This is a weekly article to discuss my thoughts regarding playing cash games.  Cash games are generally considered to be Head to Head, Double Ups, 50/50’s, Triple-ups, as well as small multi-player (3-20 players) games where your chances of cashing are 33% or higher.  In previous articles we have discussed how to choose your cash game contest as well as how to build that lineup each night. 




The Daily Process of Building a Lineup


Hello Everybody!


It feels like it's been forever since I have written an article.  So today feels as good as any other to put one out for you. 


Lately I have been trying to think about what to write about.  Since I do not have the typical article format like “best plays of the day” or basing the article off of popular movies or cool stuff like that… I have had a hard time figuring it out sometimes.  I don’t want to just re-hash the same things.  Also, many of you in SLACK here my ideas on a daily basis.  Sometimes about my lineup, sometimes about other things.  LOL!  Seriously, if you aren’t a member of Slack it is the best money you will spend.  I feel like the guys in there are family at times.  We celebrate success together and cuss out coaches and players together and share great ideas, data, etc…anyways, I encourage you to get involved.


Moving on…


Earlier this month I was in Hawaii for a week.  Yes, I am sure none of you feel sorry for me about that.  My wife and I took our oldest son Kaleb for his senior trip.  Anyways… while I was there I was unable to participate in daily fantasy sports due to certain laws forbidding it in the state of Hawaii.  However, I WAS able to build fake lineups on the roto-trash lineup builder app on my phone then send them to my son and he would enter me into contests from our home in Utah as he was logged into my account.  This worked out pretty well. 


One day he asked me if he could build a line up.  I gave him permission to enter a $1 qualifier (what the heck, right?).  Well, HE WON!  It was a $33 Iceberg gpp qualifer. I asked him what he did to build his line up and he said “Dad, I just looked at the players and I picked the guys I liked.”


That got me thinking about the process of building and playing line ups in fantasy sports.  Sometimes, we get so caught up in the numbers, DVP, Matchups, B2B’s, 3 in 4, National TV, who got snubbed from the All-star game, etc…and we just do not pick the players that we like.  So, in this article, I will attempt to go through all the important things that we should be looking at every day and loosely basing our decisions on that data and information just like the super computers.  But in the end, we still need to play players that we like.





How I Build my Lineups


This process has changed so much over time, and most likely will change again.  But I think routine is very important everyday.  So to begin, you need to assess the slate and see how you want to play.  Are you going to play mostly cash games?  Gpp’s?  Both? 


Then you need to determine how many lineup’s you plan to play that day.  There are days where I only want to build one lineup.  Other days I feel like 3.  And one day last week I played 13 different lineups.  So that will also play into how many lineups you want to build that particular day.


For the sake of this article I’m going to pretend that I’m building just 1 lineup on this “Pretend” DFS Slate.  This would be a slightly higher risk, but mostly safe, lineup good for cash and Single-Entry and Leagues.



Step 1:  Slate Overview


To start, I need to know a few things. 


1.    Number of games.  I break this down into small (5 or less games), mid-size (6-8 games) or large (9+ game) slates.  This is important as I’ve broken down how I want to play different slates regarding strategy.  Stars/Scrubs, Chalk/Contrarian, etc… Everything starts with the size of slate.


2.    Vegas.  Are there a bunch of games with totals well above 210?  Are there a couple sub-200 totals?  Which games do I need to chop off?


3.    Late Night vs. Early.  Are there a lot of later games with potential later news?  Are there a bunch of NASA coaches in the late games that could Pop or SALL us to death.  Are there injuries to monitor in those late games?  Is there late game rest risk?


Once I’ve broken down the slate (which takes literally a minute or two), I’m ready to look at the players.



Step 2:  Player/Pricing Slotting


I have a form that I fill out each day.  Here is an example from Monday, February 5th.  I print it and then start filling it in based on Salary.  Sense I play on DraftKings I don’t worry nearly as much about positions.  This gives me an idea of who is available in each pricing tier.  I may also write in other pertinent information such as O/U’s, or notes about my core, or how many chalk or contrarian’s I want to play that day… etc… this form becomes my worksheet.



This is how it starts out looking.  However, then I listen to the Judge and I start doing some research and I follow the news in Slack and elsewhere.  And talk to other Juror’s which can help with my assessments.



Step 3:  Value Assessment


I’m going to give a ton of props here to a fellow juror named Troy Hewitt (@redlishus in SLACK) who is the genius behind the Excel Optimizer that I use to evaluate the strength of each player that day.  In a nutshell, he pulls in daily values such as points per minute, Vegas odds, Pace, Usage, DVP, DVP last 5 games, rebounds, projected minutes, etc and then uses some advanced Excel to come up with a value projection on each player.  His sheet might not be 100% everyday but it takes a ton of the hard work out and really makes a lot of sense and is close on most days.  It also updates a few times per day.  Since he has it protected I took a picture of my computer at lock on 2/5/18 to show how it’s all broken down. (He did give me permission by the way)  These are draftKings projections.  The main column I use is the “hval” column third to last from the right.



As you will see AD is still the best play of the day but usually higher priced players are expected to produce the most.  However, Lance Stephenson (Oladipo and Collison ruled out) jumped way up to #2. 


I then use these values on my original sheet and fill in that final column “Best Plays” to come up with hopefully my best overall plays for the day.  This is how my original sheet ended up looking by lock on 2/5/18:

Form revised.jpg


From There I can now build my lineup, or several if I want.  You can see that I’ve also colored my favorite picks. 



Step 4:  Final 30 Minutes!


Now I watch for any late news and usually try to figure out who is the chalk and who may be the contrarian plays that are overlooked.  This is the most difficult part of DFS.  I know you can pay money for Ownership projections but I feel like just being in SLACK helps me gauge who will be popular.  I may tinker a little with my lineup.  I also look at Judge’s Core4 for advise.  I say I use 50-75% of his core on most nights.  Usually we are already on the same players.


Lineup construction is so important as well.  I like to follow a general formula each day on every lineup I build.  I try to check each lineup that it fits this formula in the time leading to lock.



General Lineup Build Formula


Generally, I like to follow these guidelines once I’ve decided which players I like the most.


2-3 players that are chalk.  There will usually be one player less then $4500 that will be a value chalk play.  I always try to play him unless my spidey senses say otherwise.  There will usually be another player like Lance in the example above, or Mirotic the other night, that fits this mold.  Play them.  Who cares if they are chalk.  My research on winning lineups show that these players are in the winning lines so… Don’t you want to win also?   These are like free squares.


2-4 players that are just good valued, mid-range ownership.  This is not a price thing but an ownership thing.  These are players in the 5-25% ownership range that just make good solid sense that night.  Picking these can be tricky as there will be many usually.  If you are playing cash games then safety is important with a high floor.  However, If you are trying to take down a GPP or even chambers or a winner-take all, you want a player with a higher ceiling.


Finally, usually 2 contrarian players.  These are still good players, with a good valuation, but for some reason are being overlooked.  Ownership probably sub 8% or so.  Got to hit these right to take down a tournament.



What about a Late Night Hammer or late night exposure?


I am really one who likes to have exposure to the late game mostly for game playing experience and because it makes the night more enjoyable.  If the game is being faded by the general public then I would also recommend fading it unless there is a play that you must have.  But Late Night Hammer has no research backing the need to play it.





Hopefully this all made sense to you all.  Playing DFS is hard.  But I think going through each day and spending a few extra minutes doing some basic steps can really lead to improved chances of success over time.  Best of luck in all your contests.



You can reach Craig on twitter @cpackham007 or on the slack chat.  You can also email him at  He’d love to hear your takes as well.