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NFL DFS: Tips, tricks, and how to play it

NFL DFS: Explanation and value

If you have never heard of NFL DFS, you were either born in the last decade or live under a very large and sound proof rock. It's one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the United States. This is because it represents a fun and easy way to get some skin in the game with your favorite teams. Likewise, it's a wildly profitably hobby and profession to those that prove to have the right set of skills and dedication. You may have seen a couple pictures of guys holding big checks and celebrating a huge payday from it.

Image of Scott Hanson winning a $2,000,000 dollar prize at a DFS championship
Image of Scott Hanson winning a $2,000,000 dollar prize at a DFS championship

If you have never heard of DFS, it stands for Daily Fantasy Sports. It's a form of skill game that combines multiple different types of sports betting concepts together into a fun and exciting event. You'll combine pieces of prop betting and parlay betting to create lineups based on a salary cap for your players. There are a multitude of sports available in the DFS contests on the major sites, but NFL DFS is by far the most popular. Considering the massive volume of players for the sport, it also maintains the highest prizes for winning players.

Reasons to play NFL DFS

Typically, people find NFL DFS by migrating over from their season long leagues. This is mostly caused by somebody sniping them on the waiver once too many times and them getting tired of it, but there's a variety of reasons people make that switch. Regardless, if you have played season long fantasy leagues you likely have the basic knowledge to jump into DFS as a beginner.

At it's core, NFL DFS (And daily fantasy sports in general) should be looked at as a form of entertainment. Granted, many people get caught up in the excitement and end up having negative experiences. It's important to maintain a level of honesty with yourself in the way you play, how much you play, and if you are playing for the right reasons. While this post won't go in depth on it, developing a goal for your play is an important step once you have gotten the hang of things.

Finally, the main reason to play NFL DFS is to have fun. At the end of the day, no matter your short or long term goals, if you aren't having fun doing it you shouldn't be doing it at all! Granted, there are different definitions of fun for different individuals, but it's an important thing to keep in mind. With that being said, everything you invest into NFL DFS either as a hobby or a job should come with the feeling that you are doing it to make the experience better.

Scoring basics and site differences

The two major DFS sites are Draftkings and Fanduel (image from dailyfantasysports101)
The two major DFS sites are Draftkings and Fanduel (image from dailyfantasysports101)

Once you have decided to jump in and try out NFL DFS, you'll have to make a decision on where you want to play. Down the line, you'll likely end up playing on multiple sites, but from the start it's better to play at just one. So, it's important to know the scoring differences and how they affect your choices.

The main difference that you'll have to account for is PPR or half-PPR. If you don't know, PPR stands for point per reception and the full or half point(s) award is important. Draftkings is a full PPR site where as Fanduel is half PPR. The basic influence this has will be prioritizing receivers on Draftkings and rushers on Fanduel. However, it is more nuanced than that in practice.

On top of the scoring format, you'll have to pay attention to the roster structure on your site of choice. Luckily, when it comes to NFL DFS, the roster construction format is the same for both sites. You'll choose:

  • One quarter back
  • Two running backs
  • Three wide receivers
  • One tight end
  • One FLEX player (either a running back, wide receiver, or tight end)
  • One defense for a team
Lineup creation page at Draftkings for NFL DFS
Lineup creation page at Draftkings for NFL DFS

Finally, you should know about how each of the sites pricing algorithms differ. Without getting too deep in the weeds, both sites utilize an algorithm to price out the players so that you have to work towards fitting them under the salary cap. Softer pricing means you don't have to work as hard to fit the best players. Typically, Fanduel pricing is softer and Draftkings pricing is tighter.

General strategy and tips and tricks for NFL DFS

Although there can be a lot of nuance and complexity when it comes to any sport for DFS, there are typically a base set of things you should always try to do. Here are some important concepts you need to consider to find success:

  • The first thing you should do when creating an NFL DFS lineup is decide on what team you are stacking. A stack is where you use the QB and at least one of his pass catchers. This is vital in creating strong correlation between your players to maximize upside.
  • Most weeks you will find that there is a cheap RB you need to make a decision on that will be highly owned. Typically we prefer to pay down at RB and pay up at WR if possible. This is because RB volume is usually more predictable, so paying less for it helps overall.
  • If you have access to ownership projections (which you will as a subscriber to you'll want to pay attention to risky players. If a risky player is projected to be low owned, you should be more willing to take a shot on them. Meanhilw if they project to be high owned, it is likely better to pass or “fade” them.
  • Defenses in DFS are almost completely random. Not only should you pick defense last in your lineups, but you should ignore them when choosing your stacks. One of the largest edges is people still considering defenses heavily in their process.
  • Typically, you'll want to utilize players with robust fantasy profiles. To clarify, look for players that can contribute in multiple stat categories. This strengthens your floor and helps to make a more accessible ceiling.

Starting with these tips and tricks in mind will put you on the right path in NFL DFS!

Game theory, leverage, and Paydirt models

NFL DFS is a unique fantasy sport because it is a combination of both linear and event based scoring. To clarify, NBA DFS is more linear because the scoring happens consistently. Meanwhile, MLB DFS is event based because the bulk of the scoring comes from single events. NFL DFS is a combination of both, with linear scoring for players aided by the ceiling of event outcomes. Understanding how points are scored is important, because it allows you to make decision based on appropriate leverage.

When you begin to consider things like leverage, it's important for you to have models that show where to find it. Places like have strong projection models, they typically lack this kind of insight. The models here at Paydirt show you exactly where the good and bad leverage plays are with LevX. This stat takes a players projection, upside, and ownership into account to give a real understanding of a players value on the slate. When combined with a full range of a players outcomes, not just median projections, you find an incredibly powerful set of metrics.

A screenshot of the NFL DFS Range of Outcomes model for Paydirt subscribers
A screenshot of the NFL DFS Range of Outcomes model including LevX for Paydirt subscribers

Leverage is only part of the game, as you still need to build competitive lineups. Paying attention to things like team totals and play calling tendencies is vital for capturing the upside for your stacks. You can always go to places like and check out totals, or you can find them here at Paydirt! You'll also find projected passing and rushing touchdowns in the models which you won't find other places.

A screenshot of the NFL DFS Team Vegas Baselines with touchdown projections for Paydirt subscribers
A screenshot of the NFL DFS Team Vegas Baselines with touchdown projections for Paydirt subscribers

Final thoughts

NFL DFS is by far the most popular sport in fantasy and provides boundless opportunity to those that dedicate to it. It's an incredibly fun, and addicting, hobby to subscribe to and there is a never ending stream of information and knowledge you can find. You'll always be able to find something others are missing. Even if you don't want to dive that deep, you can make decisions that enhance the experience for you. No matter your skill level or dedication, Remember the first rule: It's always about having fun!

Here's to another year of NFL DFS and let's get to work!

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