Controlling the Game: Your Basic DraftKings NFL Strategy
If you’ve always wanted to try daily fantasy sports, there may truly be no better time than the present. Participation in daily fantasy sports is on the rise, especially among NFL Leagues; more participants means a bigger pool, which in turn increases your potential winnings.
Among the most popular daily fantasy sites, DraftKings boasts exceptionally high payouts in addition to its user-friendly design and unique league features. But winning big on DraftKings isn’t guaranteed when you join. Your success depends largely on how well you take advantage of several key features of DraftKings, such as the league’s scoring and player pricing systems. The following four-point basic DraftKings NFL strategy can help you understand these features and ensure that you set a winning lineup.
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Understanding Value on DraftKings
Later in this article we will discuss when you should go with a consistent player, and when you should take a gamble on a high ceiling/high floor guy. The biggest factor in determining risk vs reward on DraftKings is understanding value. As you research value on various sites you will notice experts and other players refering to a players value or potential value as a multiple (1x, 2x, 3x…).
We can’t sit here today and tell you that you should target players that reach 5x value 20% of the time, or 4x value 40% of the time, because value really needs to be determined in season. As a general rule of thumb, your goal should be to hit 180 points every week. At 180 points, you should finish in the money in GPPs, and if focus on picking players with high ceilings you should always give yourself a shot at hitting a big payout.
How can you use value to reach your target score?
Understanding value is essential to building your lineups. You need 180 points out of 9 roster slots and $50,000. That is 3.6 points per $1,000 spent, players that reach that number will have ‘reached value’ for you for the week.
The absolute easiest way to find value is by targeting depth chart changes. Injuries are always the easiest way to identify value. Dez Bryant missed week 17 last season, Pickle45 started Terrance Williams against the Redskins, he was only $3,300 and hit for 28.3 points or 8.6x value. Pickle45 won $1 million on DraftKings that week. Finding players priced way below their actual value is the key to consistently winning on DraftKings.
You now have a target value, can calculate the past values of a player, leaving you to just have to break down matchups, create accurate projections, and target players that can consistently reach value. And that is the name of the game when it comes to winning on DraftKings.
Maximize your scoring potential by making smart choices at the flex position
One unique element of DraftKings’s scoring system awards one point per reception a player makes during a game. This element, referred to as PPR, favors wide receivers, tight ends, and running backs who catch a lot of passes out of the backfield.
Since each DraftKings lineup must have in it a starting quarterback, two running backs and wide receivers, a tight end, kicker, team defense, and one flex player in order to be complete, one of the ways you can gain an advantage in scoring is to add a wide-out or tight end as your flex. Recent data shows that tournament lineups featuring tight ends in the flex did much better than lineups using running backs in the flex.
When getting into your basic DraftKings NFL strategy, note how important it is to let the nature of the contest influence the way you play. Unlike one-on-one games, which honor more conservative, consistent lineup choices (such as placing a consistent 100-yard rusher in the flex position), team tournaments on DraftKings are often won or lost by the narrowest of margins.
In the survive-and-advance scenario common to most tournament play, the addition of a few PPR points can add up to increased winning potential. If you’re building a team for a tournament, consider researching the value of a tight end or wide receiver who make one for-all-the-marbles reception as your flex player.
Account for bonus scoring when setting your lineup
Another unique feature of DraftKings’s scoring system awards bonuses to quarterbacks tossing for 300+ yards and to 100-yard rushers and receivers. Your basic DraftKings NFL strategy should account for these bonuses. While many defensive players dislike recent rule changes meant to coddle receivers, these changes have contributed to two-fold increase in the number of 300-yard passers and 100-yard receivers over the past couple years.
Lineups featuring top-rated quarterbacks and one or more elite wide-outs stand to benefit from the bonus points awarded for high productivity—yet another reason to consider putting wide-outs and tight ends in at the flex position in your lineup.
Spend a little, gain a lot: take advantage of starting inexpensive players
In the DraftKings system, the inexpensive players who produce offer the most potential value to your lineup. Traditionally, the least expensive players to add to your team were wide receivers, but as the league continues to favor the passing attack over a solid ground game, the value of running backs over wide-outs may change.
Also worth noting when developing your basic DraftKings NFL strategy is that player values remain consistent within each position. You can use this to your advantage, again, by featuring wide receivers in your flex position; putting up a little money for a player who might potentially have a big game is clearly beneficial to your ability to score points and win contests.
Another advantage of player pricing variance can lead you to roster the back-up of a high-value running back or receiver out with an injury. The backup’s big game in relief of the injured first-stringer is your potential big win.
Know when to roster steady performers over boom-or-bust players
Don’t forget: your DraftKings NFL strategy should account for the difference between tournament and cash game play. Whereas tournament league play favors the lineup built to maximize upside, one-on-one contests often go to the user who rosters dependable performers.
Trying to maximize a lineup’s upside carries a considerable risk. One strategy for maximizing upside has you pairing an elite quarterback with his favorite receiver. If the two have a big game, your chances of advancing improve dramatically. While you may gain a great deal from this particular strategy in a tournament scenario, you may not do so well employing it in one-on-one season play, where the goal isn’t to advance to but outlast your opponent over the course of a season.
In this scenario, you’re better off sacrificing big-gain potential for sure scoring. You might, for example, choose to roster an average running back playing a defense that can’t stop the run over an elite running going up against league’s top rushing defense.
Our Three Keys to Winning More DraftKings NFL Contests
Daily fantasy sports is not a game of luck, websites like ours wouldn’t exist if it were. You can make fantasy football on DraftKings as complicated as you’d like, but if you at the very least go into each week with these 3 keys in mind, you can consistently win.
- Understand Matchups
Tools like NumberFire and RotoQL can give you solid projections, but it’s ultimately on you to break down matchups and create accurate player projections. Keep in mind that targets and receptions are king, and target high-volume players in favorable matchups. Avoid chasing touchdowns and instead focus on opportunities to score, which is determined by number of touches and favorability of matchup.
- Find the Value
The most consistent source for value in DraftKings fantasy football contests is created by depth chart changes. This most often is a result of injury. Last season Matt Forte was injured in week 9 against the Vikings. This created an opportunity for a sub $6,000 Jeremy Langford to get the lion’s share of touches for the Bears. In week 10 he scored 23.2 point and in week 11 he scored over 40 points. Keep an eye on injuries as they are the easiest ways to find value.
You can also find value by simply targeting bad players in favorable matchups. Early in the 2015 season, the Jaguars were one of the 3 worst pass defenses in the NFL. The Texans were on the road, struggling, but Brian Hoyer had shown flashes of mediocrity and they were playing at one of the faster paces in the league. This is a good example of bad player, good situation, good matchup. Hoyer would throw for 293/3, hitting 4x+ value on DraftKings.
- Managing Your Bankroll and Expectations
I have worked in the daily fantasy sports industry for almost 5 years now, and have hand-built tens-of-thousands of lineups. I can’t tell you how many times a friend or family member has handed me their phone and said ‘build my DraftKings Millionaire Maker lineup for this week.’ DFS just isn’t that easy, and perhaps the hardest sport to consistently win is football.
You can build your absolute best GPP lineup of the season, and odds are pretty good a shark has built the same lineup and 10 variations of it for the MM contest. So how do you beat them? Avoid them altogether. Enter your best lineups into $1, $2, and $5 50/50s and other single entry contests.
Build your bankroll low and slow, then take your shot at the Millionaire Maker when the entry is a just a drop in the bucket for you. A basic rule we follow is to play 50% or less of your total bankroll, and have 10% of your total entries be GPPs.