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How To Pick A Winning Lineup In A DFS Football GPP Contest


It is all about that six or seven figure pay day, right? I mean fantasy football is fun, at least it is supposed to be as after all, for nearly all of us, it is a hobby. At the same time, you want to be profitable and make money in said hobby as I have yet to come across the person that does not like money. 

Be forewarned Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournaments are not easy – far from it in fact. In nearly all cases, it takes both skill and luck to come up with the first-place finish in any of these contests. And we are not just talking about the big ones that you see advertised all across every form of media possible, but instead any tournament in which the majority of the prize money is rewarded to first place. I also want to be clear, that the statement of needing luck to reach the top of the leaderboard isn’t meant to come off as bitter, angry, or as a warning not to play in these tournaments. 

Just be realistic with yourself. Single entry GPP’s could be the more prudent approach based on your bankroll, and you also need to be realistic with your expectations from playing DFS and what your plan is for the whole season. A GPP, or any tournament really, isn’t for the faint of heart. The smaller the tournament is and the less entries available to each individual player means your chances do improve, but your potential earnings go in the opposite direction. 

But with that being said, you are here to win, and to win big, right? So, let’s jump into some of the ways I like to approach these tournaments and some thoughts to keep in mind:

You Have To Pair
Sure, you can win without doing so but if you are going for a big pay day, double down on an offense. Pick a team you like, and start with a quarterback and a wide receiver. If you really you want to go crazy, or you feel strongly, this can be expanded to include a tight end or a second receiver but remember you are being greedy here if you want a chance to win. Four touchdowns and greater than 300 passing yards are in your quarterback’s future but stopping there isn’t an option to take down a GPP. Why not pick the correct receiver and get double points for two of those touchdown passes and 100 of those yards? Of course, you can always pick the wrong receiver, but remember, there is some risk involved here as well, and you have to take a big swing. 

Depending on the offense and the prices, maybe you can add a second player from the same team if recent history has shown it can be supported. One example of this would be starting your team off with Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, and then adding Jared Cook at tight end. Yes, Alvin Kamara is one of the best running backs in the league, and the Saints are expected to score 30 points but if you need Thomas and Cook to combine for three touchdowns to take down your GPP, there isn’t much room left for Kamara to propel your team to first place. At the same time, going with the number one receiver in a pairing with your quarterback is likely going to be the obvious, more popular, and also more costly. Instead, take a look at the team’s second wide receiver. However, this only works in cases where that receiver is a viable option.

Notice though, how I didn’t say stack. Sure, you will see tournaments taken down with a stack, but to me you are just trying to be too perfect. Yes, you are going to see a team with a high implied points total while being a double-digit favorite, but it is still unlikely they score more than five touchdowns, at most. And if you are confident in your quarterback, then how much will be left for a running back? I want upside, but diversification at the same time.

Be Aware of The Vegas Betting Line: 
When it comes to looking towards Las Vegas for guidance, there are two important pieces of information to digest. You have to combine both the point spread and the over/under to determine the implied point totals for each team while also determining how close each game will be. This is standard across the board regardless of what format you will be playing, and is often one of the first things I research each week.

When looking for running backs I want teams projected not only to win but to win by as large a margin as possible. That means their teams will be controlling the clock towards the end of the game and which leads to increased volume and workload. Conversely, receiving options should come from teams that will be trailing as they will have to throw the ball downfield in order to get back into the game. 

Be A Risk-Taker
There is a great deal of rankings and research available. Yes, they are different and some are better than others (after all, you are here for a reason) but for the most part there is a general consensus. Everybody knows about that hot new running back who will be getting 20 touches this week in a good situation with a price of $3,000, so at that point, he doesn’t matter as much as one might think. Said player essentially becomes a free square and his performance is then rendered irrelevant due to how widely he is owned. That will not help you stand out among thousands upon thousands of other entries in a GPP.

What you want, is that “other guy.” Now, I’m not saying to ignore any player that is going to be popular and is essentially a no brainer but you are going to win with the player who is one percent owned and scores two touchdowns. Look a little deeper, and don’t be afraid to take a concerted risk. 

Hunt For Value
You aren’t going to win a GPP without a few studs in your lineup. That means savings has to come elsewhere. Tight end and Defense are two positions where I sometimes look to take that risk, and we will go a little more in depth shortly, but we are working with a finite amount of money. One or two of your roster spots will have to be filled with options near minimum price in order to fit those game changing stars into your lineup. 

Dig through the news, look at the trends and the match-ups, and don’t be afraid to take a chance. Remember, you aren’t going to be successful without everything going right anyway, but it most certainly won’t happen if the top three or four players in your lineup aren’t legitimate top 10 options at their position, at worst.

Go After The Studs
We just alluded to it above, but I want to make sure we are clear. Don’t be afraid to spend money. Now, I’m not saying go out and grab the most expensive quarterback, wide receiver, and running back you can find (building a team just got that much harder), but these players are priced the way they are for a reason. Don’t be afraid to pay up for the best talent. However, don’t do it blindly. It is perfectly fine if you like the sixth most expensive quarterback instead of the most expensive, but don’t drop down to the 20th option for no reason.

First, make sure you like the quarterback for this week based on the opponent and other statistical trends, but you better have a good reason for making the leap. If this is a week where it lines up that you like the two most expensive running backs and feel really good about the aforementioned quarterback, then go for it. Just make it count.

A Touchdown From The Tight End?
Unless you are going with one of the top options at the position, and that often doesn’t work within the salary cap, it is upside you need. Four catches for 40 yards might work in your seasonal league, but not here. What you need is a touchdown. Look at the data, pick on opposing defenses, study the offenses, and look for tight ends who are expected to be targeted in the red zone against defenses who are on the high end of points allowed to the opposition each week.

Turnovers From The Defense?
At this point you could probably turn it into a drinking game how often, and how many different ways I talk about upside, but we aren’t done. The last thing you want to do is mail it in when completing your roster with your Defense and just taking whoever fits into the salary cap. At the same time though, I’m not looking pay up for the most expensive option either. Remember, we aren’t looking for solid or middle of the road here, we want points. And lots of them. 

That brings me to turnovers. I’m looking for a Defense that generates as many turnovers and sacks as possible, remember this also leads to touchdowns, against offenses that allow them. Obviously, I don’t want a Defense that is going to give up 40 points, but it is a chance worth taking to chase that upside.

That wasn’t meant to be an all-inclusive list, but when I’m specifically sitting down to make a GPP lineup, these are the thoughts that run through mind. The subject of stacking might be the most divisive, but in this type of contest, I’m looking to go all in as opposed to potentially spreading myself too thin across an offense. 

As far as actually constructing my lineup, I’m going to start with the top three or four options I really need to have for that week, as they will form the core of my team. Figure out the quarterback/wide receiver pairing, grab a stud running back, fill in tight and defense, and then see what’s left. Does this work? How much salary cap space is still available?

Remember everyone in your lineup should score at least one touchdown while having the potential for more. It is that upside we need. And a little luck too. But remember, it takes your smarts and expertise to be in a position to accept that luck and cash the big check. 

Remember, this is unlike anything you have ever done in fantasy football. While cashing is always nice, and profitable, the payout is heavily weighted towards the top. So unless you are right there at the top, does it really matter where you finish? 

Additional FootballDFS Resources:
How To Pick The Right Quarterback Every Week For Your DFS Lineups.
How To Pick The Best Wide Receiver In DFS Football Every Week
Tips For Picking The Best DFS Tight End Every Week of Fantasy Football
How To Pick The Right DFS Football Defense Every Weekend

Even More Free Fantasy DFS Resource Articles:
Understanding DFS Terms and Acronyms
How To Win DFS GPP Events
How To Manage Your DFS Bankroll
How To Pick Winning Head to Head DFS Lineups
How To Win DFS Cash Games
How Daily Fantasy Sports Is Different Than Traditional Fantasy Sports