Staking Bales: An Adventure in Daily Fantasy Football

Staking Bales: An Adventure in Daily Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Sep 6, 2013

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Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. His latest book, How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports, is a data-driven guide to winning on DraftKings. He is also (unofficially) sponsored by GrubHub.

Follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter: @BalesFootball.

Daily Fantasy Football Rule No. 1: Practice sound money management.

There’s no better way to manage your money than to use someone else’s. 4for4 owner Josh Moore has agreed to stake me two grand this year to play on four daily fantasy sites: FanDuel, DraftDay, DraftKings, and StarStreet. We decided to split up the funds so that we could jump on any and every potential +EV situation (positive expected value).

So since I’m using Josh’s money, I can basically be as reckless as possible because, honestly, who really cares if I lose it? Nothing but tournaments for me. In all seriousness, I’m going to use this “Staking Bales” series to 1) show you how to play optimal strategies in daily fantasy, 2) display proper money management, and 3) build a bankroll in a short period of time.

As we go through the season, I’m going to be as transparent as possible regarding my successes and failures. Here’s a spoiler alert: I’m going to lose money some weeks. It might be four weeks. It might be eight. The goal will obviously be to minimize those losses, but they will happen. It would be pretty lousy if I started a daily fantasy series and then went bankrupt in a few weeks, so I’ll really be making sure no stone goes unturned in order to maximize the probability of profitability.

I obviously can’t show you guys every lineup or league I’m playing just because it would take a day to post everything, but I’ll take periodic screenshots of the accounts to show you how things are going. I have two primary goals in regards to growing the bankroll: show steady profit and maintain some form of upside. That means I’ll be playing nearly all heads-up leagues and tournaments.

The heads-up leagues will be the foundation of my daily fantasy repertoire in this series. While I’ll be flexible in my approach, I’ll be putting down somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 percent of my bankroll on heads-up leagues (and a few 50/50s and three-man leagues) each week: 20 percent on my optimal lineup and 10 percent on my No. 2 lineup. You can read more on my heads-up strategy here.

There’s no quicker way to build a bankroll than to win some big leagues and tournaments, however. I’ll never enter so many tournaments that it compromises the integrity of my bankroll, but I’ll do my best to cash in on some big tournaments when the opportunities present themselves. My hope is that I’ll be able to grow my bankroll enough through heads-up matches that I can basically participate in the tournaments “for free” each week.


Site-Specific Values

In my last G+ Daily Fantasy Live Hangout with Josh Moore, I mentioned that there’s really no such thing as value outside of a comparison of a player’s salary to his anticipated production. You shouldn’t be targeting players regardless of the cost. And since many of the sites have such different player salaries, your “targets” should generally change based on price, the scoring system, the starting requirements, and so on. It’s a highly fluid situation.

If you look at this week’s Value Reports, for example, you’ll see tight end Jimmy Graham is the second-best value in the FanDuel Value Report, but the 20th-best value in the DraftDay Value Report. That’s one heck of a difference.

Even so, there will be some players on whom I’m bullish each week on almost every site just because they’re underpriced across the board. Here are a few of those players in Week 1.


QB Carson Palmer

Palmer is a bargain on every daily site. He’s got a great matchup in St. Louis, and Bruce Arians’ high-powered, pass-heavy attack doesn’t seem to be factored into Palmer’s salary just yet. I’m very bullish on Palmer in season-long leagues as well.

Other: Terrelle Pryor


RB David Wilson

Most sites set their Week 1 salaries prior to Andre Brown’s injury, so Wilson’s workload isn’t priced into his salary. He’s going to be an extremely popular pick, so you might want to consider fading him in tournaments, but he’s still a sensational value.

Other: Adrian Peterson


WR Mike Williams

Williams is undervalued in general as the second option in Tampa Bay, but he’s an efficient red zone receiver who is probably a favorite to score in each and every game. He’s in a lot of my lineups this week; the Jets will likely focus their attention on Vincent Jackson. He’s probably best-suited for heads-up matches, but he’s not an automatically poor choice in tournaments since he always has two-touchdown upside.

Other: Lance Moore


TE Jermaine Gresham

Gresham’s perceived value has plummeted since the Bengals drafted Tyler Eifert, but rookie tight ends rarely provide relevant production. At least to start the year, Eifert shouldn’t steal an inordinate number of Gresham’s targets. Gresham is probably a better option in heads-up leagues than tournies because he’s a pure value player as opposed to someone with an extremely high ceiling.

Other: Zach Sudfeld


Moving Forward

Hopefully, this series will help you learn the daily fantasy ropes this year. There’s a lot of money to be made right now, and it’s only going to improve in the coming years. I’ll do my best to show you the right way to approach the game in order to sustain long-term profits.

Each week, I’ll give you an update on my status, using specific results to display broader concepts. So buy the Value Reports, sign up for some daily sites, and join me for the journey. And maybe give Josh an e-mail because I hear he’s just handing out 2k like it’s nothing.

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