NHL Cash/GPP Strategy

Course No. NBA 104

After you gather all the information you need, from starting lines to Vegas info, it is time to make a lineup. If you are unfamiliar with the term “cash game," it is your head-to-head, 50/50, and double-up games. There is a higher chance of finishing in the money. This is where you minimize risk when creating a lineup. A “GPP" game is a tournament, which stands for guaranteed prize pool. This is where you find your big prize pools, as well as a bigger fields. There different approaches to take in each type of contest.

Cash Game Strategy

First things first, throw player percentages out the window. In these contests you are looking to beat half of the field, which means you don't need to be different, unlike creating a GPP lineup. You are looking for the safest players on the slate, who possess a high floor. A high floor player generally doesn't leave you hanging with a low lineup killing score. Find those line one or two skaters, with safe floors, and insert them into a balanced lineup. The pricing of NHL usually allows you to stay within yourself, not needing to resort to a stars-and-scrubs style lineup.

Your goaltender is your most important piece, and in cash games you want to find the chalkiest goaltender out there. Vegas can lead you to this play, with whichever top priced goalie's team has the biggest line. They are pricey, but like in baseball with a starting pitcher, you are better off paying up. Do not be worried about ownership, and one reason you want to find a highly owned goalie, is if he has an off night, well it doesn't matter everyone owned him. Always start with your goalie, and build skaters around him.

Stacking is a part of daily fantasy hockey, but not a wise strategy in cash games. Two players on the same team is where I will draw the line in cash games, while anymore is really pushing your luck. You do not want too many eggs in one basket, if it doesn't workout your night is over.

Do not play skaters against your goaltender.

Yes, this is an obvious statement. I see it too many times to not mention it.

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GPP Strategy

Going up against thousands of contestants in a tournament means a different approach to lineup building. 20% or less of the field is cashing, comparing to the 50% in cash games. It is all about finding players, or line if you are stacking, with the highest ceiling. You want to maximize the ceiling of your players, even if that means they do have a lower floor. I am searching for possible lower owned plays, to either pair up with my stacks, or safe plays.

You might be asking, why am I making two styles of lineups if I have the same goal of scoring the most points possible?

Using a cash game strategy for GPP lineups is a successful way to go to, but will likely not lead to any monster wins. One strategy is to import your cash game lineup into a GPP, use it as a base, and swap a few players for boom-or-bust plays. This blends the best of both worlds. In such a large field, you need low owned plays to separate yourself from that bottom money tier.

I mentioned a stars-and-scrubs strategy, which is great for GPP's. Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have some of the highest ceilings in fantasy, but are priced sky-high. If they hit their monster ceiling, and your value plays pay off, you can be looking at a very nice scoring lineup. Not everyone is going to have both of them in their lineups, and this can set you apart.

Goalie is a position many like to be contrarian at, and it makes sense. This can be your highest scoring player on most nights, and you are looking to get these points for a value price. Just always remember, there are x amount of other spots you can be contrarian at, and goalie is the place you do not want to miss on. Look for Vegas to help find your favored teams, and assess from there.

Stacking is a great GPP strategy, which is covered here.

Setting A Target Score

This is a very helpful tactic you should do for all sports, and contest styles.

I am looking at a GPP tournament on DraftKings, which is a shade over 22,000 entries, and the top score was 67. This changes from night-to-night, as well as the contest size, but I will set my target score at 65. The target score is lower for cash games, but does range from season-to-season, and by contest. There are nine positions for an NHL roster, with a $50,000 salary. The average price per spot is $5,555.

Step 1: Divide 65 (Target Score) by 9 (Spots On Roster) = 7.2 (Which is the number I am looking for from each player)

Step 2: Divide 7.2 by 5.555 (Average Price Per Position) = 1.30 (This number you can multiply with a player's price to calculate value.

Step 3: Ryan Getzlaf is $7,000, now multiply this by our 1.30. (7.000 x 1.30 = 9.1)

Ryan Getzlaf would need 9.1 DK points for him to hit value for your target score. Do you think he can hit that number? It is a very hard number to hit in hockey, meaning you may want to aim lower.

We want to find players that are capable of hitting and/or surpassing value. Lets look at a cheaper player, Patrick Marleau. ($5,300)

5.300 x 1.30 = 6.9

6.9 is a nice target score for Marleau.

Doing this for each player in your lineup, and finding the best points-per-dollar plays will improve your game drastically.

Overall we are looking for safe, high floor players in our cash games, while creating a balanced lineup. The chalk goalie of the night is your best friend, and stay away from risky strategies, play it safe. This will lead to more success in cash games. GPP's you can find risky plays to pair up with a mix of safe plays, or go with the stacking strategy.