DraftKings Strategy Course 104
The Basics of DFS Lineup Construction for DraftKings
DraftKings offers exciting daily fantasy contest for all the major and even some relatively smaller sports. The lineup roster varies for each sport and in this article we are going to cover the different types lineups and roster positions. Since lineup construction for each sport is unique, we’ll break down how to build a DraftKings lineup by sport. In future articles, we’ll cover in depth strategies to employ when building your winning lineup. In this article, we’ll introduce some concepts and touch briefly on them.
Intro to DraftKings Lineup Building
Rome wasn’t built in a day and becoming a professional daily fantasy player doesn’t happen by luck. Here are a few basic points to roster construction and concepts we will cover later in the course.
• Contest Slates– Each contest will list the game schedule included in the contest 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.
• Salary Cap – Every sport, baseball, basketball, football or NASCAR racing, is going to require you work within a salary cap.
• Sport Specific Strategies – The discussion of actual lineup strategies for various sports is extensive. You have stacking, low-budget players always at certain positions, and the strategy of studs & fliers. Developing an understanding of these types of sport specific strategies takes time, research and dedication.
• Low Owned 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. This is called low ownership.
• Finding Low Ownership % Players to Roster – If you’re playing in a GPP tournament, focus your research on value projections, plus what a low floor and high ceiling mean.
|SP, SP, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF
|QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, DST
|PG, SG, SF, PF, C, G, F, UTIL
|QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, FLEX, S-FLEX
|G, G, G, F, F, F, UTIL, UTIL
|Captain, TOP, JNG, MID, ADC, SUP, TEAM
Let’s 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.
DraftKings’s roster construction for MLB DFS starts with the two pitcher spots. This is where the decision tree can start for the rest of your lineup. Paying up for pitching in both spots will leave you thinned out for hitters. Using an expensive SP1 and a mid-range SP2 can help relieve some salary tension. The other two ways of going are to pick two 8-9K priced pitcher to give yourself an even balance. You can also go One expensive arm, and punt the SP2 to help give you more salary for hitters. Pitching is where you want to spend up in cash games, but in tournaments all these strategies are viable. You want strikeouts from your pitchers, so be sure to focus on arms projected to get wins and are in high strikeout spots.
Value doesn’t pop up through injuries like other sports, so finding value in baseball is a little different. It is still crucial for building lineups. Sometimes DraftKings will have players mis-priced, or a bench/platoon bat will get into the lineup. A slate with not a lot of value will push you in a more balanced direction. If there is a lot of value, and important pay up bats, you can opt for the stars and scrubs roster construction, where you punt a few spots and then pay up for the big bats.
Stacking on DraftKings means you can roster five hitters from the same team in order to heighten your ceiling though correlation. If the leadoff bat hits a double, and the two hitter drives them in, then they are increasing each other’s production together. Finding high implied total teams against weak pitching and bullpens in good hitting ballparks is what you are after when it comes to stacking.
Basketball Lineups (NBA & CBB)
The concepts for college and pro basketball are nearly identical. The same is true for WNBA DFS contests. While there are a couple minor differences in player roster spots, they are essentially the same. DFS players should always keep an eye on inactive and questionable players. It tends to be a nightly thing sitting around waiting for injury news to come out. One of the drawbacks of NBA DFS is going deep into your evening waiting for key news that influences the slate. Always stay on top of the nba starting lineups and projected NBA minutes.
Building cash and tournament lineups on DraftKings has a lot to do with establishing a really good floor. Both cash and tournament lineup strategies can be similar. Minutes and usage are two categories to look at when building lineups. You are going to want guys who are on the court of course, but also guys who are involved in the offense. In cash games you want to limit your risk, meaning you want players with a safe floor. Save those players that can get you either 10 or 30 DK points for tournaments. A stars and scrubs approach can be necessary in tournaments, where you jam in a Karl-Anthony Towns and Stephen Curry then fill in with cheap options.
Value is always going to be important when it comes to NBA. When the season gets going, players start to get injured. Simple, but injuries are the main way for value to pop up on a slate. If Anthony Davis is injured and about to miss a game, that means more usage is going around elsewhere, and we might get a cheap fill-in. This is where getting injury news is important.
Football Lineups (NFL & CFB)
Football lineups use only the key offensive positional players and a team defense. NFL lineups use tight ends, but college football 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 looking to build, we want players who are getting high volume at their positions. We can narrow down with efficiency later, but rushing attempts and targets are important. Ownership is important in both cash and tournaments for football, but more so in tournaments. The reason why ownership is important in cash games is because over the last few seasons, cash game variance has been limited between lineups. That means we are seeing very similar cash games where all of a sudden it comes down to 1-2 players because the other players are matched. This puts a little more of an emphasis on making players just a tad different but still carrying a safe floor. In tournaments we are going to want to differ more from the field.
Stacking is in play for football as well, where we want to get the overall ceiling up with correlation. Using offenses that have a few focal pieces and use them often is key. Stacking a team like New England can be frustrating because they spread the ball around so much. Finding offenses with high Vegas totals and in good matchups that turn into shootouts to stack in your lineup. Pairing Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and Eric Ebron has a ton of upside in a high scoring game.
Injuries are important to track throughout the week, because we do have one week where things can go south in a hurry. This means value could open up or maybe a WR1 goes down and now 9-10 targets are up for grabs. If a running back goes down, a backup will become a popular value play.
For Canadian Football League fans and Arena 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
Some might think fantasy hockey is low scoring based on the amount of goals within a hockey game, but scoring relies on goalie success and players racking up fantasy stats outside of goals and assists. There are a few ways to go building a hockey lineup, but like a few other sports, there is one position that is weighted heavily.
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.You will need a safe and consistent floor goalie in cash games, where in tournaments you can look to a goalie for more upside even if he carries risk. Taking goalies against good offenses in tournaments is a viable strategy because the ceiling is so high, but of course the floor is lower.
Hockey is made up of four offensive lines, three defensive lines, power play lines, and penalty kill lines. Most of the time you will see the top line players on the power play lines. Both top two lines and power play lines are where you want to look for players. They generate the most ice time, and are also usually higher scoring fantasy producers. Sometimes we find a value that is now playing with the first line for the game. Players that also generate shots on goal and blocked shots are ones to target too.
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.
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.
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.
Concluding Basic Roster Construction
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.