NFL Fantasy Picks to win each Contest Type

NFL Fantasy Picks to win each Contest Type

One Day NFL Fantasy drafts are a great alternative for the season long fantasy player looking to add a little more excitement to their fantasy experience while turning their fantasy skill into real money. The issue most crossover players make however is they do not realize the subtle strategy changes necessary to be successful in Daily Fantasy Contests.

One of those such strategy changes is making your picks depending on the contest you are in. There are two broad categories of DFS contests: 50/50s and tournaments. 50/50s are contests (including head to heads) where there are a number of users in the tournament and the top scoring half of users are winners and get $1.80 back for each dollar bet (since the DFS site takes a cut). Tournaments on the other hand pay out to a much smaller portion of the entrants but they pay out in larger amounts, usually graduated to where the first place entrant makes a very large amount.

It’s pretty clear cut that it takes more points scored by your lineup to be in the money in a tournament than it does in a 50/50 contest, however, it is not quite as clear how you should adjust your picks to accommodate that.

50/50 contests

Let’s first look at 50/50 contests and head to heads. In these lineups you are aiming for consistent players and an overall low risk lineup, since scoring a huge point total (and taking on more risk) gives you no more money than the user who just barely exceeds the threshold to score.

While you can go over each individual’s players volatility in performances over the season and recent seasons, it is easier to judge risk positionally. Quarterbacks and running backs for instance have much more consistent fantasy value than wide receivers and tight ends. Don’t take that to mean quarterbacks and running backs score more points however, as while wide receivers and tight ends are just more volatile, meaning they may score 0 points on a day or they may score 40 while a quarterback may be more in a 15-25 point range at the same salary level for example.

In a 50/50 contest however, you don’t need that huge 40 fantasy points value performance from a player. You just need reliable scorers. This means spend a little extra money at that quarterback and running back positions where you can count on them to hit their value, and if you are playing with a flex position, use a running back. Additionally, a running quarterback can be a more reliable fantasy points scorer than a pocket quarterback.

Good 50/50 picks for week 1 at Running Back are Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles, or LeSean McCoy. At Quarterback you can go for shoot for a realiable veteran like Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or take a shot at a running quarterback like Russell Wilson or Cam Newton.


As you can probably guess, the exact opposite applies to Daily Fantasy Tournament structed contests. These are more aggressive and high stakes contests so you need to match your lineup to that attitude. Scoring a moderately good point total does not help you at all here since you will just end up losing your entry fee. In tournaments you need to choose volatile, high risk players, and hope that this is their week.

This doesn’t mean abandon your quarterback and choose second string running backs, but you can splurge a little extra on the wide receivers, tight ends, and defense.

A strategy that also proves beneficial in NFL tournaments is to pair your quarterback with his receivers. Quarterback and receiver performances are linked so if you pick the right team, you will cash in twice on each play made by that team. Obviously picking the same team increases your risk, but that is the goal in tournaments, all or nothing.

The last important factor in tournaments is what fantasy gurus refer to as a contrarian strategy. This means you choose a player that is likely looked over by your opponents due to poor performance lately or a tough defensive matchup. If you choose a player like this and they do happen to have a big day, that gives you a significant advantage on the majority of your opponents.

On the contrary, if you have a player that is owned by the majority of your opponents, then even if that player plays great, you’re still on the same level as everyone else. Remember, this is a risky strategy though as if a player’s ownership level is low in a contest, there is likely a reason for that and that player is probably not going to play well this week.

Good for your tournament picks you will need to pick a couple high ownership receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Odell Beckham, or Antonio Brown. Personally, I am staying away from Randall Cobb as he will have the highest ownership of any receiver with Jordy Nelson out. If he has a big game if may hurt you, but if he doesn’t, you’ll have a nice leg up on the competition.

Some receivers who will be lesser sought after may be Alshon Jeffery, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, and Steve Smith. At tight end, I am expecting ownership of Gronkowski upwards of 60 percent so steer clear of him (especially with Brady out) and look to Julius Thomas or Jason Witten.

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