The Beginners Guide to DFS Hockey

The NHL Season is here and that means daily fantasy hockey for 2015 has begun. For those of you who have just finished the DFS baseball season or are waiting for this week’s DFS football to start, then welcome aboard. For those of you new to daily fantasy sports, it’s great to have you giving DFS hockey a try with FantasyDraft.com.

The great thing about DFS hockey is that while NHL is one of the fastest and most enjoyable sports to watch, it is also not that different from DFS baseball. So if you are new to this, don’t be concerned. It’s easy to pick up and be competitive right away. There are basic strategies for roster-building and predicting how players might perform on any given night that apply not only to hockey, but to all the DFS sports. You don’t need to be a 30-year diehard “puckhead” to enjoy playing or be successful at it. Because there are games on the schedule almost every night, you can play the days that you have some free time and you can take nights off to sharpen your fantasy skates before getting back at it. The key is to play consistently enough to allow the statistical probabilities to swing in your favor rather than randomly play once a month.

Lets start our introduction to the 2015-2016 Daily Fantasy Hockey season by looking at the FantasyDraft.com roster settings and examining some strategies for building your daily roster before moving on to ways to predict the best performers on any given night.

Daily Lineups

FantasyDraft lineups are made up of two centers, two wings, one defenseman, and two utility (or in football/baseball terms, flex) positions, and a “Team G” or Team Goalie. For those of you new to the DFS hockey game, lets start by explaining what “Team G” is and why it’s a beneficial setting to you.

Team G

Goalies are to DFS hockey what pitchers are to DFS baseball. They have the best chance to put up the biggest scores and they are the most reliable performers, night in and night out. What FantasyDraft does is make sure that you don’t get left at a significant disadvantage by losing your goalie due to injury or being removed during a game. Another reason for using a “Team G” position (and this is where it is so important); goalies are the key to every daily lineup, and if you were to build your entire lineup around a goalie only to have him be a late scratch five minutes before game time it could ruin your entire contest. Team G is insurance against something unfortunate happening that could put you at an insurmountable disadvantage. With starting pitchers we know the probables as much as a week in advance. With goalies we have an idea based on reports and what goalie left the ice first during morning skates, but you never officially know until just before game time. Team G guarantees that you have a goalie in every contest and in a matchup that you are familiar with. If you were to play without a goalie, or if your goalie only played a partial game, then it would be very difficult for you to be competitive in a contest that night.

Building a Daily Roster

One of  the best things for the beginning and casual player that FantasyDraft.com does is that they use two utility positions and a “Team G” for goalies. Team G guarantees that you are competitive every night and that the two utility positions allow you the flexibility to build your roster with the players you want, rather than tying your hands by filling specific positions with relatively mediocre fantasy choices.

When building a roster, the contest you are competing in has an impact on what approach you should take. There are three basic contests: tournaments, 50/50 and head-to-head, and there are variations of strategy to be used in each type of contest. You are working with a budget, so finding the best values and not necessarily always picking the best players is the skill and the fun of DFS hockey.

Here are some strategies for the different types of DFS contests.

Tournaments vs. 50/50 and Head-to-Head Contests

In tournaments, you are trying to finish in the top few spots of a significantly large field, while in 50/50 and head-to-head contests you only need to finish better than half of the players in a much smaller field. This impacts your roster-building because you want to play it a little safer and more conventional in 50/50 and head-to-head contests while being more open to taking chances filling out tournament lineups. This is a general strategy that is used in all DFS sports and is not unique to hockey. It all starts with the goalie.

Goalies, like starting pitchers in DFS baseball, are the most important part of putting together a lineup and that’s where you need to start your roster building. In 50/50 and head-to-head contests there are fewer competitors, so it is much more likely that your lineup will be different enough to beat them based solely on the offensive players you select. When you play in tournaments, the field is so large that regardless of which offensive players you choose, the way to have a different lineup than a large group of other players is to take some risks. The way to do that is to spend on cheaper, weaker goalies and hope you catch lightning in a bottle that night. It’s a risk that isn’t worth taking in 50/50 and head-to-head contests, but in tournaments it is the way to win the big money. This is the biggest difference in DFS hockey strategy.

 

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell has been playing Fantasy sports for over twenty years. He contributed to RotoWire.com in their early days before contributing as a writer and doing Fantasy sports Podcasts for Seamheads.com. Three seasons ago he brought his writing and his Fantasy sports Podcast to RotoExperts.com and the Fantasy Sports Television network and this past season he wrote a weekly Fantasy sports column for BaseballAmerica.com. He also writes about Minor League prospects for RotoExperts. Chris has no more access to the site than the typical user. Follow him at Twitter @CJMiitch73.

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