I love fantasy football and playing it week to week on sites like Fanduel have only made it that much more enjoyable, especially when you win, but if you’re new to Fanduel then you’re going to want to have a strategy before you just jump right in.
In this article we’ll go through some of the basic strategies that I like to use when I’m putting together my lineups each week. There are many more advanced strategies we can use, and we’ll go through them in separate articles, but if you’re a beginning player then this article should help you getting started to setting up your own Fanduel strategy.
Know Your Scoring System
When you’re entering a contest for the first time on Fanduel or any other site the absolute first thing you should do is to understand your scoring setup. Fanduel is different than DraftKings, which may be different than your local league, so you want to make sure you understand this before you put down any of your hard earned money.
Fanduel’s scoring is pretty neutral, passing touchdowns are scored at 4 points a piece and receptions are scored at a half point for each. Their scoring is fractional (to prevent ties) but is essentially 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving (0.1 points per yard) and 1 point per 25 yards passing (0.04 points per yard). You can see the full Fanduel scoring setup here.
Find The Bad Defenses
The next thing I like to do when I’m putting together my Fanduel lineup is to get a list of the best and worst defenses by position (Most of the large football sites like NFL.com or ESPN have this information available for free).
Once I have my list I write down the worst 5 defenses at each of the major positions and I’m going to focus on playing their opponents. Likewise if a team is playing a top 5 defense that week then I’m less likely to pay up for them.
For example, the Chicago Bears have been notoriously bad against the run the past few seasons so if they’re playing Seattle that week then Marshawn Lynch is a guy I am absolutely going to build my team around.
Likewise I’m also going to use this list to find my value plays of the week to help save cap space. If a backup running back is getting their first start and they’re playing another bad defense, then they’re going to be a target for me because their price is most likely deflated.
Position by Position Strategy
With this type of scoring I tend to load up on running backs and receivers as much as possible, while finding the cheapest quarterback that could have a good week. For example I would much rather pay up for an Adrian Peterson or a Julius Jones than I would for an Aaron Rodgers because I might be able to get close to his level of production from a Ben Roethlisberger, who will come much cheaper.
Tight ends are a bit tricky because they are so top heavy. The only tight end I will really pay up for is the Patriots Rob Gronkowski because he’s such a dominant player at the position, but if his price is too high then I’ll just drop down and find the best value that I can based on matchup.
When choosing a defense I scroll through the list starting with the cheapest and I look for a team facing a bad offense (looking at you Jets!). I’m not going to ever pay up for a Seattle unless I just have a ton of cap space left over. As a rule of thumb I would rather save money on an average defense against a bad offense than pay up for a great defense.
Lastly, I’m choosing the best available kicker for minimum price. If possible I want a kicker in a dome or nice weather stadium, but they vary so much from week to week that I’m not spending a penny more on one.
Strategy By Tournament Type
The strategy you want to employ depends largely on which type of Fanduel game you’re playing.
Cash Games (50/50’s, Double Ups, Head To Head)
If you’re playing head to head, in a 50/50 or a double up (usually referred to as a “cash game”) you’ll generally want to play it more conservatively.
In a cash game a slow and steady running back who is guaranteed to get you 60 yards and a touchdown makes a lot more sense than a flashy speedster who puts up 15 yards as often as he does 200 yards. You want points that are as close to guaranteed as possible and you should be willing to sacrifice upside for steady performance.
GPP’s and Large Tournaments
When Fanduel has a large field, high payout tournament like a GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) where you’re competing against thousands, or tens of thousands of other fantasy players, you should be looking lock in as much upside as possible. You’re going to need a monster score to take home the big prize and unless the stars align perfectly you’re going to need to take a few risks to get there.
For example, in this type of tournament I’m looking for an all or nothing type receiver who can put up a monster game, something like 10 catches, 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. Players like Thomas, Calvin and Beckham could do this but the salary cap prevents you from owning everyone so you need to shop in the high upside bargain bin. Taking a shot on a guy like DeSean Jackson or Terrance Williams who are boom or bust from week to week makes a lot of sense, depending on matchup.
At this point you should have all of the basics that you need to set up a lineup and now you just need to make it all fit within Fanduel’s salary cap. Obviously you can’t fit everyone in your lineup or else we’d all be starting Rodgers, Peterson, Beckham, etc, so we need to look for some value.
Whenever I’m looking for value players I always start from the bottom of the list up. Most of the players down in this area are inactive or injured players, but you’d be surprised how many gems you can find down here.
Last season I found Travis Kelce listed at the absolute minimum price and it was a week that he had a great matchup too! The best part? Most players wont take the time to look down this far so they’ll miss these extreme bargains and it gives you that much more money to fit stars somewhere else.