Becoming a Better DFS Player: NFL Cash Game Strategy

My name is Jordan “SmartWater” Davis, and I’m the Community Manager for RotoGrinders.com. As far as gameplay goes, I’m primarily a cash game player. I have always been a big fan of cash games and still think they can be highly profitable. However, in order to be a good cash game player, you need to understand the basics and avoid common mistakes.

Week 6 of the NFL season is upon us, and boy has the season been a roller coaster so far! I was quoted earlier in the week saying “I am riding and dying with Dion Lewis this week”. Then Sunday morning comes and there is a ton of negative news about Julio Jones. This made me change my Julio shares to Jamaal Charles, and we all know how that turned out. However, the good thing about daily fantasy sports is that we can turn around and build new teams next week!

I am lucky enough to work in the Daily Fantasy Sports industry so I spend most of my time (sometimes too much) engulfed in research. In DFS, we tend to focus primarily on things we do not have control of, and rightfully so. For example, we control WHO is in our lineups but NOT how well they perform. Although how they perform is obviously extremely important, it is not the only thing we should be focusing on because we simply do not have control over that.

Let’s take look at a few things we DO have control of that will help us be successful.

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Game Selection

One thing we have control of that goes extremely overlooked is game selection. Let’s just start with the most basic form of game selection and that is simply choosing what games you are going to play. I may be a little biased here but I honestly feel that cash games are the way to go.

Have you ever heard the phrase “History tends to repeat itself?” When DFS first started out, cash games were super popular and the main source of action. As time went on players started to improve and cash games became harder and harder. With the giant influx of new people into Daily Fantasy sports (mainly due to the endless amount of commercials for the latest DraftKings promo code), causing the GPP prize pools to become HUGE, it made sense to focus on GPPs at that point in time. Many new people were chasing the dream of turning $20 into $1,000,000 and the cashing line in GPPs was lower than cash games. With the combination of the extremely large field sizes and people willing to put in so many entries, tournaments have become exceptionally harder. Due to these two things, I feel cash games are once again the more +EV route to take.

You will hear a lot of the top players in the world say their balance is around 80% cash games and 20% GPPs and I think this is an extremely smart approach to DFS at this moment in time. Although I have said, in my opinion, cash games should be where your main focus is right now, that does not mean to ignore GPPs altogether. Giving yourself a chance to hit big is important and although it might not happen right away (or to be fair, ever) the fact that is it possible, is worth investing a small portion of your bankroll into.

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Timing

We also have control of WHEN we play daily fantasy. I remember when I first started DFS, I refused to miss a night of action, regardless of the amount of research I knew I could put in. This was clearly a very –EV move and one that I slowly improved on. I totally understand how fun daily fantasy sports are, but we need to treat it more like a business if you truly want to be successful, especially in the long term. Playing every day is fine, if you have time to research and properly prepare for every day’s contests. However, playing without proper preparation is not profitable or wise, and with so many different sports and games available, I recommend that you only play when you feel prepared to do so.

This one may not seem like “sexy” advice, but frankly is probably the most important and the one people want to ignore the most. To be successful in DFS, you have to work hard. You control how hard you work and the amount of time you are willing to put into DFS, or anything in life for that matter. Most of the top guys are where they are because they were simply willing to put in more time and research than anyone else. We live in a society that wants to overlook just how far simple hard work can take us. We also live in a society that looks for the “fast track” for everything, whether it is trying to lose weight, learn a new skill or whatever it may be. Instead of just saying “I am going to go to the gym 4-5 times a week and eat healthy” people are attracted to the “Try this pill and lose 20 pounds in a week!” Sometimes simply putting your head down, refusing to quit, and grinding it out is the only way to reach the success level you are seeking. When you are consistently winning at something, you tend to ignore trying to improve or better yourself. When we are losing at something though, that is when we are willing to try to improve, find our mistakes and fix them, and that goes for fantasy sports as well.

With all that being said, it can really be summed up in one sentence: Make smart, thoughtful choices that put you in the most +EV situations, and embrace the grind! Oh, and don’t forget to have fun, after all, because that is why we all started playing in the first place.

About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.