Bankroll management has easily been the weakest link in my DFS game to this point. It’s not even close. How is it that the one aspect of the game I can completely control is the one I have struggled with the most? Is there variance in game selection that’s killing me? Not a chance! Did a last-minute scratch ruin my opportunity to play the contests that fit my account balance? Nope, just me and my simple mistakes again. That will all change this year. This is the year I take control of my own game. I am going to go from one of the most undisciplined players in DFS to THE MOST DISCIPLINED PLAYER IN DFS. And I am going to take you all along for the ride. Everyone preaches bankroll management, and for good reason. And yes, most of the touts and the professionals who have risen to the top of the game practice bankroll management. But does that really help YOU? If you are just getting into DFS, or have played for a few years and continuously need to add to your account balance – following the bankroll allocations of someone with 100x your bankroll, while good in theory, isn’t realistic. I am giving you the opportunity to take the journey with someone who is actually doing it and practicing what they preach from a starting point that is within reach. This isn’t just a one-off with this sole article, it will be a weekly series throughout the NFL season as I go through this journey.
I am going to lay out my plan for the year, step-by-step, and I am going to follow it to the letter, going over my process and results in this same place each and every week. This involves both game and player selection. I strongly encourage everyone in a similar situation to follow along. Here’s the plan:
STEP 1 – Establish a starting account balance
For me, its going to be $100. It is a number that I can fit in to my budget and make work with my personal life and it’s a number I think we can all manage to start off with. I would much, much, prefer to start with a number closer to $1,000 to speed up the process, but this is where the discipline starts to come in to play. I could have been at that starting point, but chose to blow most of it (and add more, blow it, add more, blow it again – you get the point). Another reason to start at $100 is the easy math.
STEP 2 – Bankroll allocation
Basically, how much of the $100 I established am I going to put in play each week. I’ve gone back and forth here, but have landed on 40%. You can’t play 100%, because if you have a terrible week then you are back to the drawing board and depositing money into your account once again. Even 40% is probably too aggressive, but I will combat that aggressiveness with my decisions in the next step. And for me, the 40% will apply to whatever my bankroll is at the start of the week. If I profit one week the amount of money I put in play the next week will increase, just like it will decrease if I have a losing week.
STEP 3 – Game selection
This is the easiest, yet hardest step of them all. Should I play all cash games? All GPPs? A mix of the two? Honestly, it’s a simple, simple decision. All cash games to start off with. I will not be tempted by the pretty prize pools of the big GPPs. And I am definitely going to take ALL of my action over to FantasyDraft, the only site offering rake-free H2H’s. To start off with, all I will play are these contests. I won’t play the double-ups or 50/50s for two reasons – they all have rake, which limits the return on investment (ROI) you can expect. Secondly, playing in the H2H’s will limit variance, as you will almost never win 100% of your contests, but the same can be said about losing them all. If you enter the same lineup in 15 double-ups, chances are you lose them all or win them all. The H2H’s offer you a great opportunity to see where you actually stand with your lineups and what percentage of the people you will beat. In short, the result will be a much more accurate result of where you stand. Playing these contests on FantasyDraft is a no-brainer with the lack of rake. This actually makes a massive impact on the ROI that you can expect. Here is a chart that shows what you would make assuming a 70% win rate (this is ambitious, but works for the purpose of this illustration) and a 40% bankroll allocation each week while playing rake-free H2H’s on FantasyDraft:
Now, here is a chart showing what you could expect with the same win rate and bankroll allocation on any other DFS site:
Woah. When I did the numbers up as I put together my plan for the upcoming NFL season, the results shocked me. After 17 weeks, with a 70% win rate, I would have less than half the bankroll playing anywhere else compared to FantasyDraft. That right there told me I was making the right decision, and I hope you all do as well. And I know that the final total at the end of the first chart, while nice, isn’t some amazing, life changing number. And I know that the true amount will likely be less, as a 70% win rate over the entire season would be quite phenomenal. However, if you have the discipline to stick it through, you can use your final balance this year as your starting point next season. This is when you will really see some solid numbers that truly can make a difference to your life.
STEP 4 – Roster construction
One more benefit to playing on FantasyDraft is the flexibility you have with your roster. The two flex spots give you options to fit in the best value plays regardless of position, which is especially helpful for weeks where you want to fit in both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell. If the value plays on the slate are also RBs, you can get them on your roster too.
With this disciplined approach, I am also limiting myself to one lineup per week/slate. So many times I have caught myself building too many sub-optimal lineups just so I can get a player I like in play. I’m sure we’ve all been there. Player “X” didn’t fit my lineup construction, but I think that he’ll have a good game – what do I do? Last year the answer was easy for me – make another, poorly researched, poorly thought out lineup to fit Player “X” in. Guess what the ROI on those lineups was? Pretty close to zero. That changes this year. With only one lineup, I have no choice, but to hone in on the best plays and the best roster construction for each and every week. Not only will this make my lineups better, it will also help the process of establishing who the best plays of the week are. This way, once I have built up a bankroll to the point of entering some GPPs, I will have a clear process in place. With one lineup, I can really focus in on the important news before lock without having to rush to my computer to redo 150 lineups, should something come up to shake up the slate.
Step 5 – Just win, baby
This is still an important step. If you don’t have a positive win rate, it’s all for nothing. The hours put into research and lineup building will pay off. Variance will rear its ugly head at times, sometimes to your benefit, but sometimes it will contribute to your downfall. This is why you simply can’t fire most of your bankroll into any given week – if you’re on the wrong side of variance that week, you will have set yourself back too far.
You know what the funny thing is? I have never been more excited for the start of a DFS season than I am for this one. I have already planned out the mundane tasks – bankroll allocation and game selection. No more scrolling through contest lobbies, wondering where to make my weekly donations. I can just focus on the research, the process and the lineup. I thought that I would be disappointed every week to not to be firing as many lineups as I can into various GPPs, but now that I have set myself on this path I am more driven, more motivated and hungrier than ever. I want to prove that I can stick to my plan. I want to prove, to myself more than anyone else, that I can win. I really, truly just want to win as many head-to-head games as possible. Me and my optimal lineup going up against my opponents. And no, when I say ‘optimal’ I don’t mean ‘optimized.’ I am not using a formula to come up with this lineup. I am not running an algorithm to spit out the best plays. I am playing the players that I think give me the best chance to win, to beat my opponent, each and every week. And you will be involved each week. No, I am not going to give out the lineup that I play. I’ll review it afterwards and you will know the process that I underwent to get to that particular combination, but no ‘picks’ or lineups will be given. That isn’t how we do things at FantasyDraft. We are here to teach DFS. Why did I pick a certain player? Why did I choose that roster construction? Anyone in our premium slack chats knows this is how we all work here. There are no free picks, no optimized lines. Just real, honest opinions and feedback to help us all become better players.
I can’t promise you I will win every week. I can’t promise you that you will win every week following this plan. There are so many moving parts in an NFL season, each more unpredictable than the next. But I have laid the groundwork for a plan that give me one job – build the best roster I can each week.
What I can promise you is that this series will be real, it will be organic and it will be emotional. Each and every week. No exceptions. These aren’t just words coming out of my mouth; this is my actual plan and one that I am sticking to. When I say I am playing 40% of my $100 bankroll in Week 1 that is what I am actually doing. When I have a winning week, I will be happy and that emotion will come out in the article. If I bust, the disappointment will come through loud and clear, as it should. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride, but I am up for the challenge, and I hope that you not only follow along, but consider applying the lessons I have learned the hard way to your own DFS game.
To conclude this introductory article; I will reiterate my goals. I’m not playing for the money anymore. I’ve tried it, and it’s not fun. I am going to prove to myself, and anyone else who sticks around that I can have the discipline needed to see this whole plan out, and to enjoy doing it. Just because I’m not chasing the big GPPs doesn’t mean that it won’t be fun; I get the chance to put my best lineup up against my opponents each week, and that’s fun. The challenge is fun, and the competition is fun. Time to prove myself, time to earn the title I crave of The Most Disciplined Player in DFS. Let’s Go!!!