Thu. Jul 25th, 2024


Success in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) is not just about luck; it’s largely about preparation. The most successful DFS players dedicate significant time and effort to their prep work. This comprehensive guide outlines the key considerations and steps you should take to optimize your DFS preparation process.

1. Time Management: Allocating Your DFS Prep Time

  • Assessing Availability: Start by evaluating how much time you can realistically dedicate to DFS preparation. Successful DFS demands both time for initial research and the ability to react quickly to late-breaking news.
  • Balancing Responsibilities: Ensure you balance DFS with other life responsibilities. Overcommitting time can lead to burnout and decreased enjoyment of the game.

Expanding on the Time Management aspect of DFS preparation, it’s crucial to delve deeper into the nuances of preparation time, especially when it comes to balancing manual efforts with the use of automated tools, formulating hypotheses, and the actual time spent on lineup construction.

Preparation Time: Manual Research vs. Automated Tools

  • Manual Research: This involves a deep dive into player stats, historical performances, recent form, and even news around player fitness and team dynamics. It’s time-consuming but offers a nuanced understanding of each player and match-up.
  • Automated Tools: Tools like lineup optimizers and statistical models can significantly reduce the time required for basic research. They provide a solid starting point but may lack the finer details that manual research uncovers.
  • Balancing Both: A balanced approach often works best. Use automated tools for initial insights and then delve deeper into specific areas with manual research. This hybrid method saves time while still providing a comprehensive understanding of the slate.

Developing Hypotheses Around the Slate

  • Pre-Slate Analysis: Before diving into lineup construction, spend time developing hypotheses about how you think the slate might play out. This could include predicting high-scoring games, potential upsets, or key player performances.
  • Incorporating Research: Use your research to support or challenge these hypotheses. This step is crucial in guiding your lineup selections and overall strategy.

Time Spent on Lineup Construction

  • Manual Lineup Building: Creating lineups manually is very time-consuming but allows for a high degree of customization and control. It requires a meticulous approach, ensuring that each player fits into your overall strategy and budget.
  • Automated Lineup Creation: Many DFS players use automated tools to generate lineups. These tools can create multiple lineups quickly, based on predefined parameters and statistical models.
  • Combining Approaches: You might use automated tools to generate initial lineups and then tweak them manually. This approach can save time while still allowing for personalized adjustments based on your research and hypotheses.

Allocating Time Wisely

  • Set Clear Time Limits: Allocate specific time blocks for each aspect of your preparation. For instance, dedicate certain hours for manual research, hypothesis formation, and lineup construction.
  • Efficiency is Key: Streamline your research process. Focus on the most critical data first and use tools to quickly gather basic information.
  • Stay Organized: Keep your research and notes well-organized. This makes it easier to reference back and saves time in the long run.

2. Research: The Cornerstone of DFS Success

  • Manual vs. Automated Tools: Determine the balance between manual research and automated tools. While tools like contest simulators, lineup optimizers, and projections save time, they often require a subscription. Manual research, though time-consuming, offers a deeper understanding of the game.
  • Setting Time for Research: Allocate specific time blocks for research. This could include analyzing player stats, matchup histories, and current form. Also, factor in time for reading expert analysis and keeping up with sports news.

3. The Process: Making Informed Lineup Choices

A. Documenting Your Choices

  • Ownership and Popularity: Consider the popularity of a player among other DFS players. Is selecting a highly owned player the best strategy, or could a less popular player offer a competitive edge?
  • Injury Impacts: Injuries not only affect the injured player but also the dynamics of the team. How does an injury in one position affect the performance potential of other players?
  • Projection Biases: Be aware of any biases in the projection tools you use. Are the projections based on a comprehensive set of data, or do they miss critical contextual factors?

B. Adapting to the Setting

  • Environmental Factors: How do external factors like weather or altitude impact player performance or game strategy? For example, how does a windy or rainy forecast affect a football quarterback’s passing game?
  • Venue-Specific Trends: Are there specific trends associated with a particular venue that could influence player performance? Some players perform better at home than away, and vice versa.

C. Balancing Projections with Personal Intuition

  • Projection vs. Intuition: Successful DFS players often ask themselves whether they should rely solely on what the projections say or incorporate their own feelings and intuitions about how the game might unfold.
  • Gut Feelings: Sometimes, a player’s past performances or recent news might give you a ‘gut feeling’ about their potential in the upcoming slate. How much should this gut feeling weigh against the statistical projections?
  • Historical Performance vs. Current Form: How do you balance a player’s historical performance with their current form? A player might have an excellent track record but could be going through a rough patch.

D. Evaluating Player and Team Dynamics

  • Team Dynamics: How does the team’s current strategy and dynamics affect an individual player’s potential in a game? Is the team on a winning streak, or are they struggling with internal issues?
  • Player Matchups: How does a player fare against specific opponents? Some players might have historically performed well against certain teams or specific players.

E. Staying Updated with Last-Minute Changes

  • Late Breaking News: How do you incorporate last-minute news or changes into your strategy? For example, how does a surprise player substitution just before the game starts affect your lineup?
  • Flexibility in Lineups: Are your lineups flexible enough to adapt to last-minute changes, or are they rigidly structured based on earlier assumptions?

4. Late Swap: Staying Ahead of the Game

A. The Critical Nature of Late Swap

  • Essential for Long Slates: In longer slates, lineups are often not confirmed before the opening. This uncertainty makes late swap not just a useful feature but an essential strategy for success in DFS.
  • Adaptability: Late swap allows for adaptability in your strategy. Being able to adjust your lineup in response to last-minute changes can be the difference between winning and losing.

B. Monitoring for Changes

  • Staying Informed: Vigilance in monitoring news is key, especially for games occurring later in the slate. This includes keeping track of player injury reports, starting lineups, and even pre-game strategies that teams might disclose.
  • Utilizing Alerts and Updates: Utilize platforms and tools that offer real-time updates and alerts. This can include sports news apps, DFS-specific tools, or social media channels where teams and sports journalists post updates.

C. Preparing for Lineup Changes

  • Player Movement in Lineups: Players can be moved to and from the starting lineup or be called out due to injury. It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of each player’s status and potential last-minute replacements.
  • Backup Plans: Have backup players in mind for each position, especially those more prone to late changes. This requires a deep understanding of team rosters and player roles.

D. Strategizing for Late Games

  • Analyzing Positional Volatility: Some positions are more volatile and prone to last-minute changes. Identify these positions and pay closer attention to them in your late swap strategy.
  • Balancing Risk: Consider the risk associated with waiting for late-game players. Sometimes it might be safer to opt for earlier games to avoid the uncertainty of late swaps.

E. Integrating Late Swap into Your Overall Strategy

  • Flexibility is Key: Your overall DFS strategy should accommodate the possibility of using the late swap. This might mean keeping a portion of your budget flexible or choosing players from the later games who have reliable backups.
  • Practicing Proactive Management: Actively managing your lineup throughout the slate is essential. This includes being prepared to make quick decisions based on the latest information.

5. Review and Analysis: Learning from Each Slate

  • Performance Review: Post-contest, analyze where your points came from and why. This helps in understanding the effectiveness of your research and choices.
  • ROI Analysis: Assess your return on investment (ROI). This isn’t just about financial returns but also about the efficiency and effectiveness of your time and effort.
  • Process Evaluation: Reflect on your decision-making process. Were your hypotheses correct? Did you miss critical information? Understanding these aspects is key to refining your strategy for future contests.


Preparation in DFS is a multifaceted process that requires a disciplined approach to time management, research, lineup selection, and post-contest analysis. By following this guide, you can develop a more structured and effective preparation routine, enhancing your chances of success in the competitive world of DFS.

Remember: While this guide provides a framework for preparation, the dynamic nature of sports means that flexibility and adaptability are always key components of any successful DFS strategy. Stay informed, stay agile, and enjoy the strategic challenge that DFS offers.