An In-Depth Look at Creating Winning DFS Lineups

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No matter which daily fantasy site you choose to play at or within which sport, the most important factor in increasing your chances of winning are the strength of your lineup. How you construct that lineup is dependent on which type of game you play (head to head or prize tournament) and the factors that should be looked at within each sport but mastering the strategies and nuances of lineup building is the best way to build bankroll and really enjoy a profitable DFS experience.

Basic Lineup Strategies Depending on Game Type

The foundation of daily fantasy sport lineup building is knowing the difference between a player’s likely floor and their possible ceiling. The likely floor of a player can be high if you’re talking about a star QB in a pass-heavy offense but it can also be low when referring to a position like a 3rd down running back. When looking at a player with a high possible ceiling, it mostly depends on playing an opponent with a weak defense or with injuries or something like a 30 MPH wind blowing out in baseball.

The reason to build up the intuition and perform the research on floors and ceilings is because your lineup needs to be constructed based on the type of DFS contest you are entering.

For example, in a 50/50 game all you have to do is finish in the top half of the league so you want ‘floor’ guys that are likely to put up guaranteed stats. In a prize tournament game where only the top 10% of entrants get paid, the strategy shifts a bit and you instead want to risk some roster spots on ‘sleeper’ players with a high ceiling – somebody who has a good chance of playing out of their cleats that day. In prize tournament games you have to move the slider of risk and reward whereas in 50/50 games conservative, guaranteed lineups are recommended.

Lineup Strategies By Sport 

It’s better to understand floors and ceilings by looking at the four major sports and how a lineup should be built depending on whether you’re playing a 50/50 (or head to head) contest or a guaranteed prize pool league:

Football

50/50 Contests – Winning DFS 50/50 football contests is all about opportunities and compiling points. The safest types of players to pick are those such as running backs who rush 20+ times a game, quarterbacks who pass frequently, and wide receivers or tight ends high in targets. Consistent, if not unspectacular, players provide more 50/50 value than big play threats who don’t have the opportunities.

Guaranteed Prize Pool Finding sleepers in football depends on the matchup and the popularity of the player. Ironically this could mean selecting players that are not only matching up against a banged up defense and ready for big plays, it could also mean players going against a top defense and thus not selected by as many other entrants.

Basketball

50/50 Contests – High floor guys in basketball are your typical stars who average 20+ PPG or consistent double/double big men. Although there is a large number of games each night, winning 50/50 DFS basketball games can be difficult because of the similarities of rosters.

Guaranteed Prize Pool – For many players the DFS guaranteed prize pools in basketball offer better risk/reward value. GPP tournament entries are successful when finding a sleeper pick who is starting because of injury, has a matchup against a tired opponent, or can have increased assists because teammates have mismatches.

Hockey

50/50 Contests – Checking out the Vegas gambling odds can be the best way to put together a solid 50/50 hockey lineup. The teams who are the most heavily favored will give you an idea of the best goalies for the night, the most important position in daily hockey games. Similar to football you also want to load rosters with players that have opportunity, meaning those with the most ice time and guys who are on the power play lines.

Guaranteed Prize Pool – Once again checking the odds can be beneficial to finding sleeper hockey players. Goalies who are huge underdogs are more likely to be scored upon so stacking your roster with 2-3 players from the opposing team increases your chance for points. Hockey scoring varies depending on site so it’s important to research stats such as +/- or even blocked shots as it could produce some value plays.

Baseball

50/50 Contests – Winning baseball cash games is all about pitching matchups and many entrants will stack their 50/50 team with multiple teammates who are facing a slumping hurler. Baseball can be so unpredictable that picking a 50/50 roster is a crap shoot but eventually players will play to their averages – you just have to be on them the right night.

Guaranteed Prize Pool – On the contrary, taking players facing a stud pitcher and hoping for a bad outing on the mound can provide the best chance at GPP success because the selection percentage is down. Baseball weather is also important as wind blowing in or out can dictate who has the advantage between batter and pitcher.

No matter the sport the strategy of stacking lineups with players from the same team should also be evaluated. In football for instance you can basically double up your stats with a great QB/WR combo passing all over a poor defense. Hockey players from the same line can also get an assist and a point on one goal as could basketball teammates. Baseball players who exploit a bad pitching matchup can result in a run scored, an RBI, and multiple total bases on a single hit.

Remember that lineup strategy is not an exact science and the winning roster can be any improbable combination on any given night. Therein lies some of the frustration with DFS games…but also the allure.

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