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Pablo Knows: DFS Thoughts and Musings

It’s the start of a new NHL season and when there’s a new season, I’m asking myself questions.

DFS Intention

First, why am I playing? What am I trying to get out of this? Am I doing it to make money? How much money? Am I trying to make a live final? Am I doing this just for shits and giggles to be entertained? Any/all of these reasons are fine, but they directly affect contest selection, slate selection, and bankroll. Without knowing why I’m playing I’m just a leaf blowing in the wind; could end up in a beautiful painting or could end up in a drainage ditch asking myself why I ever decided why I wanted to play.

Content consumption and selection

Second, where am I getting my content? Content comes in many forms including tout sites, primary source data sites, friends, and others. Ultimately, you have to decide what you’re going to digest and how you’re going to use that information. I’m predominantly a GPP player and you don’t win anything by being the same as everyone else. It’s very easy to absorb content, sometimes even sub-consciously, and end up in the middle of the pack. Different wins though so it’s important to choose your content sources wisely. I’m a big fan of primary source data – FanGraphs for MLB, natural stat trick for NHL – as it gives you an unfiltered look as what has happened and maybe sometimes a clue as to what might happen. You combine primary source information with projections and ownership and you really can naturally differentiate yourself from others without even trying too hard. One of the most valuable aspects of content is to know where the crowd is so that you can ensure you are differentiating enough to win. Actively cultivate your content.

Consistency and process

Third, what’s my process? Consistency is king with any process. Part of being a winning DFS player is being able to reflect on what you are doing day in and day out while tweaking your process to make it incrementally better. This is more complicated than it seems for folks focused on GPPs who will, by definition, lose the vast majority of the time. Understanding that you have to separate results from process for the most part is critical in the self-reflection required to improve. It’s made even more difficult if your process is changing too frequently. Ultimately, it is key to repeat your process to a near mechanical level so that you have a framework upon which you can creatively explore and attack a DFS season.

General DFS thoughts and practice

Lastly, I find it useful to remind myself of some lessons that cross over DFS sports and seasons. Here are some of the most valuable ones I’ve learned:

Take breaks. It’s really easy to get burnt out and not even realize how burnt out you are. Many of my best wins have been after a short break. There’s always another slate, playing DFS is fun but it’s also a damn grind, take breaks. If you aren’t self-aware enough to recognize when you need one then just schedule them.

Don’t be afraid to be different. Groupthink has come to dominate DFS significantly more than it used to as projections have become more and more accessible. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that projections are more powerful than they are. In some ways winnings at DFS is more of an ownership game now than a projection game, especially for the more mature sports where information has evolved so much (niche sports still offer a projection/information edge at times). Recognize the inherent fragility of projections and the need to get different enough to win. Fight the edge to conform.

Closing thoughts

Cultivate your community. Sources aren’t limited to content sites as most places now have communities associated with them including a discord. Recognize that it’s helpful to have others to bounce thoughts off of and learn from as you work towards improvement. I’ve found most solid players to be welcoming and helpful it they’re approached in a way that’s respectful and reasonable. Also, having access to a good community can make DFS a lot more fun. “Normies” have a hard time understanding the day in/day out grind associated with these crazy games we play and good peers can make the experience a better one. Just as important as it is to find good influences and peers, steer away from the negative ones. Don’t be afraid to say no and walk away from places and people that won’t help you improve.

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