Build A Core And Cash Will Follow

In previous columns I outlined some of the basics of daily fantasy hockey, I gave some tips about how to assemble a lineup and suggested some stats that you can use to determine the best matchups on any given night. Even in spite of common sense, too much knowledge can be a bad thing and that’s what I want to discuss today. Overthinking cost me success this week and I don’t want you to make the same mistake. This happens all the time, but it doesn’t have to. That’s the lesson of the week for you DFS faithful here.

I committed a cardinal sin Tuesday night. I knew I was doing it, but I couldn’t get my budgetary shenanigans out of the way. A good game plan that would’ve become a winning night turned into my worst performance of the season. I even emailed a fantasy friend of mine speaking prophetically, “I really like my team tonight, which means I will probably stink.” Well, I did. I have cashed consistently so far this hockey season, but Tuesday night, the night “I loved my lineup”, I donated to the rest of the contest pool. For all of you that faced me, you’re welcome.


I started out with my Goalie/Team G (Rangers – $19,900 – 40 points), an easy choice even though only 6% of players agreed with me. Next, I loved Tyler Seguin ($18,600 – 42 points) and Jamie Benn ($17,800 – 10pts), who are the top two in the NHL in scoring, as my primary mini-stack in a great matchup against the Boston Bruins, who allow an average of four goals per game. Then I chose Taylor Hall ($14,300 – 23 points) as my last expensive player and my “bargain budget” player of the night, Oilers center Leon Draisailt ($5,000 – 11 points). I had a dominant core of three expensive, highly productive players, a reliable Team G and a bargain with a legitimate chance to produce, which he did. My budget was getting low so I had to find the best available players that I could squeeze into my salary restraints. That was when the wheels started to fall off and delusions of grandeur started to get the best of me.

For some reason that I still don’t understand, I got it in my head that I liked Gabriel Landeskog ($15,300 – 18 points), but he cost $1,000 more than Hall. The decision to squeeze Landeskog into my lineup on a whim sank me and it is a basic roster-building mistake that beginners need to avoid. I should have stood firm with my core of Seguin-Benn-Hall-Rangers Team G, and either found a way to squeeze Landeskog in or I should have left him out of my lineup all together, but I didn’t.

I began to overhaul my entire lineup to accommodate a player that wasn’t in my initial plan and whose matchup I didn’t like as much as I liked Seguin and Benn. I stuck with the Dallas/Boston matchup, but instead of Seguin and Benn I went with the cheaper mini-stack of Patrice Bergeron ($13.100 – 11 points) and David Krejci (#12,400 – 3 points). Next, with the extra savings, I added another mini-stack, Wayne Simmonds ($11,500 – 8 points) and Claude Giroux ($15,200 – 0 points), but in order to afford that I had to remove Taylor Hall and that right there is how you go from cashing in a multiple of contests to coming in 19th out of 20 and donating to your DFS opponents.


When you start to put together your lineup you need to prioritize your Team-G/Goalie and the core players that you like most in the matchups you like best. Your core group of players should dictate the makeup of your entire lineup, not the other way around. The players that you choose after your core is interchangeable and can be mixed and matched to make the budget work. You shouldn’t adjust your core to accommodate your budget, even if it means you have to start some low-end “scrubs.” Your core will determine whether you cash or fail.

A second tip to building a DFS lineup is that it helps to have a “bargain budget” player like Oilers center Leon Draisailt ($5,000). It is very difficult to build a lineup with three five-digit salaries and a high-priced Goalie/Team G unless you have a $5,000-$6,000 dollar player and to consistently win it helps a lot if that “bargain-budget” player produces respectably. Draisailt has been my go-to guy recently, but 62% of contest players are in on him so it is best if you can find a “sleeper” that is a little less popular.

A season long habit that you need to get into to play daily fantasy hockey is to pay attention to what players are being promoted, either from the minor leagues or from lesser lines and into situations with better line mates and more ice time. Third and fourth line players are moved up due to injury or because they are performing better or other players are playing worse and this provides an opportunity for “bargain budget” players.

Here are a few players that are playing better than was expected coming in to the season and could be affordable, allowing for those big budget players:

* Joel Ward, RW, San Jose Sharks

* Dale Weise, RW, Montreal Canadiens

* Boone Jenner, C, Columbus Blue Jackets

* Travis Zajac, C, New Jersey Devils

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell has been playing Fantasy sports for over twenty years. He contributed to in their early days before contributing as a writer and doing Fantasy sports Podcasts for Three seasons ago he brought his writing and his Fantasy sports Podcast to and the Fantasy Sports Television network and this past season he wrote a weekly Fantasy sports column for 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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