What does it take to win $1 million on DK?

Three weeks ago, DraftKings crowned a millionaire on a $27 entry in what was supposed to be a one-time deal. Thanks to the amazing response to the Millionaire Maker, though, two more users have won seven-figure first-place prizes, with yet another person set to become an instant millionaire after Week 8.

In such a large field, truly anyone can win-daily fantasy pros or first-time players. Of course, the best players usually win out over the long run, and the best players tend to play the percentages, employing little tricks that increase their chances of winning.

The three DraftKings users who have become millionaires have each approached their lineups a little differently, but there are also a lot of similarities which have helped them take home the Millionaire Maker crown. Let’s break down the three winning lineups so far, starting with the most recent in Week 7.

 

Week 7: rayofhope

On Monday night, daily fantasy pro rayofhope crushed the field with 241.62 points on his way to a million-dollar cash. Here’s a look at his lineup.

Oct 20 1


High-Usage Players (Over 15%):
Golden Tate, Le’Veon Bell, Browns D

Moderate-Usage Players (5.0-15.0%): Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Demaryius Thomas, Sammy Watkins, Dwayne Allen, Roddy White

Low-Usage Players (Under 5.0%): None

Average Ownership: 12.3 percent

QB/WR Stack: No (but did pair Wilson with Lynch)

Flex: WR

Other Notes: It’s really interesting to see that rayofhope didn’t stack anyone with his quarterback here. If you study all of his lineups, you’ll notice that he did indeed stack in the majority of them, but Wilson is a unique player. Rayofhope correctly assessed that Wilson’s value comes more independently of his passing success than with other players.

Even more interesting was that rayofhope paired Wilson with teammates Marshawn Lynch. That didn’t necessarily work out since Lynch was rayofhope’s only dud, but he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

 

Week 6: Jquave76

Two weeks ago, Jquave76-a relative unknown in the DFS world-won by a narrow two-point margin. Let’s take a look at his lineup.

Oct 13


High-Usage Players (Over 15%):
Branden Oliver, Mohamed Sanu, Broncos D

Moderate-Usage Players (5.0-15.0%): Jordy Nelson, Steve Smith, Julius Thomas

Low-Usage Players (Under 5.0%): Joe Flacco, Lamar Miller, Andre Holmes

Average Ownership: 11.9 percent

QB/WR Stack: Yes (Flacco to Smith)

Flex: WR

Other Notes: Jquave76 went with a more contrarian lineup than rayofhope, but it still wasn’t totally off the map. He really used an extreme approach with a few high-usage players, led by Oliver, and some truly contrarian choices, including Flacco and Smith.

It’s also worth noting that, while rayofhope didn’t hit on all of his players (but made up for it with elite performances elsewhere), Jquave76’s lineup was one that was more balanced in terms of scoring. You always need upside in tournaments, but Jquave76 won because he was able to avoid any players who didn’t return a significant amount of value.

 

Week 5: SamENole

Former poker pro SamENole was the first Millionaire Maker champ on DraftKings in Week 5. He scored 235.26 points and won $1 million after an intense Monday night sweat.

Oct 6


High-Usage Players (Over 15%):
Emmanuel Sanders

Moderate-Usage Players (5.0-15.0%): Peyton Manning, Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Gates, Chargers D

Low-Usage Players (Under 5.0%): Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Terrance Williams

QB/WR Stack: Yes (Manning to Sanders and Thomas)

Average Ownership: 8.3 percent

Flex: WR

Other Notes: While rayofhope didn’t stack at all and Jquave76 used a QB/WR stack, SamENole was the only winner to utilize a double-handcuff with Manning, Sanders, and Thomas. That’s a smart strategy when you’re dealing with elite offenses like Denver’s. Because of the quarterback choices from Jquave76 and rayofhope, it didn’t make sense for them to load up on offensive players from those teams as it did for SamENole.

Of the three lineups, SamENole’s was by far the most contrarian. His average player was just 8.3 percent owned, and he hit on some ridiculously under-the-radar options in Arian Foster and Ben Tate, especially.

 

Commonalities

The most obvious commonality for these three lineups is that they all used a wide receiver in the flex. If you look at the data, that’s probably a smart idea.

Since DraftKings has full PPR scoring, wide receivers offer a whole lot of value. Since their production is relatively volatile from week to week, they typically offer a lot of upside, too, which is great for use in tournaments.

Compare the flex value of wide receivers in GPPs to that in head-to-head games.

DraftKings GPP Flex

DraftKings H2H Flex There are times when it makes sense to plug a running back into the flex in the Millionaire Maker, particularly if he can catch passes, but pass-catchers generally make for the smartest plays.

A second major similarity between the three winning lineups is that they all got elite production from their quarterback and receivers. Here’s how things broke down for each user.

rayofhope: 138.7 points (57.4 percent of total)

Jquave76: 115.8 points (50.4 percent of total)

SamENole: 111.0 points (47.2 percent of total)

If you want to win a big GPP on DraftKings, it’s basically a prerequisite that you need to hit in a big way with your quarterback and wide receiver choices.

 

Differences

As mentioned, we saw differences in the ways the users stacked teammates. Rayofhope actually used a quarterback and running back on the same team, Jquave76 used a traditional QB/WR pairing, and SamENole used three Broncos players. None of those strategies is necessarily right or wrong; it just depends on the situation.

Rayofhope also paid up for his running backs more so than the other winners. Most users tend to find success when they can locate cheap running back production, but again, it all depends on the week.

Also note that SamENole was the only user to pay elite money for a quarterback. If you look at DraftKings GPP data, you see that the most successful players generally save a little money at the quarterback position. Here’s a look at the typical salary cap allocation for GPP winners.

Note: Percentage of salary cap below is based on rosters from the 2013 season where Kickers were part of the roster. Kickers are no longer used on DraftKings

2013 NFL Salary Cap Allocation - GPP And now 50/50 winners.

2013 NFL Salary Cap Allocation - 50-50

If you can locate elite production at the quarterback position for a cheap price, it can go a long way in giving you a unique lineup with a ton of upside, which is perfect for tournaments.

 

4 Rules the Millionaires Have Taught Us

So let’s end this article with some actionable advice. After analyzing the lineups and implementing a little logic, here are four tips for you when creating your lineups in the Week 8 Millionaire Maker.

 

Don’t avoid every obvious value for the sake of being contrarian.

It sure helps to hit on an under-the-radar player or two, but don’t go crazy loading your team with against-the-grain picks. Your chances of hitting on all of them are pretty slim, so make sure you’re creating a valuable lineup, first and foremost.

Do your best to identify a handful of low-usage players with big upside.

When you go against the crowd with a player you think will be unpopular, make sure he has big upside. If you look at the low-usage players the winners used, you see that they all traits that suggest they had a high ceiling.

Stack a quarterback and wide receiver, except in rare situations.

You should generally pair your quarterback with at least one of his receivers. There are exceptions, specifically with running quarterbacks like Wilson or Cam Newton.

Place a wide receiver in the flex.

Finally, you should generally try to fit a receiver into the flex. With full PPR scoring, receivers tend to offer the most upside relative to their cost.