Strategy for the DraftKings Main Event

Throughout this football season, both DraftKings and FanDuel have made it routine to run small buyin, big field, big prizepool tournaments every Sunday. But this week we have a unique situation as DraftKings is running a $1,500 buyin DFS tournament with a four million dollar prize pool and one million dollars for 1st place.

Without a Millionaire Maker running, it’s tempting to take a shot at this big tournament. Even for someone with a smaller bankroll, I honestly don’t believe it’s a bad idea to play. With this being the last legitimate week of fantasy football, taking all we’ve learned and putting it to one final test can be exciting and it can pay off huge.

This $1,500 Main Event is going to be much different than the normal Millionaire Maker. This tournament will have a savvier player pool than we’re used to, filled with mostly professionals. Even players who are not pros will likely be doing more research than usual and have “better” lineups. Obviously, this isn’t exactly ideal, but I think we can really use this information to our advantage in such a top heavy GPP.

Playing Too Careful

Since most will be unwilling to “waste” a buyin, ownership of the chalkier players will be up and bolder plays will have much lower ownership than normal. Because of this, we want to resist the urge to make safe lineups. We should look over our lineups and feel uneasy because of some of the players we put in or some of the plays we’re fading, because these are going to be the lineups that could win a million.

What this means is we need to be contrarian. But that doesn’t mean be stupid. Below, I list some ways I think we can be smartly contrarian this week and maximize our potential to win $1,000,000.

Play Pivots

One way to make a quality contrarian lineups is to “pivot” from one potentially highly owned player to likely low owned player on the same team. One of my favorite pivots this week is with Steelers. It seems unlikely that Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, who should have super high ownership, would have dud games. But if players like Heath Miller and DeAngelo Williams score the TDs, Brown and Bryant will almost certainly under-perform. While it seems crazy to use someone like Heath Miller coming off such an awful performance, I think there’s reason to be positive. According to PFF, Miller pass blocked on 13/63 pass plays against the Broncos, something that’s unusual for him but makes sense as a game plan against a fantastic Broncos pass rush. Against the Ravens awful pass rush, my guess is Miller runs more pass routes and gets more opportunities. As the 2nd most targeted Steeler in the red zone this season, it’s not as unlikely as you might think that Miller catches a couple TDs.

Go a Bit Crazy

While using a pivot is a smart, less risky way to be contrarian, we can also simply make a crazy play and hope it pays off. I like doing this at the WR or TE position, since there’s a lot more variance in production at those positions as opposed to QB and RB. One bold play I like is Travis Benjamin, who’s price has dropped to $4,300 and has great big play ability. With the Chiefs now losing Tambi Hali this week, and Justin Houston’s return unlikely, they’re now down their two most prolific pass rushers and their defense should really take a hit. I actually think a Johnny Manziel/Benjamin stack is not as absurd as it sounds.

Take Full Advantage of the Late Swap Feature

The late swap on DraftKings is an amazing way to be contrarian without assuming any risk, and all it takes is a bit of awareness and a willingness to be change your lineups last minute. How I usually take advantage of the late swap is to use players who are question marks with their availability in the late games, and then either keep them in my lineup or have planned swaps if it turns out they’re injured. Here are a couple that are good options based on Thursday injury news.

Jerrick Mckinnon ($3,500) – Adrian Peterson still isn’t practicing, but my hope is he does get some kind of session in Friday. If he does, most will likely avoid using either which gives us a perfect scenario for a late swap. Put Rueben Randle ($3,500) in the flex, and if Peterson is out we can switch to Mckinnon and play the Randle fade. I particularly like doing this in lineups that are middle of the road and need something big to win.

Doug Baldwin ($6,700) – It feels funny to have Baldwin on this list, but he’s not practicing with a hamstring injury, and has a tough matchup vs a solid Rams secondary. He is legitimately questionable. I think his ownership will be way down this week. If he doesn’t play, we can simply swap to Tyler Lockett and Seattle D/ST for a fantastic synergy play.

Tyler Eifert ($4,900) – Eifert is still in concussion protocol but seems to have a shot at playing Monday night vs the Broncos. Even with a backup QB, Eifert is a multiple TD threat every week and should have very low ownership. Use him in the flex, and if he’s out we can switch to Gio Bernard and hope for the best. It’s the riskiest bet out of all these plays but that also means it’s unlikely anyone will do it.

It’s easy when you’re entering such a big buyin tournament to try and use the “perfect lineup.” But in such a top heavy GPP, this strategy is actually quite poor. By being intelligently contrarian, you can make profitable, competitive lineups that will fare well against a tough field this Sunday. Good luck.


View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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