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

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2016 DraftKings Life Lessons

[the_ad id=”66786″]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.


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 StackStack Double StackGame StackRB-D/ST Stack
# of Lineups11352
% of Lineups73.33%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.


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 players40283136
% of players29.63%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.


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 1NameOwnedResultCost
QBDrew Brees4.60%35.428,100
RBLatavius Murray13.10%14.25,600
RBSpencer Ware28.00%35.94,400
WRBrandin Cooks4.20%35.47,700
WRAmari Cooper16.00%24.77,200
WRWillie Snead8.50%35.24,800
TEGreg Olsen12.50%14.35,100
FLEXTheo Riddick2.70%27.84,000


Week 3NameOwnedResultCost
QBMatthew Stafford2.40%30.56,800
RBLeSean McCoy1.80%29.66,500
RBShane Vereen11.30%16.53,700
WRMarvin Jones Jr.10.40%41.56,200
WRAntonio Brown22.40%299,600
WRTerrelle Pryor Sr.2.90%34.93,400
TEZach Miller0.70%27.82,900
FLEXT.Y. Hilton4.50%34.46,800


Week 5NameOwnedResultCost
QBPhilip Rivers4.10%31.366,900
RBTodd Gurley11.20%18.86,500
RBJordan Howard35.30%28.35,200
WRRandall Cobb4.30%22.86,200
WRBrandon Marshall17.50%28.47,100
WRT.Y. Hilton12.80%36.17,400
TEMartellus Bennett12.30%30.73,700
FLEXSammie Coates9.50%34.93,600


Week 7NameOwnedResultCost
QBKirk Cousins6.80%25.945,900
RBJacquizz Rodgers39.00%20.34,300
RBDeMarco Murray41.70%24.77,200
WRA.J. Green35.20%33.98,600
WRMichael Thomas10.30%264,700
WRJulio Jones41.90%29.49,200
TEJack Doyle13.90%22.82,500
FLEXJay Ajayi4.10%31.64,500
Week 2NameOwnedResultCost
QBCam Newton9.60%34.827,900
RBLeGarrette Blount12.10%21.34,000
RBDavid Johnson14.70%17.37,600
WRMarvin Jones Jr.8.80%22.85,500
WRKelvin Benjamin13.60%32.86,500
WRTravis Benjamin15.60%32.44,400
TEAntonio Gates3.90%10.54,500
FLEXStefon Diggs5.40%36.25,100


Week 4NameOwnedResultCost
QBMatt Ryan1.30%39.527,000
RBEzekiel Elliott10.60%25.76,900
RBIsaiah Crowell5.80%25.44,400
WRJulio Jones7.60%519,200
WRSteve Smith Sr.11.60%28.14,500
WRTerrelle Pryor Sr.33.70%154,300
TEJordan Reed11.10%28.36,300
FLEXEddie Royal0.40%27.13,500


Week 6NameOwnedResultCost
QBMatthew Stafford4.70%28.26,200
RBLamar Miller17.30%35.86,600
RBLe’Veon Bell40.60%18.87,900
WRMichael Thomas15.10%18.84,300
WRGolden Tate4.50%33.84,400
WRKenny Britt2.90%35.63,700
TERob Gronkowski5.70%32.26,700
FLEXLeSean McCoy35.70%37.26,900


Week 8NameOwnedResultCost
QBDerek Carr7.10%39.825,900
RBDavid Johnson16.10%17.87,700
RBTheo Riddick5.90%27.35,000
WRDavante Adams41.40%19.44,900
WRAmari Cooper8.60%38.37,600
WRMohamed Sanu5.70%23.44,100
TERob Gronkowski10.30%24.97,000
FLEXDevontae Booker65.50%18.43,700

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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