The first Daily Fantasy contest I ever entered was the DraftKings Millionaire Maker. It Is the biggest GPP that runs regularly on DraftKings where you can turn $20 into $1,000,000. This potential for tremendous profit relative to your buy in is incredibly appealing to both recreational players and sharks. The fact that everyone is drawn to these contests creates great expected value(EV) for profitable DFS players as recreational players are more likely to play these contests than any other.
This EV however comes with great risks due to the payout structure of GPPs. GPPs see roughly a 54% decrease in the percentage of the field that is awarded winnings compared to double ups. The higher you place in the contest the more you earn.
In our Introduction to Cash Games we talked about consistency a great deal. Consistency in your Cash Game picks is important as we’re only trying to score enough to beat our opponent in Head to Heads or to place in roughly the top half of the field in double ups. In GPPs embracing volatility in your picks can lead to great success.
Picking the ‘safe’ plays you’d pick in cash increases your consistency, but also decreases your upside. These plays will often be highly owned by the field due to their value being obvious to both you and your competitors. When a high owned player has a monster game it’s less beneficial to you than a low owned player having a monster game.
Example 1: You draft Julio Jones who is 40% owned and he has a 40 fantasy point game. You’ve now helped to set yourself apart from 60% of the field that did not draft him.
Example 2: You draft Odell Beckham Jr. who is 12% owned and he has a 40 fantasy points game. You’ve now helped to set yourself apart from 88% of the field that did not draft him.
Obviously Example 2 is a better scenario. The lower a players ownership the more meaningful his production is when he excels. Your goal in GPPs should not be to create a lineup with the highest EV, but to create a lineup that can win the contest. Having some low ownership with high upside can give you the chance to win a GPP. These picks are referred to as contrarian plays.
While having low ownership can have benefits, you shouldn’t draft players just because you think they will be low owned. I’m sure Bruno Caboclo will be exceptionally low owned next Toronto Raptors game, but that’s because he’ll almost certainly see no playing time. The key is finding players that will have similar or close to the same upside as players of the same level, while having lower ownership than the more obvious picks.
Although we want to incorporate contrarian picks into our GPP lineups, this doesn’t mean every player in your line up has to be contrarian. High ownership players are highly owned for a reason. These players are very likely to make or exceed value. Ultimately finding the right balance between the more obvious plays and the hidden gems is what will lead to GPP success.