NFL DFS Showdown Strategy: Tips for Building Expert Showdown Lineups

If you want to win big in NFL DFS Showdown contests on DraftKings and FanDuel, you should want to know what the best players are doing to cash out. Our expert players have studied Showdown/Single-Game contests and identified strategies to increase the chance of success. We will examine some of these tips, strategies, and winning lineups here using our ResultsDB tool.

In this Article:

Tips to Minimize lineup duplication in NFL DFS Showdown.

Tips to Balance NFL DFS Ownership with NFL DFS projection value.

Tips for selecting Captains on DraftKings and FanDuel.

Tips to Include Correlation and Stacking within your lineups.

NFL DFS Showdown Tip 1: Avoid Highly Duplicated Lineups

Winning big in Showdown starts with understanding exactly how bad it is for you to be sharing lineups with a large number of players.

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Image taken from ResultsDB – where you can review and improve your DFS game

This is an example of a highly duplicated showdown lineup, and you DO NOT want this. It is a bad bet when your lineup is highly duplicated, and here is why:

- Reduced Payout: The $500,000 first place prize you thought you were playing for is now $1559.07 because of your 500 friends with the same lineup (see arrows).

- Low-Expected Return: Your “optimal lineup” isn’t that much better than nearby alternatives to overcome the loss of upside. A simulation of this slate revealed this lineup as the winner just 0.08% of the time. That means 0.44% of entries used a lineup that wins an estimated 0.08% of the time. You made a long shot bet that doesn’t provide a very thrilling return when it hits.

Since you play Showdown to win big, it is best to avoid highly duplicated lineups.

Simple Tips to Lower Duplicates in Your Lineups

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— Spend significantly below the salary cap. If using salary to be unique, Aim below $49,500 but stick to $48,000+ if you are new and aren’t making a lot of lineups.

— Utilize flex players under 15%-20% ownership.

— Choose a contrarian captain.

— Utilize unbalanced construction such as 5 players from 1 team.

— Unbalance the CPT stack by using just 2 players from that team.

— Use total lineup ownership (or ownership product) to avoid popular combinations.

Be aware that many expert players are already deploying these tips, and you can study them here as they evolve their tactics: ResultsDB to see how they operate in single-game contests.

NFL DFS Showdown Tip 2 : Use Data Tools to Balance Projections and Ownership

Being unique is great, but you should seek to stay as optimal as you can when searching for more unique teams.

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First, let’s discuss why you can’t rely on playing the most optimal teams and expect to win big often.

The image above is an example of an optimal projected lineup from a slate. It wins a high percentage of the time relative to other lineups. The problem with this is lineup is that optimally projected lineups are frequently duplicated.

Simulated win rate (1st place) of this lineup: .225% win rate
Field Usage: .36% of entries – 424 total duplicates.

This lineup will result in a highly split, low $ payout that expects to outright win at a lower rate than it is owned.

You may want to trade some win rate for fewer duplications and greater reward potential.

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This isn’t a perfect example lineup, but it qualifies as an improvement in duplication while also retaining projections upside within 10%(ish) of the optimal lineup.

Optimal Projection: 93.07 fpts, 146.98 ceiling, 202.47 own

Winner Projection: 83.32 fpts, 137.46 ceiling, 176.76% own

There is a tradeoff here: Our projection is 10.5% lower than the optimal. However, we gained a large reduction in duplication. Even though the number of duplicates is far from ideal and the distance from projection is meaningful, we made a much smarter gamble than simply playing the projections optimal team.

Find a nice balance between unique and highly projected, and you may just find yourself with a big payday.

Simple Tips for Balancing Highly Projected Teams

— Use the LineupHQ optimizer. Know the optimal lineup. Know the projected ownership.

— Select teams within a distance from optimal. Up to 10-15% is reasonable. Use your own judgement.

— Explore multiple captains and roster constructions. You may find a tradeoff in projection you’re willing to make in exchange for fewer duplications.

NFL DFS Showdown Tip 3: You Don’t Have to Be a Hero at CPT

Contrarian CPTs are contrarian for a reason. They don’t win nearly as often as highly projected players.

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The above chart is from one of the uglier contests you’ll ever see for a primetime showdown (very low total game with few superstars), and yet we still see the following:

- Orange Bar Dominance (optimal%) by top projected players: RB1, WR1, QB1, WR2

- Few Kickers – on this slate 97% of sim-optimal teams were not a kicker at CPT.

- Few Defenses – on this slate 95% of sim-optimal teams were not a defense at CPT.

- No WR3, RB3, or other low-end options anywhere near optimal builds at a meaningful rate.

Here is a look at this same slate broken down by position type:

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Your strategy to be unique needs to be realistic about low probability captains. We all know that absolutely anything can happen, but any exposure should be within a reason. Don’t be a hero.

Simple Tips for Choosing the Right Captain

— Use our simulation tools to estimate optimal captain probability.

— Avoid over-exposure to low percentage optimal skill players.

— Rarely choose a kicker or defense as CPT. They are often over-owned.

— Focus your exposure on top projected players often, and let your opponents take the worst of it more than you do.

NFL DFS Showdown Tip 4: Use Correlations to Tell a Better Story

Every lineup you make tells a story of some kind, and you prefer it to be one that makes sense.

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Let’s look at this sample winner again.

QB1 (Brady) is the captain. Notice that only a small bump of 2 catches for 20 additional yards would have given Chris Godwin 18.3 fpts, and a CPT score higher than Tom Brady.

I mention this because of the VERY SPECIFIC STORY this lineup tells: A pocket passing QB1 CPT needs to spread the ball around evenly enough that none of the pass catchers eclipse his score. He still needs to produce a winning level score though, and that usually means more than 1 pass catcher did some work. There is a correlation that exists between the maximum score of any pass catcher and the number of pass catchers that will typically appear along side a QB type like Brady when he is the optimal CPT.

This is just of many “stories” that are common in the relationship between Captains and the flex players that accompany. Here are some of the others:

A WR at captain makes it less likely that multiple other pass catchers will appear in flex. To be the CPT, concentrated production is often needed.

A WR at captain should often have his QB attached. When a WR scores points, so does his QB.

A defense that is successful may limit the production of their opponent. Rarely use multiple opponents vs. a defense.

Game scripts can impact player specific usage. Understand if a lineup fits that script you are targeting well. Example: A hurry-up specific running back isn’t as great when the team is leading late.

Same team Kicker and Defense have a correlation in production. If you for some reason ever chose a Kicker or Defense at CPT, pairing the other in the flex makes sense. A low scoring game will often increase the score of a defense while both teams settle for FGs.

Your lineup needs upside. Don’t Limit it with too many K and DST. Never use four. Three of the four is also suspect. None of these position archetypes can reach the heights of QB, WR, and RB in PPR. Allowing too few spots for those positions is placing a bet on a very narrow and unlikely range of outcomes.

Understand the snaps and usage expectations among players in the game. One player being elevated to more work may come at the expense of another.

These correlations in player production are important to be aware of, and here are some tips for their use.

Simple Tips for Using Correlations

— Use optimizer groups to help control correlation if making many lineups.

— Use projections and data to understand player roles on each team. Avoid pairing polarized situations.

— Use at least two pass catchers with a pocket QB CPT often.
Exception: rushing heavy QB.

— Don’t use more than 1 same team pass catcher with your WR CPT.
Exception: mis-priced players.

— Often pair your WR or TE CPT with his QB.
Exception: When you want a lower chance of lineup duplicates (risky).

— Limit opponent players vs. a defense. 2 or 3 is ok. 4 or 5 is less solid.

— Same team kickers and defense work well together.
Don’t over-use this rule in optimizers – it is not universal.

I hope these tips help you secure the win you’ve been looking for, and best of luck in your single game contests!

About the Author

Chris Gimino (ChrisGimino)

Chris Gimino is a top mind in the industry and one of the primary contributors at RotoGrinders. Together with our team of experts, his work is powering projections, simulations, ownership, and analytics across 10+ sports for betting, DFS, and fantasy pick’em contests. A multiple-time Live Finalist and shipper of 6-figure wins, Chris delivers actionable tools and advice for RotoGrinders Premium subscribers. Follow Chris on Twitter – @ChrisGimino