DFS NASCAR Strategy Series – Domination Station strategy with nillyJay

Hello everyone, nillyJay here again!  As some of you may already know, I’m a coach/contributor for the DFS Army, where I cover NASCAR, and MLB, and a few other odds and ends.  You can find and follow me here on Twitter or, for DFS Army members, in our coaching channels (@nillyJay or just swing by my channel #nillys-garage-nas-mlb).

It’s Easter weekend, which means there’s no race to cover.  Since I had some spare time without the usual stuff going on, I wanted to go over a few things regarding the use of the Domination Station for NASCAR, and touch on some other relevant topics as well (such as stacking and how I recommend building a large number of lineups).  Let’s get to it!

One of our many NASCAR winners in 2019

Before we begin…

I’ll use some terminology here that should be pretty basic to most NASCAR DFS players, but if you’re unfamiliar with any of it please take some time to read through my beginner’s and intermediate guides.

Also, for the sake of the article, I’m going to use a smaller pool of drivers for the different scenarios we’ll be building for.  This is not a strategy article geared towards any particular race; it’s for general educational purposes only.

NASCAR Domination Station

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the tutorial video for the NASCAR Domination Station if you’re not at all familiar with it.  There’s one major difference now, however, which is the ability for the user to mark drivers as dominators:

You can see here that by default we have three drivers set as dominators; Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Joey Logano.  If we click the down-arrow, we can change Ryan Blaney’s N to a Y and have the Domination Station include him as a dominator.  The most common use of this will be just that – adding or removing drivers from that pool.  However, there are some other interesting ways we can make use of it, which we’ll touch on a little later.  For now, I just wanted to highlight one of the many useful features we have at our fingertips!

First things first – have a plan!

Like any sport, you should have a plan before you jump into building a bunch of lineups.  The Domination Station and our projections are wonderful tools, but they’re also only exactly that…tools.  Just like any other tool out there, you need to know how to use it to get the most out of it.

I would recommend starting with my driver’s list and tools suite (as well as the accompanying Calming the Chaos VIP article that I put out every race).  I point out specific areas where I think we can have/create an advantage, and that translates directly over to how you can set the Domination Station up.  Every week is a little different and will depend on both salaries and starting positions.  Some weeks we may need to be more focused on the dominators, while other weeks could be more focused on the value/value stud drivers instead.  It changes every week, so take advantage of our VIP content if you’re not sure where to start!

Of course, if you still aren’t sure how you want to build, be sure to talk to me or one of the other coaches in our coaching channels.  We’re here to help!

Creating your plan of attack

Now that we’re a little more focused and know that we need to decide how we want to attack the race, let’s figure out how we do that.  Every race will be different, so we need to be able to adapt to different scenarios (the race calculator would be a great place to start).  There are a lot of questions you can ask yourself to begin, such as:

  • how many dominators do I need for the majority of my lineups?
  • what’s the lowest/highest amount of dominators I can use, and roughly how many lineups do I want with that many in them?
  • which dominators are most likely to dominate the early/middle/late race?
  • which dominators will directly impact the ceiling of the other ones, and who would impact who the least/most?
  • will I need a super-punt to have enough dominators?  are they viable at this race?
  • should I build stars & scrubs style lineups, or would something more balanced be a better approach at this race?
  • which drivers are in a good spot to get a lot of place differential?
  • which studs are in the best/worst spots?  which of them could realistically see a top-5?
  • which studs could also dominate?
  • which value studs could see a top-15 or even a top-10?
  • which group/salary range has the most chalk/gpp pivots?
  • which drivers have little to no realistic chance of being in the winning lineup?
  • which drivers have the best chance/easiest path to be in the winning lineup?
  • how do I see this race playing out?

These are the sort of things you should be thinking about when trying to find a plan of attack.  The more experienced you become, the more things you’ll learn to consider.  Once you know where you want to go, you can start narrowing down the driver pool and decide on where you’ll make your stands and where you want to deploy your GPP pivots.

Let’s next take a quick look at a few considerations when building multiple lineups, then we’ll get into some of the fun stuff.

Building 20 lineups

20-max tournaments are pretty common, so we’ll touch on these a little first.  The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be able to do everything you want to do with only 20 lineups.  Playing super-conservatively also isn’t likely to help you win these tournaments (though that would help you break even or min-cash).  Rather, I think it’s best to narrow down your choices and decide where you think the GPP pivots will best serve you.

For example, if there’s a dominator or two that stand way above everybody else, it might be best to just take them and try to win by making your pivots somewhere else (the value studs, for example).  If there’s a bunch of chalky drivers starting in the back, it might best to go heavy on them and focus on making your pivots with the dominators.  Trying to match the field in ownership everywhere isn’t going to set you apart from everybody else, so if you’re trying to actually win these things, you’re going to have to make some decisions.

Building 150 lineups

There are numerous ways to go about doing this, but I will almost always recommend to not try and do a single run of 150 lineups.  Rather, I think the better approach would be to have a handful of smaller runs (or batches).  That’s not to say you can’t, or that the Domination Station can’t do it (it’s more than capable).  The reasoning is that unlike most other sports, proper lineup correlation is absolutely crucial in NASCAR.  You can be at a serious disadvantage before the race even starts if your lineups aren’t constructed properly!

Other sports don’t really have this problem (there are some cases, but not anywhere near what we have here), so it’s very important to get it right.  However, it would be very difficult (and time-consuming) to inspect 150 different lineups to ensure they were all built properly.  Rather, if we run smaller batches of lineups (say, 15-40 at a time), we can be sure that our lineups are being built the way that we want them to be.  We’ll touch on that later, but for now, let’s move on.

Putting our plan into action

Now that we have a plan figured out, let’s put it into motion.  For this example, we’ll use a fairly basic setup to keep things simple.  Also, for the sake of simplicity, I’ll assume that we’ve already done our research and we know who we want to target.  Anyway, let’s start with the race calculator, and start things off by deciding on our dominators;

This race at the DFS Army Speedway has 300 laps with 40 drivers.  We can see how the fantasy points break down, which leads us to have the need for one or two dominators.  Starting with two dominators would be a good way to go in all formats, though there’s always a chance that we see a solo performance, so we’ll be sure to include a few single dominator lineups in our GPP pool as well.

I’ve decided that we should use Kyle BuschJoey Logano, and Martin Truex Jr as our primary dominators.  They all start near the front and it’s likely that only one of them will lead the early portion of the race.  We have several other drivers starting a bit deeper in the field who have the ability to dominate the late portion of the race (as well as finish in the top-10), so it’s not very likely that the other two drivers here will be able to pay off.  With all of this in mind, we don’t want to stack these three drivers.

Our secondary dominators will include Denny HamlinKyle LarsonChase Elliott, and Clint Bowyer.  These drivers not only have dominator potential, but they also offer some place differential, so we’ll be sure to include them.  We’ll use them as secondary dominators (since they’re not going to lead laps until later on), which means we can pair them up with the primary dominators without any concerns.

Now that we have a plan, we can start to configure the Domination Station towards it.  The easiest way to start this would be to add a rule to not allow our primary dominators to appear in the same lineup:

For our secondary dominators, we have a few different options.  The easiest one would be to just naturally let the Domination Station pair them together with the primary dominators, and this could work well here since most of them offer some place differential and don’t necessarily need to lead a bunch of laps to pay off.  Another option would be to put a minimum exposure on each of them, to ensure that we’re getting all of them in our pool.

However, there will be times when those options won’t be enough, so we’ll have to make some changes to be sure we’re getting our lineups built correctly.  This is where running smaller batches of lineups comes into play, so let’s go over that now.

First, we need to plan ahead and decide how much of each secondary dominator we want.  For the sake of the article, let’s make it an even 25% exposure to each one of them, and we plan to run 100 lineups.  We would then begin the build by setting our primary dominator rule as we did above.  After that’s done, we would uncheck three of the secondary dominatorslock the fourth one, and then build 25 lineups:

This ensures that not only would none of our primary dominators be stacked together, but it would also force it to give us the exact amount of exposure to each of the secondary dominators that we want as well.  Of course, if we did want to stack two of these guys (Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin for example), we could either lock them both for a certain number of lineups, or we could just give one of them a minimum exposure while locking the other one for their number of lineups to be built.

Dominator settings aren’t just for dominators

The approach we just discussed doesn’t only apply to dominators – it can be used anywhere that we want more manual control over exposures.  This would include studsvalue studs, puntsGPP pivotsdarts, etc.  Get a little creative and there are a lot of ways you can make the Domination Station give you exactly what you want!  One of those creative ways would be to use the dominator settings on some of these other drivers.  For this, don’t think of it as setting actual dominators.  Instead, think of it as creating a pool of drivers you want to pair up together (or NOT allow them to be).

For example, let’s say we have three studs that failed post-qualifying inspection, and they’ll be starting from the back.  They’ll be in a great position to put up a good score, but maybe we don’t want all three of them in every single lineup.  We could simply mark them as dominators and tell it to stack exactly two of them in each lineup, which would not allow it to put all three of them together.  Or, we could tell it to give us at least two of them, to be sure that every lineup has some exposure to them.

How to build other stacks

You should now have a pretty good idea on how we can stack specific teams/drivers, but let’s go over an example anyway.  For this example, we’ll do a tried and true Penske stack with Brad KeselowskiJoey Logano, and Ryan Blaney as our three drivers:

Using the settings here, we are telling it to give us two of these drivers in each lineup.  If we wanted to stack all three of them, we would simply tell it to do that instead.  Of course, we could just lock them in and run a batch of lineups that way, but we may want to use the lock feature to manipulate the exposure of other drivers instead.  Get creative!

Closing thoughts

That’s going to do it for this one.  I tried not to get too carried away as I sometimes do, but hopefully this sparked some ideas for you all.  For my fellow DFS Army members, if you have any questions or want to discuss this more, be sure to get in touch with me in our coaching channels.

For the rest of you, you really should consider signing up so you can join in on the fun.  Just be sure to use promo code NILLY to save 20% for the lifetime of your active membership.  We love to dig in deep with NASCAR and MLB, but those aren’t the only sports we cover…not even close!  We do it all, from NFL to NBA to MMA to PGA and tennis and much, much more.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be our next big winner.  Until then, I hope you all enjoyed your Easter weekend, and good luck this week!