Understanding How to Pick DraftKings Players

Understanding how to pick DraftKings players takes practice, but fortunately there are some rules of thumb you can follow to help. After reading this article you will know the types of players that you should be using in your lineups, and the ones to avoid at all costs. If you aren’t a DraftKings member yet, click here to sign up and get started!

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The graph below shows a comparison of the DraftKings points scored for different player types during each game of the 2016/17 EPL season. It has been split up according to DraftKings position (D, M, F) later to make it easier to understand. In this article, we will go through the key statistics for each position to see the types of players that we want to use in our lineups. The following analysis is just a guideline and every slate is different, but remembering these rules of thumb will give you a good foundation to help build winning lineups.

How to Pick Goalkeepers

It can be seen from the graph above that goalkeepers perform much better when their team is the favourite to win the game. The win and clean sheet bonuses are hugely important for goalkeepers, so the safest goalies for cash games will usually be the ones with the best matchups. The salaries for goalkeepers are directly correlated to their win and clean sheet chances, so it often makes sense to spend up at the position in cash games to get the best combination of floor and ceiling. Cheap goalkeepers usually won’t have a realistic shot at a win or clean sheet; they can get points from saves but they will also lose points too from conceding multiple goals. The goalkeepers with the best matchups often won’t need to make many saves however, so their ceiling can sometimes be lower than some of the mid-tier options. The table below gives some basic guidelines to help with goalkeeper selection:

Salary TierFloor/CeilingBest Suited For
ExpensiveHigh floor (win + clean sheets)/medium-high ceiling (saves on top of both bonuses).Cash games and GPPs.
Mid-RangeLow-medium floor/high ceiling. Lower chance at win and clean sheet bonuses than expensive tier, but will usually have to make more saves.GPPs. Cash game viable in certain matchups.
CheapLow floor/low ceiling. Low chance to get win or clean sheet bonuses. Goals conceded will cancel out saves.Only if every GK has a bad matchup or there is a desperate need to save salary (but usually preferable to save elsewhere).

How to Pick Defenders

The graph above shows a comparison between centre-backs and fullbacks in terms of DraftKings points scored for games in the 16/17 season. It can be seen from the graph that you want to target fullbacks and avoid centre-backs as much as possible.  Looking at the per 90 stats confirms this:

CBShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great0.90.30.30.61.72.61.01.45.9
Above Average0.70.20.20.31.42.20.81.14.9
Average0.50.20.20.21.01.80.60.94.2
Below Average0.40.10.10.10.81.60.30.63.2
Poor0.20.00.10.00.61.10.20.42.8
FBShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great0.80.31.34.32.12.41.41.48.7
Above Average0.70.20.93.81.9211.17.4
Average0.50.10.72.61.61.60.80.96.4
Below Average0.300.421.21.30.60.75.6
Poor0.100.31.20.91.10.30.45

On average, fullbacks perform similarly to centre-backs in terms of shots, tackles, interceptions and fouls. Where fullbacks differ, however, is their ability to create chances and crosses, which significantly increases their floor and gives them additional upside from assists. Even a ‘poor’ fantasy performer at the fullback position (5 DK points per 90) will grade out similarly to an above average centre-back (4.9 DK points per 90), and the best fullbacks in terms of 16/17 DK scoring performed over twice as well as an average centre-back.

Throughout your lineup, you want to target the ‘high-event’ players, i.e. the players that score ‘above average’ or better in one or more of the main stat categories. For fullbacks, this means players that generate a lot of crosses, as these are the most reliable source of fantasy points at the position. Defenders that take set-pieces are rare, but they are usually excellent options if you can find them. Tackles and interceptions are also valuable, but these are harder to predict and make up a smaller fraction of the total fantasy points scored. There are a few fullbacks that are great options on every slate, but this is mostly a position where matchup and salary will play a big role player selection. Good matchups for defenders lead to more crosses, clean sheets and assists. Unlike goalkeepers, matchup isn’t the only factor that determines defender salaries, so if there aren’t any expensive players that stand out it makes sense to save money at the position.

How to Pick Midfielders

When it comes to midfielders, the DraftKings scoring system rewards attacking actions much more than defensive ones. Defensive midfielders perform similarly to centre-backs on DraftKings and can safely be avoided in most cases.  There are going to be times when centre midfielders are viable, particularly if they are cheap, but in general you are going to want to use wingers and attacking midfielders in your lineups.

DMShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great1.20.31.10.92.42.61.61.95.9
Above Av.10.30.80.82.22.21.11.65.2
Average0.70.20.50.41.51.60.81.44.1
Below Av.0.40.10.30.31.11.30.61.13.5
Poor0.300.20.111.10.40.73
CMShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great1.90.61.43.82.22.11.829
Above Av.1.40.41.22.11.71.61.41.67.3
Average10.30.81.21.41.411.26
Below Av.0.80.20.60.61.21.10.70.94.6
Poor0.50.10.40.40.90.80.40.63.9
AMShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great31.32.96.81.61.31.71.514.8
Above Av.2.71.12.56.21.10.91.51.413.1
Average2.10.71.84.710.71.10.911.3
Below Av.1.50.51.430.80.60.90.69.5
Poor1.20.51.21.60.50.50.70.57.3
WGShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great2.511.97.21.91.42.31.812.9
Above Av.2.30.81.65.71.511.81.511.2
Average1.80.61.43.210.71.41.18.9
Below Av.1.20.31.12.40.70.50.90.67.4
Poor0.70.10.71.60.50.40.60.46.2

Attacking midfielders are usually taking set pieces, leading to a high floor from crosses and shots. Wingers that cross a lot from open play also provide a very nice floor. Both wingers and attacking midfielders have upside from goals and assists, too. Shots, shots on target, chances created and crosses are the most important stats for midfielders. Players that scores highly in all four categories are usually great fantasy options; shots and crosses give them a high floor, whilst shots on target and chances created lead to goals and assists.

How to Pick Forwards

At the forward position, strikers have a lower floor than wingers and attacking midfielders, as they usually don’t cross the ball or win tackles and interceptions. On DraftKings, you will often see wingers and attacking midfielders that are listed as M/F or F. Therefore, at the forward spot it’s safer to use wingers and attacking midfielders in cash games when possible, unless the striker has an elite matchup and/or low salary. Strikers do have a high ceiling due to goals, however, so they are much more viable in GPPs. When using strikers, you ideally want them to have a high shot volume to help increase their floor and ceiling.

STShSoTCCCrsTWIntFWFCDK Pts
Great3.51.61.61.81.30.62.42.314.2
Above Av.2.91.21.21.20.80.51.91.811.4
Average2.40.90.90.60.50.31.31.39
Below Av.1.90.70.70.30.40.20.917.7
Poor1.60.50.50.10.20.10.80.86

How to Use the Utility Position

At the utility position, you want to target the highest floor/ceiling players that you can find; this usually means wingers and attacking midfielders. It is rare that there will be multiple elite options at fullback on most slates, and if you use a goal-dependent striker at both forward spots as well as the utility spot you will decrease the floor of your lineup significantly. Having said that, any player is viable here if they will give your overall lineup the best combination of safety and upside.

There will often be slates where not all the matches start at the same time. For example, an EPL slate might include the late 5:30pm GMT match as well as the games that kick-off at 3pm. If you are using a player from the late game, make sure he is in the utility position! DraftKings has a ‘late-swap’ feature, so players aren’t locked into your lineup until their match has started. Using the late player in the utility spot will give you much more flexibility if you want to adjust your lineup later.

How to Pick DraftKings Players – Cheat Sheet

The table below contains a cheat sheet summary of the information above that you can use to help you understand how to pick DraftKings players. Remember that this is only a guide and you shouldn’t just blindly follow the recommendations here, but this should give you a good starting point.

Player TypeWhat to Look for in CashWhat to Look for in GPPs
GoalkeepersGood chance to get win and clean sheet bonusesChance to make a few saves as well as the bonuses (but remember more shots faced = more chance to concede)
Centre-backsAvoid unless desperate to save salaryGoals, but ideally just avoid
FullbacksCrosses frequently, good clean sheet potentialAssists
Defensive MidfieldersAvoidAvoid
Centre MidfieldersCheap set piece takers in good matchupsGoal and assist potential (rare for most CMs though)
Attacking MidfieldersSet piece takers that also shoot and create chances from open play, average or better matchupGoal and assist potential, don’t always avoid tough matchups (AMs are often matchup proof, but are lower owned in worse matchups)
WingersCrosses and shoots frequently, ideally cheap and in a good matchup, forward eligibleGoal and assist potential (but unusual for most wingers to score multiple goals)
StrikersPlayers that shoot often and are very likely to score (i.e. great matchup and/or elite talent)Potential to score multiple goals

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