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NFL DFS Strategy: DraftKings Tournament Tips

Dak Prescott - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

This is the second installment of my NFL DFS Strategy Series. I will be writing a weekly article highlighting tips and general strategies to help you with your NFL DFS Tournaments, too! You can catch the first one here on bankroll management, contest selection, and goals. 

Hello, RotoBallers, my name is Mark Kieffer and I'm ready to reprise my DFS strategy content here at RotoBaller with an eye on NFL DFS this time instead of the content I did for MLB DFS this Spring and Summer.

Thanks for taking the time to read this NFL DFS strategy piece! If you're here, it's likely because you want to be a better DFS player and learn more about how to be a sustainable DFS player who doesn't have to deposit more money in their account every week. I hope to help you do that through this series!

Featured Promo: Get any DFS Premium Bundle for for 30% off using code SUMMER! Win more with expert advice from proven winners and exclusive DFS tools. Get instant access to RotoBaller's Lineup Optimizers, Research Stations, daily picks and VIP chat rooms across 10 sports! Go Premium, Win More!


DraftKings Tournament Strategy Tips:

Here are some tips I have picked up over the years, either from other analysts in the space giving advice, personal experience, or observations I have made.

Understand the scoring. DraftKings is a PPR scoring system (Fanduel is ½ PPR). There are settings such as having a bonus for 300 passing yards or 100 rushing/receiving yards that differ from your typical PPR seasonal league. Passing TDs are worth 4 points while rushing TDs are worth 6. Quarterbacks that rush for touchdowns get a boost in this format.

The component to a good tournament lineup involves a Stack and a “Bring Back” player. All of my tournament lineups have a QB and two pass catchers on the QB’s team as part of my “stack”. The pass-catchers could be two WRs, could be one WR and one TE could be one WR and one RB with pass-catching ability. My bring-back is always a pass catcher from the opposing team. For many weeks and many games, this will occupy the QB and all three WR spots. This leaves the two RB slots, one Flex slot, TE, and D/ST.

Understand the importance of game script. What does a team do when the game script is neutral? When teams are up big in the 4th quarter, they tend to run the ball more than pass. When a team is down in the 4th quarter, they are going to throw more than pass. You probably don’t want to roster a non-pass catching RB on a team that is expected to lose by 7 points or more for example because they could find themselves on the bench for a significant part of the game.

Know the projected in lineup %. It’s less important to know whether Derrick Henry will be in 40% of the lineups vs. 42% of the lineups in your tournament than it is to know the distribution pattern. At the given positions, is the % consolidated at the top or spread evenly out? A game with the highest total on the slate with a low point spread is going to be very popular to stack for example. Are there similar spots to chose from, or is this the one smash spot and then a big dropoff? This is slate-dependent but knowing this context is how you can win. If this is daunting or overwhelming, it’s important to follow someone that knows this well and can help you with this. You can always hit me up on Twitter: @Mark_Kieffer and I am more than happy to help in any way I can.

You have to play some chalk, but not too much chalk. Last year, the running back position would get very chalky. The RB1 on a slate would be in 40% of lineups. The RB2 might be 30%. If going way off the board in your stack and bring back, you probably will want to get chalky at running back. If you are chalky in your stack, you might want to go somewhere different at running back. Unlike my approach in MLB, you want to roster some chalk in your lineup because the sport is less volatile than baseball.

WRs in the flex usually. I did a dive on PPR fantasy scoring by week. The 37th best WR in a given fantasy week generally outscores the 25th best RB in PPR scoring. The exception is if you get a sub 5k RB that’s expected to get a bell-cow workload that week. This isn’t a hard and fast rule but overall, more WRs than RBs in the flex. I did win a tournament one time with an RB in the flex, however, I was able to play three 8k+ running backs because my stack, TE, and D/ST were extremely cheap and they all hit their ceilings that game.

Always fade the chalk defense and ignore the point totals. Defense scoring is random, often the defense that scores a touchdown is the top-scoring defense on the slate. Way too many analysts still look to roster defenses that are favored in low-scoring games. Sacks, turnovers, and touchdowns (getting sacks and turnovers increase the chances of these) are how defenses get fantasy points. Defense is the last position I fill, and if I have the money flexibility, I pick a defense of a team I believe has a chance to be up multiple scores in the 4th quarter, even if it’s 42-21. When NFL teams know the offense is going to pass, the sacks start coming. Also, the QB of the team that is behind is going to be less risk-averse, and chances of an interception or even a pick-six go up.

Learn NFL defensive backfields or find someone that knows them that you can get advice from.  Let’s say the Chicago Bears are playing against one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. Allen Robinson is expected to be on 35% of lineups in a tournament. If you know the opposing team has a good top corner and will be shadowing Robinson, going to Chicago’s WR2 is a great pivot opportunity, especially if looking for a one-off to go in a flex spot.


Quick Ways To Differentiate:

When trying to win a GPP you have to be different from the field. You want to pick good spots but you want to pick spots the field has forgotten about for whatever reason.

Choose the other side on an expected shootout. If Dallas is in an expected high-scoring game, they are going to be popular with Dak stacks. A way to be in that game is to stack the other side of the game and have just one Dallas player as the bring-back.

Choose the opposite game script situation from the chalk. Going back to Dallas -> they have a good offensive line and a good running back. Zeke is capable of breaking a slate when he is healthy and the team is clicking. If a Dak stack is going to be chalk, pivoting to the run game might be a great way to get some leverage on the field. It’s unlikely Dak would fail, but it could be one of those shootouts where Dak puts up 300 yards and 1 TD, but Zeke gets 3 goal line carries for 3 TDs. Or it could be something where Dallas goes up three scores at halftime and in the second half they use Zeke heavily to bring the victory home.

Understand recency bias is the largest bias in this sport and take advantage. There will be some stud player like Davante Adams that will start the year priced at $8-9k, have a couple of sub-par games and his salary would dip into the $7k range. I don’t care about the matchup or the story, a player like that with good health will bounce back in a big way at some point and you will want to be on it. The one I used to use a few years ago was Julio Jones. He'd go on these spells with not a ton of fantasy points, he'd get priced at $7k against a bad secondary and smash.

Something to note is tournament play is an evolving space. This season I will be monitoring those sharp lineups and top builds to determine whether the top players are employing any of these strategies or whether new strategies emerge. There was once a time stacking was debated, and now I believe it is a given in the DFS space that stacking is necessary to do well in tournaments in the long run.

This series will come out every Monday and we will be diving into the evolving tournament space, and looking at what strategies are being employed to win the big prizes. I hope you follow along with me this season as we aim to become better tournament players on DraftKings!

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