How To Win $3 Million Playing DFS

By Bob Harris
Bob Harris Hint: Have The Courage Of Your Convictions

It was on the second weekend of December (Week 14 of the NFL regular season) that FanDuel held their 2015 World Fantasy Football Championship.

I have had the pleasure of covering this event firsthand the last three seasons in my role as a SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio host. FanDuel has done a fantastic job of making the weekend memorable for all involved -- especially the contestants, who enjoy a wide range of festivities throughout the weekend.

This year’s WFFC was held in San Diego and hosted by legendary NFL quarterbacks Dan Marino and Joe Montana. The festivities culminated in the final viewing party at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

When the dust had settled, the 2015 champion was crowned. Roman Edmond, 43, pulled out the win and in the process added a cool $3 million to his bank account.

In all, three millionaires were made at the event: second place ($1.5 million) went to Steve Light of Marietta, Georgia while the $1 million third place finish was David Aguilar of Honolulu. All in all, 97 qualifiers competed for a total of $12 million in prizes.

To compete in FanDuel’s World Fantasy Football Championship, players won one of 120 qualifying leagues held throughout the season. Each qualifying league winner won a package that included airfare to San Diego, ground transportation, a three-night stay at the Manchester and a minimum prize of $20,000.

Roman Edmond million dollas dfs team Edmond’s cut was the biggest grand prize ever awarded in a single DFS tournament. Montana presented the check to Edmond moments after I interviewed him as the victory became final. It was my second chance to interview Roman that weekend.

As part of the weekend, FanDuel put together an interactive combine at Embarcadero Marina South hosted by Marino and Montana. FanDuel contestants were given an opportunity to take part in traditional drills such as the high jump challenge and quarterback accuracy challenge, and competitions involving a touchdown dance and beer pong. 

I spent some time talking to contestants at that event throughout the day. All were understandably nervous about the upcoming Championship Sunday. And while none were eager to divulge their lineups, the one thing that stood out that day was Edmond’s quiet confidence in his lineup decisions. Like most we talked to, clearly looking to avoid the ire of the fantasy gods, Roman wasn’t ready to give specifics. But he was adamant in stating one player in his lineup was particularly exciting to him.

He explained to me that many of his friends and confidants had advised him not to go with this play. He went against all their advice. Edmond told me I would know who that player was when his lineup was revealed on Sunday.

It turns out that player was Todd Gurley, who Edmond believes is the player that truly took his team over the top.

But it was hardly his only wise decision in that $3 million lineup. And Roman was kind enough to talk about that lineup, his strategies and his FanDuel experience.

PF: First of all, congratulations, Roman. You landed the single biggest daily haul on record -- $3 million. That is what’s known in this business as “life-changing money.” So how has your life changed?

RE: Thank you so much, Bob. As far as my life, things have not really changed day to day as of yet. I still have my day job, but I do have a nice level of comfort when thinking about and planning for my future.

PF: Winning the FanDuel Championship was a hell of a way to cap off the season -- and we’ll get to that. But let’s rewind and go back to the start. How long have you been involved in daily games?

RE: I have been playing Daily Fantasy Sports since late 2013.

PF: How did you hear about daily games and what drew you in?

RE: I first noticed daily contests on the Internet. I was excited by the idea of competing against other players.

PF: How skilled a daily player did you consider yourself upon getting involved?

RE: Initially, I thought I was a skilled player but after a short time playing, I realized I was not.

PF: When and how did you qualify for the FanDuel Championship?

RE: I qualified during Week 10 of the NFL season.

PF: What was total dollar amount invested to qualify?

RE: It was $50. I entered a qualifier to win a $1,065 ticket. After I won that qualifier, I won the subsequent qualifier to compete for the FanDuel Championship.

PF: Run me through that Championship roster and highlight some of the key decisions that led to your success.

RE: Sure. My winning lineup was comprised of Blake Bortles at quarterback; Todd Gurley and Eddie Lacy at running back; A.J. Green, Alshon Jeffery and Allen Hurns at wide receiver; Delanie Walker at tight end; Mason Crosby was my kicker; and I went with Kansas City’s Defense. Some things to note: I liked KC Defense as a couple of weeks prior to this game they played the same team in the Chargers and spanked them in San Diego. Additionally, I believe AJ Green is the best wide receiver in the NFL and was in a good spot versus a weak Steelers’ passing defense.

PF: What specific strategies played into those championship decisions? Was there a single approach that stands out in your mind?

RE: I think one of the helpful decisions I made was to find a quarterback that was fairly priced but had a great upside. Bortles was inexpensive compared to similar QBs, and this decision allowed me to pay up at other positions.

PF: The key decisions appear to be going with the Bortles/Hurns combo as well as Gurley and Lacy. Can you go a little more in-depth on those players, their matchups and other circumstances that led to going with them?

RE: Yes, I liked Blake’s chances that week, and the question that faced me was which player would be used to stack him with. I went with Hurns as he was coming back from injury, and I suspected he would be low-owned but still had the same upside of Allen Robinson. The running backs I selected were rostered for two different reasons.

I loved Gurley for about three weeks prior to the Championship and believed he would be the player to take me over the top. The matchup was ideal from my perspective, and he produced two TDs and 140 yards. He delivered the most fantasy points of any player I had for the day. That was amazing!

I liked Lacy as he was well-valued and heard that his coach was high on him for that week. Additionally, I thought Green Bay had a nice matchup and would run the ball all day, which is what happened. Good stuff.

PF: I had the pleasure of talking to you the day before the big win. You struck me as confident. You didn’t share details, but you made it clear the lineup you would be fielding would be a serious contender. This despite the fact not everybody in your circle of friends and confidants were on board with all your decisions. Can you talk a little about that?

RE: Yes, in the weeks prior to the Championship, I really worked and worked on my roster construction. I did some serious due diligence on Week 14 game matchups so I was quite comfortable with my final lineup. I was never a super athlete, but I imagine that is what players may feel when they are truly prepared.

PF: Tell me about the Championship weekend experience in San Diego. How did FanDuel treat you?

RE: The weekend rated five stars. It was a great experience meeting other DFS players, eating great food and rubbing shoulders with two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Dan Marino and Joe Montana. FanDuel went all out on this event. Kudos to them.

PF: Can you tell me some of the personal highlights of the day? Moments that stand out (besides the awarding of the check)?

RE: For me, it was the Bortles to Hurns touchdown pass. Up until then, my lineup was spinning wheels. After that touchdown hookup, the momentum shifted for me in a positive way.

PF: One thing I noticed attending the Championship -- and it’s struck me the previous two years as well -- was the camaraderie between the competitors. Can you tell me about that?

RE: Yes, the camaraderie was pleasantly surprising and was well received by me. There were a number of competitors that came up to me and congratulated me, and I can say it was genuine. Very professional.

PF: Is it safe to assume you’ll continue to be a serious daily game player going forward?

RE: Yes, my best sport is major league baseball so I will be grinding it out while prepping for the coming NFL season.

PF: Can you tell readers what you believe it takes in terms of time, effort and understanding the strategies involved to gain a competitive advantage?

RE: It takes real effort and hard work. I truly believe you get what you put in. If you take this seriously, you will get better despite some temporary setbacks.

PF: What are some specific tactics, tools or techniques you could share with readers?

RE: I think too much emphasis is placed on Vegas lines. Yes, it has its place, but it is more important to understand the juicy matchups.

PF: Are there any resources you’d like to share that you find especially helpful?

RE: None specifically, but this industry has tons of good content and tools available for new DFS players.

PF: Are you (and have you been) a participant in season-long leagues -- and if so, will you continue to play in those leagues?

RE: Yes. And that’s indirectly why I started to play daily fantasy. I started season-long in 2009 as a co-worker had an open spot in his league and needed someone to fill it. I accepted that sport and won the season-long championship that year, the second year, the third year and the fourth year as well. Needless to say, I was not invited to their next season-long league. Today I would like to thank that league for booting me out, as I ran into Daily Fantasy Sports shortly thereafter.

PF: Highlight the major differences between daily and season-long from your perspective? Specifically, what aspect of the two versions do you like most and like least about each?

RE: From my perspective, I believe you have a small margin for error when comprising a season-long team. One bad decision or mishap in the draft could negatively affect your team’s performance for the whole season. Also, injuries play a greater role in season-long. For daily fantasy, I like the idea that DFS players can roster any player as they set up his/her lineup, which is unlike season-long.

PF: One last question. I learned a lesson from you that weekend. When I interviewed you on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio minutes after the win, the first thing I asked you was to “tell me about the courage of your convictions.” As mentioned earlier, you stuck to your guns. You didn’t let anybody talk you out of your picks. It’s something I’m going to keep in mind going forward. Tell me what -- if any -- lessons you learned?

RE: It wasn’t so much lessons learned for me but something that was re-affirmed to me: “Winning discipline produces winning results.” It really is just that simple.