DFS DraftKings Recap: 9 Takeaways from the Millionaire Maker Lineups of 2018
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What a season we have had in DFS. For me personally, I’ve played my slates on DraftKings. It’s been a profitable season overall, but I have learned a great deal during the season. From roster construction in cash games versus tournaments, it’s been an eye-opening year for the strategy to win in DFS.
For this piece, we are going to take a look at the 17 Millionaire Maker Lineups from DraftKings and see what formula goes into building these winning lineups. So when the 2019 season comes around, you can enter the Millionaire Maker tournament with a plan in place to take it down!
1. FLEX Selection
DraftKings lineups include 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, and 1 DST. So what was the most popular option in the FLEX position? Keep in mind DraftKings is full PPR. Seven of the lineups (41%) featured a WR in the FLEX position where ten of the lineups (59%) featured an RB in the FLEX. Now playing the RB in FLEX, is the usually play especially in cash games. But in this case, you also need to strongly consider a WR in the FLEX in your tournament lineups.
2. Game Stack
A commonly known strategy across DFS, “Stacking”, or playing players in the same game whose production is correlated, is the backbone of successful GPP lineup construction. Of the 17 lineups here are the stacks that were used. Note that the “O” stands for the opponent that team faced.
- Week 1: QB – WR1 – WR2 – OWR1 – ORB1 (5)
- Week 2: QB – RB1 – WR2 – TE1 – OWR2 (5)
- Week 3: QB – WR2 – ORB1 (3)
- Week 4: QB – WR2 (2)
- Week 5: QB – WR1 – WR2 (3)
- Week 6: QB – WR2 (2)
- Week 7: QB – RB1 – TE1- WR1 (4)
- Week 8: QB – RB1 – WR3 (3)
- Week 9: QB – WR3 – TE1 (3)
- Week 10: QB – RB1 – WR1 – TE1 – DST (5)
- Week 11: QB – WR2 (2)
- Week 12: QB – DST (2)
- Week 13: QB – TE1 (2)
- Week 14: QB – RB1 – WR1 (3)
- Week 15: QB – WR1 – DST (3)
- Week 16: QB – RB1 – ORB1 – WR1 – OWR1 – WR2 (6)
- Week 17: QB – WR1 – OWR2 – WR2 (4)
Just 4 lineups (24%) use players on the opposite team of the quarterback that they faced. Usually, when game stacking traditionally you would always play an opposing WR playing versus the QB in your lineup. However, this is showing that may not even be as optimal as playing an opposing RB versus the QB you play. 3 of the lineups using players on the opposite team of the quarterback you played used the opposing RB. In the three scenarios twice that RB was Alvin Kamara, and once it was Elijah McGuire.
Nine lineups had the QB-WR2 stack, eight lineups had the QB-WR1 stack, six lineups had the QB-RB1 stack, and five lineups had the QB-TE1 stack. Of the six QB-RB1 stacks, four had WR1s, and two had WR2s. Only three lineups had QB- WR1- WR2 stacks and QB-DST stacks.
So takeaways from this are that don’t force opposing WRs into your game stacks and stack more RBs with your QBs. This potentially exposes you to all of an offense’s touchdowns in a given game. Also consider that if you cannot afford the QB-WR1 stack, the QB-WR2 stack might be the more optimal play. The average amount of players to use in a game stack from these lineups is 3. The optimal play with a 3 man stack is the QB-RB1-WR1 play. The QB-RB1-WR1-WR2 was in just one lineup making it less than optimal.
3. Leave Money on the Table
This is a tough one to swallow because we all just want to spend all the salary that DraftKings gives us. However, by doing this we are more likely to have a less than unique lineup build against the field. Of the 17 lineups, 8 lineups spent under the $5000 salary cap, with one lineup leaving up to $600 left. So if you feel like you have made the optimal lineup and have salary left over, leave it.
4. Quarterback Matters
For QB selection this is what comes out of these lineups.
All 17 of QBs scored more than 22 fantasy points. 4 of the QB scored more than 22 fantasy points, but less than 30 fantasy points. 13 of the QBs scored more than 30 fantasy points. 5 of the QBs scored more than 40 fantasy points.
All 17 of QBs were less than 20% owned. 4 of the QBs were 2% or less owned. 7 of the QBs were less than 5% owned. 9 of the QBs were less than 10% owned. 8 of the QBs were between 11% and 20% owned.
1 QB price above $7000. 6 QBs priced between $6000 and $6900. 5 QBs priced between $5600 and $5900. 3 QBs price between $5000 and $5500. 1 QB priced below $5000. 11 QBs priced between $5000 and $6100.
We’ve seen the numbers so here’s the scoop. You are going to need a big game from your QB to win GPPs. If your QB tanks, you are basically toasted. For ownership, there is not a tell-tale sign what do to here besides taking someone who is under 20% owned. For pricing, you do the exact opposite of what you do in cash which is paid up all the way or pay down all the way. You hit on one of the mid-tier priced QBs between priced between $5000 and $6100. Fantasy gamers need to realize that any QB can have a big day. The ceiling is there for all of them. By choosing a QB in the mid-range it lets you fit in better players surrounding them and gives you an edge in ownership. With so many QBs within in the range, none will be over-drafted because there range of outcomes is so similar. When in doubt pay down at the QB position rather than pay up.
5. Punt at TE
You do not need to hit on every single player in your lineup. Sometimes punting at certain spots to pay up at other positions gives you the best edge. But how about at the dreaded TE position? Well, at TE from these lineups nine lineups had a TE above 4K, and eight had lineups below 4K. Diving in deeper 12 lineups had a TE below 4.4K., with the other 5 lineups paying up at TE above 4.8K. Keep in mind as well, punt at TE does not mean just grab somebody for the stone cold minimum of $2500. 3K was the lowest people went here. Pay down at TE!
6. Do RBs Matter?
So we have discussed QB and TE selection so far so let’s get into looking at the running back position. Like stated in the FLEX section of this piece, reiterating that 59% of lineups feature three RBs. But what kinds?
Well of lineups with 3 RBs here are the following breakdowns:
Over 20% owned: (15)
More than 10% owned but under 20% owned: (8)
Less than 10% owned but over 5% owned: (6)
Less than 5% owned: (3)
7K or higher: (14)
4.5k or lower: (4)
Between 5k-7k: (12)
With lineups with 2 RBs here are the following breakdowns:
Over 20% owned: (9)
More than 10% owned but under 20% owned: (0)
Less than 10% owned but over 5% owned: (3)
7K or higher: (7)
4.5k or lower: (2)
Between 5k-7k: (3)
So what exactly is concluded here? The most success we see is paying up at the RB position even if it is chalky to do so. When users played 2 RBs and 1 RB in the FLEX, 72% of the time they were paying up for running backs who were more than 10% owned. Of that 10% or more owned 65% were owned in over 20%. Just 28% of the time did lineups with 3 RBs feature one that was less than 10% owned. It gets even smaller considering of that just 9% of the time lineups featured an RB that was less than 5% owned.
From a price standpoint, it is very similar. 88% of the time 3 RB lineups had RBs that were more than 5K. 41% had RBs that were more than 7K and 35% had RBs that were between 5k-7k. It’s basically an even similar strategy when you look at lineups with just 2 RBs. The RBs played here in 75% of lineups were 20% or more owned. 83% of the 2 RB lineups featured RBs priced higher than 5K. So paying up at the RB position even if seems chalky is the sharp move. RB is not the position where you need to go contrarian or be concerned if a player has high ownership.
7. Wide Receivers
Arguably the most volatile of all the positions, I believe the WR position is the key to winning in DFS. It is the only position that you can play four of in a single lineup. I will break them down similar to how I did with the RBs.
Well of lineups with 3 WRs here are the following breakdowns:
Over 20% owned: (0)
More than 10% owned but under 20% owned: (12)
Less than 10% owned but over 5% owned: (4)
Less than 5% owned: (15)
7K or higher: (8)
Between 5k-7k: (7)
4.5k or lower:(9)
With lineups with 4 WRs here are the following breakdowns:
Over 20% owned: (4) 7.9K, 4.5K, 4.9K, 5.6K Julio Jones, Sterling Shepard, Corey Davis, and Robby Anderson
More than 10% owned but under 20% owned:(11)
Less than 10% owned but over 5% owned: (6)
Less than 5% owned: (6)
7K or higher: (8)
4.5k or lower:(10)
So what is the deal here? When users played 3 WRS, 0% of the time they were paying up for running backs who were more than 20% owned. They simply could not be fit in. 39% fell in the range of more than 10% owned, but under 20%, and an overwhelming 48% used WRs that were less than 5% owned. 61% used WRs that were less than 10% owned. So avoid chalky wide receivers? Yes, that seems like the best approach. Slight differences when players used 4 WRs. In these cases, four times (15%) used a WR more than 20% owned. 40% used a WR more than 10% owned, but less than 20% owned, and 40% used less than 10 owned WRs. So in the case of 4 WRs, this is where you would elect to use chalky receivers. In the four scenarios where a 20% owned receiver was used however the price was very good.
Those cases were Julio Jones at 7.9K, Sterling Shepard at 4.9K, Robby Anderson at 4.5K, and Corey Davis at 5.6K. So if the price seems discounted with a chalky receiver they are still a nice player to utilize. With pricing overall, it was pretty equal across the board. However, in both scenarios, the slight edge went to lineups that featured the most sub 4.5K wide receivers. In essence, you should never feel the urge to pay up at WR, but instead, find players whose values/ceiling do not appropriate fit their price.
8. Total Ownership
The total ownership average across all seventeen of these lineups was at 116%. The lowest is 63.50%, and the highest is 147.10%. Again showing that you do not need to be super sneaky with all of your choices even in a tournament lineup.
9. Defense Wins Championships
Where I said wide receivers are the key to winning in DFS, the defense unfortunately also plays a very large role. While the WR position is volatile, we still are able to make much more educated projections at that position than with defenses. That’s because defenses are so turnover- based that if a bad defense scores on a fluke play, that can really break the slate.
So what should the main focus be with defenses? Ownership or price? Well, my findings from these 17 lineups show the following. 30% used lineups where defenses were $3000 or more. The other 70% all used lineups that were under $3000. Of the lineups above $3000 as well, 80% of those were over $3500. This means that you should tend to pay down at defense or pay up all the way if that top defense is in a smashing spot.
For ownership projections, it’s the middle-tiered ownership that was used most frequently. 70% were between 5%-20% owned whereas 30% were under 5% or over 20%. So again with defense, it is not necessarily about going super chalky or super contrarian. Just trying to find value with price and potential output in mind.
The Final Nine Takeaways
- Slightly favor a pass-catching running back in the FLEX, but do not disregard the idea of using a WR in the FLEX
- Play an opposing RB instead of an opposing WR to your QB in a game stack play in addition to stacking your QB with his RB.
- QB – WR2 stack > QB – WR1 stack
- If you feel like you have made the optimal lineup and have salary left over, leave it.
- You hit on one of the mid-tier priced QBs between priced between $5000 and $6100. When in doubt pay down at the QB position rather than pay up.
- Pay down at TE!
- Paying up at the RB position even if seems chalky is the sharp move. RB is not the position where you need to go contrarian or be concerned if a player has high ownership.
- Avoid the high-priced chalky wide receivers. If they are low-priced at a value, but still chalky eat the chalk.
- With defense, it is not necessarily about going super chalky or super contrarian. Just trying to find value with price and potential output in mind.
Thanks for reading