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Traditional daily fantasy sports contests—such as those offered on DraftKings, Fanduel, Yahoo! or FantasyDraft—use a salary cap approach, which in short means that you must choose players from a large pool that fit within a salary constraint. This format dominates the DFS industry and until recently, has been my sole focus as a player. But such contests have their drawbacks. Foremost among them is that success requires you to research not only the players you roster but every single player in the pool (to rule them out of consideration). Although this challenge is surmountable and even enjoyable for someone with sufficient time and resources, it’s not realistic for most players, especially those approaching DFS as a hobby.
Recognizing the hurdles currently facing DFS hobbyists, PlayLine has developed a new format in which users only need to research a handful of star players. In the PlayLine model, the focus is not on accumulating “fantasy points” in the traditional sense, although there is a small component of that. Instead, users are primarily rewarded points for how close their predicted stat line (or in PlayLine terms, their “PlayLine”) is to the actual result.
To illustrate, PlayLine’s NBA scoring chart is below. If, for example, you predict that LeBron will score 30 points and he ends up with 28, you will receive 28 fantasy points for the first 28 of 30 real-life points you projected. But, more importantly, you’ll also received a 225 point bonus for being within +/- 2 of his actual stat line, leaving you with a total of 253 points for that category. In NBA contests, users will typically (but not always) need to project three stat categories for three players.
All of that said, the fundamentals underlying success on PlayLine remain the same as on other sites. Your primary focus should be your projections. The first step is identifying the player’s historical baseline. That could be their average stats for the current or past season. That will be a great starting point. Second, identify factors which are more or less favorable than average for the player. If a team’s projected total for a game is higher than their average performances, that means that the players on the team are likely to outperform their averages. Or you can break it down even more to stats like match-ups, usage, and injuries. Finally, to confirm you’re in the right ballpark, verify your projections against those offered by other sites for ideas of what to use as your baseline. Ideally you want to create your own numbers to gain a competitive edge because many of the skilled players on PlayLine will be using these as a reference. For more on how to create accurate projections, please check out my Projections Primer.
Once you have determined a player’s projection for each stat for the night, you will want to plug that number in for cash games, but intelligently deviate from it in tournaments. To make an informed decision about how to adjust for a GPP, consider both what other users are likely to do (ownership percentages from prior contests are a good indication) and statistical variance. For example, building on the example above, if you think that most users will pick LeBron for between 25 and 30 points, and you have determined that he does not historically score within that range a large majority of the time, it is a good strategy to choose a PlayLine either under 25 or over 30 points. Many players, especially recreational ones, tend to overestimate how well a star player will perform on a given night, so you might be better off setting a below average performance as your line, especially since the per stat scoring matters little compared to the bonuses.
But be wary of going too contrarian with your picks. There’s plenty of opportunity for success be deviating slightly without going way off the beaten path. You’ll typically want to stick within 1.5-2 standard deviations of your baseline (if you’re unfamiliar with the term, I’d recommend a quick google search). That will give you exposure to about 85-95% of possible outcomes. The further away from average you go, the less accurate you will need to be to win your league because ownership will be more spread out.
Smaller sites like PlayLine tend to yield better ROIs to skilled players because most of the sharks haven’t found their way into the player pool yet. PlayLine does an outstanding job marketing to casual sports fans by using celebrities like Mike Bisping, Roy Hibbert, Riddick Bowe, Lisa Ann, and more to promote the product, so their contests (especially large and lower-entry fee) have a favorable ratio of casual to skilled users.
When you sign up for PlayLine please use the following link: playline.com/r/Awesemo with Promo Code: Awesemo. We have an affiliate agreement with PlayLine which allows us to be paid for players we refer.
Going forward, we’ll be releasing at least one article a week for PlayLine contests in NBA and MLB and possibly more depending on interest.