This post is likely to be a little light on insight into this year’s lineups, sleepers or busts. However, I’m going to discuss the tactics I used last year to turn my initial $50 investment into a $497 profit. I also played $75-$100 in games per week.
So, even at the conservative end of those games played, I won more than $1,500 at FanDuel last year. But that’s on the book cover. It’s not the whole story. There were a lot of ups (way, way ups) and downs (oh, gawd) along the way. Don’t worry, I’m not going to document each event because I don’t think they’ll help you.
Let’s start with some helpful statistics.
Looking at all of my contests from September and November of last year, I came up with these statistics:
- I won three leagues and finished second twice
- Top 50% finishes: 69% of the time
- Top 30% finishes: 47% of the time
- Top 12% finishes: 20% of the time
Risk vs. reward
These statistics are important because: A) I think most dedicated fantasy players can hit those marks and B) those percentage cutoffs – 50, 30, 12 – are near what most of FanDuels contests stop paying out. In 50/50 and double up leagues, roughly 50% of the players get paid. In several 40- and 220-player leagues, roughly 30% get paid. In the larger games, about 9 percent get paid.
So, in theory, I/we should be able to play in 50/50 games and win more often than I/we lose. Statistically, it’s the safest bet. It also comes with the lowest reward. It’s easy to get lost in the big payouts when you hit a couple.
Best finishes, big payouts
Here are some of my best finishes from last year, with payout and entry fee in parentheses:
- 3 of 198 ($500 payout, $10 entry)
- 1 of 555 ($200, $2)
- 5 of 2,470 ($100, $2)
- 1 of 250 ($100, $2)
- 5 of 446 ($70, $5).
You can tell just by looking at those numbers that I probably should have had a better profit than I did. However, I had a $600 week, then followed it up with a $270 week and thought I had everything figured out.
‘Don’t get cocky’
I ignored the immortal words of Han Solo: “Great, kid. Don’t get cocky.” I went big on a few games — not $535 entry fee big, but I entered a $25 game or three. It doesn’t take long at that rate, so be careful.
Withdraw after every big win
Luckily, I did get into the habit of withdrawing every time I hit on $100 or more. That meant I had to add funds a couple times throughout the year. But every time you do that you get entered into a free game for that week, so it wasn’t bad. I won some cash on those free games too.
555 or fewer, I guess
As you can tell by the list above, I had my best return when trying to beat 555 or fewer competitors. Still, I played in a lot of large $1 and $2 leagues. I really feel FanDuel is at its best in those formats. Playing in a lot of those formats also helped me suss out the best sleepers and slightly undervalued stars. Some of my best lineups were filled out Sunday, with a few dollars I had leftover from earlier in the week. Winning $6 here and $8 there in those leagues also really helped me keep the ball rolling week to week.
I’m going to go into more detail about picking lineups in my next post, but let’s talk briefly.
Start with your quarterback. Do you want to start an expensive, “sure thing” like Drew Brees or a sleeper like Jake Locker? This will determine the rest of your lineup. If you go with a Locker, you can be stacked at other slots. With a Brees, you’re going to have to skimp in a couple places. Why quarterback and not running back or wide receiver? I don’t know. It’s just how I do.
Now, I usually play quite a few $1 and $2 leagues, which allows me to pick a lineup or two where I say I’m going to put Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy together and fill in around them. I’ll do the same later for a Calvin Johnson–A.J. Green team. But if you’re only going to play one or two lineups per week, start with a great quarterback with a better than average (or better) matchup or a sleeper quarterback with a great matchup.
2013 so far: Nothing to see here
I’ve followed the same tactics so far this year and I’ve been very average. I made a $75 investment to start and I started this week with $80.40, so I’m up about $5. Still, I only barely missed on a handful of opportunities in Week 2. I’m very excited to see what happens in Week 3.
The IRS is watching
Finally, let’s go over some small type stuff.
Ever freak out when it comes time to do your taxes? I’m sure some of you do, but it is a rarity for me. My success at FanDuel led to some sweats as zero hour approached this spring.
If you make $500 or more from one source you have to report it to the IRS as income. Last year, I was over the limit, which led to FanDuel contacting me initially. But they never followed up and I didn’t pay attention. I sent them a panic email as tax day approached, but because I had entered (disastrously) a few fantasy baseball contests I had dropped below the limit.
So, for the record: FanDuel will contact you if you are over the limit. They will ignore you if you are under the limit. They will report your income if it is more than $500. Don’t ignore their emails when they show up.
Other posts in this series
More advanced FanDuel tips and tricks