How To Build A DFS Bankroll Guide (With Just $20!)

DFS is getting harder. It has gotten harder every year since it started, and the difficulty will only increase over time. The good news? Tools and data improve every year, and if you aren’t using the best available, there’s a good chance you’re getting left behind. You know, like pretty much anything available on our website. Nevertheless, onto our post about how to build a DFS bankroll.

Yet, understandably, there are still new players all the time trying to figure out how to make money in this realm, some of whom are starting with a very limited bankroll. Several have asked me over the years what I would recommend for someone trying to build up from a limited bankroll today.

It is harder than it was when I started over a decade ago, but it is absolutely possible to build a DFS bankroll today. You simply have to be smarter about where you’re spending your money. I’ll give you five ideas, starting with where I would begin if I had less than $20 per day to enter in DFS.

How To Build A DFS Bankroll In 2023 And Beyond

No. 1: Chase Overlay

If you’re new to DFS, and even if you’re a DFS veteran, one of the most sustainable ways to build a bankroll is to chase overlay. If you don’t know what this means, I’ll give you a quick and simple example.

Generally, prize pools are guaranteed for DFS tournaments. That’s why we call them GPPs; it stands for Guaranteed Prize Pool. So as an example, a tournament on DraftKings might be sized to have 10,000 entrants with a $10 buy-in. That’s $100,000 in entry fees, but DraftKings will take a cut, which is called the rake.

If the rake is 10%, there will be $90,000 in guaranteed prizes. Overlay happens when the contest is sized for 10,000 entries, but fewer than 9,000 entries are filled. If the contest only fills 80%, DraftKings is only taking in $80,000, but they have to pay out $90,000. That’s called overlay, and every DFS player in the contest gains some Expected Value by the contest not filling. If the contest fills 95%, DraftKings will still get a cut, it’ll just be smaller than they had planned. We call that reduced rake, which is still great.

Where do you find overlay? If you’re playing on DraftKings and FanDuel, typically you have to wait until close to lock and scour the lobbies. Sometimes even flagship contests won’t fill. Sometimes the flagship contests will fill, and they’ll put out secondary contests pretty late, but the secondary contests won’t fill.

Alternatively, you can often find overlay on new DFS sites. As they are trying to gain customers, new DFS sites will often create contests that are a bit too large for their market share, with the expectation that they probably won’t fill because they’re trying to draw in new customers. Currently, you can find this on OwnersBox. The large tournaments on OwnersBox haven’t filled all NFL season, yet they continue to put out contests with large prize pools that consistently have overlay or reduced rake.

OwnersBox is just the current example, but overlay on new DFS sites has been a great target for years.

No. 2: Underdog Daily (Or Weekly for NFL) Drafts

A lot of people know Underdog for their best ball and pick ‘em contests, but the daily contests go overlooked as a great place to get your money down. If you’re not familiar, they’re basically DFS contests, but rather than having a salary cap and giving each player a salary, you draft your team against other entrants. Depending on the slate size, you’re usually drafting with 3 to 5 other people, but after the draft, you’re competing with a much larger pool in a GPP-style contest.

There are a few things that I love about Underdog dailies:

  • Lower rake than is typical on other sites. Currently the Battle Royale contest, for example, has 11.1% rake. Most of the flagship contests on other sites are around 15%.
  • Flatter payout structures. The Week 14 NFL Battle Royale, as an example, had a $300,000 prize pool. It’s $30,000 to first, $20,000 to second, $15,000 to third, etc. It is much easier to sustain a bankroll relative to standard DFS contests where 20% to 25% of the prize pool goes to first place.
  • It’s like regular DFS except much softer than the more popular sites. The same considerations apply, like factoring in ownership, correlation, leverage, etc. But it’s a lot softer. DFS pros don’t want to take the time to draft 150 entries, so they don’t bother playing.

If you look at Average Draft Position (ADP) relative to premium player projections, you can sometimes find players with great projections going well later than players who project worse.

Many drafters are more casual on Underdog, and a lot more lineups won’t be correlated at all. And drafters are funneled to all the same players since they are ranked by ADP. If you don’t draft by ADP, you can get players that aren’t drafted as much and also get some rare player combos.

These are great contests in a vacuum, and even better because it’s more casual players and fewer pros.

No. 3: NFL Primetime Game Flash Drafts

This suggestion is fairly niche. If you don’t love NFL, you can skip it. But if you are an NFL enthusiast, there is a lot of edge in Flash Drafts on DraftKings during primetime NFL games. You can also play Flash Drafts during regular NFL slates, but typically there are a lot fewer entrants.

If you’re not familiar with Flash Drafts, here’s an overview:

  • Contests are for single quarters of game action, and there are typically several different drafts for each quarter of the game, each being unique.
  • Each draft typically has several different buy-in levels, from $1 to hundreds. You can enter at one buy-in level or several, but they run concurrently, so your choices will be the same for all.
  • Prize pools for each contest are scaled based on the number of entrants. And generally, they have nice, flat payout structures.
  • The draft itself is a set of five multiple choice questions with three possible answers each, asking who will score the most fantasy points in the quarter. Most answers are a single player, but some questions will have choices with multiple players or give a multiplier to a player or two. Often, certain players will show up in multiple questions in the same draft.
  • Drafters are given 15 seconds to make each selection.

You can read my in-depth Flash Draft strategy here, but the biggest edge is simply correlating like crazy. Choose the same player multiple times if possible. If you don’t choose a player for one question, try to skip that player again if they come up again. It is astounding how few drafters factor in their past picks with each new multiple-choice set. You can benefit from that.

No. 4: Stokastic’s Lineup Generators

The first three suggestions were all about contest selection. The last two are about tools that might not make sense right away if you’re starting with a limited bankroll but can help you really elevate your game once you’ve built up your bankroll a bit.

If you’ve followed me for a long time, you’ve probably heard me talk about Stokastic’s Lineup Generators. These are the best value tools in the industry, by far. They are already available for NFL, NBA and MLB, and the list is expanding.

The beauty of the lineup generator is you get the power of Stokastic’s Sims product for a fraction of the price. Every single lineup the lineup generator spits out is one that has been run through tens of thousands of sims and shows up as profitable in those sims.

Three pieces of advice that are extremely important when it comes to the lineup generator:

  • Try to wait until close to lock. For NFL, inactives come out 90 minutes before games lock. Typically, I recommend running the lineup generator within 60 minutes of lock so you can be confident all the data is updated. For NBA, with so much late-breaking news, the closer you can get to lock, the better.
  • The lineup generator gives you 20 lineups at a time. But there is no reason you need to just take the first 20 lineups it gives you. The lineup generator has thousands of lineups that look good in the sims, so you can be picky when it comes to choosing lineups you like, finding the right balance with your player exposures, etc.
  • If you really want to create your own lineups, the lineup generator is still a great tool for studying both which players look good on a given slate, and also what good lineups look like.

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No. 5: Stokastic Sim Products

Finally, once you’ve really built up a bankroll and you’re either playing high volume or high stakes, the Stokastic Sims are the most powerful tool on the market.

You can start with the first stage of the sims, which is the Contest Generator, and if you go with the highest-level package, you can generate a field of up to 10,000 lineups. If you’d rather, you can also create your own set of lineups and upload them from an outside source.

Either way, once you have your lineups, you can put them through the Pre-Contest Simulator. At a contest level, it will simulate the lineups you’ve put into it tens of thousands of times and tell you exactly how each lineup did over those many thousand sims. It’ll tell you which had the highest ROI in the sims, which lineups cashed the most frequently and much more. And in case you’re wondering, yes, it has functions for every lever you want to consider for DFS: Projections, ownership, correlations, all of this is factored into the sims.

As an added bonus, you also get access to Post-Contest Sims, which will tell you which lineups had the best expected ROI once we know all the actual lineups that were entered into a contest.

This is an extremely powerful tool with a ton of customizability and flexibility. If you have questions about the sims or any of our products, find me on X (formerly Twitter). I’m @playerqdfs, and my DMs are open.

Thanks for reading, and good luck building your bankroll! Hopefully our how to build a DFS bankroll guide was found to be helpful!

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Neil Orfield
Author
Neil Orfield has been playing DFS regularly since 2013, but his success really started taking off in 2019 when he had a six figure payday with a hand built NFL lineup. The next day, he signed up for a Stokastic+ subscription with FantasyCruncher. Since then he has won an NFL milly and added six figure wins in XFL, MLB, and NBA. He has recently excelled at NFL Showdown, with many five- and six-figure wins since 2021.

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