DFS Hockey for Beginners: Alternative Strategies with a Snag

In my weekly columns I have been trying to provide readers, beginners particularly, with strategies and statistics or any information at all that can help you be competitive and hopefully cash in DFS Hockey. This week I am going to continue that mission, but with a head fake.

I have three viable strategies that I want to break down for you this week. By talking about them it does not mean that I am endorsing these strategies, but they are viable and are used by DFS Hockey players on FantasyDraft as well as other DFS sites. In fact, I disagree with all of them as a general rule, but they are worth bringing to your attention so that you can make the call yourself.

Here are the three strategies:

  1. The Three-Player Stack
  2. Spending on Defenseman
  3. The Discount Goalie Strategy

Lets start at the top and move through the lines to the bottom and then walk away, hopefully winners.

The Three-Player Stack

In previous columns I have advocated the use of a multiple of two-player stacks, but there are DFS players that like to use a three-player stack, even using a multiple of three-player stacks in one lineup.

The theory behind this strategy is that, like all stacks, you choose a group of players in a prime match up in a game projected to be high scoring. The difference is that this strategy recommends that you start an entire offensive line from the same team, the Center and both Wingers.

I disagree with this strategy because, while it covers your bases and represents some level of insurance, it limits your upside. If you happen to choose the right game and the correct line grouping, the likelihood that all three of the players have a big day is remote. That’s my problem. Even if one line dominates the scoring there is still a chance that at least one of the three players isn’t involved or the points could be thinly spread around.

And, like all strategies, there is risk. In this case, the risk is that you put all of your eggs in one basket and if it turns out you chose the wrong basket or the wrong groupings in the correct basket, then you have zero chance of cashing.

It’s like starting a wide receiver and a running back from the same team in DFS football. If it’s a high scoring game then you covered yourself because you have shares of them all, but only one player can score a touchdown or benefit from each yard gained. If the running back scores that means your wide receiver didn’t. If your receiver has a lot of receptions and yards, then your running back was blocking pass rushers, not accumulating yards from scrimmage.

I endorse stacking a quarterback and a receiver or even a quarterback and a running back (though I am less enthusiastic about that kind of stack), but I don’t endorse a three-player stack of a quarterback, receiver and a running back and while a stack like this in DFS Hockey is not an exact apples to apples comparison, the approach is the same – conservative.

I especially don’t like it in tournaments because upside and high scores are an absolute must when you are trying to separate yourself from the pack and playing it safe doesn’t make sense. Go big or go home is how tournaments are won and this strategy doesn’t fit the mantra.

And if you want to double-down on the strategy that I already don’t like, some DFS experts advocate a five-player stack by including the defenseman as well. Hey, put on your favorite teams jersey, load up your DFS roster and cheer for the home team!!! But, don’t expect to cash.

Spending on Defenseman

I compare spending on defenseman in DFS Hockey to spending on tight ends in DFS Football or catchers in DFS Baseball. I hate catchers and I hate tight ends, but that’s what this approach is comparable too.

The thinking behind this strategy is that you can separate yourself from your competitors by spending on that rare defenseman that could lap the field in production that night. It also allows you a reasonably good chance of receiving production from a position that is often a dead spot in your nightly lineup.

A top defenseman like Erik Karlsson ($15,500) of the Ottawa Senators only has nine goals but he does have 31 assists. That makes Karlsson a top five point scorer, but goals are worth twice as much as assists and the highest priced goal scorers like Patrick Kane ($18,000) and Tyler Seguin ($17,600) aren’t that much more expensive. Going for goals for a few extra bucks with forwards rather than points from defenseman is the better way to cash in my opinion.

I can get behind starting Karlsson ($15,500) over a player like Patrice Bergeron ($15,000) because they are comparable prices, have comparable goal and assist totals, and it is significantly easier to find a cheap offensive player that will produce as opposed to an affordable, productive defenseman that will allow you to start Karlsson or Bergeron. But, this is more of a vote against paying the price for Bergeron than it is an endorsement of selecting Karlsson.

I have a hard time endorsing that you pay for a defenseman because a specific defenseman is significantly better than his peers or because you want some production at a thin position. In yearly leagues this is akin to drafting a player ahead of another because of “Position Scarcity” rather than projected production. Total points are what cash, not having the best player at any given position. All that being said, if the match up is right and the conditions are optimal, I can see recommending, as an exception, but definitely not as a rule.

The Discount Goalie Strategy

Goalies, like pitchers in DFS Baseball, are a must in order to cash in any contest. If you don’t score well at goalie then you can’t compete and that’s why this strategy doesn’t work very well. It’s being too clever by half by trying to outsmart everyone when you can win by playing it safe.

If you consistently employ this strategy then from time to time you will cash because as the lone wolf, like a poker player that always chases to an inside straight, you will hit your mark. Unfortunately, over the long haul, you are going to swing and miss significantly more often than you hit the home run, which makes this strategy a statistical loser.

However, this strategy is a necessarily evil if you play the huge DFS Hockey tournaments at some of the other sites, but it isn’t one that you need if you play the fairer, more skilled tournaments run at FantasyDraft.

One problem I have with those tournaments and the main reason why I like FantasyDraft so much better than other DFS sites is that if you play in a tournament that forces you to use this strategy then you know that you are involved in a contest that lacks skill. A tournament with so many competitors and such long odds of winning demands that players chase low-percentage plays like Hail Mary passes and even then you are still unlikely to cash. You aren’t the better DFS player because you happened to pick a fluke goalie that provided a big time performance once every six or seven starts – you are a lucky one. Something that happens once and awhile but consistently fails is the definition of luck.

I mention this strategy because beginners need to know that the draw of the big money tournaments where you employ this approach is a mirage. If you want to play in those types of tournaments then this strategy is not only viable, it is necessary, but it is also a contest of pure luck that you have almost zero chance of cashing. Enjoy the fun, but be sure you realize the reality of the situation.

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season and look forward to having a safe and enjoyable New Years celebration. Best of luck in DFS Hockey in 2016 and we hope that you keep coming back for my weekly articles here on FantasyDraft.

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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