Let’s talk about “cash” strategy versus “tournament” or “GPP” strategy.
Cash games are contests like head-to-heads, double-ups, or 50-50s. On DraftKings, we typically aim for a score of 250 to feel good about our chances of winning money in these types of games. Obviously, there is variation when it comes to what score is a winning one, but on judging our lineup and its’ success, 250 is the benchmark.
To achieve that score, we attempt to select players who will achieve five times their value in relation to their salary. For example, a minimum priced player ($3,000) would need to achieve 15 DraftKings points to make themselves a “value”.
However, high-priced players – like Russell Westbrook tonight – should be looked at differently. These players have massive salaries, oftentimes over $10k. Under the logic stated above, they would need to get at least 50 DraftKings points to make value. With these high-priced players, we tend to expect less than 5x value, though they are worth rostering because they bring massive point totals to the table. If we pay for Westbrook, and he scores “only” 45 DraftKings points, it’s still going to help our bottom line.
Because that is that case, we should look for upside in our value plays. If our studs aren’t expected to make 5x value, we need to make up that ground somewhere, and the easiest area to achieve higher than 5x value is with our cheaper selections.
In cash games, we care about the “floor” of our team. If I enter a head-to-head, I am only competing against one person, so I have a 50-percent chance to cash. I know that if I hit 250 points I have an even better shot of winning, but there is still a good chance I could win with a score of 230 or 240.
As a general rule, play “safe” plays in cash games. Don’t invest in players who are pricey and inconsistent, unless you truly believe that the matchup is a no-brainer. We like to operate in with what we know for cash games.
Think of cash games as trying to earn a base hit in baseball; or attempting a corner-three pointer in basketball.
Cash games should make up the majority of the money you play each night. We can often predict what a solid total is, and feel safe on getting a return if we hit that mark.
Tournaments, on the other hand, are a place for wild speculation. Even the best players in daily fantasy can find themselves out of the money in GPPs (guaranteed prize pools), since the contests often only pay out of the top 20-percent of players.
Because of the top heavy payout structure, it’s better to think of tournaments as trying to smack a home run in baseball or attempting a half-court three-point shot in basketball.
In tournaments, we don’t care as much about our “floor”. We want high upside in your lineups because the target score for tournaments should be 300 DraftKings points or higher. Aiming for less will usually result in finishing out of the money or receiving little more than our money back.
Tournament picks are much different from “cash plays” since we no longer care about the floor of our team. A score of 230, 240, or even 250 will not be enough to finish in the money in most tournaments. As such, we chase upside.
Is a stud struggling and now at an affordable price tag? Put him in your lineup. Players like JR Smith and Lou Williams are awesome for tournaments because of their ability to get hot and put up a ton of points. In tournaments, you aim for the best-case scenario. We operate in what could happen here.
One piece of advice: don’t enter a tournament expecting to win any money. Being confident is awesome, but expect to see the majority of your winnings from cash games. Even putting up a score that would win you 85-percent of your cash games might not cash in a tournament.
If you have any other questions on this subject, reach out to me on Twitter: @6thManHoops
Here are some quick notes before we head into the picks for a five-game Thursday night slate:
- Joffrey Lauvergne (back) is out versus the Jazz. The Nuggets interior defense is a matchup to target.
- There is some scary stuff being reported about Gerald Green (illness) that we won’t cover here, but he looks like he will be out indefinitely.
- Marc Gasol (neck) is questionable tonight. Brandan Wright is a phenomenal pick if Gasol sits.
Remember to check the news up until tip:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC ($10,400): Westbrook is a lock to appear here on a limited slate. He is the priciest player on the board, but since you’re likely to be looking at least one of the top-tier studs, he’s got to be under consideration.
Jimmy Butler, SG, CHI ($7,700): A fast-paced game against a team that has allowed opposing shooting guards to rack up fantasy points? Butler looks like a fantastic play given his situation and price on a mere five-game night.
Kevin Durant, SF, OKC ($9,200): Roster construction tonight will, at least for the majority of people, go two ways. One is to select either Durant or Westbrook and build around them. The other is to pair both of them together and attempt to cobble a strong supporting cast around the duo. My early lineups are taking the former approach, and I find myself sticking with Durant more often because of the value built into his price.
Hassan Whiteside, C, MIA ($7,400): It feels like many people are going to be on Rudy Gobert tonight as he takes on the cream-puff interior defense of the Denver Nuggets. I love that play, but I am pivoting to Whiteside, who has been absolutely dominant outside of the season opener in which he saw only 20 minutes.
Three more studs to consider: Dwyane Wade, SG, MIA ($6,800) – Chris Bosh, PF, MIA ($7,100) – Rudy Gobert, C, UTA ($7,000)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
Goran Dragic, PG, MIA ($5,900): Even though they have been playing at a Memphis-esque pace, I love the Heat offense tonight against the Timberwolves. Dragic is an interesting play instead of Westbrook as the nearly $5k in savings really helps, and the points per dollar spent may be close.
Trey Burke, PG, UTA ($4,300): Burke is hard to trust, but the matchup is too good not to look at him with this price. If the Nuggets get the tempo up a little bit, there’s little doubt in my mind that Burke will be able to chuck his way to 20 DraftKings points.
Alec Burks, SG, UTA ($4,600): Burks is better than Burke, but the rationale is pretty much the same. If you can pay up a little for Burks, there’s a bit more security here.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, POR ($5,600): Aminu’s price is finally settling in, though I think it’s still around $500 too cheap for a player that can do as many things as he can. The matchup against the Grizzlies could get murky regarding offensive flow, and that could mean Aminu has the chance to rack up counting stats.
Luol Deng, SF, MIA ($4,700): Deng is the not-so-sexy option at small forward tonight. He won’t get you more than 25 DraftKings points, but he should be a relatively safe play despite a poor showing the last time out.
Derrick Favors, PF, UTA ($7,200): Favors would be my number-one play tonight if he were guaranteed to be healthy. He dealt with flu-like symptoms last night and later found himself in foul trouble, limiting his production. I will still probably play him in cash because of how good he has been this season.
Brandan Wright, PF, MEM ($3,000): Wright enters must-play status if Marc Gasol (neck) is ruled out. He isn’t spectacular, but his minimum price is a necessity on a small slate.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Damian Lillard, PG, POR ($8,700): Lillard defied my expectations and lit up a tough Utah defense last night. His price is phenomenal, but he will get another test in a traditionally hard matchup against the Grizzlies. I don’t want to doubt him twice in a row, though, it will be hard for me to play him in cash.
Gordon Hayward, SF, UTA ($6,600): Hayward has been awful for fantasy this year and his price is slipping quite a bit as a result. The matchup with the Nuggets is good one, so there is a chance he finally gets going tonight. He is a high-ceiling dart throw in tournaments.
Nikola Mirotic, PF, CHI ($6,700): Love the player, hate the minutes situation. Mirotic would be a no-brainer cash play if he were a guaranteed 30-plus minutes per night guy, but he’s an every night tournament consideration.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, DEN ($6,200): His price jumped $300 after facing the Los Angeles Lakers defense. Tonight he gets the Jazz, and his inconsistent jumper won’t fare as well as Damian Lillard’s did last night.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, MIN ($6,000): I won’t be interested until he has a big game. The back issues may still be holding him down a bit.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, MIN ($6,700): Towns is awesome; I just can’t justify passing on either Whiteside or Gobert tonight.