Ask Your Fantasy Football Daily Guru: Justin Bailey of RotoViz

"I seriously can’t wait for Sunday. The Blacklist finally returns."


When I took to Twitter a couple of weeks ago to FF the crap out of people I’ve interviewed in the past couple of years, one name came up for an individual I had so far missed. I’m pretty sure this is my first interview with a person who lives in North Dakota. Say hi to Justin Bailey, a daily fantasy voice you have to hear.

How’d you get started in fantasy football writing?

About halfway through the 2013 season I started getting heavily invested in the DFS aspect of fantasy. I started playing on DraftStreet before they were ultimately bought by DraftKings (still my favorite site. I miss it.) I knew I wanted to write about DFS, specifically. I sent out an email to a website wondering if they were looking for any DFS writers. They weren’t at the time (they had Jonathan Bales) Luckily for me, Matt Rittle worked customer service for them and saw my email and he introduced me to Fantasy Douche and the fine folks at RotoViz. Thanks, Matt!

Are you getting involved in early MFL10s?

I am not in the early MFL10s. I know a lot of people who have already jumped in on them, though. I usually wait until immediately after the NFL draft to start those. Hoping to do around 30 this year. [Zach note: So in short, one afternoon of Rittle’s MFL10 work.]

Do you have tips and tricks for people (me) afraid to dive into DFS?

Well, funny you say that. I do have an article I wrote at the beginning of the year on how to dive into DFS without drowning immediately on RotoViz.

I always see new players that are simply chasing the prize pools in large field tournaments or “GPPs” as they’re commonly known as in the industry. Then they wonder why they can’t build a bankroll. Cash games should be the foundation of your play, if you’re looking to take DFS seriously. [Zach note: Cash games mean playing 50/50s (top 50% of the pool win) or against individuals.] Then sprinkle in some GPP play. I lost around $700 my first two weeks in DFS because all I did was enter GPPs. I learned my lesson quickly.

I would say the main thing is to not overextend yourself. Don’t play anything that you’re not comfortable losing. I believe the single most important aspect of DFS is bankroll management. There’s always going to be some risk each night when playing DFS. The key is to minimize the risk to keep yourself in the game. Even the best players in the world have a win percentage of around 60-to-65 percent. Which means you’re losing just under half the time. There’s a lot of variance in sports. We’re going to be wrong sometimes. We’re just trying to forecast what we think is mostly likely to happen with the information we’re given. As a new player, just don’t be discouraged when you lose. It’s all a part of the game. The beauty of DFS is we can dust our knees off and start all over again the next day.

Secondly, I would read the books on DFS that Jonathan Bales has written. I’ve learned everything I know from him. He touches on everything from bankroll management to lineup construction and game selection.

How do you allocate your bankroll on a weekly/seasonal basis? I ask about bankroll because mine is below a buck.

I am very strict when it comes to my DFS bankroll. I rarely play over 10 percent of my bankroll on a given night. Say I am playing with $100 tonight. I’ll enter $80 of it into head-to-head games and 50/50 double-ups. That leaves me $20 to enter into tournaments, triple-ups or other games these sites offer. Most GPPs pay out the top 20 percent of players. If you only put up a score that ranks in the 60th percentile, at least you’ll win 100 percent of your 50/50s (since half the field is paid) and in theory, 60 percent of head-to-head games. Otherwise you won’t cash in a single tournament and a major hit to your bankroll is coming.

As a big-time DFS guy, what are some lessons you learned from 2014 and how will that help you in 2015?

One of the biggest lessons I learned this year is to not be too results oriented. You’ll often hear the phrase “process over results” thrown around in our community, and it couldn’t be more correct. As DFS players we always have a reason and a certain process for selecting a certain player and constructing our lineups the way that we do. We don’t just plug players into our lineups for no rhyme or reason. Sometimes our selections don’t play out how we anticipate, but it’s not because they were bad picks. There’s so much variance in sports that we simply can’t be correct 100 percent of the time. You’ll hear people say “I’m never using so-and-so person again. He burned me four weeks ago.” That doesn’t mean he’ll never be a good play again…. Just remember, process over results.

Do you play other DFS sports?

I played MLB DFS last summer and that’s where I learned to have strict bankroll practices. Talk about a sport with variance….. With the end of the NFL season, I also dove head first into PGA, NHL and NBA DFS this year. I need my fix somehow…

Will the proliferation of DFS be the death of traditional redraft leagues?

As an industry as a whole, I don’t think it’s going to be the end of redraft leagues. Redraft leagues are only going to end for certain people. I use to be the guy who was in 15+ redraft leagues every year. That number will scale down to about three next year as I turn my focus even more to DFS. The DFS community only makes up about 4-to-5 percent of the fantasy industry. It’s still very much in the infancy stages. I believe DFS will continue to grow rapidly, though. Mainstream sites are starting to realize this as now a few of them are implementing some sort of DFS analysis. [Zach note: It appears that a lot of “experts” are scaling back on redraft, so “fading” that might be a way to make a few bucks next year. Enough buzz words for ya?]

How did you pick a college that’s literally as far from an NFL franchise as anywhere in America? (Bails attends the four-time national champ North Dakota State University)

Lets just say …. I had to go see about a girl. That ending wasn’t nearly as good as Good Will Hunting, though.

When writing for Sportable, does Salvatore pay you in Canadian bucks? What’s it like to “write short” for that site?

Hahaha yes, you get all the loonies and toonies you could ever want. It was a fun experience writing for Sportable. I’m use to putting a few hours into an article. This was nice for a change of pace. With Sportable it makes you focus on just the most important facts since you’re limited to only a certain amount of characters. [Zach note: RIP (for now) Sportable, and an industry full of love for Sal.]

The spouse question: Does your wife/sig other/girlfriend have any issues with your football obsession?

I happen to be single at the moment, but any girl I’ve ever dated has rolled their eyes at me whenever I would mention football ….. Maybe that’s why I’m still single? I should work on that. I’m not sure how Renee Miller would feel about long distance, though.

Football or sex: Which do you think of more?

In terms of football writing or sex, that’s easy. It’s definitely the one that requires more focus and energy. You want to at least look like you know what you’re doing.

What’s your usual Sunday football tradition? Is there a go-to beer?

I don’t really have a go-to beer, but I do like anything from Leinenkugel. As far as tradition…. I set an alarm for 8am to make breakfast, get my coffee ready and get everything ready for my DFS teams. Usually consisting of monitoring news up until kick-off and making any changes I deem fit for my teams.

Which football writers are on your must-read list?

Oh man …. there’s so many so I apologize if I leave anyone out. Evan Silva’s “matchup” column on Rotoworld is a must-read before finalizing anything for your DFS teams. Jonathan Bales does great work everywhere. Pat Thorman’s “Snaps, Pace and Stats” column on Pro Football Focus is one of my favorites. Matthew Freedman writes some of the most entertaining articles on RotoViz. Davis Mattek’s “Absolutes” on Fantasy Insiders each week during the NFL season are pretty in depth and great reads for DFS. TJ Hernandez is smart as a whip. He recently mentioned he’s stepping away for now, but Salvatore Stefanile is definitely on that list. I could go on and on about great writers, but some more would include Renee Miller, Chris Raybon, Bryan Fontaine, Drew Dinkmeyer, Josh Moore, CD Carter, JJ Zachariason, Jon Moore, James Todd, Fantasy Douche (everyone on RotoViz, really.) Also, Rich Hribar because Rich is never wrong (ask Rich about that one.)

Tell me about a hobby/interest outside of football.

I was raised being outdoors so I love hunting and fishing. It’s tough to beat being outside in the crisp northern Minnesota air. Golfing is another one. Once in awhile you’ll get one of those rare days in North Dakota where the wind isn’t blowing and it’s wonderful. I also love to cook. Fried rice is my specialty.

Is there anything I failed to ask that you want to address?

If you’re new to the DFS industry, you’ll hear the term “chalk” thrown around quite a bit. This simply means that player is a favorite industry wide. There’s some people out there who like to fade the chalk plays simply because they’re chalk plays. I’m under the mentality that chalk is chalk for a reason. Usually due to a price point or a matchup of a player, sometimes both. You don’t always need to fade them simply to be contrarian or because that’s where the masses are headed. In tournaments it could make a little more sense if you’re looking to go contrarian, but in cash games it can come back to bite you. Think Tre Mason Week 13 against Oakland or Jeremy Hill Week 9 against Jacksonville. Fading the “chalk” didn’t play out too well. Obviously it can go the other way, too. But more often than not you’ll be glad you sided with the chalk.

Also, it bothers me when people claim that DFS is all about being lucky. Yes, there’s an element of luck to this game, but there’s a reason you constantly see the same names winning … and it’s not because they’re consistently lucky.

Let me know about any sites/podcasts/contests that you’d like to ‘plug’.

Well, you can find my work on RotoViz all year round and Fantasy Insiders once the NFL season fires back up. Jonathan Bales also brought me on to write for him at RotoAcademy, which is switching to a DFS focused approach with some of the sharpest guys in the industry hitting all three major sports.

Thanks Justin for answering my questions and keep dreaming of golf season.

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