learning the language of DFS can be stressful enough, but if you are able to listen to a podcast or two, and learn who the Touts are touting, and proclaiming to be chalk plays or fades you can narrow down your choices for every single week at every position. In cash games using chalk plays aren’t necessarily bad, but in GPP avoiding an entirely chalky team is never a bad idea.

Touts also do this for a living. Meaning they really analyze statistics, game film and know how to recognize trends and potential for big performances for the upcoming week. I myself don’t have a ton of time with a full-time job as well as being a parent of two little girls. I utilize podcasts, advice columns and optimizers to make my decisions.

I won’t pretend to be a Tout, nor do I play like one, but I like to win, and I will use every weapon at my disposal to do so, and differentiate myself from the field. You should too!

5. Take Some Risk and Go With Your Gut

This is daily fantasy and it is meant to be risky and fun. Money is on the line right? Play it safe in most of your cash lineups, but if you want to build a lineup full of guys you just have a hunch about, do it! Why should you feel obligated to pay up for Le’Veon Bell every week when you just know Tevin Coleman is going to explode? Obviously, no one really knows what is going to happen, and playing a stud like Bell each and every week is never a bad idea. If you are willing to burn $7, or whatever each week, why not take a little risk too? Winning on a great gut call always feels better.

I’m not saying do this with every lineup, or all the time, but it certainly makes it more entertaining to watch the NFL RedZone channel on Sundays. Think of the quarter arcades on DraftKings. That is a perfect venue to really go hog-wild with some crazy, risk-filled lineups.

— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.