Who doesn’t want to diversify and win more DFS money in multiple sports? This NHL DFS strategy guide will show you lineup advice, contest selection, player pick tips and more for how to win at Fanduel or Draftkings. Low-risk, high-risk, cash games, and/or tournaments, you will see literally everything you need to know to compete with sharks and produce huge scores.
This NHL DFS strategy guide, however, is NOT meant to dive too deep into the intricacies of DFS NHL, and it’s not going to simply hand you premium picks. It’s meant to deliver a road map to building quality lineups through proven strategy and education. For picks and detailed answers, join our Discord Channels and engage our gurus and coaches! As for our author, @Choppodong is a lead contributor here at DFS Army and a coach across multiple sports. Follow him on Twitter or YouTube for his hyper-simple approaches to all things daily fantasy.
NHL DFS Scoring
I’m not going to bore you with “know the system.” FFS, we all know that empty space of crap by now. However, there are a couple key takeaways between Fanduel and Draftkings NHL you do need to know.
- Fanduel prioritizes results/scoring, just like NFL. Draftkings offers activity bonuses for shots and blocked shots.
- Fanduel allows only 4 skaters from a team. Draftkings allows up to 6.
- Draftkings, of course, has a Flex position, too.
Start Building Early?
DFS NHL is a sport a lot like baseball. Hockey allows you to get started building somewhat early with game plans and players to target. Most of our information comes from the morning skates and practices (often the first goalie off the ice is the starter for the night). Everything else happens about an hour before lock, and this is where we might rerun an optimizer and lock in our finalized decisions. Good news is DFS Army has a quality Research Station and an Optimizer full of projections throughout the day to help every step of your process.
If you like DFS NBA, you know the big slates fall on largely the same days. NHL is no different. Tuesdays and Thursdays (not a coincidence it’s opposite NBA) carry the big money for hockey. Weekends offer split-slates, too. Big, small, or split, fantasy hockey slates offer different construction techniques and focal points to give yourself the best chances to charge leaderboards.
NHL DFS General Strategy
Cash Games! – These are your head-to-head competitions, 5050s, double ups, and even triple ups. If you can’t take on the volume of head-to-head battles to smooth out the inherent variance, look to larger, single-entry 5050s or double ups as a substitute. If you follow our NHL DFS strategy recommendations from the lineup construction phase, you will spot the inexperienced DFS player very quickly. Write down that username, and target them going forward!
Cash Game Construction Tips
Here, we are rewarded for playing smart and safe….avoiding high risk, if you will. We are looking for consistent players, not ceilings. Tend to favor the side of high ownerships, if we can find projections, and we want to prioritize the more predictive positions like goalie and center. We can also focus on these attributes:
- Low salary defensemen – Because we focus on higher floors, often we use up salary before worrying about defense. We want to look at defensemen with high TOI (Time On Ice), blocked shot floors (found in our research station), power play or penalty kill time (helps TOI along with shots and blocks), and support from Vegas. Being on a team implied to score a lot of goals puts even our cheaper defensemen in great matchups.
- Wings in the Flex – There is a lot of maneuverability here. But, as a generic rule, for the price, NHL forwards/wings have the best combination of floor AND ceiling available. There area also more to choose from with high shot floors that serve time on power play units. Early in the season, when pricing is softest though, look to put a Center in the Flex while you can. The Center has the highest floor of any position on most teams, spreading your risk.
- High volume shooters – More of a priority on Draftkings due to the shot bonuses, but still important on Fanduel. Volume is predictive in DFS NHL. High volume shooters often find themselves on power play units, and they also create “second chances” for other skaters….earning them a few extra assists through the season.
- Prioritize the Center – Look to the truly elite Centers to anchor your DFS NHL lineups when playing cash games and avoiding risk. Centers play both offense and come back more often on defense allowing for shot floors, assists in transitioning from defense to offense, and even blocking more shots than a forward/wing will typically. The elite centers can be viewed as running quarterbacks in the NFL, to loosely draw an analogy.
- Chalky ownerships – While not readily available, there are places to look for ownerships. But most of this is gleaned organically (and why our coaching/chat rooms are so important). NHL ownership is not as predictive as NFL or NBA, but it still points out who makes the most sense for these lower risk contests. Everyone has numbers, and numbers point to the same players regardless of site most times. A cheap and chalky center, for example, is usually a starting point for every expert’s cash game NHL lineup.
- Goalie – The most predictive, “safest” position for DFS NHL. However, they still carry volatility. Look for the biggest moneyline favorites in Vegas and tie-break with shots allowed and/or pricing.
- Power Play time – Coaches want to score, and they put their best scorers on their power plays. Look for high volume shooters on power play units because this increased ice time is also of the highest quality opportunity for any skater.
- To Stack or Not to Stack? – That is the question. Definitely not a requirement for cash game lineups, but you will see it. And, it will burn you and frustrate you. You might even give in and think it’s what is beating you….it’s not. If you find a few players in a game with high shot volume, power play time, and a cheaper price point, by all means….stack them. But, you did so organically not because you went looking for it specifically. You will find stacks make more sense on smaller slates due to lack of quality options. Tend to limit them there. To spread risk, consider building a stack of CWW, then dropping one piece for a similar player in another game…..you will increase your floor and diversify your exposure to an NHL game that may come off flat on you.
- Salary Cap – Tend to use as much as you can. Pricing in DFS is fairly strong/efficient, and you don’t want to be leaving more than about $500 on the table on any given slate when it comes to cash games.
Tournaments! – These are top-heavy, almost winner-take-all contests where we throw caution to the wind and leave nothing on the field of battle. Satellites, single-entry, multi-entry, 3max, boosters, multipliers, etc. We get paid to win….not min-cash. We maximize correlative effects and look for leverage on the masses. Here’s how to execute like a shark!
Tournament Winning Lineup Construction Advice
STACKING! – Like any other DFS sport, NHL upside is unleashed when we focus on correlative upside plays.
- 3/2/X and 4/2/X where “X” is non-correlated 1off plays or another “mini-stack.” These stacks are very common and suffer from a flaw across every sport…they don’t stack hard enough. You will see them win, but leverage is gained not just by baby-stacking but by going all the freakin’ way with it. If you are going to stack, by God…..stack!
- 5/2/1 or 6/1/1 stacks are specific to Draftkings (Fanduel only allows 4max) and you will find these on smaller slates. But, they do provide the ultimate leverage when most offenses on a slate fall flatter but one team goes off for a ton of goals. People again play too safe in tournaments and don’t utilize this all or nothing approach enough. They branch off into another offense scared to really play to win…..and that opens the door for unique lineup constructions with more winning chances than they will be owned….key to winning tournaments and NHL satellites.
- 3/3/X is the perhaps the most common stack, but it’s only about half as powerful at producing winners as our next one. The “X,” again, can be a couple 1off plays or another correlated mini-stack. The most common formation used is CWW twice, especially if focused on power play units, and typically produces bangers on NHL slates larger than 5-6 games. On the smaller slates, reverting back to the previously mentioned stacks is more often the way to go…especially when the opportunity for a 6/1/1 presents itself.
- 4/3/1 is becoming documented as the most powerful and profitable stack formation across all slate sizes. Each year, it becomes more common, too. This stack includes defense looking like C/W/W/D with the second stack being predominantly C/W/W with some C/W/D mixed in when it makes sense. (On Fanduel only, the 4/4 makes sense when you can find two C/W/W/D stacks and salary allows them to fit.)
- 1offs – These are typically cheaper wings and/or cheaper defensemen. Often times, this is a by-product of the common recreational player punting “whatever fits.” This player is NOT thinking about his construction as a whole and is giving away edge to the smarter players in the field. It’s not incorrect to build these cheap 1off players into your lineups, but sharper players are often using 1offs as players that can “break the slate” individually. And, a very sneaky approach is using that 1off as a high priced defenseman serving to quarterback a power play unit where he contains a high shot floor, assist potential by creating 2nd chances, and has the kind of shot that scores larger numbers of goals for his position. To incorporate this player, you you will need to almost prioritize him (either a center, wing, or defenseman) over your primary stack components…or you won’t have enough salary left at the end of your build.
- 1offs part two – You will find those high salary NHL Centers carry a lot of ownership. These “chalky” players are actually better used in stacks, contrary to what I just said above. Why? Because most DFS players are using them as 1offs at their salary pricing when they should be almost entirely using them as stack pieces for correlation. In this specific case, the Center becomes “lower owned” when used in a full stack.
How to Target Quality NHL DFS Stacks
- Vegas totals – Like any sport, we can lean on Vegas for rudimentary direction. The resources Vegas utilizes give us a head start in finding the games on which to focus.
- Power Plays – Rankings for power plays exist, but so do matchup rankings when facing poor penalty kills. When the matchup presents, focusing your entire team stacks on power play units can separate you from everyone else using the regular scoring lines only.
- Projected Fantasy Points – In our research station, you can simply add up the center and wings, or other stack components you might be using, and hone in on those top teams on the night that will combine for high projected points. Old school methodology!
- xStats – Corsi, “High Danger Shots Allowed,” Expected Goals, etc. – The industry still uses a few outside websites to compile data and push into our own projection models. We guide our VIPs to all these sites daily through our discussion rooms. Which are important? Which aren’t? Some of these fancy metrics are useful, but many are time killers and simply overrated.
- Stacking goalies WITH your offensive stacks – This makes a ton of intuitive sense if you can afford it. An exploding stack on the night is definitely putting its goalie in an advantageous spot, too. They are positively correlated, and you will often find those stacked goalies in winning lineups 50%+ of the time. Bonus – stacking goalies is even more important on smaller slates. DUCY?
- Punting goalie – This doesn’t mean finding the cheapest because you don’t care. It means finding the goalie that simply fits your final salary….filling him in last. While you should probably prioritize stack targets first (maybe 1off defensemen, as mentioned above), you should also have a narrowed pool of viable choices. Tend to incorporate different price points so you don’t bog down optimizers with a goalie decision. When even strong underdog goalies have better than 40% implied winning chances, you often still get outlier performances at random…and those are tourney winners at low ownerships.
Quick Tips for the MME Crowd
- Keep a narrow pool of Centers. These are the lynchpin to your stacks. In fact, prefer to use 4 uniques in NHL optimizer settings so you swap out entire scoring line units instead of just fractions of scoring lines. Keep that 4/3/1 in tact!
- Boost projections on key 1offs. Remember those high salary defensemen? This is your chance to incorporate them. Boost their projections and you will find more of them slotting in your builds as 1offs.
- Mix in lower owned goalies with minimum exposures….or by capping chalky goalies and forcing the optimizer to bring others into the fold.
- Focus on the top 2 lines and top 2 power play units. The others’ chances of landing in winning lineups are greatly diminished.
- Focus on 5-6 offenses. You can use Vegas, implied totals, xStats, or whatever to target these teams. NHL has more moving pieces than even baseball. Don’t try to cover every base. Take stands and create multiple combinations of these primary stacks. You increase your chances on the nights you targeted correctly.
- Covering too many bases, spreading too thin across the slate, is a recipe for mediocrity. We are trying to win these big tourneys….not mincash most of our lineups. If you’d rather “win something” or “get something back,” play cash games instead.
- Don’t stack against your goalie. Duh. But, do consider allowing a skater or two as 1offs. Why? No one does it!! It’s taboo. And, as a result, especially on small slates, it generates leverage. When others are scared, go overboard!! That’s how you win.
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