DraftKings Daily Fantasy Lineup Building

The Basics of DFS Lineup Construction for DraftKings

DraftKings offers exciting daily fantasy contest for various sports. The lineup format for each of the team sports relates closely with the actual positions used by real coaches. In DFS, the difference is you are in control of your lineup card.

Since lineup construction for each sport is unique to the different positions, we’ll break down our explanation of how to build a DraftKings lineup by sport. There are different strategies you can use for any particular lineup, but we’ll direct our focus on lineup construction.

The Basics of Every DraftKings Lineup

There are a handful of lineup building tips that are not unique to any particular sport. We’ll start by making a brief mention of these basic DFS strategies. While there are tweaks you can use for any particular sport, they are fairly consistent concepts for building most DFS lineups.

• Salary Cap – Every sport, baseball, basketball, football or NASCAR racing, is going to require you work within a salary cap. To help with using this aspect of DFS, focus your research on value projections, plus what a low floor and high ceiling mean.
• Sleepers and Value Picks – There are always going to be high-point producers in every game, a player whose salary doesn’t reflect their average stats. Picking the sleepers, low-budget players who very few other players roster, is how DFS legends are made.
• Sport Specific Strategies – The discussion of actual lineup strategies for various sports could be extensive. You have the stack concept, low-budget players always at certain positions, and the idea of always taking the highest-projected player. Developing an understanding of these types of sport specific strategies just takes a little practice.
• Game Availability – Each contest will list the game schedule at the top of the lineup page. Many contests are limited to a handful of games, day, night, Sunday only, etc. Individual sports such as PGA Golf, or MMA list the tournament name and dates, or the fighter schedule.

MLB Lineups

We’ll take a look at constructing lineups for Major League Baseball fantasy contests first. Baseball is the first sport that attracted an interest in building fantasy lineups to compete with others in a league format. These early make-believe rosters used a rotisserie scoring system, and used season-long stats.

Building an MLB lineup is the single most unique type of lineup construction in fantasy sports. It’s because baseball is full of quirks and strange tendencies. To build consistently successful daily baseball lineup cards, you need to appreciate these oddities of baseball.

A DFS baseball lineup looks remarkably similar to a lineup card handed by a head coach to the home plate umpire during the pregame. You will pick one player to fill every spot on the field. The one difference is that every DFS baseball lineup uses two pitchers.

Look at scoring format for your event. Most are standard, with your chosen players benefitting from strong game performances. With nearly double the number of lineup spots than any other sport, you can begin to see where daily fantasy baseball takes more insight and patience to be successful.

There are literally hundreds of different little strategies to build MLB lineups. Pitchers are invariably big point producers, so getting the best value in these two spots on your lineup is vital.

Many of the nuisances of baseball hold true for building a fantasy lineup. Catchers and middle infielders usually produce less than corner infielders and outfielders. And then you have the batter vs. pitcher (BvP) quandary. This is one of baseball’s many peculiarities.

Some hitters are extremely successful against certain pitchers and visa versa. You’ll immediately have a slight advantage when building your lineup, if you make any final choices between players based on the BvP statistics.

Basketball Lineups

The concepts for college and pro basketball are nearly identical. The same is true for European League DFS contests. While there are a couple minor differences in player spots, they are essentially the same. Scan the game availability for each night’s NBA, EL, or NCAA slate. You’ll get your players from these games.

Recent trends in the NBA dictate that DFS players should keep an eye on inactive players. It isn’t always a factor, but spending a big chunk of your salary on a star who doesn’t even suit-up is aggravating.

Real basketball teams put five players on the court at one time. DFS lineups on DraftKings require you pick eight. You’ll need a trio of guards and forwards, plus a center. Like most team sports, pro basketball DFS has a utility player. This spot can be any position.

Without digging deep into a particular lineup strategy for the NBA or college, you should understand that the high-ceiling centers are a limited bunch. On any given night, the salary for certain stars climbs beyond a point where adding them to a lineup is counter-productive.

You’re going to need to save money somewhere, so look to the expanded guard and forward spots for your sleepers. Remember, players who handle the ball more than others stand a bigger chance of racking up points for dishing out dimes.

Assists are worth an extra half point, and rebounds net you 1.25 fantasy points per board. Be careful with block shots. While they earn 2-fantasy points per swat, they don’t always happen. Be sure to get at least two high-value stars in your NBA lineup, then dig deep with your research for the best sleepers at the forward and guard spots.

Football Lineups

Similar to the NBA, DFS for football uses many of the standard positions. But, just like on the field performance is hard to judge, the poor linemen don’t have a spot on a DFS roster. Football lineups use only the key positions.

NFL lineups use the tight end position, but NCAA lineups do not. Contests in both college and pro have a flex position. In college, there are actually two. The standard flex can be a running back or wide receiver.

The second super flex player can be either of these positions, or an extra quarterback. Without getting into the actual strategy, quarterbacks in college football are notoriously the biggest fantasy point producers. Same reason follows in professional football as well.

When you begin to build your NFL lineup, start by breaking down the value for the available quarterbacks. Unless you have a hunch on a true ringer in this group, focus your first salary cap objective on getting a good quarterback.

In football, like basketball, you need to research value projections for any given set of games. Best advice is to get at least one strong running back and one highly-projected receiver. Quality at the tight end position is scarce, so drift down the list for good value there.

For Canadian Football League fans, you can enter DFS contents using CFL players as well. There are only two WRs, a single RB, and no TE on CFL lineups. As we mentioned in the basics of all lineups, stacking QBs and WRs in football is a frequently used strategy.

NHL Hockey Lineups

Hockey follows the same general format of the other team sports. You pick a lineup of nine skaters split between the different hockey positions on the ice. To be successful at DFS hockey, you either need to know the game, or inform yourself about how points are earned in fantasy hockey.

Certain positions on the ice have more opportunities to score points for your lineup. Pay attention to these trends and pay up in salary to get better value at these positions. Goalies are important as well.

One thing you need to pay close attention to is the tendency for hockey coaches to flip goalies from one night to the next. Make sure your lineup has an active goalie who will be between the posts.

Soccer Lineups

Building DFS soccer lineups almost mirrors hockey. There is one less roster spot on a fantasy soccer lineup as opposed to an NHL card. Similar to roster construction for baseball, football and basketball, both hockey and soccer have a spot on the lineup for a generic position.

In soccer, it is the UTIL, or utility position. You can fill this spot with a player from any of the position categories. Just like hockey, be shrewd when spending your salary on the player who will “man the nets”. Picking goalies is a critical strategy point in building DFS soccer lineups.

DFS Lineups for PGA Golf Tournaments

Golf is the first sport we’ll talk about where individual players compete against a field. Truth be known, the first idea for picking an imaginary team of players was in the late 1950s for pro golf.

You’ll build your racing and golf lineups in a similar fashion. Key idea for constructing the best DFS lineup in any individual sport is to try to have the tournament winner on your roster. Winner points are big in PGA fantasy, but so are getting as many golfers on your lineup card who finish in the top-10.

You also want to research a player’s course history. One important part of constructing a PGA lineup card is to fill your roster with golfers who make the weekend cut. Golfers who don’t meet this low score benchmark, won’t get you any points on Saturday and Sunday.

Recent trends are a useful strategy when trying to fit a PGA lineup card under the salary cap. Golfers, especially average players, are notorious for running hot and cold streaks. Getting a low salary golfer on your card, one who’s on the leader board down the homestretch on Sunday, is a prescription for a winning lineup.

NASCAR Racing Lineups

NASCAR presents somewhat different lineup configuration. Like PGA Golf, you don’t have to fill specific positions with your drivers. However, you do want to construct a lineup of drivers that will produce fantasy points.

Racing has a value system like other sports. To build a full lineup, one that has a chance of winning, you’ll need to incorporate low-salary drivers. Get your big names out of the way first. Study the driver’s track history when you’re stuck deciding between two or more drivers.

Once you settle on your top-tier spots, dig into which drivers on the slate have either qualified high for this race, or have a history of strong performances at the track. Since the NASCAR field is always limited, post multiple lineups if you can, and put out one lineup top-loaded with your best sleepers.

MMA on DraftKings

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting is a wildly popular daily fantasy option. Unlike other individual sports where players compete against the field, MMA fighters battle one opponent on any given fight card. Building the best MMA lineup involves studying punch statistics.

While you can just have fun with MMA contests, picking your favorite fighters, to win with any type of consistency you need to research the fighters. Some fighters are punchers, while others are excellent defenders.

Takedowns, for instance, score points. Certain fighters get taken down a lot, while others generate consistent takedown points. When you’re constructing an MMA lineup, the salary cap is vastly important. Highly projected winners are going to carry a healthy price tag. In a nutshell, success in constructing MMA lineups benefits from heavy research.

These are the basics concepts behind building a daily fantasy lineup for every sport. Each sport has a few nuisances you should keep in mind. However, putting the best player into your fantasy lineup is always the priority.

The better and more extensive your research is, the better your chances of having your players score well. Remember, you’re just like a real coach. Play the statistics and use them to your advantage. As you become a more experienced DFS player, you’ll develop a few of your own lineup building strategies.

  
Sam Shefrin is the founder of Lineups.com, Inc. Before Lineups, he started Daily Fantasy Cafe, Inc. in 2014. Armed with a passion for sports and every Atlanta team, his journey continues with the goal of making Lineups a premier sports analytics destination. He has been quoted on Forbes.com for industry insight and his websites featured on NBATV, Yahoo! Sports, Fantasy Pros, Bleacher Report and SB Nation.