I recommend looking at my DFS 101, Contest Selection, Stacking, Rostership and Player Pool articles before reading this piece. These articles are the foundations for building tournament lineups and will be referenced. In creating a tournament lineup, you want to tell a story. Hopefully, the story relies heavily on correlation. So, after finishing a lineup, I always ask myself: Does the stack make sense, am I getting enough correlation with each player, and am I unique?
Step 1: Main Stack
I start with my stack in creating my lineup because it allows me to see how much leftover per position I have. The main stack is the primary piece of my lineup and will need to carry a big portion of my total points. The stack also tells me two things: how unique I will need to get in the other positions, and it determines how much I will have to pay up at different positions.
For example, say I am playing on DraftKings in the Week 1 main slate. The Chiefs vs. Cardinals matchup has an over-under of 53 points, the highest on the Week 1 slate, and the Chiefs are three-point favorites. Therefore, Kyler Murray and Patrick Mahomes will most likely be at the top of pricing and rostership. Let’s say I chose Kyler Murray with Hollywood Brown and Travis Kelce in the same lineup at a combined ~$20,000. That leaves me with ~$30,000 to pick six more players or about ~$5,000 per player. Now I would need to find ways to find extremely cheap players and also provide low rostership. Murray, Hollywood and Kelce will be in hundreds of other lineups, therefore, I will need to prioritize several unique players elsewhere in this lineup.
Step 2: Salary relief at Defense
The next step is picking a defense to increase my average salary per player. Looking at the Week 1 point totals, I find the Commanders and Browns. They are likely getting high rostership due to being cheap and with meager point totals. Staying away from the high-rostered defense while also staying cheap, I decided to take the ~$2,100 Jacksonville Jaguars on the road underdogs taking on the Commanders. It doesn’t align with Vegas, however, I don’t trust Carson Wentz, and in this scenario, with their pricing, I will take my chances. Defenses do not score enough points to be a big factor in your decision-making. For example, a shutout with three sacks is worth 13 points, and giving up 10 points where you have an interception and three sacks is nine points. The shutout is much more impressive by NFL standards but only nets you an extra four points.
Playing the Jaguars’ defense will bump the salary per player to $5,600 for the remaining five players. In many cases, I am looking to pair up a running back with my defense, but it is not necessary for this case. The Jaguars’ current RB room doesn’t look like a group that would be easy to pick from. I don’t anticipate Travis Etienne being the bell-cow running back to grind out games like a Derrick Henry would in a game where they have the lead. I prefer Etienne in a negative game script where he could get utilized more in the passing game.
Step 3: Mini Stack/One-Offs
Now, I am looking for a mini-stack that presents me with a way to get unique, and I turn to the Dolphins-Patriots game. All eyes are on Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. But, I decided to go with a low-rostered player like Chase Edmonds for ~$5,100 and pair him with Jakobi Meyers, who is ~$4,700. Both players are capable of higher outputs and, most importantly, are low-rostered, which is critical for me to get unique. I have raised my salary remaining to the ~$6,000 range and only have a running back, wide receiver and flex position to fill out.
Next, is where I look at the player pool to see a player I want to play regardless of whether I have to run it back. Running it back is when you take two players from the same game on opposite teams. The player I found is Michael Pittman Jr. for ~$6,200 because he has the upside to score top-end numbers against the Texans. He also takes away from a high-rostered Jonathan Taylor. I may not get a mini-stack correlation, but I get leverage by playing him instead of Taylor. If Taylor struggles to score fantasy points, the Colts’ offense is most likely struggling, or a receiver like Pittman is scoring the touchdowns. By playing Pittman, we can potentially capitalize on hundreds of low-scoring Taylor lineups.
For my last two spots, I will try to find a mini-stack to increase correlation, and I will find players in my ~$12,000 remaining salary. The matchup I will be looking to go to is the Giants/Titans by taking my chances on a low-priced Saquon Barkley and pairing him with rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks.
|QB||Kyler Murray||Stack with Marquise Brown and Travis Kelce|
|RB||Saquon Barkley||Mini-stack with Treylon Burks|
|RB||Chase Edmonds||Low-rostered Mini Stack with Jakobi Meyers|
|WR||Marquise Brown||Stack with Kyler Murray and projected #1 target Week 1|
|WR||Jakobi Meyers||Low-rostered mini-stack option with Chase Edmonds|
|WR||Michael Pittman||High-upside one-off play that takes away from high-upside RB|
|TE||Travis Kelce||Run-Back option with Kyler Murray stack|
|FLEX||Treylon Burks||Mini-stack with Saquon Barkley|
|DEF||Jaguars||Low-salary, low-rostered, and turnover upside on Wentz|
This hypothetical lineup meets all the criteria I deem necessary to building a lineup. The stack is in a high-scoring game, and both sides will likely produce a high output. Outside of Pittman as a one-off, I am getting correlation with every player, and Pittman provides leverage off of Taylor. My build is unique with the low-rostered mini-stack of Edmonds/Meyers paired with a low-rostered defense.