Lineup Construction - Cash Games vs GPP’s
Last week, I went through the various types of contests on DraftKings and Fanduel. If you missed that one, go back and check it out
under the Week 2 articles. This week, let’s go through some general strategies related to creating a lineup for a cash game versus a GPP lineup. There are several key differences in each that you’ll want to master if you want to become profitable.
I’m going to start this off with a quote from one of the greatest humans that has ever lived: Herman Edwards. The former New York Jets coach in 2002 famously said, “You play to win the game. Hello? YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME.” Although it’s one of the funniest lines by a coach of all time, it really does apply to how you want to construct your lineup in each type of contest. If you want to win in a cash game, you need to finish in the top 50%. Simple as that. It doesn’t matter if you finish 1st or 50th as long as you’re in the top 50% you’ve won. Creating a lineup with the highest possible projected score is not how you win. You win by maximizing your floor and decreasing your volatility. Always keep that in mind. On the other hand, if you’re in a GPP, in order to win you need to finish in the top 20-30%. You’ll need high upside guys that have multiple touchdown capability. If you do that successfully and those players hit, you’ve won. When you’re making your lineups this week and Herm Edwards pops in your mind, you’re welcome.
Constructing a Cash Game Lineup
Cash games you have about a 50% chance of doubling your money, whether it be in a head-to-head, 50/50 or double up format. Due to the fact that it’s much easier to earn your money back in these types of contests, the overall goal is simple: produce a team with the highest possible floor. In other words, you want to create a lineup that is safe and reliable to put up a decent score.
“Boom or bust” players are the exact types you want to avoid, which is why you’re usually staying away from guys like Ted Ginn Jr., Corey Coleman and Mike Wallace. All three of these players will receive less than 7 targets in a game, meaning their floor is extremely low. More than likely they’re only going to catch 4-5 balls a game and if they don’t score a long touchdown, you’re in trouble. Remember, you only have to finish in the top half so picking players with low floors is the biggest way to blow your chances of doing so.
Another big point in cash game lineup construction is value. Value is much more important in cash games than in a GPP. Although you may be limiting your team’s upside, taking the guy who is a great value is always a safe option. Drafting that cheap backup running back who will suddenly be in a starting role is much more valuable in a cash lineup as he’s probably going to easily surpass his salary based expectations (the amount of points a player is expected to score given his salary). When you target players like this, it allows you to move up to safer options at a more volatile position like wide receiver. You’ll find it much more comforting drafting someone like Amari Cooper compared to DeSean Jackson as Cooper’s floor is so much higher given he sees 10 targets per game compared to Jackson’s 7.5 per game.
When I’m making my cash lineup I like to go with two lineups with a few of the same guys in each. Some DFS guys only like to make one lineup, but I like to vary it just slightly to reduce my risk of my one lineup not doing so well. Another way to reduce your risk is by entering multiple forms of cash contests. I’ll enter several double ups and 50/50’s across multiple entry fees to spread that out. I build my core group of four or so players that will be on both rosters, usually at the WR and RB position. I’ll then go with two different quarterbacks (unless I feel extremely confident with one) and a few other high floor players I feel can easily hit their floor projection.
- Use guys with high floors that have consistent opportunities
- Use value players
- Use players in good matchups
- Avoid inconsistent, “boom or bust” players
Constructing a GPP lineup
Now we get to the fun part. The contests that turn $20 into $1 million and the contests that can change your life if you use the right strategies and get a little lucky. When creating your GPP lineups you want to think completely different than when you’re making your cash game lineup. In a GPP lineup, you want to create a team that has the highest possible ceiling, rather than a high floor. GPP’s pay out only the top percentage of entrants and you’ll want to be in the fifth percentile if you’re going to come away with a big payday. Making a team with a high ceiling is the way to do that. Players like Tavon Austin, Darren Sproles, John Brown and Tyler Lockett are solid GPP plays as they all have multiple touchdown upside especially since they return punts as well.
A huge part of building GPP lineups is stacking. Stacking is essentially when you pair multiple teammates together that could benefit from each other’s success. Most people directly go to quarterback and his receiver and for good reason as they’re positively correlated to fantasy success (when one does well the other is likely to do well too). You can also do this with a quarterback and multiple players as long as that offense goes off. A lot of people are starting to pair their quarterback with two wide receivers or with a running back and a wide receiver.
Take a look at the screenshot below. This is somewhat overboard and really unlikely to happen again, but this is an obvious form of stacking. This lineup won $1 million dollars last year in week 13 and it was pretty obvious he thought the Steelers were going to straight up embarrass the Colts. Have you seen their defense? Just awful. Pairing Ben with DeAngelo, Martavis, Antonio Brown and Steelers D might not be optimal, but if the offense has a huge game you could be in for a big payday.
One of the biggest misconceptions, in my opinion, is you have to only select “boom or bust” or off the wall players that nobody else is thinking of. In reality, this is far from the case. Again, check out the lineup above. Although he had a strange lineup, if you look at each one individually he had zero players that weren’t on everyone’s radar. He was just the only one to pair them all together. Just like in a cash game, if there is an obvious value play (Spencer Ware in Week 1) you can still play him in your GPP lineups as long as he has a high ceiling as well. You can even play a few other chalkier players (high owned guys) as long as you’re differentiated elsewhere. Targeting those high variance players is certainly ideal, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid the obvious value guys.
Check out the millionaire lineup from this past week below. I think this is an absolutely phenomenal lineup that is easy to replicate and just goes to show that you can play solid, well known players as long as you sprinkle in one or two lesser known players that have the potential to go off. He started by pairing Cam Newton with Kelvin Benjamin. Simple and very effective stack. He went with the chalk at the other wide receiver spot in Travis Benjamin, who at $4100 was a great value and also had tremendous upside. The pick that made this all happen was Stefon Diggs. Diggs absolutely torched the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night making their defensive backs look lost (yes I’m a Vikings fan). Diggs single handedly gave this guy a million dollars. One of the more advanced strategies that I’ll write about in the future is the late swap, which is when you play your later game guys in the flex. This allows you to pivot off of them to lower owned guys if you need to pass a lot of people. I believe he originally had Eddie Lacy, but knew Lacy’s ceiling wasn’t as high as Diggs’ and Lacy would be more highly owned. After the 4pm games and before the Sunday night game, by pivoting to Diggs, he found a lower owned player that, in the event he went off, he would be vaulting up the leaderboard.
When I’m building my GPP lineups I like to write down a couple QB/WR stacks that I feel can go off. I build a core group of players that I want a decent amount of exposure to and rotate a few stacks around them. When looking for GPP tournaments to enter, I like to go with the ones that are single or three entry max. This can help you because you won’t be going against guys that have 150 lineups in a single contest. Granted, I’ll still enter plenty of lineups in the Millionaire Maker because who doesn’t want to spray champagne and act like a complete buffoon and have a check the size of a Kia.
? Use guys with high upside
? Use volatile and lower owned players
? Can risk rostering a stud player in a poor matchup (think Antonio Brown vs the Broncos last year) for lower ownership
? Roster guys that have multiple touchdown upside
Constructing lineups can be a bit of a balancing act with value and upside. Be aware of what type of lineup you’re creating and follow the basic guidelines above. When you’re making a cash lineup, value and a high floor are absolutely critical. When making GPP lineups, upside mixed with value and the right stacks is the way to go. Good luck in week 3!