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 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 NFL DFS 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 goals are.
But if you simply blast off your entire bankroll into the DraftKings 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. This advice is for DraftKings, but it can be applied to any DFS site or sport.
*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
1. Create one cash lineup. This lineup does not worry about ownership or correlation at all. The goal is to simply create the highest median team, while still keeping an eye on ceiling.
2. Create 20 large-field tournament lineups. These lineups should be correlated and have thoughtful leverage against the field. Can either use an optimizer (I use The Solver) or hand-build. Read this article for more trends to be aware of when building these lineups.
3. Create one single-entry, medium-sized field tournament lineup. There is not any real difference between an ideal 3-max lineup vs. an ideal single-entry lineup. The differences are in field size and projected ownership (expect the “best plays” to be more owned in these kinds of tournaments vs. the 150-max tournaments).
4. Create a second single-entry, medium-sized field tournament lineup.
5. Create three 3-max, medium-sized field tournament lineups.
6. 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 place ($500) pays out 10% of first ($5,000). The rake is high in this (15.6%), as it is in almost all low buy-in GPPs. But otherwise, the structure is what we are seeking.
7. Enter the first single-entry tournament lineup into the $10 buy-in 1st and 10. Total $10. This is actually a 10-entry max, which isn’t ideal. But the field size here (5,882 entries) is about as small as we can get for guaranteed prize pools in this buy-in range. The rake is also down to 14.99%, a solid 1-1.5% better than other comparable contests.
8. Enter the second single-entry tournament lineup into the SMALLEST $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 2,450-entry field.
Note that there are three single-entry Fair Catch tournaments. I prefer the 2,450-entry field over the 24,509- and 9,803-entry fields. We are more likely to realize our expectation faster in the smaller fields.
9. Enter the 20 large-field tournament lineups into the $1 buy-in First Down. Total $20. This is a 20-max large-field tournament (237,812 entries). We can either hand-build or use an optimizer (again, I use The Solver). We can use the principles outlined here for roster construction. This is a soft tournament that is good practice for those who eventually want to move up to the Milly Maker.
10. Enter the cash lineup in the largest-field $2, $5, and $10 Single-Entry Double-Ups. Total $17. These double-ups contain 5,747, 17,241, and 5,747 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. I try not to play any multi-entry double-ups.
11. Enter the cash lineup into 26 $1 H2H Games. Total $26. Create the head-to-head contests yourself; do not “scoop” people who 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%, others 30%, and others 90%. Double-up results are simply win them all or lose them all.
IF YOU WANT TO PLAY $500 IN A WEEK ON DRAFTKINGS
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 6,896 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 $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 add-on through The Solver, 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 (1,176 field size). Total $45. This does have a 15% rake sadly, but 10th place ($150) wins 10% of first place ($1,500) 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 the lower-rake contests. This smallish-field GPP has just 11.97% rake, 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 first.
NOTE: The above is specific to DraftKings and NFL. But the principles outlined can be applied to any site or any sport:
- Be rake-conscious and seek out the smallest rake.
- Understand field size and adjust your lineups for it.
- Examine the payout structure — ideally, we find flatter payouts up top (10th place is 10% of first place) and 2x buy-in min-cash.
- 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.
- Track your results closely. See which type of contests you’re best at, and where you’re struggling. The bankroll tracker at Solver is currently FREE, click here.