It’s a new era in DFS, with simulation products changing how players build lineups. We’ve always prided ourselves at FantasyLabs for providing some of the best possible DFS tools, which is why we’re excited to announce our new SimLabs product for FantasyLabs subscribers (free while in beta).
We took the time to build the tool right — in a way that can improve your chances of making you money. For an in-depth breakdown of how it works and how to use it, check out our user guide here.
Of course, as with any tool, it’s only as useful as the person operating it.
SimLabs is an excellent tool for novice DFS players looking to build competitive lineups without putting in much work. It will help to level the playing field for newer players, removing some of the growing pains traditionally impacting DFS.
However, if you’re reading this, maybe that doesn’t describe you. You read the articles; you understand correlation — you’re willing to put in the time to excel at DFS. You don’t just want to be competitive; you want to crush the competition and take down big prizes.
So how can this product improve your game? That’s what I set to find out over the past few weeks while testing SimLabs before the public launch — and what we’re going to get into below.
Building Around Stacks
If you’ve played DFS for any length of time, you’ll have had this experience plenty of times. You enter a handful of lineups, or 20, or even 150. Your favorite stack goes off, and so do some of your favorite one-off plays, low-owned sleepers, or minimum-salary punts.
You were right on nearly everything about the week — but somehow, weren’t able to be right on everything in the same lineup. Maybe you had some solid cashes but no big scores that could make the whole season profitable.
Fixing that problem was the idea behind lineup optimizers, which allow you to build as many lineups as you want around a small group of players. However, even the best optimizers don’t entirely do that. They generate semi-random lineups around those players based on various other inputs — chiefly projections and/or ownership.
This is where simulations come in. Rather than randomly putting pieces together, SimLabs simulates the slate thousands of times to see which lineups are most profitable. This gives a far better outlook on the slate, as it considers what else happened in scenarios where your group went off.
As an example, if you build lineups around a lower-priced quarterback, you’re banking on the top players at the position to disappoint relative to their salary. What else has to (or is likely to) happen in that scenario? The top receivers on those teams also score fewer points, or the opposing defense has a surprisingly strong day, or the bulk of the production came from the ground game — the possibilities are vast.
SimLabs takes that all into account, whereas traditional optimizers don’t. Since they rely strictly on projections, they don’t take into account all the variables that also come into play when your stack hits.
The obvious way to use SimLabs to this end is to set SimLabs to include the entire team/game stack you want to roster. That could include a bring-back from the opposing team or just the quarterback and top pass catcher from one team.
SimLabs will figure out which opposing player, if any, is likeliest to be in winning lineups built around a specific grouping.
Of course, it doesn’t just have to be quarterback/pass-catcher. Opposing RB1s and WR1s have a strong correlation, too, with that pairing showing up in plenty of GPP-winning lineups recently. The classic RB1/Defense pairing is an option as well, or even top receivers from opposing teams while excluding both QBs.
The only limitation is your creativity, with SimLabs easily generating lineups around whichever stances you’re willing to take on a given week.
Figuring Out the Last Pieces
Another common trope in DFS: the classic 1v1 or 2v2 debate. You’ve been grinding all week, and you’re nearly there — the perfect lineup. You’ve got seven or eight pieces that you just know are right but can’t quite figure out the final options.
In massive GPPs like the Milly Maker, these are crucial decisions. The difference between a million dollars to first and finishing outside the top 100 is just a few points some weeks. Maybe it’s a punt tight end you got wrong or deciding between spending up on defense with a value running back or paying down at defense to get the top player. Either way, these close calls can make or break your week — and sometimes your season.
Again, this is where SimLabs comes in. Simply tell the tool to include as much of the lineup as you feel strongly about, and let it cook. You’ll get as many possible variations as you need, with ratings based on a number of criteria — all customized to the field size of the contest you’re entering.
Maybe it gives you an idea you haven’t thought of, or maybe you get the confidence to trust your gut with the lineup you were already on.
Either way, now you have a finished lineup (or more) and are ready to cash in.
Testing Your Lineup
Maybe you’re like me, a hardcore hand-building cash game grinder. What value can a high-tech tool like SimLabs provide for us?
That’s the dilemma I initially found myself in, but the answer came quickly. The “In the Money” (ITM) score on SimLabs is a perfect way to test out your lineup.
Simply fill in most of your lineup (or all but one or two, if you’re still deciding).
ITM, ranging from 0 to 99, gauges how often this lineup hits the cash line. A higher score here means it ended up “in the money” more frequently than other lineups in the field. Note that this figure may vary depending on your contest field type.
While it’s not specifically optimized for cash games, it’s still a strong metric to see how solid the lineup is.
Get a strong score? Great, there’s your lineup for the week. Get a bad one? Maybe it’s time to explore those tweaks you’ve been mulling over.
Of course, this isn’t limited to just cash games. If you’re a single-entry GPP player, you can use the same process to evaluate your tournament lineups. Particularly for high-dollar contests where just cashing is a solid (and difficult) goal, it helps to have a second pair of “eyes” on your lineup before clicking submit.