DFS Hockey for Beginners: Strategies for Selecting your Contests

In my weekly columns this season I have focused mostly on strategies for building your daily lineup and statistics you should rely on to analyze and best diagnose the match ups, but this week we are going to look at DFS from another perspective. Contests. What contests should you play, how many and why? You want to maximize your potential winnings while minimizing your risk and that’s what we will discuss in this weeks column.

There are a variety of daily contests at FantasyDraft. There are a few tournaments that pay out different amounts depending on how high you finish in the standings. There are head-to-head contests where you face one person in a winner take all payout format and there are mini-tournaments called 50/50’s, triple-ups and double-ups where you need to finish among a certain number of players in the standings that night in order to cash. In this week’s column, I will break down the strategy I like to use to determine which contests I join on a nightly basis.

Before I outline my strategies for choosing which contests to play in each night, let’s look at the differences between the types of contests.


NHL – $10 H2H

Entry fee: $10

Prize Pool: $18

Winners Take: $18

Participants: 2

In H2H contests 50% of the competitors cash rather than having to finish in the top 25% or 30% like other contests. It’s just you and your opponent, two players for one prize. If you consider yourself a better DFS player than the majority of your competition, then H2H is the format for you. Your skill will win out more often than not over the long haul. Goalies are crucial in H2H formats, even more than in other contests. You want to play it safe and conservative when building a roster in this format.

Double Ups:

NHL – $10 Double Up

Entry Fee: $10

Prize Pool: $500

Winners Take: $20

Participants: 56

In these contests 25 of the 56 players cash, slightly less than half. It isn’t the “all or nothing” kind of contest that a head-to-head is, but it isn’t the low-percentage contest that large tournaments on other sites are. In this contest you can overcome an off-night from the core of your lineup because you don’t have to be the high scorer, you just have to be better than half of the other players. A great thing about double up contests is that you win double your entry fee if you cash rather than match it like in head-to-head contests. There is room for error when building a nightly roster and you have a chance to double your potential winnings, maximizing your upside.

Triple Ups:

NHL – $5 Triple Up

Entry Fee: $5

Prize Pool: $45

Winners Take: $15

Participants: 10

In triple up contests three of 10 players cash. I like these contests because the entry fee is less than double ups, but you have the opportunity to triple your investment. It is challenging because you have to finish in the top 30%, but I like to play both contests on the same night, so I spread my risk around and maximize my upside with a chance to triple my money. This contest also has only 10 contestants while double ups have 56.


NHL – $1,500 Power Play

Entry Fee: $20

Prize Pool: $1,500

Winners Take: Adjustable – $30-$300

Participants: 84

Max Entries: 4


NHL – $750 Blue Line

Entry Fee: $5

Prize Pool: $750

Winners Take: Adjustable – $7.50-$125

Participants: 168

Max Entries: 6

There are two hockey tournaments each night and the main difference between the two is that one has 84 participants with a maximum prize of $300 to the first place finisher, and the other has 168 participants with a maximum prize of $125 to the winner. In both tournaments you have to finish in the top 25% of the PayoutZone to cash. It is challenging, but players that cash win at least one and a half times their entry fee with a chance to win 10 times that. If you have a really good night you can maximize your investment by winning 10 times your entry fee and go home with a big night, but if you just do alright you can still cash. I love that risk/reward scenario.

One great benefit of playing these smaller tournaments on FantasyDraft is that by keeping the number of participants lower (84-168) and by limiting the number of entries per participant (4-6) it is a much fairer contest than you find on the other DFS sites. Those other sites have huge tournaments that tempt you with gigantic prize pools but you are competing against professional DFS players that have mathematical algorithms and use computer generated lineups that allow them to enter hundreds of times per contest, making it almost as difficult as winning the lottery for the typical DFS player like you and I to cash. By putting lower limits on entries and participants Fantasydraft makes it a much fairer and a much more legitimate contest.

Contest Selection Strategies

As I said before, if you feel like you are a more skilled DFS player then head to head is the best contest for you. If you are a stronger player then over larger sample sizes skill will win out over luck and over any anomalies that can happen on any given night or week. I like to spread out my exposure while giving myself a chance to cash as well as a chance to win big if I do really well.

The way that I do this is I play three or four different contests per night. I play one, sometimes two tournaments; one triple up and one double up. Each contest requires me to beat a higher percentage of the field than the next to cash, but it also increases the percentage of money I can win. My risk of cashing increases by doing this but it raises my potential winnings and lowers my monetary exposure.

Double up contests provide the chance to double my money, triple ups I can triple my money and while I only win one and half times my money in a tournament if I cash at the lowest amount, it provides the chance to win the big money and ten times my investment. I like to do these three contests in combination each night because if I have a bad night then I lose, nothing I can do about that. But, more often than not, I expect to be a legitimate contender to cash, putting me in the mix to cash in double up contests almost every night. Then, on those nights where I do well I can triple my money in the triple up contest and if I really do well and run into a couple big performances from a few of my players then I have a realistic chance at the big time prizes of $150-$300 in the tournaments.

What are so tempting to many players about the huge DFS sites are those huge million-dollar prize pools that you can win with just a $1 entry. If players were being honest with themselves they would realize that they have zero chance of cashing in any real way in those contests. The tournaments at FantasyDraft are significantly smaller and players only have to finish in the top 25% of the contest to cash with a legitimate chance to win 10 times their investment. I did it this week and so can you. It’s not unrealistic, even for beginners and inexperienced players.


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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