8 contrarian DFS picks for Week 16
“Doing what everyone else is doing at the moment, and therefore what you have an almost irresistible urge to do, is often the wrong thing to do at all.” – Philip Fisher
This is fairly embarrassing to type, but before I read books on game theory and wrote papers in college on the prisoner’s dilemma, my first foray into the subject was from playing Pokemon. In high school, when I was still very much uncool, my friends and I spent countless hours playing Pokemon against each other. Eventually we took it more seriously and started playing competitively online. A few months after that I was the No. 1 ranked player in the UU teir (I don’t expect you to know what that is) for an entire summer. Then I got a girlfriend and stopped playing.
The game was fairly simple compared to other “nerdy” games like Magic the Gathering. Almost all of the best teams, at the time, had the same core of 15-20 Pokemon and was built around prediction and defense. Most players would have 2-4 Pokemon per team called “walls” or “tanks”, which were meant to counter the more offensive types. Teams also typically had at least one Pokemon to set up hazards onto the field or inflict status conditions onto their opponent. Matches typically lasted 20-40 turns and it was fairly easy to predict what your opponent was going to do and what Pokemon they had. Using this strategy, I did okay. Eventually, after a disturbing amount of time spent researching and experimenting with different strategies, I overhauled my approach.
I ended up building an all-out offensive team meant to counter opponents who played more more-methodically and defensively. Most of my Pokemon were much weaker and easier to take out than my opponents, but it was also easier for my team to sweep through an opponent with just one or two Pokemon. I still relied heavy on prediction and used Pokemon-types that allowed me to switch in without taking any damage. My team was based on the overall chemistry of the team – each Pokemon was made stronger by the other Pokemon I had.
Maybe most importantly, I used uncommon Pokemon that most of my opponents had not countered before, and therefore did not know how to predict. When I did use a fairly popular Pokemon, I would always equip it with an uncommon or unexpected moveset, so my opponent’s predictions were often wrong. My matches typically lasted much shorter than most of my opponents. While a typical match might last 10 minutes, mine were rarely more than five minutes long. This allowed me to rank up and move up in the leaderboard at a much quicker pace.
I had adopted a contrarian strategy and used it to great success. This is the same thing I have done in DFS tournaments. When 30 percent of my opponents are using one player, I’ll fade that player almost every single time. If I had that player and he went off, I’m still only on par with at least 30 percent of the field. If he disappointed, I’m up on almost a third of the field. I’ll often roster 1-3 players at an ownership percentage near or below five percent. If those players go off for a big game, it gives me a massive advantage on almost every other lineup. As you’ve seen this season, due to what is likely just laziness and groupthink, the massively owned players rarely perform to expectation.
Some of the players I’ll be targeting this week are….