Every week daily fantasy sports (DFS) players are aiming to create a near perfect lineup in order to take home the most money in their GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments. The top entries will typically have a few representatives from this "perfect" lineup, and it's important to be mindful of what player combinations and correlated stacks are needed to win big from week to week. In this weekly recap article we'll take a closer look at the previous week's perfect lineup and compare it to the winner of a large GPP DraftKings contest. We'll reflect on strategies and trends for our future lineups.
Breaking Down The Milly Maker Winner
As you'll note above, four players in Week 6's perfect lineup were from the same game, including a stack of Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen, along with Jonathan Taylor and Colts D/ST. The rest of the lineup had one-off pieces including Darrel Williams (cheap chalk) and Cooper Kupp (expensive chalk). Most importantly and notably, however, is that the winner of the $1 million top prize from DraftKing's $4444 NFL $3M Mega Millionare (also known as the "Milly Maker") also contest utilized the Colts RB/DST stack from the perfect lineup. This lineup also used a double stack from the Broncos with Teddy Bridgewater, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant (with zero Raiders bring backs) and a Bengals non-QB stack with Joe Mixon and Ja'Marr Chase. Bridgewater/Sutton was only $100 less than Cousins/Thielen but produced 15.7 less points.
To dive a little deeper into the Week 6 DraftKings tournament results, we'll also take a look at the ownership data here: the "cumulative ownership" percentage is a metric used by DFS players to gauge the uniqueness of their lineups and how they can separate from the rest of the field and win big . In similar sized contests this year, the average owned percentage of the winning lineup was 132.0%. Last week was an anomaly, however, as heavy "chalk" pieces hit and the winning lineup subsequently had a cumulative ownership percentage of 238.6%. Those Week 5 lineups were driven by the late scratch of Dalvin Cook and cheap price of Alexander Mattison (73.0% owned). Highly-owned players, in most cases, are a big red flag for GPP lineups, as they tie your lineups to the rest of your competition. Case in point: if you rostered Kareem Hunt ($6,200) in Week 6, who was part of 51.7% of lineups but wound up with only 10.8 points this week, you were immediately usurped by the 48.3% of the field who DIDN'T roster Hunt.
Conversely, even if Hunt does "hit" and give you 4x his DraftKings price (roughly 24-25 points), then you're actually still failing to separate from the slim majority of the field that rostered him to begin with. The logic behind this play was that Hunt would get plenty of carries with Chubb out and the opposing team's run defense was very weak. DFS players who avoided Hunt ended up in a very favorable situation, essentially getting a free ticket passed more than half of the field. Hunt was a solid cash game lineup play, sure (i.e. contests where you only need to defeat 50% of the competition such as head to heads, double ups and 50/50's), but in a top-heavy prize structured tournament, where you need to finish in the top 5% to win anything of note, these are the situations where it's almost always an advantage to FADE the Hunt chalk.
Breaking Down The Week 6 "Winning Stacks"
One common strategy in DFS contests is to deploy a "stack" within your lineup. The gist of this approach is to select players from the same team that have a positive scoring correlation with each other. Every perfect and winning lineup this year has involved a stack with a QB and at least one of his teammates in an RB/WR/TE. Winning lineups from similar-sized GPP contests have utilized a QB and at least two skill position players from the same team as well. Some DFS players also like to select a RB and DST from the same squad for added positive correlation. As mentioned above, the perfect lineup this week included the Colts RB and DST. However, we'll focus on stacks focused around quarterbacks and their teammates for the sake of this specific recap. Two of Week 6 stacks to own, as we mentioned above, was either the Vikings' Cousins/Thielen or the Broncos' Bridgewater/Sutton/Fant. Let's look at Minnesota's stack first:
Cousins has been performing at a relatively high level all year but had a depressed salary due to back-to-back low scoring games and an unfavorable matchup against Carolina in Week 6. Thielen's salary was also a bargain coming off a combined five catches in the two weeks prior to this game. He was bound to come into Sunday with extremely low ownership, in addition to his teammate Justin Jefferson, albeit at a much higher price tag. For reference, the following stacks below were deployed in perfect lineups in previous weeks too: Justin Herbert/Austin Ekeler/Mike Williams, Sam Darnold/D.J. Moore, Josh Allen/Emmanuel Sanders, Kyler Murray/Rondale Moore/Maxx Williams and Jared Goff/Jamaal Williams/T.J. Hockenson.
The Week 6 Milly Maker deployed an extremely low owned (4.8% owned by player) double stack in the Broncos' Bridgewater/Fant/Sutton, the latter of whom has been sitting at the top three to five WR's in air yards since his teammate Jerry Jeudy went down with an ankle injury early in the year. Sutton's teammate, Noah Fant, had also come off a down game in which he scored less than 10 DK points but his underlying usage (90%+ routes run) remained rock solid. In a game where Denver was forced to drop back and pass more given the Raiders' early lead, this is a stack in hindsight that makes more sense than the cumulative ownership of 12.6% that it carried with it. Despite the rest of this winning lineup carrying pieces which were all 15% owned or higher, the cumulative ownership of 130% didn't get out of hand due to the Broncos' double stack being all that it took to pull away from the field. The Taylor and Colts D/ST stack worked in terms of raw points scored, but that alone would not have been enough to win in Week 6 given its combined 34%+ ownership. Typically you want to shoot for a maximum 135% cumulative ownership in your GPP lineups, but even that is pushing it. Remaining at 130% or less (preferably even a max of 120%-125% most weeks) will give you enough room to fit in chalk pieces with high upside, in addition to correlated pieces at depressed ownership that specifically attack pass-happy NFL game environments.
Another effective stacking approach is to select a weapon from the opponent of the stack you've chosen, also known as the "bring back." . Last week, David Njoku was a beneficiary of the high-scoring affair between the Browns and Chargers and was necessary to maximize your points from that specific game stack. Bottom line here: take advantage of potential high-scoring games from both sides in your lineup builds. Although this week's winning milly maker lineup didn't include a bring back piece, you'll note that in more weeks than not it can indeed be a crucial part of helping you ascend your tournament leaderboards.
Looking Ahead To Week 7
Two games stand out on the initial odds board in terms of over/under 50+ point totals that could be worth attacking for their high-scoring game environments and stacks to deploy: The Chiefs @ Titans (56.5) and Lions @ Rams (50.5) are sure to draw heavy ownership from their "stars" (i.e. Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce) but their overlooked teammates are interesting pivot points off possible chalk GPP plays as we begin our early week strategy. Mecole Hardman's $4,300 price point seems like the ultimate bargain for an electric athlete attached to the arm of the NFL's best passer AND in a game with a 56.5 point total, but keep in mind that most of the field will be thinking similarly about this as well, and it's possible we see Hardman as one of the main slate's most owned wide receivers because of the salary relief/potential upside he possesses. It's also possible that we see Darrell Williams' ownership decrease despite coming off a game in which. he saw 15+ touches and scored a TD due to his salary increase from Week 5 to Week 6. This could make Williams an interesting pivot and leverage for us to carve out a piece of the Chiefs' projected 30+ implied points with a low-owned/high-upside player. Same goes for Robert Woods and Tyler Higbee for the Rams, who maintain clear starting roles for an explosive offense and are coming off weeks in which they were largely out-shined by their teammates in Kupp and Darrel Henderson Jr.
The opposite side of the ball in both of these games offer interesting stack options and bring pieces as well, starting in Tennesee with AJ Brown and Julio Jones possibly playing together at near full health for the first time all season and facing a bottom tier secondary of Kansas City. Same can be said for the Lions' TJ Hockenson and D'Andre Swift, who despite being +14.5 underdogs for Week 7 are likely to benefit from "garbage time" receptions piling up in DraftKings' full point per reception scoring format. Although Derrick Henry will be coming off a massive MNF performance against the Bills, it's possible his ownership remains in check and enough for us to play him at sub-20% ownership levels with the Titans being underdogs. We will wait and see on this scenario plays out as we gauge ownership projections throughout this coming week. Another interesting low-owned pivot could be Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and double-stacking him with Brown/Julio, especially if we project KC to jump out to an early lead and force TEN to pass more.
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