DFS for Beginners: Three Lessons from 2015

With Thanksgiving, the season to be thankful, just passed (and I hope you all had a great day – sorry Cowboys fans, but you knew this was coming) we can now look to the season of gifts and giving – Christmas – and then the New Year. I am asking Santa for luck with my DFS Hockey contests and cash in my FantasyDraft account. A week after he delivers me those gifts it is the New Year and we start it all over again and that is what I am looking at in this week’s column. What have I learned about DFS Hockey in 2015 that I can use to cash in 2016?

There are three things that I gnawed on over Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing that I am convinced I learned this hockey season and those topics are multiple entry tournaments, contests on nights when the NHL has a limited schedule, and the temptation for competitors to discount on their Team G to splurge on elsewhere.

Team G: To Spend or Not to Spend?

The easy lesson I learned through trial and error and repeated experience is spending on the Team G position – just do it. Goalies score the most points 90% of the time and they are the most predictable player in your lineup. Banking on Carey Price, Braden Holtby or Henrik Lundqvist is much more predictable and beneficial to your point totals than Tyler Seguin, Patrick Kane or Alex Ovechkin. I look at the top offensive scorers each night to see the ones from my short list that didn’t make the cut but had a good night, and there are always a couple, but when I don’t cash it is overwhelmingly clear that it is because the field lapped me with their Team G. In head-to-head or 50/50’s it is less clear though still mostly true, but in tournaments and contests with larger numbers of participants, you have to spend on Team G or you are going to lose more often than you cash.

And to make the case a little stronger, the difference between the most expensive and the most affordable Team G, it is typically around $5,000, hardly worth the additional risk.

A Limited Schedule Night is an Opportunity

The sports that play expansive schedules are forced to have nights with a limited docket. It isn’t feasible to have 75% of the league play every night over an 81 game season and the result is we have contests with a slate of two or three games and limited options for our lineups.

The instinctive response for many players on these nights is to take a breather too and I understand the rationale. In the bigger tournaments, or even the smaller double-ups, there are anywhere from 22 to 84 competitors trying to out dual each other while choosing from a limited player pool. But, that doesn’t mean the contests are less competitive or that it is more difficult to cash or less strategic, in many ways just the opposite.

I beat the drum about how important Team G’s are, but when the schedule is limited the Team G is less impactful because everyone is forced to use the same goalies. That puts the emphasis on the offensive players to make the difference and that is where the skill and strategy comes more in to play. Not only is the emphasis on the offensive players, but it is on the second tier and “bargain-basement” players like Brock Nelson and Boone Jenner. That is where the skill of the DFS competitor comes in and where you can separate yourself from the pack. On nights when the schedule is limited if you are able to pluck the diamond from the rough then you are going to separate yourself easier and that makes limited schedule nights a prime opportunity rather than a vacation day. My biggest cash night was with a limited slate of games.

Multiple Entry Tournaments

Every night I go through the match ups and see which offenses I like against which goalies. Then I look at the players on those offensive units and decide which players I want to be the core of my lineup. Then I choose two “mini-stacks” (two players from the same team) and those four players, with my Team G, is the core of my lineup. Entering a multiple of times in a larger tournament can enhance this strategy of roster building.

While I am going through my research I always find a multiple of “mini-stacks” that I like but with a limited budget and roster size I can’t choose them all unless I enter multiple times. By entering a multiple of times I can get a few shares of all of the offensive players and the goalies I like and I can also use it as insurance in case something unexpected happens.

For example, Team G. Last week I started the Canadiens Team G with Mike Condon, who turned out to be one of the worst goalies of the night and I wasn’t competitive in any of my contests because of it. I went in to the night reluctant about starting him, but it’s the Canadiens and he has, for the most part, been pretty good so I shrugged off my doubts. By entering a multiple of times I could have taken a risk on a cheaper Team G (or just a better one) that was on a hot streak or had a favorable match up. I still would have donated in the contests that I started Condon, but I would have had a chance to cash in my other entries and salvage the night. In the larger tournaments your goal should be to break even with the hope that you have a strong night and win the bigger cash payouts, not every night, but a few times. By entering multiple times you maximize your chances of achieving this goal. You own shares in a multiple of offensive players in good match ups and you have insurance from a disaster from your goalie like I had with Condon. This is how multiple entries becomes part of your nightly strategy.

I hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and best of luck feasting on your competitors the rest of the DFS Hockey season.

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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