“General Grievous, you’re shorter than I expected.”
— Anakin Skywalker, Revenge of the Sith

Sometimes it’s hard to say which of the Star Wars prequels is the worst. It’s probably (read: almost certainly) The Phantom Menace — a horrible name for a movie that’s somehow worse than its title. After all, it’s the only installment with A) the child actor whose name I won’t bother to look up on IMDB and B) more than five minutes of Jar Jar Binks — not even Liam Neeson or the bad*ssery of Darth Maul can save this filmic abomination — but sometimes the horridness of the third prequel overwhelms me. It’s not the worst of the trilogy, but it’s close.

Revenge of the Sh*t

Whereas the post-George Lucas Rogue One wonderfully fits in the chronology of the Star Wars universe, perfectly setting up the franchise’s first film, Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope have remarkably poor cohesion. It’s as if Lucas said, “Who gives a f*ck about details? Let’s print some free money! What about a Jar Jar cameo at the end? Do you think I can ruin Natalie Portman’s career?” And those four imaginary sentences are better than most of the film’s dialogue:

Obi-Wan: It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground.
Anakin: You underestimate my power.
Obi-Wan: Don’t try it.

That’s one of the better exchanges in the whole movie. It’s also one of the saddest revelations in cinematic history: Darth Vader become a glorified machine . . . because his onetime mentor dared him not to make a strategically stupid jump.

It’s almost impossible to respect the Vader of the original films after the representation of him in the prequels. He’s a whiner just like his son — except he’s somehow both more and less disappointing in every stage of life.

99 Percent True

My wife went to an awesomely nerdy college, so Lucas once gave a talk at her school. After the lecture, he went to a house party with students and started talking to her, probably because he had these two thoughts:

  1. “I’m Keith Hernandez.”
  2. “She’s not picky: She eventually marries Freedman.”

At one point he asked her if she thought he was too old to be there. “Yes.” She speaks her mind. Han Solo, he was not. Han didn’t wear turtlenecks all the f*cking time.

She didn’t tell me that story until we had been dating for at least a year, and even then it was in passing, kind of like this:

That guy in our 17th-century poetry class is weird. He gets really close to you when he’s talking, and you feel like he’s always thinking about how to say things in a way that makes him sound smart. It’s like the time George Lucas hit on me. What do you want to do for dinner? It’s only 4:15, but I’m hungry.

Eventually I pulled the full story from her and asked why she didn’t want to fool around with him. She said, “He was old and creepy. Besides, I want to f*ck Han — not the guy who created him.”

She didn’t actually say that last sentence, but the story’s better with it.

Mellody Hobson

What I can say about Lucas is that he now has an awesome wife. So really everything worked for both of us.

Anyway, when I started this article I anticipated it wouldn’t be long, which made me think of the quotation at the top . . . and then I proceeded to write 500 words on Star Wars. Unlike Grievous, this post probably won’t be shorter than expected — but at least so far it’s been all about daily fantasy sports, right?

Also, according to some nerds online Grievous is seven feet one inch. Amazingly, that information isn’t any less random than any of the other information I’ve given you so far.

The Micro Habits Strike Back

In my previous piece — with help from Jonathan Bales, Peter Jennings, Justin Phan, Sean Newsham, and Bill Monighetti — I presented five micro habits for DFS success.

In this piece, I’m giving you five more DFS micro habits. (In case you don’t know: A micro habit is an easy-to-do action that takes less than 60 seconds to complete and is related to something you value.)

Let’s do this.

1: Track Your DFS Account Balance

This forces you to sign in each day, which in turn encourages you to analyze a slate each day — which could help you become a DFS outlier. Just as importantly, tracking your account balance gives you the data to monitor your performance and hold yourself accountable. It takes about 45 seconds to sign in and type into a spreadsheet the balance of your accounts on DraftKings, FanDuel, FantasyDraft, etc.

This is similar to what hedge fund managers do each day or what Andy Garcia does in Ocean’s Eleven, so you know it must be smart.

2: Create a Negative Player-Focused Trend

In the last article, Bill gave the good advice to spend one minute per day researching with our Trends tool. I’m giving you the ‘dark side’ version of that idea: Each day create a player-specific trend that screens for negative Plus/Minus performance. Over time, this will allow you to use the ‘My Trends’ column in Player Models as a negative indicator.

Why do this?

It’s easy to see reasons to roster players. Our minds are trained to look for the good. They’re trained to see what we want them to see — players who will go off and make us a ton of money.

It’s harder for us to want to look for reasons not to roster players. Negative trends enable us to see quickly if players are in significantly suboptimal situations, and they’re a reminder of this fact: Sometimes not rostering the wrong players is just as important as rostering the right players.

3: Review Our Vegas Page

At least once per day review our Vegas page. (What Vegas does matters for DFS.) Don’t look at just the implied team totals. Also look at the movement of lines and the percentage of the betting population wagering on the outcomes. Note how Vegas and the market of bettors interact. It’s not uncommon for ownership in guaranteed prize pools to reflect betting percentages.

4: Analyze Ownership Percentages

Bales recommended this micro habit:

Spend a minute analyzing ownership percentages across stakes immediately after lock. You can use our new DFS Ownership Dashboard. Really, this is the quickest way to improve.

Building upon this guidance, I think that before a slate locks you should attempt to predict the player who will have the greatest ownership spread in high- and low-stakes GPPs. And then once lineups lock you should go to our DFS Ownership Dashboard, sort by ‘Volatility,’ see if you are correct, and then quickly analyze the players with high Volatility Ratings.

For instance, on 3/5/17 Bismack Biyombo had a slate-high Volatility Rating of 37.29 on DraftKings (in part) because he was owned in an outrageous 80 percent of lineups in the $1,060 NBA $100K All-Star GPP and only 31.52 percent of the $4 NBA $300K Four Point Play GPP. Clearly, the sharper players were on Biyombo, who was the stone minimum at $3,000. Why were they using him so heavily? Salary relief? An increase in minutes? The matchup?

Trying to anticipate how sharp DFS players will differentiate themselves — analyzing ownership percentages in this way — will likely help you construct lineups with more nuance.

5: Build 150 Rosters

Each day, shotgun at least 150 lineups with our Lineup Builder. That might sound hard and intense, but it’s not. It’s easy and fun.

Seriously, if you’re a Pro subscriber who isn’t building GPP lineups with our tools, you’re not maximizing your investment. Last year, the DK PGA Millionaire Maker for the Masters was won by bidle, a FantasyLabs user who was new to DFS. If he hadn’t used our tools to create his tournament lineups . . . perish the thought.

Within our Player Models, you can build stacks, set exposure limits, dictate salary cap usage, and employ an assortment of advanced filters to construct up to 150 randomized lineups in a matter of seconds.

Even if you don’t use all (or any) of these lineups, you should consider going through this exercise each day. It doesn’t take long to accomplish, it familiarizes you with the tool, and it enables you to analyze the highest-rated lineups according to the criteria you’ve selected.

And here’s the best part: If you like the lineups, you can easily import them to DK and FD in about a minute . . . and then maybe you’ll be the next Labs subscriber to have a big tournament win.

The Force Awakens

Whether you employ these micro habits or others, it’s important to develop sound DFS technique through practiced meticulousness. You might never become the fantasy version of Rey, but at least you can be better than that douchebag presumed cousin of hers, Kylo Ren.

She’s too good to be Luke’s daughter.

The Labyrinthian: 2017.21, 116

This is the 116th installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge in order to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation. Previous installments of The Labyrinthian can be accessed via my author page.