NFL DFS Contest Selection Strategy: Picking Games to Maximize ROI

DFS contest selection is an important part of maximizing your returns. Here are a few helpful tips to make sure you win big this NFL season.

DraftKings made sure that the final weekend of July started with a bang as they released the salaries and contests for Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season Friday. With everyone searching for early values and stacks to target, I want to discuss the importance of contest selection in NFL DFS.

Some people that play NFL DFS might assume that the best way to succeed is simply picking the best players every week. Choosing the right players is vital to having success, but I’m here to inform you that selecting the right contest is just as important (if not more important) than selecting the correct players.

Allocating lineups to the correct contests is something that I’ve learned in recent years in NFL DFS via trial and error. Last season was by far my best for NFL DFS as I stuck with a set strategy of playing the same contests and ensuring I wasn’t selecting the wrong contests for certain lineups. I’m not saying I’m a perfect DFS player, by any means, I just wanted to share what worked for me a season ago.

Not everyone can afford to max enter the Milly Maker on DraftKings, so I’ll be focusing on contest selection for those that are operating on a much more realistic budget. There’s nothing wrong with maxing the Milly Maker if you can afford it as some people partake in NFL DFS for the pure enjoyment. But this article is for those that are hoping to make a profit each week.

So without wasting any more time, let’s get into what contests to enter on DraftKings and what types of lineups to use for each of those contests.

Cash Games Are Your Friend

Cash games are key to having success every week in NFL DFS. The types of cash games you’ll find on most DFS sites are double-ups, 50/50s, and head-to-heads. On DraftKings, there are a variety of double-ups to choose from.

First and foremost, make sure you are entering into the single-entry double-ups. There are multi-entry double-ups available to users, but they tend to have more people treating them like GPPs (guaranteed prize pools) than cash games, and you want to limit the chances of your cash lineup falling flat.

Related: Ideal Lineup Construction for NFL DFS Cash Games & GPPs

Create one cash lineup every week with the purpose of this lineup to have the highest-rostered players on the slate. After creating your cash lineup, enter them into the following contests:

  • $10, $5, and $2 single-entry double-ups
  • 25 $1 head-to-head contests

The $10, $5, and $2 single-entry double-ups will likely be put on DraftKings closer to Week 1. If I remember correctly, each of them possesses varying numbers of people allowed to enter. Enter the ones that have 8,500 to 10,000 people or 22,000 to 25,000 people in the tournament. You should have the edge over a decent part of the field due to some people taking too many risks for a double-up contest.

Meanwhile, the head-to-head contests are self-explanatory, you only have to outscore one person. Using a cash-game lineup in head-to-heads should give you the upper hand on the majority of your opponents as certain people tend to get too cute with their lineups.

You can create the head-to-head contests yourself by scrolling down on the DraftKings app and going to ‘create a contest’. Make sure you choose the correct slate and create 25 $1 head-to-heads. (Also, I’d recommend changing the opponent limit from unlimited to one to avoid having a single person face you in every single head-to-head contest.)

If you’re unable to afford to play all of these, feel free to shed a few head-to-heads or a single-entry double-up. That being said, commit more (or the same amount) of your budget to cash games compared to GPPs to try to minimize potential losses.

Get Creative with Your GPP Lineups

On the other end of the spectrum as cash games, there are GPP contests where the prize pools are typically larger, though, it’s at the expense of fewer people being in the green. The Milly Maker is a GPP contest that rewards $1 million for first place, but once again, not everyone can afford to max enter it. Not to mention, you’ll have to outscore hundreds of thousands or over a million people to win.

While it can be a true rush of adrenaline to have an opportunity to win a million dollars, there are more ideal GPPs that people can enter. As opposed to cash games, you want to make calculated risks in GPPs to differentiate from the rest of the field. Therefore, I wouldn’t recommend using the fourth-string running back that won’t play just for the sake of making a unique lineup.

Even before you begin building your lineups, here are the GPP contests I’d recommend on DraftKings:

  • 20 $1 entries into the $1 First Down (20 entry max) contest
  • 3 entries into the $3 Triple Option (3 entry max) contest
  • 1 entry into the $5 Huddle (single-entry) contest

For the 20 $1 entries into the First Down contest on DraftKings, use the guidelines I set out in my lineup construction article for GPPs, using a double-stack and a bring-back in each lineup. There are typically hundreds of thousands of people in this contest, so don’t be afraid to make some strategic dart throws.

In the three-entry max Triple Option contest, there are around 15,000 people you’re competing against, giving us more wiggle room if a player falls short in your lineups. Continue to use double-stacks and a bring-back in your lineups for this contest.

Lastly, the $5 Huddle is a single-entry contest on DraftKings that has fewer than 10,000 people in the field. With it being a single-entry contest, there are going to be plenty of people submitting their cash lineups into the tournament, so we can use that to our advantage by finding leverage on the chalky players.

Alternatives for the Triple Option contest are any of the other three-entry max contests on the green site. Meanwhile, you can swap out the Huddle contest for any single-entry GPP on DraftKings that fits your bankroll, and the same can be said for the First Down contest.

With all of this information now bouncing around in your noggins, let’s (legally, of course) steal some money from DraftKings in DFS this season!

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