Want to Learn How to Win a DraftKings Milly Maker With Stokastic Sims? Steve Buzzard Will Tell You How

Stokastic pro Steve “dacoltz” Buzzard certainly has not come down from the high of winning the DraftKings NFL DFS Milly Maker on Conference Championship Sunday, and honestly, neither have we. It’s the greatest testament to the Stokastic Sims Tools, seeing our pros and users cash time and again, both big and small, over the last few months — you need only check out our Hall of Fame and our team’s other wins for proof of that.

But I bet you’re tired of seeing Stokastic pros win big, I bet you want to take their place atop the podium, and you’re wondering what edges you’re missing that Steve was able to find with his Milly win. Well, luckily for you, Steve is ready to talk. He is going to share his process with Stokastic Sims — both in general and from his $1 million win — and you can see for yourself the step-by-step checkmarks that he hits as he constructs his lineup.

Steve “dacoltz” Buzzard’s Winning DraftKings NFL DFS Lineup & Strategy

The first thing Steve wants you to know is that the Sims are not necessarily a one-size-fits-all kind of tool. Says Steve:

“People often want to control their own destiny, and they sometimes think the Sims are just push buttons and get the answer. Sometimes this is good … but I think it’s good to show both sides!”

We have certainly see people “just push buttons” and find the winning NFL DFS lineups — self-professed non-pro Tommy Stokke outlined this a couple of weeks back — but Steve wants you know that A) it is certainly not the only way to use the Sims, and B) it may not be the best way to win $1 million on DraftKings.

So the question then is, what other ways could one use the Sims tool?

Step 1: Select Largest NFL DFS Contest Size

“The first thing I am doing for a huge contest like the Milly Maker is selecting the largest possible pool size for the Sims,” Steve says. “This is 10,000 if you are a Sims Max user and 500 for the base Sims package. I think 10,000 is a pretty important selection here for a contest like the Milly Maker because you need to find a lineup that can beat a lot of lineups, and what the Sims do is simulate each of your lineups against each other thousands of times to see which lineups will win out the most often.

“What we saw while doing the initial testing of the Sims is that it really took a big contest like 10,000 to sim against to be able to get a great representation of the types of lineups that could beat these huge fields consistently.”

Step 2: 30% to First

This is an image of the NBA Simulator settings, but the mechanics are the same as the NFL one.

Next up was establishing what portion of the prize pool is going to first place. In the case of the Milly Maker, the total prize pool is $3 million with first place taking $1 million (obviously). That places the percentage to first at 33.3%, and since the highest available option in the “Percent to First” dropdown is 30%, that is the one Steve chose.

But Steve says there’s another element to Percent to First selection that he considers for a contest of this size.

“Even if the Milly Maker was 25% to first,” he says, “I would still lean towards using 30% in this case since the contest is so much bigger than the pool size we are selecting. There were 176,000 contestants in the contest, and we are only building a 10,000-player pool. What the Percent to First does here is it gives us another lever to pull on how important it is for our lineups to be outlier types of lineups. The higher you choose on this selection, the more it rewards your lineups for doing well.”

“Generally you want to match the contest exactly, but any time the contest is bigger than 10,000 contestants, I lean towards maxing this option out!”

Step 3: Building the NFL DFS Player Pool

As far as using the Sims to build out the player pool, Steve did not mess with settings at all — simple. What is far more crucial than what Steve did on the front end with his simulations is what the whole Stokastic team is making happen behind the scenes.

“The most important part of the Contest Generator process is getting the player exposures as correct as possible,” Steve says. “Over the last several months, [the Stokastic team has] been spending a lot of time refining how this contest pool works, and it is often more accurate than our historical ownership projections at this point as well as other sources around the industry.”

That does not mean Steve always goes with the default player pools in the Contest Generator. Sometimes he will tweak players in the pool here and there if he has a hunch that something could be off with player data, and so should you. However, as the Sims have continued to improve — especially in this case — the Contest Generator gets the player exposures accurate a lot of the time.

“I feel pretty good about our process, and they were really on point this last weekend!”

Step 4: Boosting Simulated ROI for Certain Players

Even with exposures getting more and more accurate, there is still room to tool around with the player data the Pre-Contest Simulator spits out. For the Conference Championship Milly Maker, Steve particularly looked to boost the simulated ROI on a handful of players in order to get his exposures exactly where they needed to be. The best example of this was the most famous player on any team last weekend.

Travis Kelce had a pretty good season, but it was a slight step back from his previous seasons. But I also was expecting Patrick Mahomes to look more Kelce’s way at the biggest moments of the biggest games given all the problems his receivers have had this year, and he did that emphatically with 11 catches!”

Though he had some ownership (24.5%), Kelce was not overly rostered and he ended up being easily Steve’s highest-scoring player. This is a good example of how to work with the Sims and not necessarily have them work entirely for you. Yes, Steve could have churned out some good money without making any adjustments, but he had good reason to up Kelce’s value a bit, and the Sims took that and gave Steve more exposure to his best fantasy asset for the weekend.

Step 5: Roll With Some Differentiation Options

If you read our news story on Steve’s win, you’ll know that one of the most interesting aspects of Steve’s lineup was the lack of Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey ended up with 62.5% ownership, and his omission was a big reason why Steve didn’t have to split the million with anyone. But it’s important to note that just because Steve didn’t have McCaffrey in this lineup doesn’t mean he told the Sims to cut him out of everything. Instead, Steve kept an open mind with the Sims and didn’t reject lineups simply because they went against convention.

“I heard a lot of people say they were shocked that this lineup wasn’t duplicated as all the players were fairly popular,” Steve says. “But two things stood out with why a lot of people don’t like to play lineups like this: 1) It didn’t have McCaffrey, who was in over 60% of lineups — I had him a ton too — 2) It was built a bit differently.”

“All season in our chat we heard from subscribers who said they didn’t want to play two tight ends, which this lineup did. So this eliminated a lot of the possibilities of duplicates. Additionally, the stack was Brock Purdy with only Brandon Aiyuk, and instead of loading up Purdy with his pass catchers, including McCaffrey, it had three Lions with David Montgomery, Jameson Williams and Sam LaPorta. This 1-3 type of build isn’t one that many people like to go to, which also made it quite unique.”

“Both of these build requirements I was very much fine with. Sometimes the way you build your lineup is just as important as who you build it with.”

It isn’t as if Steve sent the Sims out to create this off-the-wall lineup that would be impossible to duplicate. Rather, he accepted these odd builds as merely an option, and lo and behold, one of those options ended up crushing. So keep an open mind — don’t let the Sims simply show you what you want to see.

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There is no one set way to use Stokastic Sims Tools, just like there is no one way to win $1 million or skin a cat or whatever idiom you want to use. Steve’s choice this time to adjust player ROI and basically nothing else with the player pool may not be your NFL DFS style. Maybe you have more drastic hunches on players — it’s all fair game. The important takeaways when multi-entering large contests like the Milly Maker, however, are setting the Sims to as closely resemble the DFS contest as possible, making the adjustments you find appropriate and keeping your mind open to the possibility of odd lineup constructions that can give you an edge.

While Steve hit on this one, he’s not going to win every Milly Maker — so get out there and start building your winning lineups with Stokastic Sims!

Sam Smith is a writer and editor with Stokastic and OddsShopper. He has been immersed in the world of professional sports data since 2015, while also writing extensively on the NFL for a multitude of blogs and websites. With Stokastic, Sam looks to blend his sports and editorial expertise with Stokastic's data to bring you the best fantasy information possible.

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