Interviews

1 year ago

How a Nickname Helps Winning in DFS

While sports are on a break, the time is high to invest into self-education. The most productive way to do it is to learn from the best. We are discussing strategy with one of FanTeam's top players — khan (top-7, with €27,796 in profits). How to draft lineups, what information to ignore, how American DFS industry is different from Europe and what needs tweaking on FanTeam, Read on to find out! 

 

DG: You are successful in both fantasy hockey and football. Is there a universal formula when playing DFS or strategies differ depending on the sport?

khan: I don’t think that there are a lot of sport-specific strategies in DFS. You just need to understand how you beat the field to be a successful player. Finding undervalued players, fading correctly, evaluating players potential — these are the key elements of success in daily fantasy irregardless to sport. 

I believe having your own style of play makes playing daily fantasy more enjoyable as well. I, personally, never just try to cover all of the most obvious outcomes when building lineups. I go for more aggressive strategies, not trying to spread too much. This is what makes me stand out from the crowd, even if this approach is not 100% justifiable.

 

You are one of the best European DFS players. Did you choose such a nickname with leadership in mind from the start?

I have loved competing and winning for as long as I remember myself. That is probably why I picked such a nickname for myself. I was into world history as I was growing up with Genghis Khan being one of my favorite historical figures. I want to believe some of his power has transferred into my nickname.😊

 

Have you ever thought about playing fantasy basketball, American football, UFC, etc.?

It depends on how good of a time investment this is. I know for sure that I could learn a new fantasy sport and be successful playing it rather quickly. I have tried playing daily fantasy tennis, for example, where I showed some good results. Other sports at Fanteam do not entice me because of rather low guarantees. 

 

Do you play any season-long fantasy?

I have 40 teams registered in Fanteam’s 250k EPL season-long game. Half of those are ITM at the moment. I am one of 8 competing in the Super High-Roller with a 2625 euro buy-in. I am currently 5th, but nothing has been decided as yet. 

As far as FPL is concerned, I haven’t really followed my team in the last three years. I enter my team, follow it for a few game weeks, but abandon it shortly. I am just not engaged enough without money at stake.

What is the most important skill for a successful fantasy manager?

Making decisions without recency or confirmation bias. Understanding a player’s potential is also crucial. Based on my experience, people tend to include in-form players in their lineups, often ignoring players whose potential is greater despite a dip of form.

Another important skill for a fantasy-manager is building your lineups based on ownership % in GPP tournaments. You have to understand that playing like the field will never win you anything. 

 

What are the most important aspects of successful preparation? Any websites (apart from DraftGym, obviously) you recommend for slate preparation? 

Working with data is a crucial aspect of preparing for a slate. Data may be interpreted differently and many authors in their previews may twist it to back up their picks. They may manipulate sample size, ignore some stats while focusing on the others etc.

Analyze all the numbers yourself if you want an impartial view on the slate.

Use only trustworthy resources if you don’t have enough time to prepare yourself. Take note of what experienced and respected authors of the DFS community have to say.  

I use FantasyFootballScout like many others as my primary source of EPL data. The members' section has all you need to get ready for a slate. I would recommend recrotogrinders.com and awesemo.com as go-to sites for American leagues. I have been using Rotogrinders paid hockey subscription for three years running. 

I am not a paid subscriber at awesemo.com, but they post a lot of top free content as well as daily NHL and NBA streams. The analysis is top-notch, our European community is still miles away from that level. 

 

While all sports are on a break, let’s remember the biggest tournament on FanTeam with 100k in prizes — WCOFF 2019.

I love the concept. FanTeam realizes there is love for the format and planned to host 3 more similar tournaments in spring 2020 for three different sports. I strongly believe similar tournaments could be held at least twice a year for football, hockey, and basketball if you spread them out evenly.

I do have a couple of concerns as to the structure of these tournaments. First of all, direct buy-ins should be forbidden in such tournaments. Those qualified through satellites must feel special having done so. They should feel safer knowing that sharks can’t buy in directly and infest the fantasy waters. 

Secondly, the number of seats should be limited and known well before the tournament starts. It is all about feeling special, not just playing another Weekly Monster with increased guarantees. 

If the prize pools exceed 100k, you may just make the price of entry higher instead of increasing the number of seats.

Thirdly, the prize pool ratio seems a bit unbalanced at the moment. 30% for first is too much (only 10% goes to the first player in the Weekly Monster, for example). I would rather see numbers around 15-20% for first here. Variance is huge in tournaments like this, and even 0,5 points could make a huge difference. By adjusting and balancing the prize structure, more players will walk away happy come the end of the tournament. 

What was your strategy going into the tournament, did it change after week 1?

I knew week 2 was always going to be decisive. I didn’t want to risk too much in order to take a solid lead after week 1. There were some risky and differential picks of course in Shaqiri and Cancelo to stand out from the crowd a bit. 

My core consisted of pretty much the same attacking players, although I had 3 different defensive stacks in all my 3 teams. Two of them kept a clean sheet and I was ranked 19th and 24th going into week 2.  My third team without a clean sheet to its name was left stranded in 102nd. 

In week 2, I  set to playing more aggressively aiming to climb as high as possible. Norwich was very undervalued that game week, so their vertical stack ended up in both my best teams. I put a lot of faith into Salah, who wasn’t trusted by many managers at that very moment. Liverpool had a tough game against Sheffield, and the Egyptian was coming off 2 blanks. 

I picked Aston Villa’s defensive stack and their leader Jack Grealish away at Burnley for my worst team. The unconventional play was the only thing capable of saving that team. 

 

Are you happy with your overall performance?

I would say that I am, overall. 2 out of 3 of my teams finished in the money. One of those with the Aston Villa stack. On the other hand, it all could’ve gone even better had Norwich won their game against Crystal Palace. Norwich conceded in the 85th minute, the goal was disallowed initially but was given in the end. Vrancic missing a sitter after a corner... I don’t want to boast, but that Vrancic pick was inspirational. Everyone ignored him being the cheapest midfielder on Fanteam. But I was sure he would start on the back of his goal and an assist for the disallowed goal the previous week. He could have made even a bigger difference, but it wasn’t to happen.

 

You hit a massive downstreak from September to December losing nearly €10,000. How did you get out of it?

Downstreaks are inevitable for any professional player. This downstreak was painful, I admit, but I tried to keep a cool head. After all, I was losing money I had previously won playing fantasy. Nothing was going my way, and there seemed no way I could do anything about it. To make matters worse, my beloved hockey fantasy was not getting any love from FanTeam at all. The strongest players simply lost the opportunity to capitalize on their advantage over the field. 

I tried to analyze my lineups, and there were some mistakes made of course, but not enough to explain such a prolonged streak. I just stuck to my game, believed in my strategy and principles and that eventually led me to ITM in the year’s biggest tournament. 

 

What is your take on the new Safety net ruling? 

I am feeling ambivalent about the concept. On the one hand, it has simplified the game. I have always been an advocate of skill in daily fantasy. Being able to predict starting lineups is one of the things that makes a skilled player skilled. On the other hand, Safety net protects you from unpredictable situations, which are many in sports.

Whether you are against or for this feature, we must admit it requires further development and tweaking.

FanTeam staff responsible for pricing should feel increased responsibility for the process. Player prices are more of a factor since the inception of Safety net ruling. Sometimes we are forced to make sub-optimal picks because of the rule.

I suggest separating players into two categories when it comes to Safety Net — defenders and attacking players. In this case, a midfielder may come in for a forward and vice versa if the formation allows it. 

Secondly, allowing a fantasy manager to choose the replacement himself should be allowed. It is very similar to the Late swap feature used on Fanteam previously, and I must admit I am in favor of the latter when choosing between the two. 

 

What would you change in Fanteams scoring, if anything? 

It all comes down to what sport we are talking about. The situation with hockey scoring is horrendous, and simply tweaking the scoring won’t do much. The whole structure of hockey tournaments must be tweaked to eliminate the overwhelming influence your defensive picks have on the result. Salary cap (it is an absurd 92 million per team at the moment) and player pricing should also be drastically changed.  

Speaking of football, the situation is much better but not ideal. One thing I believe is wrong is the impact points. Fantasy is all about individual player performances, I don’t get what a team’s result has to do with that. All right, we may keep the positive impact points as a certain bonus, but let’s scratch the negative points. What we have now is a defensive midfielder without any attacking returns but with a clean sheet with 5 points. A forward on the losing team scoring a goal is only 1 point ahead with 6. There is a certain disbalance here. 

I would also like to mention a touchy issue with captaincy. Some believe captaincy should be abolished as it leads to greater variance. Without captains, all teams will be jammed even closer together which is not good as well. 

I vouch for something in the middle that has been tried and tested on American daily fantasy sites (Draftkings).

x1,5 points for the captain will lead to a slight decrease in variance still keeping captaincy rather important. 

Overall. I think Fanteam should be learning from the tycoons of the DFS industry — Draftkings and Fanduel. Especially when it comes to the sports popular in American leagues. Many things the European community is only talking about have already been implemented across the pond. 

NBA tournaments on Fanteam are very much alike the ones on American sites. I want to believe similar steps will be taken in the near future regarding NHL tournaments on Fanteam, as they are a mess right now. 

 

What would your advice be for a DFS newbie?

The first thing you should do is analyze top players’ lineups. In every sport there are players winning more than others, they are the ones you should learn from. At least till the moment you become as good as them. Another piece of advice is to be aggressive and play contrary to how the field plays. Aim high — becoming as good as Awesemo, who is the best DFS player in the world right now. 

Alexey Bobrov
Author

Alexey Bobrov

Alexey, also known as KJIIOIIIKA, has been playing daily fantasy football since 2015 on various European sites. Scratches his fantasy itch on FanTeam, where he has a net profit of €6000+ with more than 2500 tournaments played and a 30%+ ROI. FanTeam's 2018 World Championship of Fantasy Football finalist. As Head of Content at DraftGym, his mission is to help our young European fantasy community grow. A proud father of two, plays ice-hockey at the regional level, loves board games.

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