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NFL DFS Strategy: DraftKings Week 4 Tournament Recap

This is the fourth 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 and the second one here

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!

Below are the top lineups in various contests I played in, and I will use this series to identify trends and happenings in GPPs on DraftKings. I will examine which strategies were present in this article and try to determine whether or not there are any new emerging strategies we should be trying.

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I am going to take a different approach this week than in the past weeks. I typically post tournament-winning lineups, analyze how the player might have arrived at the line-up, and see if any strategies emerge.

What A Weird Week

This was a very weird week for GPP play. There weren't many chalky plays. In Single Entry tournaments this week, Derrick Henry was on about 25-30% of rosters, David Montgomery about 20%, DJ Moore was on about 15% of rosters, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was on about 15-20 % of rosters as well. After that, the percent rostered was much lower. Usually, I am used to seeing 30-40% for chalky players up to 50-60% in single entry tournaments on punt plays like a Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

This creates some challenges for tournament players such as myself.

Leverage

When I play in GPPs, I want leverage. The larger the tournament is, the more leverage I need to give myself a chance to win. The way to approach the Milly Maker is going to be different than how to approach a $27 buy-in single entry tournament with under 1,000 players. When I am talking about leverage, I want to compare the chances of someone being the top play of the slate compared to the projected percentage rostered.

For example, if DJ Moore has a 20% chance of being the top wide receiver on the slate, and his projected percentage rostered is 10%, then I want to play a bunch of DJ Moore. On the flip side, if his projected percentage rostered is 40%, then I want to fade DJ Moore.

Because we saw percentage rostered spread out more than I can remember, it raises some questions:

Should I Get More Chalky?

When all of the top plays are at 10-15%, it's hard to say it is "chalky", however, the sentiment remains the same. How the top DFS players create their cash game lineups is through projections. They take the median projections of whatever model they are using, and an optimizer helps them build a lineup that creates an efficient lineup on a projected point per dollar basis.

For tournaments, I generally fade these because they are based on a median projection. To win a tournament, you do not want a player to hit their floor or to hit their median projection. You want your players to hit their upside. In the long run, a player with a high median projection will generally do better than a player with a lower median projection, but DFS isn't about the long run. We are trying to capitalize on what "could" happen on a given day.

If percent rostered is going to be spread out, should I just be playing the best-projected plays on a per-dollar basis?

Is The Field Getting Sharper?

In all of my years of playing DFS, the typical GPP advice given to those is to fade the top plays and find pivots that are in equally good spots that will be less popular. For example, if there is a running back that is projected to score 20 fantasy points and expected to be on 40% of rosters, it is a better move to roster the player that is projected for 18 fantasy points and expected to be on 10% of rosters. The reasoning is that a median projection of 20 vs. 18 is not a large difference, especially when considering a touchdown (which is impossible to predict) is worth six points.

Is everyone getting sharper in that they are assuming the very top plays will be too popular, going for pivots, resulting in the top plays not being as popular as they have been in the past?

Should I Be Getting Weirder?

Winning a GPP has never been about predicting what you think will happen. It has been more about capitalizing when others' predictions are incorrect. If I take a 5% Saquon Barkley over a 30% Derrick Henry, I am not predicting that Saquon will outscore Henry. What I am doing is putting myself in a position to get ahead of 30% of the field if Henry fails and Saquon smashes.

If 20% is the new 40%, do I need to be finding potential pivots that are sub 10% and sub 5% rostered? In the past, if I saw a bunch of players projected at 10-15%, I wouldn't consider them "popular" and would take the approach of fitting whoever made the most sense and made sure not to overlap that player on my multiple lineups.

The answer is probably yes for something like the Milly Marker and other large-field tournaments with tens and hundreds of thousands of lineups to compete against. In a single entry and small field format, I haven't decided.

Final Thoughts

In truth, it is difficult to make any rash decisions at this point. Something that many DFS players tend to do is overreact to a small sample. If he was on the main slate, I would guarantee Cordarelle Patterson will be more popular this week than he was last week. It is human nature to take something small and create a rule or pattern from it.

When you see the popularity of plays spread out, it makes one think they have to guess correctly which players will smash instead of the way I am used to playing which is based on taking advantage of when the 40% chalk fails. It is difficult to predict which players will reach the top of the leaderboards when the percent rostered is spread out with no real consolidation.

For Week 5, I am going to continue to play how I have thus far, but will be keeping an eye on how percent rostered looks. It is by far the most important metric to be a good tournament player and can change one's approach.



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