Scam is a harsh word here, I’m sure some of these fantasy football online subscription sites provide some value, but overall I think they are probably a waste of money.

These services remind me of a similar service that was popular years ago – the sports bookie advice service (which still exists today). You would pay to be given the winner of a sporting event but then would have to pay a big fee or a commission of up to 50%. And of course, there’s no guarantee that you will win and no refund or recourse if you lose. To win often enough at sports betting to cover that additional expense is virtually impossible.

If you had a proven system to pick sports winners, you would make a fortune just using your system. You wouldn’t need to sell it at all.

Such is the case with fantasy football. If you are REALLY good at dfs football, you are likely not to share your lineups or strategies with your competition. Instead, you would just make a killing beating the weaker competition.

Also, if a subscription site is providing fantasy picks and lineups, then all the subscribers would have similar lineups. The bigger or more popular the subscription service is, the less effective it becomes.

But then where do you start? How do you become competitive and profitable?

As all the top fantasy players will attest, it comes down to research. So some sites help you with research, and that’s what you are paying for. But all the news and information is also available to you for free.

Many players have their own strategies for drafting a team. I’ll give you some basics on my particular process.

First, we look at INJURIES! Of course, you are not going to play an injured player. But more importantly, you can possibly draft the replacement player for very cheap. Draft salaries come out early in the week so you can get great value by looking at the latest injury reports.

And injuries also work for the opposing defensive team. If a starting cornerback is injured and some rookie is now filling that spot, you may want to look at that wide receiver match up as something to exploit. The coaching staff will be looking at that, and so should you.

You can, of course, find the latest on NFL injuries at http://www.nfl.com/injuries or http://espn.go.com/nfl/injuries or a number of other free resources.

As just mentioned, MATCH UPS is the next critical area to look at. With match ups, we look at weaknesses in the opposing team’s defense (or offense when picking our team defense) so we can identify players that may have an extra edge or value.

If a team has a poor running defense, then you should give a little extra value to the running back facing that team, etc.

fantasy-team-stats-magnified

You can use our fantasy team defense stats here. This tool has lots of critical information – not only does it show you the average fantasy points a team defense has earned, but also such stats as QB fantasy points allowed, RB fantasy points allowed, WR fantasy points allowed, etc. So you can see if a certain team defense generally gives up a lot of fantasy points to the WR position or very little to the RB position, etc.

Additionally, this tool allows you to filter the results, so you can just look at stats for home games vs away games, indoor vs outdoor, etc. So I use these stats first to find weakness. I like looking for weak aspects of a team’s defense, and then look at the opposing offensive player as a possible draft pick.

And of course this page will also help you pick your team defense for the week.

There are a few players that are (or were) almost match up proof – Le’Veon Bell and Odell Beckham Jr. are examples. They did well against just about any defense they went up against. But to afford one of these powerhouses, you are going to have to find some cheap value players to play alongside.

So that brings us to the next process of finding the best values among the player pool, and I use our stats pages to help me find those value players.

Now, looking at individual offensive players, I look at our stat sheets by position. So for example, when looking for a QB, I’ll take a look at the QB Stats page. I can sort the list of quarterbacks by any of the columns, but here I can also see the Opponent, the Opponent Rank, and the Opponent Position Rank. The player name is clickable so you can drill down and see FanDuel and DraftKings salaries by week, and their price per fantasy point to help determine the player’s value. You can also see the number of pass attempts, passing yards and other vital stats per week.

Another critical tool for me is the DraftKings Projection Tool. You can also use this for FanDuel lineups but it’s specifically programmed to use the DraftKings point system. (Read our full DraftKings Review here!)

During the regular season, this tool can help you find great values. It looks at the price per fantasy point of a player, but also price per rushing attempts and price per receiving targets. And you can sort the list by any of these columns. You will also be able to see any increase in rush attempts or passing targets from the prior week. If a player is trending up, he may have greater value!

That’s a very basic and rudimentary guide to drafting a fantasy football team using our free fantasy football cheat sheets and links.

It’s possible to save time and pay for help with the research, but to win enough to cover these extra expenses is an uphill battle. Remember, there is already a 10% rake on these contests, so you already have to be better than a 50% winner. Tack on subscription fees, and well, you better be playing big and winning often.

As a beginner or starting out, it’s important to start slow, do your own research, find and understand missed opportunities from past weeks, and develop your process. There are no short cuts to becoming a profitable player. Use our free tools, take your time, and define your own process and strategies for putting together a solid team. And with a little luck, hopefully you can win big!