DraftKings NFL Strategy for 2019 Fantasy Football

DraftKings NFL Strategy for 2019 Fantasy Football

DraftKings NFL Strategy for 2019

Introducing our step by step DraftKings NFL Strategy for the 2019 – 2020 season. It’s been said that, ‘if it’s worthy doing, it’s worth doing right’ and playing daily fantasy sports is no different. Sure, dfs certainly provides entertainment for casual and advanced players alike. But, with a little bit of reading / researching / studying, you can develop your own DraftKings NFL Strategy to compete against the rest of the world.

Navigate DraftKings NFL Strategy

Basics | Value | Matchups | Lineup | Showdown

DraftKings NFL Basics

For those of you that have experience with fantasy football, familiarizing yourself with the rules and scoring on DraftKings will be quick and painless. If this is your first experience with fantasy football, we recommend really getting comfortable with the way roster structures, salaries, and scoring work.

draftkings nfl strategyDraftKings uses a classic lineup structure that features one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one flex, and a defense. The flex position can be filled by any running back, wide receiver, or tight end. You have a $50,000 salary cap to build out your team, you can not spend more than the cap or your roster is invalid and you will not be able to submit it.

As far as scoring goes on DraftKings, while they do utilize a ‘typical’ PPR scoring format, there are a few twists that you should familiarize yourself with. Specifically, the three point bonus for hitting positional milestones. Quarterbacks that throw for 300+ yards receive a 3 point bonus, players with over 100 rushing or receiving yards also receive a 3 point bonus. Check out the table below for a complete breakdown of the DraftKings scoring structure.

Offense Scoring on DraftKings
Passing TD+4 Pts
25 Passing Yards+1 Pt (+0.04 Pts/ Yards)
300+ Yard Passing Game+3 Pts
Interception-1 Pt
Rushing TD+6 Pts
10 Rushing Yards+1 Pt (+0.1 Pts/Yard)
100+ Yard Rushing Game+3 Pts
Receiving TD+6 Pts
10 Receiving Yards+1 Pt (+0.1 Pts/Yard)
100+ Receiving Yard Game+3 Pts
Reception+1 Pt
Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD+6 Pts
Fumble Lost-1 Pt
2 Pt Conversion (Pass, Run, or Catch)+2 Pts
Offensive Fumble Recovery TD+6 Pts
Defense Scoring on DraftKings
Sack+1 Pt
Interception+2 Pts
Fumble Recovery+2 Pts
Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD+6 Pts
Interception Return TD+6 Pts
Fumble Recovery TD+6 Pts
Blocked Punt or FG Return TD+6 Pts
Safety+2 Pts
Blocked Kick+2 Pts
2 Pt Conversion/Extra Point Return+2 Pts
0 Points Allowed+10 Pts
1 – 6 Points Allowed+7 Pts
7 – 13 Points Allowed+4 Pts
14 – 20 Points Allowed+1 Pt
21 – 27 Points Allowed+0 Pts
28 – 34 Points Allowed-1 Pt
35+ Points Allowed-4 Pts

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What is Value and Why is it Key to Winning on DraftKings?

The concept of daily fantasy is extremely simple when you think about it in terms of value. Simply put, you have $50,000 to score the most points possible with your lineup.

Using this mindset, we can set a target number of points for our lineup and come up with a simple ratio of fantasy points scored per fantasy dollar spent. So, if you want to build a lineup that will score 200 points this week, 200 points / 50,000 in salary = .004 fantasy points per salary dollar.

Working in decimals would be incredibly annoying, so the industry has altered this equation to be fantasy points scored per $1,000 in salary. So, to calculate value for a 200 point lineup the equation would be 200 points / 50 or 4 points per $1,000 in salary.

Understanding what value is will not only be incredibly important when building your lineups, but also when researching players, reading articles, or listening to fantasy podcasts. You will constantly hear us refer to a player in terms of their value. If we say a player has 6x upside with a 4x floor, that means we think they could score 6 points per $1,000 of their salary and will at the very least score 4 points per $1,000 in salary.

A Value Based Approach to DraftKings Lineup Building

When it comes to winning consistently on DraftKings, it’s all about finding value. To make even more sense of this concept, let’s break down a winning millionaire maker lineup from last season.

draftkings millionaire maker nfl strategy

In general, 250 points is the target number to win a DraftKings Millionaire Maker and the average winning score last year was right around 245 points. Using our value formula, we know that 250 points / 50 is 5 points per $1,000 in salary or 5x value. Let’s take a look at how BearDown247 got to 248.2 points and 5x value in week 10 last year.

At quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky put up 39 fantasy points with just a $5,900 salary. To calculate his value we simply divide his points by salary thousand, or 39 / 5.9. Trubisky’s value in week 10 was 6.6x. This is why value is so important… Patrick Mahomes was one of the highest owned QB’s in week 10, but for him to hit the same value with his $7,200 salary he would have needed to score 48 points. He had an awesome year but didn’t reach 40 fantasy points once.

Comparing two players from this lineup makes this same argument: Tyreek Hill outscored Allen Robinson by 1.4 points, but Robinson was by far the better play in week 10. Hill’s salary was $7,300 making his total value 4.9x, while Robinson’s salary was just $5,000 making his value 6.9x.

You can use player projections to determine a player’s projected value for the week. Let’s say we had Robinson projected to score 18 points in week 10, and Hill projected to score 21. We would know that Robinson was the better play because he provided more value.

How Do We Break Down Matchups on DraftKings?

The concept of value is simple and everyone can calculate value based on projections and build the best possible lineup based on their projections, but not everyone can win a millionaire maker so clearly there is much more to building a successful DraftKings NFL strategy.

Value changes weekly for two reasons: matchup changes or role changes. If a player has an better than average matchup, then they will likely have a better than average game. If a player has a teammate that is injured, then there is a chance they could see a larger than average role.

How to Use Injuries to Find Value

Injuries are where we start our player research every week. Injuries create more value than any other factor in daily fantasy, but you have to understand how to use injuries to your advantage.

There are times where an injury will give you what we call a one-for-one value opportunity. For instance, if Aaron Jones ($6,700) is injured then Jamaal Williams ($4,700) can give similar production at a much cheaper price.

There are also times where an injury creates opportunity at other positions. For instance, if Tarik Cohen gets hurt, Mike Davis would likely only see 2-3 additional carries as he is already the primary ball carrier and Cohen is simply a change of pace back. The real opportunity is in the short passing game where Cohen gets 4-7 targets per week. With the Bears you can expect Trey Burton to absorb at least half of those targets as he lines up close to the QB and primarily works a shorter passing tree when compared to Gabriel, Robinson, and Miller.

Defensive injuries can also have the largest impact on a player’s fantasy production. Here are two real life examples: the Falcons were an above average defense vs opposing tight ends when Deion Jones and Keanu Neal were both healthy last season. When they went out the Falcons became not only a top 5 TE matchup, but also struggled against pass catching RB’s who were often matched up with backups. The Bucs secondary was terrible all season, but when Brent Grimes was healthy they were above average vs opposing number one receivers, when Grimes was injured they were dead last vs opposing number one receivers. Being able to identify how defensive injuries, particularly in the secondary, effect player’s fantasy value is extremely important to finding value.


Analyzing Team/Game Matchups

You will be surprised how accurate team defensive data can be in terms of predicting opposing team’s success. Here are some basic pieces of data you can readily find available on NFL.com that will help to identify, and verify, quality matchups every week.

Opponent Completion Percentage – Guess what, receivers get open against bad secondaries and open receivers result in high completion percentage. If Julio Jones typically catches 6 of 10 targets for 80 yards, he will catch 8 of 10 for 120 yards against the Bucs simply because their completion percentage is nearly 10% higher than league average.

Passing Yards Per Attempt – Yards per game does not always tell the complete story, particularly early in the season, when it comes to analyzing matchups in the NFL. A team can get up big early, and have the opponent throw the ball 60+ times to hit 300 yards and inflate their yards per game number. Yards per attempt is a much more consistent tool for analyzing an opposing secondary. For example, the Dolphins YPG was 245 last season which was 12th worst in the league… bad, but not shockingly bad. However, they play in a terrible division, with an favorable schedule, and if you look at their actual YPA it was 8.2. When they played a real QB in week 12 last season Andrew Luck put up 35 yards on just 37 attempts.

Sacks and Hurries- We think sacks and QB hurries are two of the most overlooked stats in fantasy football. Just because a QB is facing a soft secondary does not mean success is guaranteed. Here is a great example: Houston has an uber-elite pass rush, but a horrible secondary. Get them in a matchup vs a great offensive line like the Colts had last season and Luck throws for 464 yards in week 4. The very next week, vs a Cowboys offensive line that was decimated by injury, that same defense held the cowboys to just 208 yards passing. Same secondary, nearly 300 yard difference… Why? They hit Dak on 38% of his drop backs, vs just 18% on Andrew Luck. A quarterback has to have time to beat a bad secondary… OL vs DL is huge.

researching draftkings lineups

Defense vs Position (DVOA) – Understanding defense vs position is entry level daily fantasy. You can often get that information right on the DraftKings player card. To consistently break down matchups you need to look get even more specific. Football Outsiders team defense efficiency stats gives you production allowed to every position on the field, then compares that data to the expected production to give you a true Def vs Pos ranking.

Using the information to find value is simple, and here is an example: The Lions gave up an astonishing 39.5% DVOA (more production) to slot receivers than average. Using this data in week 7 we would target Danny Amendola a $3,900 slot receiver in an A++ matchup. He put up 6/84/1 in his best game of the season.

Keep in mind that this is team data, not player data. You need to understand player roles, routes run, etc. Not all number one receivers line up as outside receivers. The Raiders moved Amari Cooper to the slot early last season, but most would look at Def vs #1 WR to analyze his matchup. Similar things happen with injuries, when Kupp went down the Rams moved Woods, not Cooks, into the slot.

draftkings nfl strategy team analysis guide


Funnel Defenses: A DraftKings NFL Strategy Hidden Gem

Funnel defenses…. is that a new term to fantasy football and what the heck is it? We have been using the term and concept for years, and swear by it as a tool for identifying both quarterback/receiver stacks and running back targets.

How many times have you targeted a QB in an A+ matchup and been burned when he has an average or even below average day? Often times this happens when a defense is just flat out bad against both the run and the pass and the game flow gets away from one or the other.

Here is an easy example: the Bengals were 32nd against the pass in 2018 but also 29th vs the run. Given they were allowing 25+ PPG to opposing QB’s you would expect Cam Newton (a great fantasy QB) to have a monster fantasy game against them. However, he only threw for 150 yards on the day because Carolina ran for 230+ yards (184 for McCaffrey) and didn’t need to put up gaudy passing numbers.

On the other side of this concept is a funnel defense which is bad against either the run or pass and good against the other. Take the 2018 Saints for example, they were a top 5 run defense and bottom 5 pass defense. Combine this with the fact that their offense was so potent, and New Orleans was our #2 pass defense target last season.

When the played the Saints in week 8 we knew to fade Gurley, but target Goff stacks with our lineups. Goff threw for 400/3 and both Cooks and Kupp went over 20 fantasy points on the day.

One way to utilize funnel defenses is as a way of settling a debate between multiple players that have A+ matchups. As yourself ‘despite a great matchup, how does this pick get away from me’… if you are deciding between Newton and Goff in these two examples you go with the guy you know will be force to pass, against a defense that is weak against the pass.

This rule holds true for running backs as well. If a team is stout against the pass, but struggles defending the run, opposing backs are not only going to have more success but more opportunities as their team gameplans around the run. The Cardinals were the most consistent RB matchup in 2018 because they were a top 5 pass defense and the absolute worse run defense in the league (155 YPG).

pro football focus wr-cb chart

Analyzing QB and WR Matchups

Have we mentioned that you need to have a Pro Football Focus Edge membership yet? Not a plug, this thing is worth the small investment. Player grades are great, the weekly articles are phenomenal, the projections are among the most accurate in the industry, but for the sake of this article we are going to talk about two tools: oline vs dline and WR vs CB.

This sort of analysis is the bread and butter of what PFF does, and is why we recommend them to all of our subscribers.

Take a look at the chart above this section, if this chart were solely based off of the PFF analyst grades it would be gold, but the fact that it includes the most important data relevant to a receiver’s individual matchup makes all that much better.

The WR/CB chart compares a receiver grade with the grade of the corner that will be matched up on him. It also includes information like Yards Per Route Run and Yards Per Route Covered. Using those two numbers, we can use things like pace and target share to create better projections and find under-the-radar players that are in matchups that their team should be able to exploit.

If you have ever wondered how/why a guy knew to play a receiver on a week he had a breakout performance, this is a tool that will help you become that guy. Going beyond game logs and looking at individual matchups is a must in daily fantasy.

How to Analyze Running Back Matchups

Analyzing a running back’s matchup starts and ends with the basics. There is no rocket science behind a run game… target backs with a consistent workload and a favorable YPC matchup.

As long as you can find a back that is going to get 12-18 carries in a good YPC matchup, you should be fine. From there we just try to avoid pitfalls that could potentially limit the number of carries the back gets. Here are some examples of situations you want to avoid:

  • Backs on teams with large negative implied totals. Game flow is crucial to a fantasy running back. If a RB’s team trails big in a game and are forced to abandon the run early, it can spell fantasy disaster.
  • Backs on teams with a favorable passing matchup. We see backs in great matchups have bad or just average games every year, not because they are inefficient, but because the passing game is shredding. If a team is picking up huge yardage and scores in the passing game, that can mean less opportunities for the running game. Not all great matchups are created equal.
  • Running back committees. While this may seem obvious, there is more to it than simply stating if two backs are splitting carries they are production. Often times a bad run defense may be more susceptible to runs either inside (or outside) the tackles, or to pass catching backs. Look at the Falcons over the past two seasons… they have been the number one FPPG RB matchup, but a ton of that production comes in the passing game. If you project the Broncos to run for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns, you had better determine if that advantage is on early downs, between the tackles, or later downs on stretch runs outside of the tackles, because Freeman is the inside guy and Philip Linsay is the outside guy.
  • Backs on offenses that can’t throw at all. A running back that has a completely inept quarterback is much more susceptible than one that can count on at least average QB play. Take for instance Gus Edwards. In week 14 he put up 19.4 DraftKings points on just 19 carries against the Bucs, the very next week he faced an even friendlier RB defense in the Chiefs, but only put up 6.7 points on 16 carries. Kansas City adjusted to the fact the Ravens were going to ride him at that point in the season, and that Lamar Jackson was incapable of beating them throwing the ball, and loaded the box and took Edwards away.

building draftkings nfl lineups with our strategy

Putting it All Together and Building Better DraftKings Lineups

At this point in the week, we have completed our research, identified the players we feel best targeting, and are ready to build lineups. How do you take that player pool from a random list of players to winning lineups?

We have two approaches that we take, and which works for you will depend on personal preference and bankroll. Let’s start with a stacked lineup approach.

With this approach we take our top 2-4 stacks, and sort them as either a cash stack or a GPP stack. Our cash stacks are going to be players that are more consistent, but have a lower ceiling and higher ownership percentages. Our GPP stacks tend to be a little more off-the-radar, have lower ownership rates, higher risk, but higher upside thanks to a lower total salary.

Here is an example of some stacks from each category:

Cash Stacks for DraftKings
Brees/Thomas
Mahomes/Hill/Kelce
Ryan/Julio/Ridley
Watson/Hopkins/Fuller
Goff/Cooks/Kupp

GPP Stacks for DraftKings
Winston/Evans/Howard
Stafford/Jones/Galloway
Trubisky/Cohen/Robinson

While the cash game stacks look like they have more upside, and often do, they are much more popular and expensive choices. If Brees and Thomas have 50 point upside, but their combined salary is $20,000, that is just 2.5x upside. Compare that to say a Stafford/Jones stack with 50 point upside and a $12,000 combined salary, that is over 4x upside.

From there we plug in players from our player pool around our stacks to build out our lineups. Always maintain a target score when building your lineups and play devil’s advocate with every pick. If you are building a cash lineup try to pick players with a floor high enough to guarantee you finish in the cash.

This may mean playing guys with limited upside, but that you can count on to get you a predictable amount of production. Tyler Boyd is not a home run hitter, and had only one elite GPP game last season, however he went over 60 yards in 9 of 11 games down the stretch making him a solid weekly cash play. Will Fuller, on the other hand, had 3 great GPP games in only 7 total games. However, three of the remaining four were complete duds (97 total yards) making him a complete hit or miss GPP style play.

Our DraftKings Showdown Strategy

More on how to tackle the DraftKings Showdown format in the coming months… stay tuned.

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