As daily fantasy sports have continued to rise in popularity, DFS players have been looking for any available edge to beat the competition. This has left players searching for the best DFS lineup optimizer to help them create winning lineups.
Lineup Optimizers (sometimes referred to as lineup generators) are tools to research and create lineups for sites like FanDuel and DraftKings. While many people think of them just as a tool to create hundreds of lineups in a matter of seconds, they’re also an incredibly powerful tool for doing all the player and game DFS research needed to be a winning DFS player.
With the rapid growth of the daily fantasy industry, there’s been no shortage of businesses trying to take advantage of the opportunities this has created. This leaves fantasy players with an overwhelming number of products to choose from. For this reason, I’ve created this blog to help weed out the good optimizers from the bad. Here I’ll display only products that have actually been used by many players to win on FanDuel and DraftKings.
The Best DFS Lineup Optimizers
RotoQL is without a doubt my choice for the best daily fantasy lineup optimizer.
As I mentioned in my introduction, it was important for me to only list products that were actually being used by daily fantasy players to win money. Not only have RotoQL users already won over $5 million since its launch in December of 2015, but RotoQL was co-founded by Saahil Sud, arguably the best and most successful daily fantasy player of all time.
Saahil Sud, formerly known by his DFS handle Maxdalury, has been at the top of the daily fantasy leaderboards over the past few years. In 2015 alone, he won more than $3.5 million as mentioned in this Boston Globe article.
Sud’s DFS approach has been one that focused using analytics and software to make his decisions and that approach has been packed into the RotoQL tools.
The RotoQL Lineup Optimizer
The RotoQL optimizer allows you to generate lineups for NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and Golf contests on DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo Draft. It can generate up to 500 lineups in a matter of seconds. You can quickly lock, exclude, and favorite players to either include or exclude from your lineups.
In addition to the main optimizer tab, there’s also additional research tabs for game weather and odds, player fantasy stats, integrated projections, and insights.
- Supports DraftKings, FanDuel, and Yahoo.
- Create lineups for NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and Golf contests.
- Create up to 500 Lineups in seconds.
- Detailed game information including weather, Vegas odds, and player injuries.
- Detailed player stats and fantasy specific stats.
- Integrated projections from the best sources in the industry.
- Player insights to help you identify value picks.
- 3 Pricing Plans to fit any DFS player’s needs at monthly prices of $29.99, $59.99, and $99.99.
RotoQL is my clear choice for the best lineup optimizer. One issue you may come across when using the optimizer is that it can take a bit of time to learn how to use. It's debatable whether or not I should have even listed this as a down side to RotQl, as the only reason it can be difficult to use is because it's packed with so many cool features.
Daily Fantasy Nerd is another fantastic choice for those looking for DFS tools. While daily fantasy nerd is not attached to a big name like Saahil Sud, it is still an incredibly well made set of tools that can help you become more profitable in your DraftKings and FanDuel contests.
Since its launch in early 2015, Daily Fantasy Nerd has had multiple users win over $100,000. Like RotoQL, daily fantasy nerd offers a lineup optimizer, but they also offer a bankroll tracker that can be used to analyze your results.
Daily Fantasy Nerd’s Lineup Optimizer
The lineup optimizer supports creating lineups on FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo, and Fantasy Draft for NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL contests. It can create up to 150 lineups at once. Similar to with RotoQL, you’re able to lock, exclude and like players within the optimizer.
Within the optimizer tab, you’re shown a great deal of both player and game stats for the slate you’re researching. By clicking on a player, you’re able to see detailed game logs of every game they’ve played over the past two seasons.
The main appeal of Daily Fantasy Nerd over some of its competitors is its clean design and easy to use functionality. I would definitely recommend it to DFS players looking for a simple, but effective lineup generator.
Daily Fantasy Nerd’s Bankroll Tracker
The DFN Bankroll Tracker is, in my opinion, the best resource for analyzing your past results for FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo, and Fantasy Draft contests. It’s certainly worth noting that while the optimizer only supports the main 4 sports, the bankroll tracker is able to analyze results for contests in nearly every fantasy sport.
The Bankroll Tracker allows you to filter your results by things like contest types, dates, sport, and entry fees. This allows you to see exactly which contests your successful in and which contests you need to improve on.
Daily Fantasy Nerd Features
- Supports DraftKings, FanDuel, Yahoo, and Fantasy Draft.
- Create lineups for NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL contests.
- Create up to 150 lineups (depending on your plan).
- Detailed game information.
- Detailed player stats and game logs for the past two seasons.
- Custom Daily Fantasy Nerd Projections that were ranked #1 in accuracy during the 2016 NFL season by Daily Overlay.
- Bankroll Tracker to analyze results for every DFS sport.
- 3 Pricing Plans to fit your needs at monthly prices of $24.99, $44.99, and $79.99.
Daily Fantasy Nerd Review
Daily Fantasy Nerd's Lineup Optimizer has created a fantastic lineup optimizer and bankroll tracker. It's incredibly sleek and simple to use. It would be nice if DFNerd supported golf contests, but otherwise all in all it's a great product.
Why Should You Use a Lineup Optimizer?
The primary benefits of using lineup optimization tools are:
- Having ability to quickly generate up to hundreds of lineups in very short periods of time.
- Having a daily fantasy research platform where you have all the information you could ever need in one place.
I’ll break down for you below more detail on why these benefits are important and how to use them to help you win at DFS.
Benefits of Creating Multiple Lineup in DFS Contests
The most obvious benefit to using a lineup optimizer is having the ability to create multiple lineups in a short period of time. Having multiple lineup entries can be beneficial in both cash games (head to head and double up contests) and GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments). By running multiple lineups, you cut down on your risk and increase your chances for cashing in contests.
Running Multiple Lineups in Cash Games
There’s been much debate over whether players should run one lineup or multiple lineups in double ups and head to head contest types.
On one side, you have players who think you’re sacrificing “expected value” by running multiple lineups. These players believe that they’re able to create one lineup better than all the rest, thus any subsequent lineup they could make would be less profitable.
On the other side of the argument, you have players like Saahil Sud, who use multiple lineups in cash games. By running multiple cash game lineups, you cut down on risks by “give yourself outs” when players in one of your lineups underperform. The idea of running multiple entires is that, while in theory you may be giving up expected value, the decreased risk is worth this sacrifice.
Additionally, I think it’s important to remember no daily fantasy player has a perfect system for creating optimal lineups. DFS is not the same as a solvable game like poker, where you can calculate optimal plays with certainty. There’s room for error in DFS and what you think may be a slightly suboptimal lineup, may actually be better due to your imperfect system.
Lastly, even if you were a perfect DFS player in terms of picking the best “expected value” lineup, you still may want to run multiple lineups to give yourself a daily “hedge”. While I think it’s important to stick to a core group of players for your cash game lineups each day, by diversifying your less confident picks you can decrease the number of days where you lose nearly 100% of your entries. In double ups in particular, the difference of just one position of your roster may be enough to make one entry a winning one and the other a losing entry
Running Multiple Lineups in GPPs
In guaranteed prize pool tournaments, there’s much less debate on how many different entries you should use. Almost all winning DFS players are in favor of running multiple entries in these contests.
GPPs, like the DraftKings Millionaire Maker, often allow you to enter up to 150+ different entries into these contests. These tournaments can include up to hundreds of thousands of players, so most winnings DFS players feel the need to run multiple lineups to give them a better chance of taking down first prize.
With professional daily fantasy players all running multiple entries into GPPs, this initially left recreational players feeling that Pros had an unfair advantage. Recreational players did not have access to programs and software used to generate and manage a huge number of lineups. With the introduction of products like RotoQL and Daily Fantasy Nerd, the playing field has now been made even. Now any DFS player has the tools to compete.
It’s also worth noting that as DFS becomes competitive, mass entering GPPs will likely continue to be the most profitable way to approach DFS. GPPs are more likely to attract common recreational player, due to the allure of huge prize pools and this makes them the softest contest type.
If you’re a DraftKings or FanDuel player without a huge bankroll, you should likely focus on entering more contest entries into GPPS, rather than entering a few lineups into higher buy in contests. You should also make sure to use good bankroll management and reduce your risk of ruin each day you play.
Using a DFS Lineup Optimizer for Researching Players
Daily Fantasy Sports is a game of who can apply information to create the best lineups. This is true whether you’re single entering a contest or multi entering it. As a daily fantasy player, there’s a great deal of information to find and process, such as:
- Player Stats
- Recent Player Performance
- Player Matchups
- Player Volatility
- Roster Changes
- Vegas Lines
- And More
A lineup optimizer can greatly cut down on the time it takes to find all of this information, while also conveniently organizing it all in one place. I’d argue that it’s nearly impossible to correctly do research without a lineup optimizer, similar product, or a custom-built spreadsheet/software. Without a strong tool, it’s just too easy to miss a piece of information that would have changed your decision-making process.
Will a Lineup Optimizer Make Me a Winning DFS Player?
It’s important to remember that a lineup optimizer is just a tool, not a magic money printing machine. There’s no guarantee that using one will automatically make you a winning player.
With that said, a lineup optimizer without a doubt can help you become a better DFS player. If you use it to properly research lineups, an optimizer can quickly pay for itself. Just make sure you think like a professional with your approach to DFS if you want to be a profitable player.
Here’s some tips to being a successful DFS player:
- ALWAYS use proper bankroll management
- NEVER risk more than you can afford to lose
- Treat the money you enter into daily fantasy sports as you would any investment.
- Be sure to adjust if your strategies aren’t working.
- Study and learn from what the successful DFS players are doing.
The Best Lineup Generators for Each Sport
Luckily you don’t have to worry about purchasing a separate lineup optimizer for each sport, as long as you’re using it to play one of the 4 major sports. Both RotoQL and Daily Fantasy Nerd are able to be used for these sports (plus golf for RotoQL). For any of these sports, I’d still recommend RotoQL as the best option.
NFL Lineup Optimizer Tips
There’s no denying that daily fantasy football is by far the biggest sport on DraftKings and FanDuel. This has led these sites to hosting huge contests, like DraftKings Millionaire Maker. The majority of these contests are multi-entry and I highly recommend taking advantage of this.
With fantasy football having already been huge, pre DFS, many of these players have started to play NFL DFS. This also means more recreational players who are not putting in the time to research and make good lineups. By putting in a little research into the fundamentals of daily fantasy football, you can quickly become a profitable player, especially in the soft fields of GPPs.
Here’s a few tips to get you started when optimizing lineups:
- Use filters to make sure you don’t allow offensive players to be facing your roster’s defense. When an offensive player scores points against a defense, the defense loses points.
- Stack your quarterback with at least one receiver or tight end from the same team (typically don’t stack more than 2 receivers though). This way when your quarterback scores fantasy points, your WR/TEs also score fantasy points.
- Limit the number of RBs, WRs, and TEs on the same team to 1 or 2.
- Be cautious with having a running back with a quarterback or receiver/tight end from the same team. There’s a limited number of offensive opportunities and unless a RB is receiving a pass, he’s cutting into all of his teammates chances to score fantasy points.
- If mass entering lineups for GPPs, build around a few stacks.
- Focus mostly on a core group of players that you have in the majority of your lineups.
All of these should be able to be set via filters within the lineup optimizer.
NBA Lineup Optimizer Tips
In daily fantasy NBA and MLB contests, it’s even more important to use a lineup optimizer than it is in NFL contests. This is primarily due to the much shorter amount of time you have to prepare in NBA and MLB contests.
In the NBA there’s other crucial reasons to use an optimizer, frequent injuries and days of rest that occur in professional basketball. If you’ve played even a few days of NBA DFS, you’re probably all too aware of the issues this presents as a daily fantasy player. Up until roster lock you need to be ready to edit lineups, as an injured player can totally change the course of optimal lineups on any day. Not only do you need to make sure you don’t have any injured players on your roster, but you also must make sure to take advantage of player role changes that occur due to starting lineup changes. With a NBA lineup optimizer, you’re able to quickly edit all of your lineups to reap the benefits of last minute changes like these.
Here are some additional NBA lineup optimizer tips:
- Make sure Vegas odds and matchups are a big part of your DFS process. Aim to pick players from games with high totals and close spreads. Also look for players facing soft defenses.
- Pay close attention to players’ minutes trends. NBA DFS is all about minutes, as every additional minute a player plays is more opportunities to score fantasy points.
- Monitor injuries until lineups lock and have backup plans for what you’ll do once a questionable player’s status is officially announced. Make sure to avoid rostering injured players and take advantage of players moving into bigger roles.
- Don’t worry too much about how many players you have from the same team.
MLB Lineup Optimizer Tips
Like daily fantasy basketball, daily fantasy baseball can be difficult to manage due to contests taking place every day. It’s also, for the most part, the only major sport where weather plays a huge factor. Not only does weather affect the projections of players, but it also leaves the potential for games to be rained out or postponed.
Here’s some baseball optimizer tips:
- Pay very close attention to weather in daily fantasy baseball. Even if a game risk being delayed for a short time after the game has started, avoid using a pitcher from the game. Once pitchers’ arms have “cooled” down, they won’t come back to play.
- Stacking hitters is very key in daily fantasy baseball. More so than in any other sport, teammates batting in MLB DFS benefit from each other succeeding.
- Pay close attention to the ballpark a game is being played in. Coors field is the most hitter friendly ballpark by a wide margin due to the incredibly low air density.
- Avoid rostering batters and pitchers facing each other.
- Focus on paying up for stud pitching.
- Ideally have hitters facing starting pitchers of the opposite handedness.
- Focus on choosing batters near the top of the order, typically not below the 5 or 6 spot in the batting order.
Additional Frequently Asked DFS Questions
- If I’m using the same product as many other people, won’t we all be making the same lineups?
The only way this would be true would be is if all the users were using the same default filters. While the recommended products do have the ability to automatically create entries with the default filters, I highly advice you make your own adjustments.
As previously mentioned, these products are not magic, they’re simply tools that can be used to improve your daily fantasy skill. They do however, drastically reduct the time it takes to research and create entries.
- Are these products still beneficial if I only play one lineup?
As previously mentioned these products are not just useful for their automatic optimization features, but they’re also useful as a research platform.
Let’s say every day that you play baseball contest you research player salaries, batting order, weather, Vegas lines, matchups, seasonal player stats, injuries, etc.
To do all of this research without a tool, you’ll be forced to find this information from many different sources. All of these sources will be organized differently from each other.
Using RotoQL or Daily Fantasy Nerd, all of this information (and more) will be organized on just one page.
- What factors do these tools use when creating lineups?
Each tool is different, but all of them use a combination of projections, player grading, and filters when creating lineups.
One potential concern when using these tools is relying on projections too much. Without manually adjusting filters, player like/favorites, etc, most of these products will very heavily rely on projections when they generate lineups.
Projections are certainty valuable pieces of information, but projections alone shouldn’t necessarily determine your lineup construction. The flaw of projections is that they do not consider ranges of outcomes.
Let’s look at an example:
- Two NBA players are both projected to score 25 fantasy points.
- Player A is a slashing point guard who consistently scores fantasy points near his seasonal average. He’s a starter who almost always gets a chance at a high number of minutes every night.
- Player B is a shooting guard who scores most of points from outside. His game log shows a wider distribution of fantasy point per minute outcomes, where perhaps some night he’s “feeling it” and other nights he’s completely “cold”. Additionally this player is filling for an injured starter, but could lose minutes to another backup if he’s not performing.
Projections alone do not give this information to either a researcher or to the tool itself when creating lineups.
This is why it’s important to do research specific to your contest types. In the above example Player A is far preferred for cash games, while player B may be a better GPP tournament pick.
The good news is all of this information can be found by looking through game logs or by just looking at stats like RotoQL’s player volatility stat.
You can then choose whether or not you want to include a player, based off this information, in your generated entries.
- What contest buy in level should I play?
The answer to this question depends on numerous factors.
The most important thing I can say, is to never risk more than you can afford to lose. This applies to DFS players of all skill levels. Even the best daily fantasy players will go on prolonged down stretches of days or even weeks.
If the money you’re using to play daily fantasy sports with is important to you, you should be sure to implement some form of bankroll management. You should also never deposit money onto a daily fantasy site, that if you lost it all, would make you upset or drastically change your financial well being.
Now to get more specific about the question at hand.
If you’re looking to actually build a daily fantasy bankroll, rather than just playing for fun, I’d recommend never risking more than 10% of it on any given slate. You should diversify your entries as much as possible, whether playing cash games or GPPs.
So if your bankroll is $1000, you should only be risking at most $100 on a given slate. If you’re playing cash games for example, you should enter multiple contests at a $1-5 buy in level rather than just one $100 entry. Make sure to mix this up by playing at least both head to heads and double ups (with a variety of field sizes). This will make it so that on your losing days, you still have the potential to cash in some contests.
For GPPs you should use even stricter bankroll management. I’d recommend never risking more than at most 5% of your bankroll on a given slate. I’d also suggest running a high number of lineups to diversify your risks (likely using a lineup optimizer to do so).
- Which daily fantasy contest types are the most profitable?
There’s two primary things to consider when determining the most profitable contest types, fees (rake) and the competition level.
Rake is how sites like DraftKings and FanDuel make money. Each time you play in a contests a portion of your buy in goes to the site instead of the prize pool (similar to in poker tournaments). Luckily this currently isn’t much of a deciding factor, as rake is roughly the same in all contest types. You should monitor in case anything changes, and also look for contests with “overlay”.
Overlay is when the number of entries times the buy in amount is less than the guarenteed prize pool of a tournament. This create essentially a rake free contest or even a contest where youre “paid to play”. Depending on how severe the overlay, losing players can actually become EV+ in high overlay contests.
Definitely keep an eye out for overlay!
Now onto competition level.
The ability of your opponents is of course a huge factor in determining profitability in DFS contests. You want to play in contests with the highest percentage of losing players and the lowest percentage of winning player/professionals.
Losing players are typically attracted to guaranteed prize pool tournaments as they give players the potential to win an amount much greater than their entry cost. There’s also a higher number of losing players who play lower buy in level contests, as they’re more comfortable risking less money.
Winning and Professional daily fantasy players often have big bankrolls and are trying to maximize the amount of money they invest each day. With a limited number of GPPs, this pushes these players to also play a high number of cash games (H2H and double ups). With losing players being less attracted to these games, cash games become more difficult as a whole.
Players are also limited in the number of contests they can play at low buy in levels on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, again making lower buy in contests, in all contest types, having softer competition.
Just remember that while GPPs may be theoretically more profitable, they still come with far more variance than cash games.
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