Four Downs to NFL DFS: Third Down
In this preseason series, my goal is to get you ready for the upcoming NFL DFS season. It promises to be the industry’s biggest one yet, with records already being set (e.g. DraftKings’ $2,000,000 first prize offering) and player acquisition efforts in full swing everywhere. Whether you’ve dabbled in DFS in the past or are completely new to this awesome way to play fantasy sports, we will get you ready by Week 1.
In Four Downs, I’ll be comparing the DFS lineup construction process to play calling in the NFL. Sure, it’s a little gimmicky, but here’s why it works. 1) You get a finite number of positions (slots) to fill with the goal of scoring a lot of fantasy points, like teams get a finite number of chances to move the chains. 2) Every week the context in which you fill those slots is different, just as the offense faces different defensive formations throughout a game. 3) Every player you insert into your lineup progressively restricts the options you leave yourself for the remaining slots, just as not all plays are (reasonably) available to coaches on all downs.
If you take away anything from this series, let it be the idea that DFS is a puzzle with a different solution each and every week. If you try to play catch up, chase points, or do what worked last week, you won’t be very successful. The trick is staying ahead of the game and exploiting current opportunities and weaknesses. No one strategy/solution/process works every time. The forthcoming strategy series should serve as a framework for how to think about the game of NFL DFS, and act as a complement to our more specific weekly in-season DFS articles.
On First Down, I discussed how the way in which you start your lineup off dictates how the rest of it will come together, and highlighted the criteria that make me lean toward starting with a quarterback or running back. In Second Down, I talked about wide receivers, and the qualities I’m looking for to build out my pass catching corps. Those were the easy downs. Third down is where the pressure starts to build and the drive either lives to see another play or dies at the foot of a punter.