An Introduction to Bankroll Management in Daily Fantasy Football
"If it ain't about the money, ain't no use in you ringin' my line, stop wastin' my time."
This line would seem to indicate that T.I. is your go-to guy when it comes to managing your bankroll in daily fantasy sports. He clearly has no interest in doling out thoughts on stacking, paying up at running back, or selecting kickers. He's all about the money.
I would beg to differ. In the same song ("About the Money", for those of you who don't obsess over mediocre hip hop like I do), Young Thug says something that can act as a red flag when it comes to bankroll management: "And my bankroll got a big dip. She gon' bring it on a big ship."
To me, this seems as though Young Thug is considering chasing his losses. After his bankroll dips, he quickly transitions to talking about a large aquatic vehicle.
Don't be like Young Thug. Don't chase your losses in daily fantasy. Let's go through some ways you can avoid doing so in order to get the most enjoyment out of this sweet activity as possible. Preferably without said dip in bankroll.
If you've read our piece on bankroll management for low-volume players, you can skim past this part. It's just important to define bankroll before diving into the rest of the article.
Bankroll isn't the amount of money that you have in your accounts on various daily fantasy sites. Rather, it is the amount of money you'd be willing to dedicate to daily fantasy at a given time. If you have $100 in your account, but you would be willing to deposit an additional $200 at that time, then your bankroll should actually be considered $300. If the total in your account is the exact amount that you'd be willing to spend, then you should consider that your bankroll.
Although I wouldn't recommend it, there are some who will have more money in their account than they are willing to use. If you have that same $100 in your account, but you're only willing to devote $80 of it to daily fantasy, then your bankroll should actually be considered to be $80. It's not likely a wise strategy, but it should be noted regardless.
To sum that up, from this point forward, bankroll shall be defined as, "The amount of money you are willing to dedicate to daily fantasy sports at any given time." Now, let's look into how you should be using said bankroll.
How Much Should You Be Playing at Any Given Time?
First, it's important to clear something up: you should be playing whatever amount you want to each week. Don't let some idiot like me send you in a direction you don't want to go. At the end of the day, you will need to formulate your own attack plan for handling your bankroll. This is more to help people who are looking for guidance on how to get started.
The general consensus for each slate you play is the 80-20-10 rule. This means you play 80 percent of your entry fees into cash games (50/50's and head-to-heads, where you only need to beat about half the field in order to cash) and 20 percent into tournaments (in which a smaller portion of the entrants win money, but the winnings increase the higher you finish in the standings). The 10 portion refers to using 10 percent of your bankroll for each slate (in the NFL's case, each week).
This is a great place to start as you're first diving in. However, as you get further into your experience with daily fantasy, you can obviously tailor things to your preferences and strengths. If you feel comfortable playing more than 10 percent of your bankroll on a particular slate, then you have every right to do so. From my own personal experience, though, I choose not to as I prefer not to inherit the risk associated with doing so.
Additionally, you'll most likely deviate from the 80-20 portion of the rule at some point. Everyone has their strengths. Some people are stronger at cash games and struggle putting together a high-upside tournament roster. Then it makes sense to maybe skew towards 85-15 if you feel so inclined. Maybe you are able to consistently hit with your tournament picks, leading you to prefer something closer to 75-25. But from the get-go, starting at 80-20 is a decent strategy.
Again, all of these are recommendations. You can shape your game however you want. However, no matter what you prefer, it will be helpful to track your performance. This will make me sound like a nerd, but I absolutely love that aspect.
Tracking Your Performance
I once downloaded 80 spreadsheets from FanGraphs in one Friday night. I am mildly obsessed with them, and I have no shame in admitting this. As such, it should come as no shock that I use them to track my performance in daily fantasy sports.
Doing so is pretty simple. I write down what type of contest it was, in which place I finished (in the form of a percentile), and the net winnings on the entry (winnings minus entry fee). This way, I can easily see in which types of contests I am having the most success. If I see that I'm performing well in tournaments, I can shift my mindset when I'm attacking a slate in order to best play to my strengths.
Additionally, this also allows me to see when I'm struggling, which is critical. We don't want to be Young Thug. If I'm in a cold streak, that's when I'm looking to scale back my investment so that I can reevaluate my process. I'm not going to start playing more money and chase losses. That's a slippery slope, friends, and the quickest way to take the fun out of the games.
If you're not into charting your contests each night (or reliving that time you rostered Johnny Manziel in cash games, in my case), you really don't have to. Sites will allow you to download your entire history with just a few clicks.
I'm sure that this is available on all sites, but let's focus on FanDuel here. If you're on the main page and logged into your account, there should be a tab at the top of the page that says, "History." Click there.
This will have a list of the contests you have entered on that site. You can just skim that if you want, but you can also download all of the information. There is a button where you can click "Download as CSV." If you download that, it will have all of the information discussed above, along with your score in those contests and a link to the leaderboards. This way, you can check what process you used when you were successful, what you did when you flamed out, and what those at the top of the charts were doing that you may not have done. It's a great way to check yourself and make sure you are making sound decisions, hopefully preventing a dip in the bankroll we discussed at the beginning.
Once you've been playing for a while, all of this will become second nature. You won't need to spend time thinking about it as you will simply have a process you follow for each slate. So if it seems intimidating, it won't be that way for long.
Bankroll management may be the least sexy discussion to have regarding daily fantasy sports. But it could also be the most important. Knowing what you're good at and keeping yourself in check is crucial to finding long-term success and keeping things entertaining.