When it comes to DFS tournaments, there will always be a very small chance to obtain that first-place finish.

Knowing and understanding how unlikely those chances are will inherently increase your chances of winning. You will need to grow some balls and just go all in. When I say this, I mean you need to picture yourself winning that tournament before you even submit your lineup. Start imagining those low-ownership players scoring huge points (it always happens) and how it could actually happen.

What narrative do you need to construct in your brain for a deep sleeper to come out with 4 to 5 times his price in value. A spider web of events will have to occur for a certain player to be a huge hit. Do you see a sleeper QB throwing for four touchdowns? If so, the probability that they are in a competitive game is most likely the case. Which means the opposing team must also be scoring fantasy points.

Seeing a players upside is one thing, knowing how that upside is obtained and which events need to occur for it to be possible are what lead to the full construction of a successful tournament line up.

Rule #1: Correlation is key

Start with the Vegas point totals. Knowing that a matchup has a high point total (typically 48+ points) you can already start to see which players have the highest probability of scoring said points. It would be very odd if one of the teams scored the total on their own, so it has to go both ways. High-powered offenses ramp up the tempo of the game and force the opposing team to have to keep up with them. If both teams have potent offenses, that is when fantasy fireworks happen.

Always start the week by reading over the point totals for each matchup. Target the teams that are most likely to put up the most points. Touchdowns always equal fantasy points. Every action has a reaction. Coaches call plays based on the flow of the game.

When the defense is playing well, that teams offense will typically call plays to slow down the pace of play. Especially when facing a high-powered offense. When the defense is playing poorly and giving up touchdowns, their offense will need to match the opposing teams tempo to stay competitive. Running backs and their defense will typically correlate. As will quarterbacks and wide receivers against the opposing teams receivers and quarterbacks.

Rule #2: Ownership Consideration

There will always be a player that stands out to you the second you look at the slate. Whether it’s a workhorse running back against a poor defense or a top tight end against a team that always funnels points to pass catchers. Don’t ever think you’re slick for assuming no one else will see that matchup. Always take the best players of the week and the ownership percentage of those players into consideration. If you input those players into your lineup you have to be aware that at least 20 percent of the field will also use that specific player. That means when they score points, you are not separating yourself from everyone else. It is necessary to have at least three sleeper players to hit for a successful tournament lineup. The players that have less than 5 percent ownership make cashing and winning big possible. With that being said, you don’t want to strictly avoid the chalk just because of the ownership projection. Correlate off of the chalk wisely.

Rule #3: Stacking

Stacking and correlation go hand in hand. A WR will almost always get their points with a QB. If they receive a touchdown, 99 percent of the time it was thrown by the QB. Most of the highly successful tournament lineups from the highest stakes contest contained a QB and at least one of their pass catchers (WR or TE). You will want to cover as much of the fantasy points spread over a potent offense as possible. In some offenses it can be safe to add a pass-catching RB attached to a QB and a WR to cover as much of the scoring share as possible. Be careful not to spread yourself too thin when it comes to weaker offenses.



QB + WR + TE


These are the most common stacks.

Rule #4: Run It Back

Always use a skill position player from the opposing team that you are stacking. Typically a WR or a TE if not used yet. This is very much related to stacking. When having multiple players from the same offense in your lineup, you have to assume it will be a competitive game where they won’t be playing it slowly. Hopefully the opposing team will force them to keep up the scoring pace. Adding a player from the opposing team gives you a huge advantage. Even if it ends up being a one-sided affair, garbage time is always beneficial.

Rule #5: Diversify The Defense

When it comes to picking a defense in your lineup, the best tips we have are pretty much “go for a cheap home team defense and don’t worry about points scored against”. Other than that, pray for turnovers and a potential special teams or defensive touchdown. Since that is the case, always try to use a different defense in some of your lineups. Think correlation when it comes to your decision. Defense will always be the hardest position to predict and could end up being the difference between winning one hundred dollars and one million dollars.

Do not avoid a defense that is going against a good offense. The more plays an opposing offense runs against them, the higher the chance there is for a possible turnover or better. Do not overthink or worry about those matchups. Typically they will also have lower ownership.

Rule #6: Upside Wins

Never look strictly for volume to prop up your tournament lineups. The players that consistently score a decent amount of points will always be more predictable but you just need to be looking for that player to have one single huge week. Touchdowns and big plays will get that sleeper to at least 3x value. The likelihood of a low-cost player ending up top five in touches is extremely rare. You will need to depend on those upside players to get value out of the cheap options.

Rule #7: RB in Flex

Statistics show that the majority of top finishes in big tournaments had a RB in their flex position. Of course upside will win you a tournament but gaining the guaranteed volume that a receiver isn’t promised can be crucial. At cost, the floor + upside that a cheap RB can offer will typically be more valuable than the lack of floor a WR can present at the same cost. Any single touch can lead to a huge play. So when it comes down to the touch per dollar spent on a player, you will have a higher chance of getting that huge play since a RB is more likely to touch the ball more often than a WR at lower cost.

When it comes down to it, no one truly knows what a million dollar lineup will be, but using these rules will absolutely give you a significant step up on the competition.

If daily fantasy sports is your thing, be sure to check back often as I’ll be posting a weekly DraftKings advice article every week during the 2020 NFL season.

Patrick Doyle is a blogger for the Loaded Box Podcast. Check out his article archive and find more from the Loaded Box on Twitter & Facebook