Is it better to focus on one cash game lineup, or spread it out between multiple?
Well it depends…
Strategies vary even among the best NBA DFS players. One tactic is to run just one lineup in cash games, while the other is to spread action over multiple lineups. Both strategies have merit and downside and it’s largely a matter of personal preference.
The majority of the top Daily Fantasy Sports players run one lineup per slate in cash games, particularly for sports where there are contests every day. The main reason for this is that these DFS players feel that with each additional lineup they are sacrificing expected value(EV) with each additional lineup that they use. To illustrate this futher, imagine you picked the optimal lineup(and you magically knew it was the optimal lineup) for a given slate in terms of expected value. If the slate was played out infinite times your lineup would score the most points of any possible lineup on average, thus making it have the highest EV. If you add a second lineup that lineup will preform worse on average than the first lineup. The theoretical expected return on investment for the second lineup is less than that of the first lineup and one lineup players are not willing to give up this edge.
Playing only one lineup is also easier to handle. It is easier to edit and manage one lineup than multiple lineups. Think about the times there’s late injury news and the top play of the day opens up. Would you rather have to swap that new top play into multiple lineups, potentially having to reconfigure entire teams multiple times, or just one quick swap out of your single lineup?
Assuming a DFS player is actually capable of choosing the optimal lineup, the one lineup strategy can still lead to more day to day risk than running multiple lineups. There is a great deal of variance in athletes’ performances on a daily basis and this is why some DFS players choose to run multiple lineups.
In the example used earlier the second lineup had a lower expectation than the first, but both lineups can still have a positive expected ROI. Multiple lineup DFS players are willing to sacrifice ROI on subsequent lineups if it means less risk. These players diversify their picks when they feel the EV of two players is very similar. If Derrick Favors has a only a slightly lower expected value than Lamarcus Aldridge, a multi lineup player could pick each player in different lineups. If Derrick Favors gets hurt or just has an off game this player’s entire investment for the day is not affected, unlike a one lineup player.
When implementing the multi lineup strategy it is important not to sacrifice too much EV for the sake of diversification. If Anthony Davis is a late scratch after being healthy for a while, you should still roster Ryan Anderson in all of your lineups as his value is too good to pass up and the EV lost from not playing him will likely make your lineup as a whole negative EV.
So how many lineups should YOU play?
If you have a high risk tolerance, do not want to spend a lot of time editing lineups and don’t want to sacrifice expected value then you should play one lineup.
If you have a low risk tolerance, feel confident devoting time to editing multiple lineups, and are willing to give up small amounts of expected value in the name of diversification then you should play multiple lineups.