The RotoWire soccer columnists do a great job of helping you to identify the “chalk” play of a slate versus those who could be considered more “contrarian” picks. While many who regularly play DFS soccer can come to a similar consensus, too much emphasis of this assessment is on the individual players and too little on the optimal way to piece them together.
Determining the “chalk” lineup construction is sometimes more important than the exact players you choose to roster for a particular slate. Does the texture of the slate call for playing a cheap goalkeeper? Does the player pool at forward scream for a high-priced/low-priced pair? Are there enough value plays in midfield that going cheap to pay up elsewhere is the most effective build? These are the pertinent type of questions to ask *before* getting down to selecting specific players.
For cash contests, determining the “chalk” lineup construction will reduce the competitive edge between you and your opponents, which is especially helpful if they’re better than you. If you’ve nailed the optimal approach, it will often come down to a 2 v. 2 matchup (meaning you share six of eight players) and results decided by the performance of which value midfielder, or which high-priced forward or which mid-tier defender you chose versus your opponent’s. This puts you in a better position to cash, as the lineup overlap eliminates much of the chance that a big mistake costs you placement in a double-up. Having a drastically different lineup construction from other opponents creates more points of failure (as there is less overlap) without any upside benefit because it’s a cash contest, not a GPP.
In GPPs, determining the “chalk” lineup construction is also highly beneficial. Knowing the likely price ranges of each positional slot that many opponents will gravitate toward allows you to predict ownership of specific players. From there, you can pivot to one or two high-upside plays within the scope of that popular lineup construction. You can also choose to deviate completely and build a lineup that is directly opposite the “chalk” construction. People are most likely paying down at defender? Then pay up there. People are most likely taking two high-priced studs? Then go balanced with all mid-tier players. The fact that you’re going contrarian with your construction means ownership on those players should be lower than usual, as their price ranges will likely not fit well into the more popular lineup build. On many occasions, this is the primary formula for success in GPPs.
As always, analyze the lineups of your opponents after lock, especially if you consider them to be superior players. When doing so, focus not as much on the specific picks in their lineups, but on the construction type as a whole. Why did they go in the direction they did? Asking yourself these questions may provide better insight into what you’re doing right or wrong and help refine your skills for future slates.
Onto this week’s question!