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I play daily fantasy sports for two reasons.  First, I enjoy sports.  I even enjoy them enough that I can watch a game without thinking of the fantasy ramifications that are taking place.  Second, I enjoy the thought of being able to turn a few dollars into thousands in a single night.  Both of these events are extremely diminished by playing a dfs slate through entering a lineup blindly.  This article is designed to help provide some best practices when using optimal lineups and lineup generators.  

Where should I start?

Out of all of the DFS tools available, the optimal lineup or generator page should not equal your first step of research. The first thing I like look at is a daily lineups page.  Depending on when you begin, starting lineups may not be posted yet, but you are still provided with the pitching matchups, ballpark factors, salaries, weather, and the thoughts of Vegas.  That at least gives you an idea of the slate, and who some of the day's top targets.  From there, a read of the playbook or a look at the player notes and recent game stats provides you with more insight of how the slate may play out.  If a subscriber, the rankings, coaches, and articles break the slate down even more.

Find your guy

While doing the steps above, some narratives and stats may start to stand out to you, and continue to remain in your gut as you try to make the case for or against them.  If you can make a case for rostering that player that is sticking in your gut, then you found your guy.  When I’m doing the playbook or optimals, sometimes I’ll add players that I think will go overlooked, but have a strong feeling about.  That means that I won’t always be able to back up why to play them with stats and recent play, but may be more of a gut call based on pitching opponent or ballpark factors.  If you have that sort of feeling for a certain player at the same salary of who others are recommending, stick with your gut.  At the same time, if nobody is mentioning a player, or he is not showing up in generators as a solid play, that doesn’t mean not to take him.  If something tells you to take him, then don’t get upset at another system for talking you out of it.  This also provides a great opportunity to ask a question in a comment section or forum to hear other’s thoughts.  Please note that this works much better for gpp’s due to sometimes having to take the “chalk” play at  a certain position.

Pitching wise, I’m a strikeout guy.  I’m looking for stats or comments that will help me find my 10K gpp guy.   Every person may have a different set of criteria, but it is important to try to establish your guy before moving on to look at the OL or generator page.  Once on the that page, your guy may be the same price as the player listed in that same position.  If that’s the case, why leave someone off your lineup that you made a stronger case for based off of your own criteria.  On the flipside, maybe you were torn between two pitchers, and agreed with the pitcher chosen to lead the lineup you are comparing to yours.

When should I use an Optimal Lineup or Generator?

I believe there are only two occasions when you should directly copy a lineup to use as your own. The first is when you have an understanding and agreement of the lineup construction and the second being when you're in a pinch.

Your routine is complete, and you are ready to view a sample lineup.  If you agree with the choices due to having an understanding to the reasons why they are there, then fire up that lineup, and get ready to sweat. If you like a pivot option move or third option in a generator more, go with the pivot plays.   If you are unsure as to why certain players are listed or keep popping up, then please ask why.  The staff is ready to answer your questions, and talk strategy.  Same goes for early in the day if wanting to talk last night’s slate, or what you are eying today.   Note:  Doing this just a few minutes before lineups lock may not provide you as good as a result as starting the conversation earlier

Sometimes things just come up.  You qualified for a tournament, or entered a dummy lineup earlier in the day thinking you will have the time, but work ran late, or a last minute kid’s doctor’s appointment springs up.  If you happen to find yourself in this sort of pinch, then the lineups are there for you.  You can use what is in front or you, or change a play or two if personally on another play, or just don’t like someone. Remember that most of the game options involve the ability for late swap.  If entering a dummy lineup or trying to get in a contest last minute, try to at least take players from the latest start time games.  It’s not ideal, but at least buys you some time.

Did you say use generated lineups in a pinch or because I have an itch?

One of the hardest things to do I feel in dfs is to make the decision not to play a slate due to other commitments.  Entering a lineup without having any idea as to why you selected your players adds no value to your hobby and/or investment.  In dfs, you have control in the sense of what contests, and lineups you choose to enter, and when.  Why take that control as well as the sense of enjoyment away due to having the itch to play no matter what the circumstances are.  My personal exception to this rule is when I’m going to attend an event.  I always tke more players than I should from the teams I’m watching without any concern for research.

Create a Story

Saying that lineup stunk, I finished in X place or scored X points reflects your choices more than gives you a breakdown of how the slate took shape.  Take a look at your lineup, the cash-line lineup, and the winning one at the very least , in order to tell a story.  This will help create a picture of why things fell the way they did.  It could be as simple as my pitcher was ejected while the winning lineup’s pitcher had a career night that nobody saw coming, or the bullpen lost my pitcher the win which would have made me cash.  It can also be more complicated such as I had feeling player X would be highly owned due to do great matchup, but I faded him to stand out. Of course, player X did what the matchup called for and blasted off.  If he didn’t though, 65% of players would have had a goose egg in their 1B spot.

Final Thoughts

This was intended to try to make you think about how you use lineup information. Optimal lineups, and lineup generators are featured on many dfs sites, as well as throughout the internet. I do not believe they should be your only source of knowledge for the slate of games you are playing, but your final tool for the building of your lineups.  Fantasy Alarm provides players access to multiple tools, and they create a full picture of the slate.  No matter what sites you receive lineup info from, always try to remember to ask questions, and gain the best understanding of why you hit the plus sign next to a player’s name.  I don’t believe it should be used to fill your itch to play, but used best as a tool to ask questions, and gain insight from a community of sports fans.

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