DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports)

DFS Contrarian and Stacks – Season Primer

Did you know…

  1. Of the 16 winning millionaire maker lineups last year, all but two had the QB position under 10 percent owned?
  2. The two times the QB was more than 10 percent owned in the winning lineup, Kirk Cousins was the QB on both occasions.
  3. Only four out of 16 times was the winning D/ST above 10 percent owned.
  4. The Cardinals D/ST was in the winning lineup three times. The Eagles and Broncos, twice each.
  5. The Flex position in 2016’s winning lineups was pretty interesting. Here’s how the flex went, in order: WR, WR, WR/WR (2 winners), WR, WR, RB, RB, RB, RB, RB, RB, TE, WR, RB, RB.
  6. Only four out of the 16 winners had a QB stack with a WR/TE that also “ran it back” with a receiving weapon from the opposing team.
  7. There were also four times a QB wasn’t even stacked with a receiving option.
  8. Those QBs were Colin KaepernickMarcus MariotaKirk Cousins, and Philip Rivers. It didn’t just have to be a running QB.
  9. A “double stack” (two receiving weapons + QB from the same team) only won the Millionaire Maker three times (four times if you count Devonta Freeman in Week 17)…
  10. …and only once before Week 11. That was Week 1.
  11. Four NFL teams had a TE in the winning lineup twice, and one three times. They were: NE (Rob Gronkowski 2x, Martellus Bennett 1x), HOU (Ryan Griffin 1x, C.J. Fiedorowicz 1x), SD (Antonio Gates 1x, Hunter Henry 1x), WAS (Jordan Reed 2x), and PHI (Zach Ertz 2x).
  12. The weeks where only two RBs were in the winning lineup, there were no RB-DST correlation plays and no QB-RB same-team stacks.
  13. Of the eight times there were three RBs in the winning lineup, only twice was there an RB-DST correlation play, and only twice were there QB-RB stacks (the aforementioned Matt Ryan/Freeman, and Cousins/Rob Kelley…wait what?!).

Those are fun facts and all, but what it really says is there are a lot of ways to win the million. Certainly some better than others, but here’s a few of the key tenets I’ll be using going into Week 1, and adjusting from there.


Lesson 1 – Use good QBs with a high ceiling. Guys like Jared GoffCarson WentzTrevor Siemian, etc. were not in the winning Millionaire Maker lineup. Instead, it was household names like Rodgers, Brees, Rivers, Stafford, Cousins, Ryan, etc. The only two that could be considered borderline last year were Joe Flacco and Kaepernick.

Lesson 2 – Not only use good QBs, but use good QBs that aren’t chalky, especially early in the season. We don’t know as much as we think we do early in the season, and last year it took until Week 11 before a QB was over 10 percent owned in the winning lineup. Prior to that? Brees (7.5), Newton (9.6), Rodgers (9.0), Stafford (2.4), Ryan (1.3), Rivers (4.1), Stafford (4.7), Cousins (6.8), Carr (7.0), Mariota (3.2) were the winning QBs.

In fact, only twice was a QB even over 7.5 percent owned in that span. Just on that fact alone, I’m eyeballing Cam Newton for Week 1. Also, if people get scared by Seattle’s defense, Rodgers is a great play too.

Running Back

Early in the season, it doesn’t make sense to over play a running back in the flex, unless you’re getting massive value. And I just don’t see massive value on the board on DraftKings. DK smartly priced Darren McFadden up to $6100. Instead, when there isn’t supreme value, fill your flex with a WR. I’m going to play 150 lineups in the Milly Maker, and ballpark 120 of them will have WR in my flex.

Also, I don’t worry about ownership percentage at RB. I can play two contrarian guys, or two chalk guys, or one of each. It doesn’t much matter to me.

Wide Receiver

I don’t have too much to say here. Obviously you need to hit your QB/WR stack, and QB/WR/WR is viable as well, although it only won the Milly Maker once last year (in Week 1). The other three double stacks had either a TE or RB, along with a QB and WR.

Don’t worry too much about “running it back” with a WR from the opposing team, even though it does have positive correlation and increases upside. It’s just a hard thing to hit on, and you’re better off in the long run focusing on each individual player’s upside. If you have the choice of running it back with a player with lower upside, or picking a player from a different game at the same price point with higher upside, take the higher-upside player.

Tight End

TE is the position hardest for me to be contrarian on, because the stat I love most for TEs has a strong positive correlation with ownership. That’s team total. I showed at RotoAcademy that team total strongly correlates with upside for the TE position. If there’s one TE in Week 1 that should go under-owned relative to his team total, talent, situation, upside, opponent, and price, it’s Martellus Bennett.


My motto with defense is to pay down whenever I can. I try to target defenses that not only have a good probability to be ahead late in the game, but that also will be low owned. DST ownership directly correlates with both spread, and total. The public tends to avoid higher totals and teams that are expected to trail. A way to get around this is to target the leading team in a game with shootout potential. This often correlates to low ownership, yet you still get the benefit of a defense holding the lead. That means the opposing team will drop back more, leading to more sacks, INTs, and possibly pick-sixes. I especially like to do this when there’s a turnover prone QB on the opposing side.

For Week 1, that makes Dallas an interesting play under $3000. They have the potential to shoot out with the Giants, and Eli Manning has been known to take some sacks and throw a pick or two in his day.

Some people make a lot of the DST/kick-returner-who-also-plays-on-offense stack. Don’t force it. It’s an incredibly low probability play. I’d rather look for the DST-RB correlation play all day before the kick return stack.


My contrarian picks and stack articles will be two separate articles, like they were last year. I’ll have the contrarian picks published on Thursdays, with stacks on Fridays. I’m looking forward to the fun!

Author Details
Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz
Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.
By RotoDoc | @RotoDoc | Archive

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