It might seem like winning a head-to-head daily fantasy contest is a 50-50 proposition - and while that might be true on the surface, the best daily fantasy players are much more successful than that. They find ways to build optimal lineups that will give them the edge in the majority of their H2H competitions, earning a steady stream of winnings in the process.
How do you become a profitable H2H player? Here are some general tips:
1) Don't Get Cute
This isn't the time to experiment with a stars-and-scrubs lineup, or to stack seven players from a game you think will be a high-scoring affair. While these tactics might occasionally pay off in tournament play, they'll lead you right to the poorhouse if you use them in one-on-one contests. Lineup building is particularly important in head-to-head competition, since it's basically all-or-nothing - so make sure you focus on stability, reliability and consistency.
The key here is to make sure you provide yourself with the highest possible points base. You don't need to aim for the upside of a tournament lineup, since you're only tasked with outscoring one other person - and if you can build the kind of high-floor lineup that is good enough to defeat even 60 percent of the competitors on any daily fantasy site, you'll turn a profit - the size of which depends exclusively on how many contests you enter. And on that note ...
2) Play a Lot of Contests
The best H2H players don't settle for a few contests - they load up on one-on-one matchups in order to take advantage of their superior lineup construction skills. If you knew that you could construct a lineup capable of beating 90% of the competition, wouldn't you want to load up on as many contests as possible? Of course you would! So seize the opportunity and make sure you sign up for as many H2H contests as your bankroll can handle.
This, of course, carries plenty of risk, since you could wind up building a lineup that struggles mightily and go on to lose the majority of your H2H contests. This tactic requires having plenty of confidence in your ability to build a winning lineup, so don't load up on contest entries if you're just starting out in daily fantasy. Once you're comfortable with your abilities and level of experience, you should consider the bulk-entry tactic, at least on a short-term basis.
3) Think Like Your Opponent
When you assess the night's schedule, consider that you'll be playing against someone doing the exact same thing. That means that, in all likelihood, your opponent is studying the same group of value plays and overpriced options that you are. So you need to figure out how to build a lineup that maximizes points, but is dissimilar enough to your opponent's roster that you can prevail and take home the head-to-head prize.
You can't avoid the best value plays, even if you suspect your opponent will have the same guys; in that case, consider the roster spots lost, since you'll both have the same players. From there, you should focus on the safest plays with the remainder of your salary. Let your opponent take the risks; you'll be much better off in the long run with consistent, high-floor players. And keep an eye on all roster-related news, ensuring you have the top value plays in your lineup at all times.