IMPORTANT: If you want to take your DFS game to the next level this season, check out our In-Season Package. It contains our base projections, ceiling projections, ownership projections, live shows, Silva’s Matchups, and tons more.
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. I believe it’s the most important factor in our success, which is why I dedicated roughly half of my book to it.
That said, I understand game selection is 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.
The goal of our In-Season Package is to give you all the information and tools you need to win in DFS — regardless of what your personal goals are.
But if you simply blast off your entire bankroll into the DK Milly Maker each week, it’s going to be difficult to sustain that roll.
And I get it — I know that everyone wants to take $20 and turn it into $1 million. Some people are perfectly fine with having a negative expectation throughout the season, exclusively playing the extremely 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.
As you’ll see below, focusing on smaller fields, 20-max entries or smaller, and being rake-conscious must be the priority.
Again, 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. You can also check out our 2022 DFS Strategy Guide.
*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 (44% cash, 56% tournaments)
1. Create one cash lineup. This lineup does not worry about ownership at all.
2. Create 20 large-field tournament lineups. These lineups should be correlated and have thoughtful leverage against the field. You can either use an optimizer or hand-build. Read this article for more trends to be aware of when building these lineups.
3. Create one single-entry, medium-size field tournament lineup.
4. Create three 3-max, medium-size field tournament lineups.
5. Enter the 3-max lineups into the $5 buy-in Nickel. Total $15. This tournament has 11,890 entries and is a 3-max. We will not need the absolute stone nuts to win it. The min-cash on this tournament is also 2x ($10) and 10th is 10% of first. The rake is high in this (15.9%), but otherwise, the structure is what we are seeking.
6. Enter the 3-max lineups into the $3 buy-in Triple Option. Total $9. This tournament has 15,854 entries and is a 3-max. The min-cash is only 1.67x, which is not ideal, but the payouts up top are flat ($4K to first, $1K to third, $400 to 10th).
7. Enter the 20 large-field tournament lineups into the $1 buy-in First Down. Total $20. This is a 20-max large-field tournament (297,265 entries). We can either hand-build or use an optimizer. We can use the principles outlined here for roster construction. It is a soft tournament that is good practice for those who eventually want to move up to the Milly Maker.
8. Enter the single-entry tournament lineup into the SMALLER $12 buy-in Fair Catch. Total $12. We know that in single-entry tournaments, many of our opponents will use their cash roster. The “best plays” will see bloated ownership. Work on creating leverage against this 4,901-entry field.
Note that there are two single-entry Fair Catch tournaments. I prefer the 4,901-entry field over the 29,411-entry field.
9. Enter the cash lineup in the largest-field $2, $5, and $10 Single-Entry Double-Ups. Total $17. These Double-Ups contain 8,620, 22,988, and 8,620 entries respectively. They are also raked around 13%, which is tolerable for low stakes. Since they are single-entry, they will be far softer than the multi-entry double-ups. There simply aren’t 8,000+ competent players on the site.
10. Enter the cash lineup into 27 $1 H2H Games. Total $27. Create the head-to-head contests yourself; do not “scoop” people that are already posted in the H2H lobby. Be sure to click the box that limits the number of times one person can play against you to one.
The best players on DraftKings are not allowed to play in games below $5. But 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, and Head-to-Head Settings. FanDuel does not have this blocking functionality.
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 simply winning them all or losing them all.
Here’s a graph of my 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 H2H results by buy-in level so you can get an idea of realistic ROIs.
IF YOU WANT TO PLAY $500 IN A WEEK ON DRAFTKINGS (57% cash, 43% tournaments)
1. Enter all the contests above. Total $100.
2. Enter the cash lineup into the largest-field $25 Single-Entry Double-Up. Total $25. This Double-Up features 9,195 entries — again, there simply aren’t that many solid cash players on the site.
3. Enter the cash lineup into 20 more $1 H2H Games, 40 $2 H2H Games, and 40 $3 H2H Games. Total $220. Posted head-to-head games under $5 will be some of the softest action we can find. It also smoothes out variance due to the non-binary outcome of high-volume head-to-head action.
4. Enter the 20 large-field tournament lineups in the smaller (19.8K field size) $3 Play Action. Total $60. We now have a total of $4 on each of the 20 large-field tournament lineups. Again, this is a good chance to work on your optimizer skills at a low cost. If you’re interested in our optimizer deal add-on through FantasyLabs, click here. If you sign up this way, the optimizer will come pre-loaded with our continuously updating projections and ownership projections.
5. Enter the three 3-max lineups in the $15 Screen Pass (7,843 field size). Total $45. This does have a 15% rake sadly, but 10th place ($1,000) wins 10% of 1st place ($10,000) and a min-cash ($30) is 2x the buy-in. No matter what site you’re playing on or what contests you’re looking at, this is the stuff I’m looking for. Be rake-conscious, look at payout structure, and understand field size.
6. Create a new small-field, single-entry tournament lineup. Enter it in the smaller (2,272 field size) $50 Red Zone. Total $50. A big advantage of getting more money in play is having access to lower-rake contests. This smallish-field GPP has just 11.97% rake, which is a big difference from the 15%-16% we find at low/micro stakes. It also has the 2x min-cash and 10th place earns 10% of 1st.
NOTE: The above is specific to DraftKings and NFL. But the principles outlined can be applied to any site or any sport.
- A) Be rake-conscious and seek out the smallest rake.
- B) Understand field size and adjust your lineups for it.
- C) Examine the payout structure — ideally, we find flatter payouts up top (10th place is 10% of 1st place) and 2x buy-in min-cash.
- D) Find the softest opponents — Playing winning DFS is a cut-throat game. Do not feel guilty about finding opponents who are not working as hard as you are.