Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up


Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The dynamic game of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) requires much more than simply knowing the sport for which we’re entering contests to be successful. We must be adaptable, precise, and open to learning from previous endeavors, the latter of which will be the primary focus of this weekly written piece. Game Theoretic methodologies will allow us to analyze and dissect the previous week’s winner of the largest and most prestigious Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournament on DraftKings – the Millionaire Maker. These same tenets of Game Theory, which can most simply be explained as the development of decision-making processes given our own skill and knowledge, assumptions of the field based on the cumulative skill and knowledge of others playing the same game, and the rules and structure of the game itself, will allow us to further train our minds to see beyond the antiquated techniques of roster building being employed by a large portion of the field. Approaching improvement through these methods will give us insight into the anatomy of successful rosters and will help us develop repeatably profitable habit patterns for the coming weeks.

We’re going to continue our macro journey and examine some of the things we’ve learned this season, reflect on the process of building a positive expected value (+EV) DFS roster, and apply those lessons to the short slates that the major DFS sites have provided to us for the Conference Championship Round.

Divisional Round Winning Lineup

Divisional Winning Roster

Divisional Winning Roster

Lessons Learned This Season, Applied to Conference Championship

Short Slate Team Stacks

First off, running backs are paired with their quarterback at a much lower rate than its inherent hit rate, particularly on a short slate. DraftKings user meaganjoy took it one step further by adding the theoretical leverage and expected value-boosting correlation of the team’s tight end in Hayden Hurst. The Bengals defense doesn’t check any theoretical boxes through its addition to this stack outside of being one of the cheapest defensive units on the slate. With no defense putting the slate out of reach, the Bengals gained increased viability due to their low cost.

The combinatorial ownership on Joe Burrow plus Joe Mixon plus Hayden Hurst worked out to under 0.5% owned, with most rosters in play that utilized Joe Burrow as their quarterback utilizing Ja’Marr Chase or Tee Higgins in their stack. Remember, the value of a touchdown increases as the number of games on a slate decreases, meaning significant leverage can be gained by building off-the-board team stacks like this one. Keep that in mind as we move into Conference Championship Round, where we only have two games on the slate.

Balanced Roster Construction

Human psychology suggests that a stars-and-scrubs approach to roster construction is the most utilized build on a short slate as players attempt to capture more of the high-end ceiling that the more expensive options provide. That leaves a balanced construction, like the one utilized by DraftKings user meaganjoy, as a high leverage generating outlook as far as roster construction goes. Finding simple tools like this that generate inherent boosts to expected value due to the lower percentage of rosters in play that utilize the roster construction is an easy way to boost profitability over the long run. Until the field catches up to these tendencies, continue being overweight balanced constructions on short slates.

Short Slate Double Tight End

While the double tight end approach is a poor roster construction to utilize on full slates due to the decreased raw ceiling at the position, the boost to the value of a touchdown on a short slate increases the viability of the approach as fewer games are being played. The theoretical viability of such an approach increases if one of the tight ends is tied to their quarterback due to the large reliance on touchdowns for fantasy scoring at the position. As in, theoretics mandates that a tight end be paired with his quarterback on a short slate due to the way tight ends draw most of the fantasy value (touchdowns), which directly correlates to a bump to fantasy value of his quarterback.

Short Slate Game Environment Bets

DraftKings user meaganjoy leapfrogged a massive portion of the field by making one game environment bet that the field was largely overlooking - for Cincinnati’s defense to hold down the Bills. And while most will immediately turn their attention to the inclusion of their defense in this roster, the major leverage was gained through the unique Bengals team stack and the absence of a Buffalo skill position player. The four-man stack (with the inclusion of the Bengals D/ST) told the story of the Bengals running away with the game, which was something that was completely overlooked by the field based on the composite ownership split between Bills skill position players and Bengals skill position players. Making bets on game environments playing out differently than public perception generates a massive amount of leverage on the field, which is likeliest to present itself through the AFC Conference Championship game considering the large line movement after the injury to Patrick Mahomes (the line opened at KC -1 and has since moved a massive 3.5-points in favor of the Bengals to CIN -2.5).