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DraftKings Life Lessons: A Look Back on NFL Industry Lineup Strategies

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2016 DraftKings Life Lessons

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Take my word for it. Five seemingly harmless words until you realize their implications. Consider some of the common advice parents give their children.

  1. Always clean your plate – Unfortunately always cleaning your plate in adulthood results in love handles and double chins.
  2. If you swallow a watermelon seed, watermelons will grow in your stomach – I’m relatively certain this would’ve led to the extinction of the human race by now.
  3. Rufus the Labradoodle went to live on the farm where he can run and play as much as he wants – I still believe this one. I swear to you I will find that farm one day.

So take my word for it can be loosely translated to believe me and please don’t look it up for yourself. The same applies to Daily Fantasy. There are strategies and concepts you will read on every fantasy site. Always stack your QB with one or more of his pass-catchers. Choose an RB and a DST from the same team because the two correlate. Fade the all the chalk in favor of contrarian plays. I decided to put these practices to the test by analyzing the 2016 season DraftKings Millionaire Maker winning lineups. I found the winning lineups at Even Your Odds and FF Nation.

Before we dive into the results, I must provide a few disclaimers. First, I only analyzed the Millionaire Maker lineups, therefore the results will not necessarily apply to smaller field GPPs or cash games. Secondly, 15 weeks is a relatively small sample size, so do not take the results as doctrine. Simply let them be one factor that informs your future lineup decisions. I did not include Weeks 16 or 17 in the data because Week 16 did not have a Millionaire Maker contest and Week 17 fantasy football is completely insane.

Stacks

There are four commonly advised “stacks”, three of which involve the QB position. A stack is the pairing of a QB with one of his pass-catchers. A double stack refers to pairing a QB with two or more of his pass-catchers. A game stack equates to using a QB with one or more of his pass catchers and one or more players from the opposing team, hoping the game turns into a shootout. Finally, the RB and D/ST stack is based on the fact that RB’s get more carries when their team is ahead, which results from successful team defense. Let’s see how Millionaire Maker winners utilized stacks in 2016.

Type of Stack Stack Double Stack Game Stack RB-D/ST Stack
# of Lineups 11 3 5 2
% of Lineups 73.33% 20.00% 33.33% 13.33%

 The results only show one fact pretty definitively. You should stack a QB with at least one of his pass-catchers if you want to win a large field GPP. The upside created from scoring double the points when your QB tosses a TD to your WR or TE cannot be found anywhere else in your lineup. Surprisingly, only a few winners utilized the double stack, indicating that you only need to find the pass-catcher that will benefit most from your QB’s big day, not two or more. One-third of lineups utilized a game stack, a number that makes it pretty difficult to advise or discourage the practice. The RB and D/ST correlation does not seem to play out as much in DFS GPPs. While RBs do get larger workloads when their team is ahead and their team defense is successful, D/ST fantasy points don’t necessarily result from successful team defense. Turnovers and TDs are the names of the game, and these can occur even when a defense is playing poorly or their team is behind. To summarize, utilize single stacks in nearly every GPP lineup you create, but don’t believe the other three types are granting you a big advantage over the field.

Ownership

The conversation around ownership percentages requires more nuance than stacking. Fantasy analysts spend a lot of time talking about fading the chalk and finding contrarian plays for your lineups. While this is sound advice, I think players get too focused on ownership percentage and lose sight of the other factors, like value, Vegas totals, and matchups. Let’s look at the numbers.

Range of Ownership % 0 – 5.00% 5.01 – 10.00% 10.01 – 15.00% 15.01%+
# of players 40 28 31 36
% of players 29.63% 20.74% 22.96% 26.67%

These numbers do skew towards the lower ownership percentages, lending some credence to the idea that you need some low-owned players in your lineups. The lesson to be learned here, however, is that you don’t need every player in your lineup to be contrarian. A mix of ownership percentages was the most common results when looking at each of the winning lineups individually. If David Johnson is going to be 35% owned, but he has a plus matchup in a game with a high Vegas total, play him anyway. If there is a cheap backup RB thrust into a starting role, take that value and use it to spend your money on even more studs, even if the RB’s ownership percentage is projected to be astronomical. There is a time to fade and a time to take the easy play. As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Summary

Most of the DFS advice out there on the web comes from solid data and experience. However, there are some practices that only exist because somebody said it once and everybody else followed suit. There are plenty of other strategies to be researched and larger data sets to collect, but I will leave that work to you. If you take anything from this article, I hope it is the following: Do your own research to determine what you believe. This applies not only to fantasy football but to most avenues of life. Just take my word for it.

Winning Weekly Lineups

Week 1 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Drew Brees 4.60% 35.42 8,100
RB Latavius Murray 13.10% 14.2 5,600
RB Spencer Ware 28.00% 35.9 4,400
WR Brandin Cooks 4.20% 35.4 7,700
WR Amari Cooper 16.00% 24.7 7,200
WR Willie Snead 8.50% 35.2 4,800
TE Greg Olsen 12.50% 14.3 5,100
FLEX Theo Riddick 2.70% 27.8 4,000
DST Vikings 4.70% 21 3,100

 

Week 3 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Matthew Stafford 2.40% 30.5 6,800
RB LeSean McCoy 1.80% 29.6 6,500
RB Shane Vereen 11.30% 16.5 3,700
WR Marvin Jones Jr. 10.40% 41.5 6,200
WR Antonio Brown 22.40% 29 9,600
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. 2.90% 34.9 3,400
TE Zach Miller 0.70% 27.8 2,900
FLEX T.Y. Hilton 4.50% 34.4 6,800
DST Seahawks 7.40% 3 4,100

 

Week 5 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Philip Rivers 4.10% 31.36 6,900
RB Todd Gurley 11.20% 18.8 6,500
RB Jordan Howard 35.30% 28.3 5,200
WR Randall Cobb 4.30% 22.8 6,200
WR Brandon Marshall 17.50% 28.4 7,100
WR T.Y. Hilton 12.80% 36.1 7,400
TE Martellus Bennett 12.30% 30.7 3,700
FLEX Sammie Coates 9.50% 34.9 3,600
DST Vikings 30.30% 16 3,400

 

Week 7 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Kirk Cousins 6.80% 25.94 5,900
RB Jacquizz Rodgers 39.00% 20.3 4,300
RB DeMarco Murray 41.70% 24.7 7,200
WR A.J. Green 35.20% 33.9 8,600
WR Michael Thomas 10.30% 26 4,700
WR Julio Jones 41.90% 29.4 9,200
TE Jack Doyle 13.90% 22.8 2,500
FLEX Jay Ajayi 4.10% 31.6 4,500
DST Eagles 3.60% 24 3,100
Week 2 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Cam Newton 9.60% 34.82 7,900
RB LeGarrette Blount 12.10% 21.3 4,000
RB David Johnson 14.70% 17.3 7,600
WR Marvin Jones Jr. 8.80% 22.8 5,500
WR Kelvin Benjamin 13.60% 32.8 6,500
WR Travis Benjamin 15.60% 32.4 4,400
TE Antonio Gates 3.90% 10.5 4,500
FLEX Stefon Diggs 5.40% 36.2 5,100
DST Broncos 4.60% 22 3,600

 

Week 4 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Matt Ryan 1.30% 39.52 7,000
RB Ezekiel Elliott 10.60% 25.7 6,900
RB Isaiah Crowell 5.80% 25.4 4,400
WR Julio Jones 7.60% 51 9,200
WR Steve Smith Sr. 11.60% 28.1 4,500
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. 33.70% 15 4,300
TE Jordan Reed 11.10% 28.3 6,300
FLEX Eddie Royal 0.40% 27.1 3,500
DST Cardinals 15.60% 5 3,900

 

Week 6 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Matthew Stafford 4.70% 28.2 6,200
RB Lamar Miller 17.30% 35.8 6,600
RB Le’Veon Bell 40.60% 18.8 7,900
WR Michael Thomas 15.10% 18.8 4,300
WR Golden Tate 4.50% 33.8 4,400
WR Kenny Britt 2.90% 35.6 3,700
TE Rob Gronkowski 5.70% 32.2 6,700
FLEX LeSean McCoy 35.70% 37.2 6,900
DST Eagles 6.50% 14 3,100

 

Week 8 Name Owned Result Cost
QB Derek Carr 7.10% 39.82 5,900
RB David Johnson 16.10% 17.8 7,700
RB Theo Riddick 5.90% 27.3 5,000
WR Davante Adams 41.40% 19.4 4,900
WR Amari Cooper 8.60% 38.3 7,600
WR Mohamed Sanu 5.70% 23.4 4,100
TE Rob Gronkowski 10.30% 24.9 7,000
FLEX Devontae Booker 65.50% 18.4 3,700
DST Broncos 10.90% 22 3,700

See all Remaining DFS Winning Lineups here:

Week 9  Week 10  Week 11  Week 12  Week 13  Week 14  Week 15

 

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About the author

Hunter Gibbon

Hunter Gibbon

Hunter is an Oklahoma City native who graduated from the University of Tulsa with a B.S. in Mathematics. He has a penchant for analytics and views sports primarily through a statistical prism. He remains unbiased when analyzing and watching sports, but the Dallas Cowboys and OKC Thunder have a special place in his heart. Fantasy football has been a favorite pastime of his as long as he can remember, particularly the 16-team home league he commissions with his younger brother and DFS. Hunter is an avid writer, a professional wrestling fanatic, and a literature and television snob. If he isn't watching Better Call Saul or Jane the Virgin, reading a novel, or watching Roman Reigns spear someone into next week, he is spending time with his wife and his dog in Yukon, Oklahoma.

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