I don’t know about you, but I don’t have $1000/day, or even per week, to plunk down on hundreds of different fantasy football contests like the big boys. I’m a #Smallaballa through and through, and I need to be smart and efficient with my budget. Contest selection is paramount to my success, and probably yours. Every week, I will be drafted by DFS Army to offer you a roadmap towards building your own fantasy football bankroll smartly with tips, advice, strategy, and templates for several different budgets.
The track record is there on both Fanduel and Draftkings. In 2020 alone, I have won an MLB contest containing more than 140,000 people. I placed 4th out of 217,000+ in NBA. I placed 2nd of 15,000+ in NHL, 4th of 7800+ in NASCAR, and 12th of 3500+ in PGA. Being smart and well-rounded is my game. I can teach you to conquer giant tournaments on a budget, but I can also teach you to grind up that bankroll while you lay in wait of the huge night. So, follow me, and let’s lay siege to our next sport of the calendar year….NFL!
What Started It All? Revisit “The Ladder System: Revolutionize Your Game“
Building Your Foundation
Every “athletic” endeavor starts with a solid foundation. DFS (daily fantasy sports) is no different, and any coach worth his salt will tell you so in your first meeting. Cash games (contests paying half to one third of the field) offer some of the safest paydays in the industry. And, using them as our foundation allows us to become more and more aggressive with our weekly budget. We can focus on different mixes of head-to-heads, 5050s, double ups, triple ups, 3man leagues, and the like, but these contests will comprise the bulk of what we look to tackle. However, these do get a little boring. And, they have very limited upside.
So, we will also incorporate calculated layers of contests that not only increase the risk, but also the rewards. The trick is to add this risk/reward combo with precision and a goal. Add too much, and you increase your chances of visiting a town we call Redepositsville. Add too little, and you just spin your wheels forever breaking even. But, adding just the right amount, in just the right places, allows you to cover your risk with upside and steadily bring your fantasy football budget to new heights.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Sample Budgets
Each week we will switch things up a little, but keep in line with our foundation. We will display the versatility of chasing cash prizes on a budget and still mix in some fun. From head-to-heads, to chasing qualifiers, to even dabbling in some mass-multi-entry, we will offer example after example smartly targeting the various fantasy football contests and slates around the NFL. We will talk about cores, single lineups, 3 lineup attacks, chalk plays, contrarian plays, stacking, when to press up our earnings, and more. This is just the beginning of what should be a fun ride for anyone and everyone across all skill levels and a variety of budgets.
$20 Sample Budget…Again
With $20 to play this week again, we will focus on the number one question I get asked: Do I build just one lineup, or build another for the tournament portion of my budget? Last week, we focused on just the one lineup. This week, let’s do two!
Lineup One: Same approach, we build as safely and strongly as possible focusing on high-floor, consistent players. We focus on home team quarterbacks (and players, in general) mostly, high implied totals, and even a tool like our NFL Chalkboard for the highest owned players. Perfect for the #BoxCheckers hashtags I drop for you on Twitter. Dak Prescott comes quickly to mind facing Atlanta’s soft secondary at home in a forecast shootout sporting a game total of 52 that might as well be bet at *MyBookie because that 52 feels really, really low.
- $10 Single-Entry Double Up (there are currently TWO on Draftkings…one with 4597 people and one with 8620…both great!)
- $5 League with 10 players (should pay about $22.50 to 1st, $13.50 to 2nd, and $9 to 3rd)…super safe way to get paid like a triple up and/or quintuple up with a top 30% (or better) lineup
Lineup Two: Now, after the cash lineup tops out its potential in those smaller contests, we can feed the action-junky and go for the big one! We need to focus on the “GPP only” plays in our NFL Cheatsheets. And, we need to look for leverage plays against the highest owned plays.
For example, Dak again. We know he’s going to be heavily used in cash games…hell, we are probably using him ourselves. What a perfect hedge to build another lineup and start with a different QB/WR type stack. But, in big tournaments, we might even want to add a second player to that stack. We might want to “run it back” with a player from the opposing team, too! We can get into narratives, and which to use (for our VIPs), but for now let’s just use the outlines laid out in our Shark Chronicles piece from last week (it was FREE) and build a big stack capable of winning the big one. These “onslaught stacks” are winning the big tourneys and we need to be using them!!
Now, we know the Atlanta/Dallas game will be heavily used on both sides. Let’s look at the Indianapolis/Minnesota game instead. The Minnesota secondary got torched by Green Bay, but Indianapolis was stunned by Jacksonville. Phillip Rivers doesn’t typically air things out, but he loves his short passing routes and makes scat backs famous. I would consider a Rivers/Hines/Campbell stack. Let’s also consider this game could be high scoring in the dome and run it back with Adam Thielen. Focusing here might generate some leverage against the others and allow us to fill in with lots of possibilities because the stack shouldn’t be terribly expensive.
We have $5 extra dollars to play with. Let’s enter a few tourneys of different sizes…
- $3 Draftkings $100k Pylon (39,635 people and $5,000 to 1st….great balanced structure)
- $1 Draftkings $4k Mini First Down (4,756 people and while it’s a 20max entry, they don’t have a huge advantage over you. $400 to first and 4700 people is beatable)
- 50c MiniMax (again, it’s odd to recommend single bullets in huge mme tourneys, but they just don’t have a huge mathematical advantage over you…$10,000 to first might just be the dream you are hoping for, but it’s going to take one lucky as hell shot)
- 25c Contest (475 players and $10 to first)
- 25c Contest (2,378 players and $50 to first)
What we have is a smattering of buy ins for that $5, a lot of fun, and if all goes right, a pile of cash. Feel free to mix and match this portion yourself with some smaller entry tourneys if you want a little safety. But, if you are truly going for the big hit, you have to swing hard in case you connect! And, if you are using cash games to cover your tourney entries, who cares about the $5? We can do this weekly and have a hell of a lot of fun when we have really strong lineups. Pro Tip– People don’t tell you about the reverse win, either. What if your $3 entry hits for $25? It doesn’t have to be a world-beating lineup to do that and you pay for everything if the “reverse” happens and your cash lineup shits the bed completely.
*The MyBookie link also qualifies you for a potential 2 free months of SportsBetArmy and 1 free month of DFS Army VIP (if interested, follow me on Twitter and DM me for details).
$50 Sample Budget
A lot was covered in that first section. Let’s make this a little simpler. With $50, I might break it up into a simple combination of three lineups for $20, $15, and $15. To build three lineups (something I used to do with my ladders every week), we need a small player pool of great matchups. Think 3 QBs, 5-6 RBs, about 10 WRs, 3 TEs and 2-3 DSTs to focus on. There are so many ways to narrow things down. I use our DFS Army Research Station and it’s copious statistics to determine my aforementioned #BoxCheckers. I can quickly come up with a solid player pool any given week. I don’t worry much about ownership when doing this, and on 13-game slates, ownership really gets spread around anyway outside of a few chalky pieces we likely wind up agreeing with anyway.
The only “rule” here is to keep any single player out of all three lineups without a tremendous reason. Injuries happen and you want a live lineup if a player winds up in concussion protocol and wipes out all three of your lineups. Think Marlon Mack last week or even biting on the bad chalk that was Antonio Gibson. We want a little flexibility when unpredictable things happen. We have some safety by very rarely going “all in” on a player.
- 10 – $1 head to head contests
- 4 – $1 3man leagues
- 4 – $1 5man leagues
- $1 Hundo on Draftkings
- $1 237man Contest
$15 Lineup (2X)
- 8 – $1 head to head contests
- 3 – $1 3man leagues
- 3 – $1 5man leagues
- $1 Hundo on Draftkings
Caveat 1 – Could put $1 from each lineup budget in the $1 (3max) Singleback, but realize you aren’t necessarily building these lineups with enough upside to win such a large contest without getting extremely lucky (but it can happen).
Caveat 2 – Notice I’m playing less than my usual recommendation of “don’t enter head to heads unless playing at least 20 of them.” In this case, you kind of are. You are entering 26 of them across three lineups….that’s more than 20.
Caveat 3 – You could even break this up with two $20 lineups and a $10 lineup. Still adds to $50. Nothing I suggest is set in stone. Feel free to tweak a few things if you stay within the general concept and guidelines. The most important part is the ratio of how the money is broken down.
The Secret to Winning Fantasy Football on a Budget
The secret is simple. Employing the right tools in the right contests with the right support system. We offer that inside our VIP walls at DFS Army. And, as the weeks go on, I will give you small tidbits of different combinations for different budget levels. But, if you want to really take your game seriously, jump inside and dive even deeper into contest selection with our coaches. Stop putting the wrong lineups into the wrong contests. Stop getting eaten alive by the sharks. Become a shark instead!!
Join DFS Army
And, use coupon code DFSARMY for a 20% discount as a thank you from me for reading this article and passing it around social media. I will see you again next week with a different set of contests and combinations for new budgets.