DFS Strategy 101: Player Ownership Percentages

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford warms up before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Nashville. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

There are many methods and strategies to develop a tournament winning squad in DraftKings or Fanduel, but above all, one of the most important values any DFS player should consider, is the value of player ownership from week to week.

Despite the tendency to heed tips from the so-called “experts” and opinions that continuously populate the internet, a lot of contest entrants neglect to realize how many other contestants are choosing the same players as the ones they entered into their lineups themselves. This leads to ultimately similar “chalky” lineups and can destroy your chances at taking down a big prize at the end of the weekend.

Let’s take some examples from FantasyLabs’ lineup builder to show you exactly what I’m talking about…

Take my “Chalk” Lineup for instance:

On paper, this line up features a lot of fantasy studs that warrant a high amount of action this week due to various factors (matchups, history vs opponent, strength of defense) just to name a few. There are 9 player entries above with the highest projected ownership percentage in Week 2’s upcoming slate of games. Refer to the column titled “Own” in the image above to view the projected ownership percentages for this week’s games. In the DFS world, we refer to the players in this lineup as “chalky” – as in extremely popular plays. In a GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournament, there are hundreds of thousands of entries that will look similar to this one, which means that if a player in this lineup performs well for you, he will also perform well for your opponents. This is extremely frustrating, because as you celebrate Ty Montgomery scoring his second touchdown of the game, you will soon realize that you haven’t really gained much ground towards the top of that given contest standings. Selecting a player to be your RB1 such as Ezekiel Elliott (7% projected ownership), can yield the same or more amount of points yet approximately 1/6th of the ownership, and thus a much higher benefit to you.

On the contrary, using a “Chalky” lineup is a great idea if you were to participate in cash game contests (Double Ups, H2H, 50/50s). Cash games generally have many less contestants, so the need to distinguish yourself from the pack is not nearly as important. I regularly enter lineups such as the “anti-chalk” into cash games and have had a lot of success. Distinguishing between tournaments and cash game lineups is the moral of the story, and is what separates the winners from the losers come the end of the weekend.

Now lets take a look at my “Anti-Chalk” lineup below:

Lets start at the top of the “Anti-Chalk” lineup with Sam Bradford. The Oklahoma product seems to really be finding his footing in his second year of playing in Pat Shurmur’s offense. His stats last week were second only to last week’s unexpected fantasy darling Alex Smith, as Bradford went 27/32 tossing for 346 yards and 3 TDs. Despite this noted improvement, many people are still afraid of taking Bradford based on his history, however the chemistry between the big armed QB and his top three receiving options (Diggs, Thielen, and Rudolph) is undeniable. Bradford can be had this week for an extremely reasonable salary of $5,500 and is projected to owned by only about 3% of the DK field. To add to his case, Bradford faces a poor Steelers passing defense whose best corner is certified pre-owned trash Joe Haden. Bradford is a perfect example of value that can be had with immense upside given that the Vikings will most likely need to pass to keep up with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Bradford is a strong play in GPP tournament entry for week 2.

Now lets shift gears and detail the impact of equal stats between QBs in both lineups. Let’s say that Tom Brady (in the chalk lineup) and Sam Bradford (anti-chalk lineup) each throw for 3 TDs and 350 yards. Not only would you save nearly 2.5k in salary on Bradford, but you would also jump 4x to 5x as many of your opponents in that given contest based on the same performance.

Game. Set. Match. CA$H.

For more tips on tournament and cash games, refer to the “Strategy” section of the DailyPlayAction where we will regularly post articles on the best ways to take down cash prizes on DraftKings and Fanduel.