In a game with such a high level of variation on a day-to-day basis, DFS can be maddening at times as meticulously-constructed lineups are regularly thwarted. There's a natural solution to this issue that might be intuitive to the sabermetrically savvy as well as the Wall Street veterans in the evidence, but lineup diversification is a great way to spread out the variance while at the same time defeating some of the psychological demons that can chase any decision-making process.

Given the salary cap nature of the DFS game at Draft Kings, it's common to have multiple lineup spots come down to an either/or decision between two players. This naturally leads to a woulda-coulda-shoulda attitude when a ballplayer that was passed over in the final hour ends up having a big day, often leading to the frustration that comes from being so close to a winning choice. The situation presents a bit of a psychological test for the daily gamer, as some folks will be quick to blame themselves for the decision gone wrong, but I have found that my ego takes less of a beating if I adjust the perspective from “just missed” to “on the right track,” flipping the negativity of a bad choice to a more positive outlook that recognizes the strength of an approach that had the standout player in its cross-hairs.

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The method works well enough on days that involve a single lineup, but I have found that running multiple rosters is a much more gratifying solution to the problem. The decision to do so is typically predicated on the pitching slate for that day, but for the past couple of weeks I have frequently run multiple rosters in order to: A) buffer the blow-up starts that can sink a lineup and B) roll the dice on volatile players with considerable upside. This strategy allows the freedom to try an ace-heavy roster, a Leroy lineup of cheap-yet-risky arms, and/or a mixed-pair of middling average cost, all in the same GPP tournament. I then make investments in other tournaments based on the perceived strength of the lineup; the Leroy lineups are often restricted to boom-or-bust games like the $3 Moonshot tournament or a cheap 10x booster, whereas the lineups that appear “safer” are used more widely.

By using multiple lineups, one can erase the either/or quandary by splitting the difference. For example, my lineups will typically have three or four overlap players who become the anchors of that day's performance; I then split the tough decisions between rosters, matching players based on salary and roster shape. This last point plays a big role when there is a hitter of interest who is facing a pitcher that I want to roster, allowing me to avoid the counteracting effects of batter vs. pitcher by dividing the talent.

(Quick aside: when confronted with the batter vs. pitcher issue in single-lineup situations, I prefer to go with contact/speed types over power bats, given that steals don't hurt a pitcher's line but a big fly can carry hefty consequences for the player on the mound. Case in point, I roster Jose Altuve with impunity)

The technique takes the sting out of decisions gone wrong and allows me to enjoy a wider swath of player performance, opening up the possibility that I catch a transcendent day at the plate or on the mound while simultaneously minimizing the impact of blow-up starts. At the end of the day*, the results often bear out the benefits of diversification, with fewer shutouts and sweeps traded for a more even balance of ups and downs, such that profits are tied more strongly to that day's performance than the output of a single set of 10 ballplayers.

The downside of the multi-roster approach is the time commitment of roster construction, but I have found that the poly-lineup flexibility allows me to roster players without peeling that extra layer of the analytical onion thanks to there being an easy solution to the toughest choices, the impact of which is not only quicker lineup construction but will occasionally keep me out of my own way in terms of paralysis by overanalysis. It still takes longer to form two rosters than it does to construct one, but it's not nearly as time-consuming as it might seem, as most of my research is devoted to finding and identifying the anchor players who will be on every roster.

The multi-roster strategy is not for everyone, and I can certainly understand if gamers enjoy the emotional swings that come attached with a mono-lineup setup. The approach has been a boon to this particular gamer, however, and I have to admit that I just enjoy the process of lineup construction. It's a game within itself to design an optimal roster of 10 players that fit under the $50k cap, and I enjoy the different challenges imposed by various investment strategies, whether that's devoting money to pitchers versus hitters or tailoring lineups for specific types of games. The technique is not something that I utilize every day (while some slates offer the opportunity for three or more lineups), but the approach is shaped by that day's market. How much I “like” the resulting rosters will determine my level of relative investment, a reality that I find to be more satisfying than when restricted to a single roster.

Of course, the goal is to see a ripple effect on the bottom line, representing a truer representation of performance by minimizing the variation while better defining my individual opinions about that day's dynamics. I've found that the differential investment strategy offered by multiple rosters enhances this effect while carrying the ancillary benefits of a calmer psyche and more widespread enjoyment of the game at large.

*I went four years of writing for Baseball Prospectus before using this phrase for the first time, but at the end of the day, my old Econ professor (who said it 20 times per lecture) will be immensely proud.

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