NHL All-Star - Lesson 03 - Lineup Building: Where to Spend or Save

In this article I will break down the best way to build lineups for both cash games and GPPs. Knowing where to spend and where to save are essential when building your lineups in Daily Fantasy Hockey.

Cash games are a general term used across the industry for your 50/50s, double-ups and head-to-head matches. The large field tournaments are generally referred to as GPPs (guaranteed prize pool).

When playing cash games, you want guaranteed points. This is not where you roll the dice on all-or-nothing players. The idea is to simply produce a solid, well balanced team. It may not be explosive, but it doesn’t matter whether you finish in first place, you just need to be in the top half of the field to cash. The same goes with your head-to-heads; steady points will win you the majority of your H2H matches.

GPPs are very different from your cash games. In our GPPs we are not interested in safe plays; GPPs are all about UPSIDE. We want players who can explode. All-or-nothing players can become GPP gold, and value players are just as important as your stars. You need your players to have huge nights in order to take down these large field tournaments.

Let’s break the lineup building down by position.

Goaltending

Cash Games – Goaltending is like pitching in baseball, it is usually the one position you can count on for guaranteed points. Paying up for an elite goaltender is the way to go more often than not.

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames

In my cash games, I am ok if I don’t have the top fantasy producer that night in goal; I am just looking for guaranteed points. I am more than happy taking a very good goalie facing a very bad team. Sure, that goalie is unlikely to see much more than 20 shots in the game, but I want guaranteed points. He is likely a lock for the win and has a great chance at a shutout. Choosing another goalie who is facing a stronger team where he could see 30-35 shots could result in more points, but it could also result in more goals against, and, perhaps, a loss. You are not looking for any risk in your cash games. You want that all important win locked up.

More often than not you will want to pay up for a goaltender. However, there is the rare night where you can trust a value goalie and roll him out in your cash games. Some of the NHL’s stronger teams have very good backup goalies, and when they are starting with a plus match-up, feel free to use them in your cash games. This will allow you to take advantage of the extra salary cap saved and spend it on your offense.

GPPs – Now, in GPPs we want to bring on the risk. Here is where I have no issues taking on a goalie who sees a ton of shots per game. He may still be expensive, but if he pulls out the victory, you know he has likely made at least 30+ saves and will be one of the highest point producers on the night. The other option to consider in large field tournament play is going with a value goaltender in net. Starting a value goalie is not the safest play, but it will allow you to load up elsewhere. Sure it is risky, but GPPs are all about risk versus reward. Getting a strong performance from a value goalie can really pay off.

Forwards

Cash Games – What we are trying to avoid in our cash games is a studs and scrubs lineup. By paying up for only one stud and getting exposure to the others, we can build a well balanced team, which is much safer in cash games.

If we have paid up for a top goalie, we cannot afford very many studs, so here is where we must maximize our value. For example if we like the top lines from each of the 3 different teams, there is no way we can afford to draft all of the 3 best players from each of those teams. However, we can use the linemates for these superstars and get exposure to them without paying the high price. By rostering their linemates, we now have access to all three studs without paying the price, and we have built a very strong group of forwards. If any of those 3 stars have a big night, we are sure to have a big night as well. With the cap money saved, we can now continue our balanced lineup approach by affording quality defense to finish off our roster. We never want to punt any position in cash games.

Now, I am not suggesting this is the only way to build a safe cash game lineup, it is just one example. There are many nights where you can draft several moderately priced players who are their team’s top options and that strategy is fine, as well. The point is, you don’t have to pay for the top players to get great results on a nightly basis.

GPPs – Odds are we started our team with a value goalie, so we can afford to pay up for two or three studs at forward. Whether you are using a line stacking strategy or just going with a loaded random lineup, we use a similar strategy to that above. If we can not afford all of the elite players we want, we look to their linemates to get cheap exposure to them. The one difference is we don’t mind taking on more risk in tournament play. Paying up for three studs instead of one and then building the rest of our lineup with inexpensive players who also carry big game upside is certainly acceptable, and even encouraged in GPPs. Remember every player selected for our GPP roster MUST have big game upside.

Defense

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens

One of the best things about the scoring on DraftKings is that there is no plus/minus to worry about, so we can take on a little more risk on defense. Therefore, my selections on defense can be similar, at times, in both cash games and tournament play.

Cash Games – If you have built a team you are happy with, and have plenty of salary left over, I have no issues with spending up on stud defensemen. However, more often than not, you can’t afford all-star defensemen because you have used most of your cap on goaltending and forwards. If that is the case, look for inexpensive defensemen who block a lot of shots, or see plenty of ice time at both even strength and on the power play. When in doubt, always take players who are facing some of the league’s weaker teams. The odds are much more favorable for your player when he is a facing a bad team than it is versus a strong opponent.

GPPs – “Boom-Or-Bust” options are what GPPs are all about on defense.

There is no need to play it safe here, so simply look for value defensemen with big upside. We don’t mind punting a defenseman (or even two) in order to have a lineup that could explode. If you have money to burn, go ahead and pay for the top dogs on defense. Some nights an expensive defense combo can be the difference in taking down a big tournament.

Conclusion

We certainly can’t guarantee anything in Daily Fantasy Hockey, but by following this lineup construction, I believe you are putting yourself in a great position to win on a nightly basis.

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