Four Easy Ways to Improve Your Fantasy Skills

The annual estimate of how much money American businesses lose on fantasy sports is both a silly and a staggering thing. While the amount probably bears no relation to reality, it’s a clear indication that Americans are crazy about their fantasy sports.

The emerging Daily Fantasy Sports market lets people cash in on their fantasy prowess in a fully-legal format that is catching on in huge numbers. The two leading services, DraftKings and FanDuel, have about 1 million active customers, with numbers climbing every day.

What are some simple things a fantasy owner can do to make it more likely that they’ll win their league? The tips below are designed to help anyone new to fantasy sports get a jump-start on their league success, but the information is also good for owners who have played for years and find themselves in a fantasy rut.

Establish a Routine in DFS

Having a routine of some sort is important for success over the course of a fantasy season. Different people will have different routines – some owners set their fantasy basketball lineups for the entire season over the course of a long weekend, making changes live as needed. Other owners will want to adjust lineups on game day only, making choices on the fly. It doesn’t matter what kind of routine an owner establishes as long as they have one.

Why? Complacency is the enemy of fantasy sports. Settling for a poor draft (instead of trading and acquiring your way to a better roster) might be the most obvious sign of a complacent fantasy owner, but there are others. A routine, regardless of its details, is the best antidote to complacency. Here are some ideas for establishing a fantasy routine.

Keep up with the news related to the sport in question. For some, this means catching fifteen minutes of SportCenter every day during the season. Others subscribe to fantasy magazine and special TV and radio stations and obsess over statistical details all season long. This part is up to each individual owner.

Set an alert on your phone to check in with your league(s), your players, your rosters, and any proposed trades or league trash talk you have to respond to. We all carry our iPhones and Android tablets and stuff with us wherever we go – use that alarm for something other than a hangover wakeup call.

Speaking of your phone, use its push feature in combination with different sports-related news and advice apps (many of them totally free) for a free daily reminder about your players, their teams, or sports news in general. It takes some time to research and find the right service for your needs, but this will help you get into the necessary routine and make you more knowledgeable about the game at the same time. It’s worth the elbow grease

Think (and Read) Like a Sports Bettor

We’re not saying you have to lay a sawbuck down on the big game this weekend (although it is an awful lot fun), we’re just saying that fantasy owners looking for a jump-start should tap into the massive pool of resources available for sports bettors.

Sports betting strategy is usually written by people who put real money on the line on these wagers regularly – they have an extra incentive to get things right.

Forums, message boards, strategy sites, and even data available through bookmaker apps and websites themselves can all be extremely useful for fantasy owners. Start with a simple sports betting how-to article and move on to more advanced stuff from there. A wealth of information is available to people who place wagers on sporting events, and much of it applies directly to fantasy sports strategy

Make Bold Decisions

Some of us take our fantasy ownership very seriously. Whether the prize is bragging rights or cash money, truly dedicated fantasy owners want to win as a point of pride. There is an old saying – “Providence favors the brave.” What does a brave fantasy owner look like?

Different owners use bravery in different ways. For some, it means taking big risks during the draft on a roster full of sleeper picks. These guys ignore the conventional wisdom in favor of what they identify as “high-value” picks. An example would be a fantasy football player selecting a top-rated Team Defense in an early round. This may be the bold decision that saves his ass in the playoffs.

Another kind of brave owner will immediately mine the free agents leftover after the draft to grab high-value players. This applies during the regular season, too, post-draft.

So how does a person learn to make bold decisions? Like anything else, it takes practice. Make bold decisions in your everyday life – try the new Thai restaurant on the corner, buy a bold-colored shirt and wear it to work, rent a sports car for the weekend, whatever it takes to practice boldness. It will pay off (at some point) in your fantasy career.

Learn to Find Your Own Draft Sleepers

All fantasy sports, from golf to NASCAR and everything in between, have one thing in common. Success in all of them depends heavily on a good draft. Recognizing the best-value player on the board means more than picking the guy with the most-familiar name, particularly after the first round or two.

Statistically-speaking, a sleeper is any player with a higher fantasy value than his average draft position indicates. A sleeper is basically an under-valued product. Identifying under-valued products is the mainstay of investors, realtors, salesmen, and (yes) fantasy owners. Here’s a quick guide to finding them.

Look for players in a more-opportune position in their real-world lineup. These may be guys that changed teams or a solid sixth-man who finds himself in a starting role on an NBA team. A sleeper could be a rookie running back backing up a star with a long history of injury in the NFL. Basically, look for a player who has (or may soon have) increased responsibility.

Look for veterans preparing for new contracts. This is another good piece of advice that works pretty much across-the-board for fantasy sports. It’s a shame, but there is a clear trend among veterans to turn in solid fantasy numbers during seasons before they’re due for a new contract.

Look for late-season studs. In fantasy sports, a stud is any player putting up big fantasy numbers. In most fantasy sports, the playoffs involve a limited number of teams during the last few weeks of a season. That means fewer fantasy owners paying attention to late-season stat jumps and heroics. This type of sleeper is commonly found in basketball, a sport in which players often take a year or more to blossom, often doing so at the end of the season.

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