Daily Fantasy Saturday: Sneaky Sabre Stack

Stephen Dotzel


I must say it sure is nice looking at the player pool each day and NOT seeing a big red IR or OUT logo next to half the player's names on the list. Also, knock on wood, when was the last time a game has been postponed? Has to have been at least two weeks now. Let's hope things keep trending positively in this direction.

It's been a great NHL schedule this week with at least five games each day for the past nine days, a streak that will extend to ten today. And while there are 11 scheduled for Saturday, due to the staggered start times, we only get six on the main slate for DraftKings. A bit of a bummer, but we'll make it work.

Before getting into the plays for tonight, I think it's a good time to briefly touch on some game theory, considering the look of this slate. I think game theory is a pretty vague term that can encompass so many things, but for the purpose of this article I'm going to define game theory as building your DFS lineups not with who you necessarily think are the best projected players, but with the players who you think if they do well give you the best chance to finish in first place.

That statement may not make much sense at first, so let me explain. Let's start with two players. Player A is projected for 17.5 fantasy points and given a matchup against a bottom dwelling team, is expected to be see around a 40% ownership number. Player B is projected for 15.0 fantasy points and in a perceived tougher matchup is expected to see around 8% ownership.

Given solely the projected fantasy points you would likely select Player A every time, as he's projected 2.5 points higher. However, this is where the part about selecting the player who gives you the best chance to win comes into play. If you have Player A, no matter how good they do, you are still going to be tied with 40% of the field. If you have Player B that number shrinks to 8% of the field. Is the extra 2.5 fantasy points, the equivalent of less than two shots on goal, worth competing with the extra 32% of the field? That answer is no.

Of course that doesn't mean you should never play Player A in that example, or that you can't win with that player, but it's a good exercise to show you that more can be involved in building a lineup than just projections. I bring this up today because on this slate there are going to be players on top lines and top power-play units on teams such as Montreal, Detroit, and maybe even someone like Vegas and Vancouver who are going to be 5%, 3%, or maybe even less owned. Max Pacioretty at 3% ownership vs Leon Draisaitl at 30% ownership, despite a very similar projection, is a good example of applying what I talked about above.

To make a long story short, don't be afraid to go against the grain every now and then. Finding low owned players doesn't mean selecting "bad" players just because you want someone who won't be owned, often times you can get very good players that just get lost in the shuffle, like Pacioretty tonight for example. And even though many times this may not work out, when you do connect with a low owned player/stack that puts up a tournament winning effort – you'll find yourself in a better position to actually finish in first place than when you hit on a high owned player/stack and still have so many other lineups to deal with.

I've rambled enough. Let's get into today's slate. All prices are from DraftKings but plays can be applied to any site.