Appearances to the contrary, daily fantasy sports games do not present various problems to be worked out as if they were logic games on the LSAT. At its core, DFS is not about mastering spreadsheets, creating models, or even becoming an expert on the actual sports on which DFS is based. DFS is not really even about beating your opponents. DFS is about entering into a process whereby you master, create, and even become an expert on yourself. DFS is about overcoming what you see in the looking glass.
DFS is not a maze. DFS is a labyrinth.
What the Hell Am I Talking About?
This is the first piece of what will be a series of pieces collectively titled The Labyrinthian. These pieces will be grounded in theory, philosophy, and/or my random ramblings. They will rarely (if ever) deal directly with particular slates. Rather, they will seek to give you unordinary guidance as you wind your way through your DFS walks. I already have a number of these articles outlined and can tell you that they derive from fields as disparate as modern Western investing strategy and ancient Eastern war theory — although, realistically, those two particular fields aren’t that disparate.
Anyway, this is your official heads-up that in one article you might read about the applicability of the evolutionary sciences to DFS and in the next article you might read about chocolate and cheese and the art of stacking. [Note to self: start to outline an article on chocolate and cheese and the art of stacking.] Really, it’s possible. As a wanderer in the labyrinth, I can see where I will be within the next couple of steps, but beyond that I have no idea in which direction I will be traveling. I also have no idea whether I should spell that word “traveling” or “travelling.” Clearly, you’re going to get a lot out of this series.
Also, I have no idea how many articles will be in the series . . . but my sense is that The Labyrinthian will be a little like the DFS version of The Neverending Story. The journey through the labyrinth is an eternal and timeless process. In one way or another, even once this series has ended, it will continue to be written with each DFS lineup that you set.
Plus, my dog looks like a miniature version of Falkor. Her breath also probably smells worse than his.
No, Really, What the Hell Am I Talking About?
A Labyrinth is a single path that winds back and forth upon itself to form a circle, with the path leading ultimately and unambiguously to the center of that circle. To be clear — although the words “labyrinth” and “maze” are sometimes used interchangeably, a labyrinth is not a maze, at least as the two are understood now.
A maze is complex and overwhelms with options. A labyrinth is simple and offers only two options: Forward or backward. A maze is multicursal. A labyrinth, unicursal. A maze is designed so that one might lose one’s way. A labyrinth is designed so that one might lose oneself along the way. A maze is often a source of frustration. A labyrinth, elucidation. A maze, chaotic. A labyrinth, therapeutic. A maze, dangerous. A labyrinth, ameliorative.
Also, The Maze is a 2010 horror flick that looks like it might be the worst movie of all time — I truly recognize not one person on the cast list — whereas Labyrinth is a classic that gets only better with time . . . bad hairstyles and tight pants notwithstanding. Trust me, I’ve watched it maybe five times since David Bowie entered the great labyrinthine beyond.
In a maze, people can die. In a labyrinth, people come alive. In a maze, only one path does not terminate in a dead end. In a labyrinth, dead ends do not exist.
In a maze, one must wander through the noise. In a labyrinth, one moves ever closer to the signal.
In a maze, one journeys always through uncertainty and unknowability. In a labyrinth, one quests unerringly toward truth.
The Fantasy Labyrinths
The way we think about DFS games will determine our approach to them, and that approach in turn will determine the success we have playing them. To that extent, DFS is not really about the players we use in our lineups. It’s about us. It’s not about how our players perform in their contests. It’s about how we perform before our contests start.
If we envision DFS as a puzzle to be solved as we blindly walk through it, with little knowledge of where we’re going or how to get out, we will likely fail. If we instead envision DFS as a winding path that inevitably leads to our goal as long as we are willing to continue the work of walking, we will be likelier to end our journey in success.
At Fantasy Labs, we have lots of great tools (for instance, our Pro Trends and Player Models), and the best part about the site (I think) is that you can sort through all of the data to create and back test unique models that you can use in constructing DFS lineups. And the metrics we have, in particular Bargain Rating and Projected Plus/Minus, are truly innovative and impactful.
But DFS is about so much more than just the tools and metrics. It’s about the person using the tools and the metrics, about the brain inside the person, and about the thought patterns and decision-making inside the brain — that curvy organ with folds layered upon folds.
What do you think: Is your brain a maze? — or a labyrinth?
You can find your way to lots of tools all over the internet. We know that ours can help people reach the inner circle of DFS success — but we also know that although tools are necessary, they are not sufficient. That’s why we have articles, and that’s why you should read the future installments of The Labyrinthian.
Music is made by not the piano but the pianist. Victory is won by not the sword but the swordsman. And ideas are formed by not the thought but the thinker.
In the end, DFS is about the way you think.
DFS is not a maze. DFS is a labyrinth.
The Labyrinthian: 2016, 1