Daily fantasy football is an entirely different beast than season-long fantasy. It takes much more than just plugging in the best players at each position to win. It takes skill and strategy to find the right combination of guys to put you in the money.
Find the right strategies to win, however, and you could be lining the pockets of every pair of pants you own with thousands of dollars. Several layers of thought should go into every GPP (guaranteed prize pool – usually large-field tournaments with over 50,000 lineups entered) lineup, and it can get very confusing to understand just what you need to do to optimize your chances of success.
On top of giving out some top player ideas each week, I will also share some examples of optimal strategy that you need to give yourself a shot at winning massive amounts of money.
Note that these strategies mostly apply to tournament play, where about 20% of the field gets paid out, and way more money is available in the top few spots. Thus, entering into tournaments, you should be aiming to win, not just place in the money. These strategies may not apply as much to cash games, which include head to heads and double-ups, where about 50% of the field gets paid out and they all get paid the same amount.
Essential to any tournament winning lineup is the concept of stacking. Stacking simply means to play multiple guys from the same team with the expectation that if one does well, it is likely that the other one will also do well. Your lineup needs to be in the top 0.01% to have a real shot at big money, so you need to engineer your lineup to have a shot to be in that upper echelon.
Example: You decide that Deshaun Watson is going to be your tournament quarterback because you expect him to have a huge week. If Deshaun Watson is going to have the type of massive week that is going to win you a tournament, one or more of his pass-catchers will likely have a fantastic week as well. Thus, you should pair him with one of his receivers.
Pairing Watson with Deandre Hopkins, for example, would provide your lineup with a higher ceiling, as every touchdown Hopkins scores will be thrown by Watson, giving you extra points. You are playing for the top possible outcome, so you need to think of what that top possible outcome would look like for each of your players.
There are several different types of stacks to put in your lineup, but the main idea remains the same: each stack needs to have a positive correlation to increase the ceiling outcome of your lineup. You don’t want to make any bad stacking decisions, such as playing the defense going up against your quarterback. That is a very simple one; if you want the best possible outcome from each spot in your lineup, pitting two of them against each other is not a positively correlate way to do that. If your quarterback has a ceiling game, the defense likely did not.
Another type of stack to increase your lineups’ optimal ceiling is a game stack. Let’s continue with the stack I used above. If I expect Hopkins and Watson to both have ceiling games, I would expect that the opposing team would need to throw the ball more to keep up. It would make a lot of sense to “run it back” with a pass catcher on the team against Hopkins and Watson.
Not only does this make sense as Hopkins and Watson going off would increase pass volume on the other side, but it also works because you would want Watson to keep throwing the ball. If the other team can’t score, it would make sense that the Texans would begin to run the ball more and burn out the clock. That lowers the upside of your lineup.
Playing for the optimal result would mean the other team would keep the game close, and since you already expect Watson to have a huge game, keeping it close would mean guys on the other side of the ball would have a huge game. This is another great example of a correlation that could help your lineup reach a massive ceiling performance.
DraftKings Week 4 Plays
Understanding ownership is another crucial element of winning in DFS, one I will dive into next week. For now, if you’re brand new to DFS, I’m going to give some guys who project to be highly owned, the “chalk”, and then a guy around a similar price to them that projects to be lesser owned, or a guy who could provide leverage over the chalk player, the “pivot”. For the sake of tournaments, where it is fine to eat some chalk, but crucial to fade bad chalk, I will discuss some reasons to play and/or fade each of the chalk guys.
Chalk – Christian McCaffrey ($8,800)
- Christian McCaffrey is an elite fantasy RB who sees one of the highest volumes of touches of any RB in the league. With Saquon ruled out and Dalvin Cook facing a stout run defense in the Bears, CMC is clearly the top RB choice on the slate and is priced as such. His pass-catching upside is huge on a full PPR site such as DraftKings, and the price tag is the only real reason I would consider fading him. It wouldn’t be because he’s too expensive, it would only be because I don’t feel comfortable with the low priced guys I would need to put in the lineup to fit in CMC.
Chalk – Keenan Allen ($7,600)
- Keenan Allen has seen target counts of 10, 15, and 17 to start the season. He has turned that into a 29-404-3 line through 3 games and now gets an incredibly soft matchup against the rebuilding Dolphins. I don’t think I need to add much more to his positives, so I will talk about some reasons to fade him. The Dolphins are so bad that this game could get out of hand quickly, and if Allen doesn’t do his damage early, he is at risk to be taken out of the game. The Chargers will not have to throw the ball too much against this Miami team that has scored 16 points total in their first three games. Plus, Keenan Allen will likely be shadow covered by Xavien Howard, one of the only talented guys left on this roster. Rivers may look elsewhere to get his passing production early on.
Pivot – Julio Jones ($7,800) or Mike Williams ($4,800)
- Julio is a great pivot at a slightly higher price than Keenan Allen. Julio projects to be lower owned, with similar upside in a perceived bad spot. The Titans have played against: Baker Mayfield, Gardner Minshew, and Jacoby Brisset, none of whom are as good as Matt Ryan at home. If Julio outscores Allen at lower ownership, your Julio lineups will be in a great spot
- Mike Williams is a great pivot if you still want exposure to the Chargers passing game. His targets have gone up from 3 to 5 to 7 over the first three weeks of the season as he is getting over his knee injury. His aDOT (average depth of target) is 17.4, so if Rivers can connect with him on a few deep balls, he should pay off his price tag with a ceiling game.
Chalk – Wayne Gallman ($4,600)
- Saquon is out, and Gallman projects to take over Saquon’s workload in the Giants backfield. A guy who could get 15 touches at only $4,600 is insanely good value, but Wayne Gallman isn’t exactly a great player. It’s going to be very difficult to fade him, as the matchup is a decent one against Washington, and the Giants’ o-line looks to be much improved over last season. There are still paths to Gallman not meeting expectations, however. The Giants could go to more of a committee approach in the backfield, or they may decide to just let Danny Dimes rip the ball across the yard all game. Danny Dimes’ rushing ability also negates some of Gallman’s possible red zone/goal-line carries, as we already saw Jones run in two touchdowns himself last week
Pivot – Chris Thompson ($4,500)
- It is hard to find any RB with the type of touch expectation that Gallman has this week, but in a game script where Gallman fails, Chris Thompson on the other side of the ball should succeed. Thompson has served as the passing down RB for Washington, getting 23 targets and 12 carries through three weeks. All other RB plays around this price range are thin, but since DraftKings is a PPR site, Thompson’s pass-catching upside should give him a reasonable points expectation.
One last thing, I’m going to toss in a few guys each week who project to be sub 10% owned, hopefully even lower, that I expect can have a great week fantasy points-wise. These plays could be the piece that gets your tournament team to the top of the leaderboards, but they could very easily crash and burn as well. Play them at your own risk.
QB – Case Keenum ($4,900)
- Through three games, Case Keenum has put up fantasy scores of 30.2, 16.74 and 19.58 against the Eagles, Cowboys, and Bears respectively. The Redskins defense is not good, and the Giants should put up some points, forcing Keenum to continue to throw the ball as much as he has the past three games. The Giants defense is the softest matchup he has had so far this season. If he puts up 16 fantasy points (200 yards, 2 TD’s) he becomes a fantastic value at this incredibly cheap price tag.
WR – Allen Robinson ($5,600)
- Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings pass defense has not been as solid this season as they have been in years past. Robinson has been targeted 27 times through 3 games and has yet to score a TD. It’s a hard pill to swallow playing one of Mitch Trubisky’s pass catchers, but Robinson has the volume and the talent to have a monster game in this spot.
RB – Marlon Mack ($6,100)
- Marlon Mack should not be low owned in the spot, and yet many sites are projecting him to be right around 10% owned. The Raiders run defense has improved this season, but as a 7 point home favorite, Mack should expect to see about 20 carries. At just $6,100, that is a fantastic value. The only legitimate rush offense the Raiders have faced is the Vikings, and Dalvin Cook ran for 110 yards and a TD on 16 carries. Mack is in a great spot this week but should see his ownership projection creep up as the week goes along.