DraftKings 101: The Playbook

Whether you’re just getting started on DraftKings or you want to brush up on some of the things we talk about on the website and during our podcast, this is guide will help you understand DraftKings fantasy football. We broke it down and this is what you need to know to be a successful DraftKings player. 

On any given Sunday or any day really, you can win big money on DraftKings. Create an account, choose a username (this will be your username for life and can be seen by other players), make a deposit, and start entering contests. If this is your first time playing DraftKings, we highly suggest to start off playing the beginner contests to get up to speed and avoid playing more experienced players. The contests are labeled and easy to find if you’ve played less than 50 contests. Once you’ve entered more than 50 contests, you will no longer be able to play in a beginner contest.

The details and rules can be found in every contest. Do some research before you pay the contest entry fee by looking at the number of entrants, scoring system, prize pool (number of entries who get paid), and payout structure (how much each winner wins). Filter the contests by specific games (slate) to find different DraftKings NFL contests. Formats such as Classic contests let you draft nine players under a salary cap from multiple games whereas Showdown Captain Mode allows you to choose one ‘Captain’ that earns 1.5x points and five other players, including the kicker in only one game. 

When it comes to what contests you should play, you must first understand the difference between cash games and tournaments (GPP). These two types of contests are not the same and each requires a different strategy when drafting your team. In fact, they are the opposite of each other and here’s what you should know.

Cash games only pay out the top 50% of the field and can even be played head to head against someone. That means you don’t have to worry about finishing first, you can simply double your money if you score more than half the field. In this scenario, you should try to draft a team with the highest floor (the lowest possible score you can expect from a player) possible. 

Tournaments typically have a bigger payout structure, but you’ll need to finish in the top 1-5% of the field to win big money. You’ll likely want to take some risks while drafting your team in order to swing for the fences for a chance win. In tournaments, look for players with high ceilings (the highest possible score you can expect from a player), unlike cash games where you draft players with the high floors.

Here are some key terms you should know as you read our fantasy articles and listen to our weekly podcast. 

Bankroll – The amount of money you have available to invest in contests

Cash Game – If you’re looking for a bankroll-building strategy, you got about a 50 percent chance at winning these contests. Double up leagues, 50/50s, and head to head contest are all considered cash games.

Ceiling – Opposite of floor, this is the best possible outcome you can expect from a player. 

Contrarian – When everyone zigs, you zag by selecting a player that will not be highly owned in tournaments. This move can make your selection more valuable if the player can score enough points to help your team beat the majority of entries. A common contrarian strategy is to pick a highly skilled player up against a tough matchup. 

DFS – Daily Fantasy Sports abbreviation. DFS are contests where entrants draft a team for a short period of time (one day or weekend) using a salary cap format to compete for cash prizes.

Double-Up – A cash game where winners double their entry fee.

Exposure – The percentage or amount of money you have invested in a particular player on lineups.

Fade – This is when you avoid a player or players because you expect they will be heavily owned or you think they will not produce enough points.

Floor – Opposite of ceiling, this is the worst possible outcome you can expect from a player.

Freeroll – A league that does not cost anything to enter and has cash prizes.

GPP – Guaranteed Prize Pool abbreviation. Typically a tournament play with substantial prize money for the top winners, the prizes in these contests are guaranteed, whether or not the contest completely fills up. 

Head-to-Head – A cash game where you duke it out with another DFS player for a prize, typically double your entry fee minus the website’s rake. 

Hedge – Strategies developed to minimize the overall risk of losing a large portion of your bankroll. For instance, you may hedge your main lineup by entering another lineup into contests with completely different players. 

Punt – This is where you spend the minimum salary on a position because the position is unpredictable or you want to fit in other high-priced players in your lineup.

Rake – Typically 10%, this is the amount of commission a website takes off each entry fee to hold a contest.

ROI – Return On Investment abbreviation. This can apply to how many points a player scores relative to his salary, or how much profit you made relative to money in play.

Slate – A specific set of games whereas the main slate consists of the noon and afternoon games. 

Stack/Stacking – This is when you pair multiple players from the same team or in the same game. Quarterbacks are often stacked with at least one of their receivers. If the quarterback lights it up, it’s likely one of his receivers will be lighting it up as well.

Tournament – Commonly referred to as GPPs, these high-risk, high-reward contests typically pay prize money to the top 10-20 percent of entrants, with a higher allocation of the prize money going to the top finishers.

Vegas Line – This refers to the spread, money line, or over/under of the Las Vegas sportsbooks for a given game or slate of games. These can be useful to predict the outcome of a game and create lineups based on those outcomes.