Winner-take-all tournaments—the millionaire-makers you see in all those ads, each with hundreds of thousands of gamers—require a radically different tactic: The key to success is a unique team, rather than a roster full of reliable players.
That means Brady gets benched, since half the gamblers in your tournament will probably have chalk players like him on the roster. If Touchdown Tom hangs 50 points on the Jets, his banner day will lift half the tournament pool—and that means you won’t move past the middle of the pack.
Smart gamers know better to avoid “sudden superstars,” too: “Almost all my [tournament] lineups are very likely to have players who’ve been performing poorly recently, especially in football,” confides Jonathan Bales, author of Fantasy Football (and Baseball) for Smart People. “That way you’re more likely to have a unique team.”
Instead, think laterally and irrationally. It’s often productive to pick pairs of players from the same team—a quarterback and his go-to receiver, say—so you can create correlations within your lineup, and earn points for both the touchdown and touchdown pass.
Keep an eye out, too, for a “Guaranteed Prize Pool” (GPP). In a $2.5 million GPP, the winner is legally entitled to that $2.5 million, even if fewer than 100,000 players show up with the $25 buy-in. That’s called an “overlay.” Think of it as a winning advantage, because fewer entrants means better odds to win the same prize.
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