Auston Matthews + DraftKings & FanDuel NHL DFS: With NBA All-Star Break here, DFSers will look to dip their toe in the water of other DFS sports, but if you want to avoid some expensive lessons by dabbling into NBA or PGA DFS and don’t want to learn a whole new strategy, NHL DFS may be right for you. Many of your favorite MLB DFS strategies are similar to popular NHL DFS strategies on DraftKings and FanDuel. These include stacking, creating leverage on the field and of course, dealing with variance.
**Take Advantage of our NHL Twitter Giveaway by guessing which player will score the most fantasy points on tonight’s slate!**
Stacking On DraftKings & FanDuel
In Awesemo’s MLB DFS Primer, he says that playing the highest projected lineup in MLB DFS GPPs is not a profitable long-term strategy. He goes on to expand on this idea in his Five DFS Lessons article, saying that “the odds of picking nine players that all excel are astronomical; the more correlated players you have in your lineup, the less luck you need for them all to excel.” A large majority of the field in MLB DFS stacks their lineups, whether it is a 5-3, 5-2-1, 4-4, 4-3, 0r your classic five-man stack, because when one hitter succeeds multiple players in your lineup can score large chunks of points at the same time.
In the NHL, only five skaters can be on the ice at once, so it is not quite as simple as MLB DFS to put together a quality stack. You have to stay on top of who will actually be on the ice together at the same time. One popular stack in NHL DFS is a four-man stack, which usually includes four forwards from a line plus a defenseman from the same team.
On bigger slates, adding on a goalie to your four-man stack for extra correlation is a sound strategy, as that position is arguably the toughest to predict, so the chances your goalie will have a solid outing, and most importantly, get a win, would increase if your four-man stack perform well. Other stacks that are popular in NHL DFS are 3-man even-strength line stacks (three forwards who skate on the same line at even-strength), and four- or five-man power-play stacks, which can be a great way to differentiate on teams that have great power-plays, but have their top skaters on different lines at five-on-five.
In MLB DFS, we often know who will be in the lineup 3-6 hours before each game’s start time. This makes it difficult to create a poorly-correlated hitting stack. However, in NHL DFS, we may not even know who is in the lineup until 30 minutes before the start time of each game. Each team goes through their pregame skate, where beat writers tweet out the expected lines. As an added wrinkle, even when we know who is in the lineup hours before, often times coaches will surprise NHL DFS players with pregame line tweaks that are absolutely crucial to us.
In Nolan Kelly’s Ownership & Leverage Study a Pro Article from last year, he detailed how our CEO and DFS pro tomjk321 had a huge night by putting in Jack Roslovic, who was a game-time decision, in a few of his lineups at sub-1% ownership (along with his two linemates). If that wasn’t good enough, Tom did it again early this season. On Oct. 18, he once again made a late swap to COL2 after Nathan MacKinnon surprisingly took part in pregame despite missing morning skate.
With MacKinnon expected to miss the game this night, Nazem Kadri was supposed to replace him on the top line, but because MacKinnon wasn’t announced in until 30 minutes before the Avalanche game, this created an opportunity for us to play a low-owned combo of Kadri, Joonas Donskoi andAndre Burakovsky, beating me out for first place with his 3.6% owned Darnell Nurse play.
It can certainly be a daunting task to try to keep track of all these possible line changes throughout the day, but Awesemo.com+ NHL subscribers can take advantage of late changes by reading the NHL Live Blog and staying up to date in our premium Slack chat. We make it a point to post any news we can find to ensure subscribers get the proper line combinations.
Creating Leverage in NHL DFS
Similar to stacking against a popular pitcher in MLB DFS, there are some parallels in NHL DFS, as many compare the goalie position in NHL DFS to the pitcher position in MLB DFS. The idea of stacking against a chalky pitcher and a chalky goalie are the same in that not only are you vaulting yourself up the leaderboard when your stack performs well, but you are also knocking out a significant portion of the field so you can compete against fewer entries for a huge cash.
On the flip side in NHL DFS, you can create distance between yourself and the field when you play a low-owned goalie against a chalky team. And this is an even better strategy on DraftKings with their new 35-save bonus.
Often times, the goalie is projected to see a lot of volume and give up 3-3.5 goals on average, and is a longshot for a win. We saw this strategy workout for our own 1800Eddie earlier this year, as he took down the $20,000 top prize with a classic 4-3-1 stack with one clear differentiation point: 7.8% owned Anders Nilsson against the chalkiest team on the slate, the Dallas Stars.
Targeting Low-Probability Outcomes
On this particular slate, the Stars were -214 favorites, the largest on the slate. Even though Nilsson didn’t escape with the win, he accumulated 41 saves, and that was the difference maker in 1800Eddie’s lineup, as his goalie limited the chalky Stars while putting up the highest goalie score on the slate. Nilsson, the second-lowest priced starting goalie on the slate, outscored every other goalie because of the immense volume he saw.
Leveraging is becoming more and more popular in MLB DFS, and as we saw on this slate, it was the difference maker for Eddie’s NHL GPP winning lineup.
Embracing the volatility of MLB DFS has helped Awesemo and other great MLB DFSers profit in a huge way, and that is no different in NHL DFS. In the dog days of summer, we’ll see team with a 3.0 implied total against a stud pitcher popping off for 12 runs. This rewards those who take flyers on low-owned stacks with below-average implied totals. While that is an extreme example, we often see low-implied total teams in NHL DFS perform well in GPPs.
How do we combat the variance in NHL DFS? We know how important accurate ownership projections are in MLB DFS. Many pros will tell you ownership is everything in MLB DFS. And recently, Awesemo released his NHL DFS Ownership Projections, which helps you identify the chalky teams as well as the underowned teams/stacks that help you put up huge scores while competing with fewer entries in GPPs.
Value Driving Ownership
Often times we see value drive ownership in MLB tournaments. This is a glaring similarity to NHL DFS. One example of this is the Toronto Maple Leafs top line not long ago. The Leafs had the largest total (3.8 implied goals) as they took on a San Jose Sharks team on a road back-to-back. They were no doubt in a good spot, but because you could get cheap exposure to one of the top players in the NHL, Auston Matthews, as his linemates William Nylander and Andreas Johnsson were both $4,600 on DraftKings this particular night, they were very highly owned. However, when ownership projections have the ownership highly concentrated on one line/team, this creates opportunities for contrarian players who are willing to make uncomfortable pivots. As you can see below, TOR1 was a disappointment, as the three highest-owned players on the slate had a below-average performance as a stack.
Going From MLB DFS To NHL DFS
The transition from MLB DFS to NHL DFS will have a bit of a learning curve. However, because of how MLB DFS players stack, create leverage and rely on ownership projections, it can be much smoother than trying your luck in other DFS sports, where you are essentially learning a brand new game.