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DFS 101: Maximizing Value Through Lineup Construction

In this lineup showdown, we'll delve into the minds of two astute daily fantasy pros, Mark Garcia (Hilow) and Jordan Vanek, as they reveal their processes and choices for a Week 1 lineup.

Each decision is a calculated move in the intricate dance of player matchups, strengths and potential game narratives. From exploiting defensive weaknesses to capitalizing on under-the-radar stars, their strategies exemplify the art of assembling a winning lineup. 

Disclaimer: These lineups were initially constructed on Aug. 3, 2023.

Hilow’s Process

My process starts with running back. Cam Akers plays a Seattle Seahawks defense that locks down opposing perimeter wide receivers. But they have allowed points to opposing running backs and tight ends. Akers finished the 2022 season as a true workhorse back, and the team did little to address the position this offseason. If he can maintain that lofty volume, he could be a steal early in the season before his rostership and price change to reflect the volume.

The Washington Commanders get the perfect team matchup for Week 1. Brian Robinson stands to be the primary beneficiary as the goal line and early-down back. He carries a legitimate 100-yard, two-touchdown upside in this spot. 

Next, I wanted to identify my primary game stack while keeping rostership at the front of my mind. Russell Wilson is coming off a career-worst season but got an immense upgrade at head coach and offensive coordinator. Jerry Jeudy is his established alpha wide receiver, and Greg Dulcich should continue operating as the Denver Broncos' primary pass-catching tight end. The trio costs only $16,500 in salary and leaves me a lot of room to pay up for some wide receiver studs.

That left enough salary to pay up twice at wide receiver with two correlations – DK Metcalf opposite Akers and Davante Adams opposite my primary stack. 

Rashid Shaheed rounds out the roster as a downfield wide receiver against an extreme pass-funnel defense. The Tennessee Titans have struggled mightily against the deep ball.

The Jacksonville Jaguars defense accomplishes two things here. First, I expect Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars passing offense to be relatively popular to start the season after the offseason buzz around the team. Second, the Commanders’ defense should be the chalk defense on this slate, making paying up for the Jaguars a solid leverage play. Jacksonville plays a rookie quarterback, Anthony Richardson, who has struggled with decision-making throughout his collegiate career.

That leaves the roster with a solid mix of upside and leverage. It also optimizes the expected value best suited for small-field guaranteed prize pool (GPP) play.

Jordan’s Process

In Year 1 of a rebuild, the Indianapolis Colts are changing their secondary. They will be relying on rookie corners in their nickel package. This sets the stage for Doug Pederson's game plan. They'll want to target Calvin Ridley often and set up opportunities underneath for Evan Engram. Lawrence is in for a big year, while Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert will be more popular in this price range.

On the other side, Richardson's arm strength means Alec Pierce is a key player. As a rookie, Pierce ranked fifth in yards per route run on vertical routes, making him a deep threat against Jacksonville's defense.

Turning to the mini stack, Derrick Henry's workload and Chris Olave's deep threat ability make them a compelling combination. Tennessee's vulnerability to deep passes further adds to Olave's potential. The New Orleans Saints usually play two safeties deep, likely spurring a big game from Henry.

The Robinson, Commanders stack will be popular. But this lineup is unique and can eat some of the chalk. Robinson will see a lot of touches when the Commanders are winning. Plus, the defensive line will be in a great matchup against the Arizona Cardinals' offensive line.

The main reason for my uniqueness comes from Mike Evans. Evans isn’t going to be popular with Baker Mayfield, and this is a great matchup for him. Brian Flores is with the Minnesota Vikings now, and they will be bringing a lot of blitzes. This opens up the deep plays and offers Evans plenty of downfield opportunities.


Week 1 is far away, and these lineups likely won't be keepers, but the process behind them remains the same. We will discuss our process in detail each week on how to build winning daily fantasy football lineups.

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