At least 90% of the analysis you’ll read about NFL DFS discusses picking the right players. Almost all of it will ignore game selection.
The easiest and fastest way to increase your ROI is through game selection. It’s a complicated topic because everyone reading this should have different goals. The overwhelming majority of people should be playing DFS football for pure fun. A small percentage can treat DFS as a side job, looking to generate a modest amount of extra income. And a tiny, infinitesimal percentage of the player pool is trying to play for a living.
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I know that everyone wants to take $20 and turn it into $1 million. They are perfectly fine with having a negative expectation through the season, exclusively playing the extreme top-heavy massive-field tournaments. And quite frankly there’s nothing wrong with that. Again, most people should be playing for fun.
But this article is for people who are interested in giving themselves a positive expectation each week. That means adding cash games*, smaller field tournaments and spending time each week identifying the contests you want to play. It often ignores the “lottery style” extreme large-field GPPs.
If you want more on game selection, I spent two chapters in my e-book talking about it. In-season subscribers to Establish The Run get the book for free here.
*Cash games refer to any contest in which roughly 50% of the field gets paid out, such as head-to-heads, double ups and 50/50s.
IF YOU WANT TO PLAY $100 IN A WEEK ON DRAFTKINGS
* 20 different GPP lineups in the $1 First Down for $20 total: This is a preferred low-stakes GPP to target since it’s 20-max, not 150-max. Only building 20 GPP lineups also gives us the option of hand-building them or using an optimizer.
* Three different GPP lineups in the $8 Engage Eight for $24 total: This is a 3-max tournament that pays 2x for a min-cash and has flat payouts up top. In other words an 80th percentile lineup wins $16. And 10th place prize ($1,000) is 10% of 1st place ($10,000). The 3-max nature allows us to hand-craft our favorite three tournament teams. And with a field size of under 15,000 entries, we won’t need the actual perfect lineup to win.
* Use your cash lineup to create 39 $1 H2H games for $39 total: Create the head-to-head contests yourself. Be sure to click the box that limits the number of times one person can play against you to one. If you notice any “pros” or good players regularly scooping your games, add them to your block list. You can do this by going to Account Information, Preferences, Head-to-Head Settings.
Note that if you want to reduce variance, you can play more head-to-heads instead of double-ups. Head-to-head results aren’t binary, some weeks you’ll win 60% and others 30% and others 90%. Double up results are typically either win them all or lose them all.
Here’s a graph of my NFL H2H results so you can visualize what it looks like to grind a lot of them. These graphs come from RotoTracker, a DFS results tracking platform.
And here are my NFL H2H results by buy-in level so you can get an idea on realistic ROIs.
* Use your cash lineup in the $2, $5 and $10 Single Entry Double Up for $17 total: Anytime we can find massive-field cash games that are single entry, they are going to be good games. We should avoid the multi-entry double ups, which allow the best players to put in 150 of their cash lineup and lower our expected value. These single entry fields are around 9,000 entries and we know there aren’t 9,000 solid cash players in the ecosystem.
IF YOU WANT TO PLAY $500 IN A WEEK ON DRAFTKINGS
* All of the above for $100 total.
* Use the same 20 GPP lineups you used in the $1 First Down and add them to the $3 Play-Action for $60 total. This is another 20-max tournament with the max 15.89% rake, but it gives us a big ceiling should we run into the nuts – and it also has flat payouts. First place is $50K and 10th is $5000. We now have a total of $4 on each of our 20-max lineups.
* Use the same three GPP lineups you used in the $8 Engage Eight in the $20 Hard Count for a $60 total. This is a 5-max tournament with 2x min-cash. It’s slightly more top heavy than we’d prefer with only $1K to 10th and $25K to 1st. But it’s the best of the lower-stakes 5- or 3-max contests.
* One new GPP lineup in the $50 Red Zone for $50 total. By moving up to the $50 level, we lower the rake from the 15-16% level down to 11.99%. We also find a smaller field (4,545 entries) and many of our opponents will simply put their cash lineup in. That creates leverage for us by hand-building a GPP team we like and really attacking that $25K first-place prize.
* Use your cash lineup to create 40 $2 and 40 $3 head-to-head contests for $200 total. Use the same process described above to register these games. So we now have a total of 119 low-stakes head-to-head games, which will be some of our most +EV action. It also smooths out variance due to the non-binary outcome of high-volume head-to-head action.
* Use your cash lineup in the three $5 10x boosters and three $5 Triple Ups for $30 total. While our cash lineup will almost never win a GPP with more than 1,000 entries, it can easily finish as a top-5% lineup in a week. By entering some of the multiplier contests, we find some softer opponents and also give our cash lineup a bit of a ceiling. In the event we have an elite cash lineup, we’ll make $195 on our $30 investment.