While daily fantasy hockey carries far less popularity than football and basketball, there’s plenty of opportunity to win big money playing on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. If you’re already a fantasy hockey guru, you know that there is a lot of skill and strategy that goes into building winning fantasy hockey lineups. And if you’re not, there’s plenty of time to learn.
Choosing a Game
There are several types of contests to consider in daily fantasy hockey, but they fall under two main categories.
The first is the guaranteed prize pool (GPP) contest , which typically features huge prizes and big field. These tournaments often have thousands of entrants, and prizes are weighted toward the top finishers. Winning a huge tournament requires a combination of luck and skill, although the luck factor is reduced in hockey compared to other DFS. The reason is that hockey is substantially less popular, so with smaller fields you are naturally dealing with less variance.
For those looking for a more level prize distribution, there are the contests in which a set percentage of the field takes home a cut of the prize pool. Head-to-head games and “50/50s,” both of which award payouts to the top half of the field, are the most commonly formats.
No matter what your bankroll is, there is a contest for you. Even the lowest stakes players looking to get their feet can get in on the action; DraftKings offers freerolls as well as a number of tournaments for just a quarter that can get the micro grinder rolling, while FanDuel has the “NHL One Timer” contest for just a $1 buy in. Each site also offers plenty of satellite tournaments that allow you to win a seat to a bigger buy-in contest for a fraction of the price.
Drafting a Team
Each DFS site gives you a set amount of salary to build your team with. It’s up to you to decide how to distribute that salary amongst the positions, which will vary slightly depending on which DFS site you are on. FanDuel, for instance, goes with a position-specific format featuring two each of left winger (LW), right winger (RW), defense (D), and center (C), along with one goalie. DraftKings also goes with a nine-man roster, but they keep it a little more flexible. Players draft three generic Ws and one utility, which can be any non-goalie, in addition to the two Ds, two Cs, and the net minder.
Another factor that you’ll need to consider when building your team is the site’s scoring system. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel use different scoring systems, so be sure to look them over before selecting your team. Plus/minus (+/-), a statistic that tracks which players are on the ice when goals are scored, is used by FanDuel, but not DraftKings. You’ll also want to notice that some sites give points for penalty minutes.
Things to Consider
Playing daily fantasy hockey can be what you make of it. You can spend hours doing research and building lineups, or simply select players on your mobile device in a matter of minutes.
If you do want to put the work in and gain an edge on your opponents, here are some things that will help you
Vegas Lines: Paying attention to betting odds and lines is extremely important. Bookmakers spend more time studying teams than anyone, so you can feel safe putting your trust in who they’re favoring in each game and how many goals they are expecting. Lower goal totals set by bookmakers mean less projected goals allowed, and bigger favorites are more likely to get a win. On the flip side, high totals are going to mean more point-scoring opportunities for skaters, meaning more opportunity for fantasy points.
Stacking: Similar to the correlation seen in baseball and football, players can interact in ways that increase the chances of a big scoring night for your lineup. For example, drafting teammates on the same line can net you big points if one assists to the other on a goal. This kind of high risk/reward approach is the key to performing well in big DFS contests.
Injuries and Lines: If you want to take advantage of the correlation mentioned above, you’ll need to know how coaches are setting their lines. Who will players be playing with each night? While official lines aren’t always released before the game, you can get a good idea by looking how lines were formed during morning practices for each team. NHL team beat writers will have that information and are good people to follow on Twitter.
Injuries also play a big part in finding value plays. If a top player in injured for a team, another player will step in and get time on the power player, giving him a huge value bump. Applying this knowledge in your DFS lineups can be the difference between winning and losing money every night.
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