Building a DFS Strategy: 18 Daily Fantasy Football Tips

Written by - Team Sentitrac

Daily fantasy football (DFS) is a constantly changing universe — like a game within a game. DFS strategy requires players to treat each week of football as unique, identifying the most lucrative opportunities for fantasy football points at the most efficient cost.

Success at daily fantasy football comes over time and with experience, so we’ve put together a collection of daily fantasy football tips that are helpful to those just starting, with one tip for each week of the NFL season!

1. Know Your Scoring Rules

Understanding the intricacies of your chosen daily fantasy football platform's scoring system is fundamental. Different platforms have varying rules that assign different point values to various player actions, such as touchdowns, yards gained, and receptions. Familiarizing yourself with these scoring nuances is crucial, as it will guide your player selections and lineup construction.

2. Stay Updated with News

Staying informed about player news and injury reports is paramount to daily fantasy football success. Injuries, last-minute lineup changes, and other factors can drastically impact player performance. Keeping a close eye on news sources, team updates, and injury reports allows you to adjust your lineup as necessary, ensuring that you're fielding the strongest possible team.

3. Use Player Projections

Player projections and rankings are invaluable tools for daily fantasy football enthusiasts. They provide insights into how players are expected to perform in a given week, helping you identify potential value picks and star performers. Utilizing powerful projection sources can give you a competitive edge in player selection.

4. Utilize Quantitative & Qualitative Player Projections for Building Your Lineup

There are endless quantitative data to crunch that can tell you the numbers behind what matchups are worth targeting, but don’t ignore qualitative data when making lineup decisions.

Tools like Sentitrac are designed to utilize news and NFL chatter on social media to enhance data-driven projections.

Look for news items like: Is a player facing his former team? Is someone injured but not listed on the injury report for decoy purposes? Is there a new head coach? How will the weather forecast impact the strategy for the game? Are either of the teams coming back from an international game and struggling to recover?

Knowing news items like this adds context to hard data and can help set a lineup apart.


5. Understand Salary Cap Management

A crucial aspect of daily fantasy football is managing your salary cap effectively. Each player has a price tag, and you must assemble a competitive lineup while staying within your allotted budget. Balancing your expenditures across different positions and finding cost-effective value picks is key to optimizing your lineup.

6. Balance Stars and Value Picks

Striking the right balance between star players and value picks is a strategic challenge. While stars are capable of big point totals, their high salaries can limit your flexibility. Value picks, on the other hand, provide budget-friendly options that can outperform their price tags. Achieving the right mix of stars and value is central to constructing a winning lineup.

7. Consider Matchup Analysis

In daily fantasy football, player matchups play a pivotal role in decision-making. Thoroughly analyzing matchups involves assessing the strengths and weaknesses of both offensive and defensive units. Favorable matchups can lead to higher fantasy point production, making player selection based on matchups a critical aspect of strategy.

8. Explore Stacking

Stacking refers to selecting multiple players from the same team, such as pairing a quarterback with a wide receiver. This strategy leverages the potential synergy between players and can lead to explosive point totals in high-scoring games. However, it also carries risks if the team underperforms, so strategic stacking is essential.

9. Look for Contrarian Plays

While certain players are often popular for a reason, seeking out contrarian picks can set your lineup apart from the competition. These are players who may be undervalued or overlooked by others. By identifying contrarian plays with breakout potential, you can differentiate your lineup in large-field tournaments and increase your chances of success.

10. Target Contests at Your Skill Level

When watching football on a Sunday afternoon, chances are you’ll see tons of ads for daily fantasy football sites offering you the opportunity to turn a small investment into a big score. While those do happen on the site, the contests that allow for a payout like that have a very high degree of difficulty. As you’re getting started in daily fantasy football, it’s smart to stick to H2H games, and tournaments with 1-3 lineup entries max when you get started. It’s the best way to minimize risk while learning the fundamentals of lineup building.

11. Experiment with Building Multiple Lineups

Building multiple line-ups is daily fantasy football how it’s meant to be played - accounting for all possible outcomes on an NFL Sunday while utilizing leverage against your opponents to make the most unique, high-scoring lineup of the slate. Building multiple lineups is a great way to get exposure to many different outcomes, but it’s a skill that takes time to use correctly. New players should start with building single lineups, while occasionally experimenting with building multiple lineups in low-cost tournaments.

12. Check the Weather Forecast

Weather conditions can have a significant impact on player performance in football. Rain, wind, extreme cold, or heat can affect passing and kicking accuracy and overall game flow. Staying informed about weather forecasts can help you make strategic decisions, especially when choosing players in outdoor games.

13. Utilize Vegas Odds and Over/Under

Paying attention to Vegas odds and over/under totals is a valuable strategy — and it’s free research. These metrics provide insights into which games are expected to be high-scoring affairs. Targeting players from such games can increase fantasy point production, as you will likely score more points overall. Vegas sportsbooks also offer propositions on team totals and individual player props that can be used by daily fantasy football players to discern where the point projections from a particular team would potentially come from.

14. Monitor Player Ownership Rates

Monitoring player ownership percentages can be a game-changer in daily fantasy football. High-ownership players are popular picks, and their success or failure can heavily influence your contest standings. Conversely, low-ownership players provide differentiation but may carry higher risk. A balanced approach to player ownership can be key to success.

15. Take Advantage of Late Swap

Some daily fantasy platforms offer a late swap feature, allowing you to adjust your lineup even after games have started. This can be a significant advantage, as you can react to late-breaking news or changes in player performance. Utilizing the late swap option can enhance your lineup's potential.

16. Track Your Results

Keeping detailed records of your daily fantasy football contests is essential for improving your skills. Track your lineup choices, contest entries, and results to analyze your performance. Identifying patterns and areas for improvement can help you refine your strategies and make better decisions in the future.

17. Manage Your Emotions

Emotions can be a major factor in daily fantasy football decision-making. Avoid making impulsive decisions based on personal biases, allegiances to specific teams, or emotional reactions to player performances. Maintaining emotional discipline ensures that you make rational and strategic choices.

18. Commit to Continuous Learning to be the Best Prognosticator You Can Be

The landscape of daily fantasy football is constantly evolving. To stay competitive, commit to ongoing learning. Regularly read strategy guides, stay up-to-date with industry news, and analyze successful players' approaches. By continuously expanding your knowledge, you can adapt to changing trends and gain a competitive edge.

DFS Strategy: It’s Always Evolving

Daily fantasy football strategy is evolving by the hour, day, and week. The tips above will give you an excellent foundation to start with, but you’ll learn even more when you get into the week-to-week grind of handicapping games and building lineups.

Experience is the greatest teacher. Happy grinding!