Daily Fantasy Football Strategy: DraftKings + FanDuel DFS Lineup Advice
This is a strategy guide for how to select top plays, lineup advice, daily fantasy football strategy, contest tips, and more for NFL DFS on DraftKings and FanDuel. For further questions, please join our Discord channel.
This strategy guide is not intended to go in-depth on the intricacies of the NFL, nor is it going to give DFS picks. Instead, it's meant to be a high-level strategy road map for FanDuel and DraftKings slates.
NOTE: The below advice is for CLASSIC contests only. For Showdown / single game lineup strategies, be sure to read our NFL Showdown Guide from 2020.
Scoring and Site Rules
Before you start building NFL DFS lineups, you must know the rules of the sites where you’re playing. Fortunately, most sites are extremely similar with the exception of a few minor scoring differences, roster limitations, and salary ranges.
- Require you to roster 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE), and 1 DST.
- Award 1 point per 25 passing yards, 1 point per 10 yards rushing, 4 points per passing TD, and 6 points per rushing/receiving TD.
- Awards just 0.5 points per reception.
- Allows a maximum of 4 players per team.
- Awards 1 point per reception.
- Awards an extra 3 points for 300 yards passing, an extra 3 points for 100 yards rushing, and an extra 3 points for 100 yards receiving.
- Allows a maximum of 7 players per team.
- Awards just 0.5 points per reception.
- Allows a maximum of 6 players per team.
- Awards just 0.5 points per reception.
- Awards an extra 2 points for 300 yards passing, an extra 2 points for 100 yards rushing, and an extra 2 points for 100 yards receiving.
- Allows a maximum of 6 players per team.
- Doesn’t include defenses.
The big takeaways are that FanDuel and Yahoo are much more touchdown-heavy scoring systems while DraftKings and SuperDraft reward players who rack up receptions and yardage.
The salary systems range wildly between the sites -- all have different salary floors/ceilings and pricing algorithms.
It’s important to refine your process in DFS for each sport, but a weekly sport like NFL provides unparalleled advantages over the hectic rush of daily sports. Use each day of the week to collect and analyze information so your lineup-building process for Sundays is as streamlined as possible.
We do most of this work for you with our Occupy Model and Daily Plug, but it never hurts to dig in yourself. Here’s a weekly schedule of what to look for in NFL:
- Review your Sunday classic contest results, looking at ownership, winning lineups, pros’ exposures, and your top finishes.
- Investigate usage rates for each NFL team from the previous week. Snap counts, targets, air yards, and other situational factors can provide an edge for the upcoming week.
- The first injury reports are released. Check the status of players who missed the previous week and look for any new additions that could affect playing time on Sunday.
- Game status reports are released in the afternoon. See which players are out and which players are questionable to suit up Sunday.
- Roster moves are due by 4pm EST. If a player is questionable, his availability may be revealed if his team calls up a player from the same position from their practice squad. By knowing who’s more likely to be in/out based on roster moves, you have a head start on the Sunday news.
- National reporters tweet expected actives/inactives early Sunday morning.
- 90 minutes before each game starts, teams are required to release inactive reports.
- After the 1pm games start but before the 4pm games begin, check your lineups and contests for late swap possibilities based on the information we gathered in the early games.
As for actually building your lineups, this is where your schedule is a factor. You may find it more relaxing to build your lineups on Saturday while making slight changes Sunday morning. Conversely, you may wait until all news is revealed Sunday before lock and create your lineups just a couple hours before the games begin.
Daily Fantasy Football Strategy
Low-risk contest selection:
- The best ROIs will likely be found in single entry 50/50s and H2Hs, so look there first. Try to find H2Hs and small field double ups with inexperienced entrants.
Low-risk lineup construction:
For low-risk lineups, we want to maximize the floor of our lineup by looking for median outcomes instead of ceiling performances, siding with ownership, and focusing on the most projectable positions.
Here are the keys to building a proper low-risk NFL DFS lineup:
- Maximize ownership. With an entire week for an industry to realize the top plays in the most popular daily fantasy sport, ownership is extremely efficient in NFL DFS. Roster as many popular players as possible. When in doubt, let ownership guide your lineup decisions.
- Play high volume RBs. Only roster RBs who are guaranteed to touch the football a lot. Game script-dependent RBs are reserved for high-risk contests only. This is the most projectable position because a) we can accurately predict volume, and b) volume leads to more consistent production at RB than other positions.
- FLEX a RB. Adding on to the above point, because we can predict RBs more easily, we can lock up as many points as possible by playing 3 RBs. There are rare exceptions, but almost always use a RB in your low-risk lineup FLEX spot.
- Targets are key. We can’t always predict what’s going to happen when the ball is thrown to a player, but we can usually predict how many times a player will see the ball in a given game. Look to play WRs and TEs who see consistent targets -- or are expected to see more targets as the result of a role change.
- Stacking? Playing a QB with one of his pass-catchers is not a requirement for low-risk lineups. Often, we will find that two of the best low-risk plays are a QB-WR duo, so it’s not something we avoid since it does add upside. It’s just not something that is absolutely required for low-risk contests.
- Picking a defense. Unless you can absolutely afford it, there’s no need to pay for an expensive DST. Look for Vegas favorites and/or teams expected to face numerous pass attempts.
- Use all of the salary. Pricing is generally efficient in NFL DFS and there’s no benefit to leaving salary on the table, especially in low-risk contests. Use as much of the salary cap as possible.
High-risk contest selection:
- Satellites, satellites, satellites -- look to play contests that award tickets to future contests first and foremost. This is especially useful for cross-sport contests (satellites for non-NFL contests), as they are slower to fill and usually come with overlay.
- Stick to Quintuple Ups, 10x boosters, Single Entry GPPs, Leagues -- especially later posting ones with less than 500 entrants -- and 3-Max tournaments unless you plan on making 20+ lineups.
- Do not enter a contest unless you can enter the maximum number of lineups allowed.
- For NFL DFS, we have found that Leagues are the best high-risk tournaments to play.
High-risk lineup construction:
In high-risk contests, our sole goal is 1st place. In order to beat all of the opponents, we must maximize correlation and look for outlier performances. Fortunately, there is a tried and true method to get to the top of NFL DFS contests.
Playing multiple players from the same game due to the high level of correlation in an NFL matchup is a surefire way to skyrocket up leaderboards. Utilizing game stacks is a key daily fantasy football strategy.
- 3x1. By far, the most profitable game stack type is a 3x1 - a QB, two of his pass catchers (RB/WR/TE), and one pass catcher from the opposing team.
- 3x2. In smaller contests, a 3x2 stack (two players from the opposing team) is acceptable because it minimizes the number of things needed to get right to win the contest. If a game explodes, you likely have enough of the action in your 3x2 stack to beat 100 players or less.
- 4x1, 4x2. On smaller slates -- think 2 to 4 games -- you can increase your stacks to 4x1s or 4x2s. The idea here is that the game you stack is much higher scoring than the other games on the slate.
- Pass-catchers. Almost always, we want at least one WR as 1 of our pass-catchers in our QB stack. Similarly, we almost always want a WR from the opposing team. Don’t ignore RBs and TEs in game stacks, but WRs are preferred.
- The Curtis Samuel theory. In 2019, I won $250,000 in the FanDuel WFFC with Curtis Samuel as the opposing player in my game stack. For larger contests (think big GPPs), one piece from our game stack should be a cheap player. The theory here is that in order to create an NFL DFS lineup, you need value plays somewhere. You’ve already identified a high ceiling situation (your game stack), so instead of playing a value play from another game and hoping for an outlier performance, instead play a cheap player from your game stack. If it blows up as expected, your cheap player is sure to benefit. In the WFFC example, I could have used an expensive Christian McCaffrey as my opposing player, but it would have forced me to use a cheap player from a different game. Instead, the SEA/CAR game exploded and Curtis Samuel scored 13.9 FD points at a cheap price tag. We’ve identified this as one of the biggest leverage spots in NFL DFS GPPs.
- Metrics for selecting game stacks. There are a couple ways to identify game stacks to target for your lineups:
- Projected fantasy points -- look at the combined fantasy projections of QBs and pass-catchers.
- Vegas totals -- target games with high Vegas totals, and especially games who have seen their total increase throughout the week.
- Pressure rates -- quarterbacks perform significantly better in clean pockets versus when they are pressured (duh, right?). Target games where neither team gets a ton of pressure on the opposing QB.
High Volume RBs
- Similar to low-risk lineups, play popular, high volume RBs in your high-risk lineups, too. Don’t worry, we’ll have differentiation in our lineups from our game stacks and WRs/TEs.
Underperforming WRs (UPWRs)
There is a cheat code in NFL DFS, and it’s called underperforming WRs. By looking at targets, air yards, and actual fantasy performances in recent weeks, we can easily identify WRs and TEs that are due for massive performances. Players who have seen a ton of opportunities but haven’t converted them into fantasy points are deemed UPWRs. Each week (starting in Week 4), we publish our list of UPWRs in the NFL Daily Plug.
- Ideally, look to include UPWRs in game stacks.
- No amount of UPWRs is too many. The WRs/TEs in your high-risk lineups outside of your game stacks should feature our weekly UPWRs.
- Because of the 0.5 PPR scoring, lean towards FLEXing a RB on FanDuel and Yahoo.
- Both RBs and WRs are OK to FLEX on all sites in high-risk contests; it just depends on the player pool each week.
- DO NOT FLEX a TE for the love of all things holy. It may win once or twice per year, but it is one of the biggest losing strategies in NFL DFS.
- Since most of the field isn’t game stacking (for some reason), we don’t have to consider ownership in NFL DFS high-risk contests as much as other sports.
- As stated above, pay for ownership at the RB spots.
- Instead, opt for lower owned options at WR/TE. Fortunately, because our UPWRs usually haven’t performed well recently, they also have the added bonus of being lower owned.
- Pricing is mostly efficient in NFL, usually don’t leave more than $500 on the table in any contest
Mass multi-entry strategy:
Step 1, use our Lineup Builder. Step 2, adhere to the above high-risk lineup strategy rules. There are a variety of ways to successfully build 20-150 NFL DFS lineups. Here are what we’ve found works best:
- Pick 3 game stacks, play both QBs from your game stacks, resulting in 6 QBs for your player pool (2 game stacks, 4 QBs for 20 lineups).
- Keep a tight RB pool. Play 5-10 RBs heavily (4-8 for 20 lineups).
- Expand your WRs. Play 15-30 WRs, spreading exposure relatively evenly (8-20 for 20 lineups).
- Keep a small TE pool. Play 4-6 TEs (2-4 for 20 lineups).
- Limit your DSTs. Play 4-8 DSTs heavily (2-4 for 20 lineups).
- Don’t play any offensive players against your DSTs.
- Limit yourself to two offensive players per team unless they’re in a game stack.
These are the basic NFL DFS lineup rules for daily fantasy football strategy. Adhere to these and you'll watch your ROI climb.
This daily fantasy football strategy guide was produced by our co-founder Brian Jester, winner of the DraftKings NFL Millionaire, runner-up in the FanDuel WFFC, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in NFL GPP wins.