NHL DFS for Beginners: 5 Key Tips

Okay, ‘rules’ is a strong word, perhaps ‘guidelines’ is better. But when you’re just starting out in NHL DFS on DraftKings or FanDuel, don’t get cute – keep it simple and then experiment later. Think of Pablo Picasso. The man didn’t start with cubism, he started by learning to paint a portrait. Let’s get into our NHL DFS for beginners tips.

NHL DFS for Beginners

1) Stack, Stack, Stack. Then Stack Some More

Correlation is king in the NHL. Goals usually mean assists. This is what the pros do and if the pros do something, you should do it to. There are lots of different ways to stack.

The most common stacks are two full forward lines together, paired with two defensemen from different teams (3-3-2) or two full line stacks, adding one defensemen from the same team to one of the stacks (4-3-1). You can’t combine two full line stacks with one defeseman each because you need skaters from at least three teams on your roster. Once you get comfortable, you can experiment with different types of stacks.

React App

Some pros use power play stacks. Some stack one full line with two players from one line and then another player from a different line. Here are the two most common stacks:

Team #1 (3-3-2)

WAS1: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson

LAK1: Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown

D: Brent Burns-Ryan Ellis

G: Braden Holtby

Team #2 (4-3-1)

WAS1: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson

LAK1: Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown

D: John Carlson-Ryan Ellis

G: Jonathan Quick

2) Correlate Your Goalies

Try your best to correlate your starting goalie with one of your two lines. The reasoning: If your line goes off, it is likely that your goalie is also going to get a win. Sometimes if your lineup is chalk, you might want to pivot off a correlated goalie just to give yourself some leverage on the field, but generally speaking most pros correlate their goalies when possible.

3) Get Projections

Like Stokastic’s. They are key. We synthesize thousands of data points, like Corsi For, High Dangers Chances For, High Danger Chances Against, Vegas Lines, etc. etc. etc. In order to have long-term success in NHL DFS, you need elite projections.

4) Pay up at Defense

This is less a rule and more a guideline because every slate is different. Sometimes high-priced lines will be too good to pass up, or sometimes low-priced D-men are great values. But for the most part, you should pay up, because, if for no other reason, it’s what the pros do.

We’ve had many discussions as to why the pros do this. Our consensus: top defensemen are often underpriced and as such, they project out well. They also have safer floors.

Paying up at defense also forces you to be contrarian with at least one of your stacks. If you line stack a top line in a great spot that’s carrying ownership, then pair it with a top D, you’re likely not going to have much left over for that second line combo. That can force you into some low-owned third lines or second lines in bad spots which will give you more unique combinations for large GPPs.

vivid picks bonus

Have a look at my Study a Pro article from last year, which deep dives into a night of Testosterown’s lineups. They are widely considered one of, if not the best NHL DFSer in the world today. One major takeaway: they unapologetically stack up high-priced defensemen without worrying about overexposure.

5) Pay Attention to Injuries and Line Changes

Staying on top of line combos, power play units and starting goalies is one of the most important, underappreciated aspects of becoming a successful NHL DFS player.

There are two points in the day when most of this info comes out: after game day skates and during pre-game line rushes. Because the info in pre-game line rushes is so close to lock, this presents an opportunity to generate an edge of the field by staying up who’s playing with who, and who’s in and out of the lineup and which goalies are starting if they haven’t been announced already.

If you know that grandma is cooking some meatballs tonight and you’re gonna be busy in the lead-up to lock, consider either playing it safe, or not playing at all. At the very least, you need to play it safe. You need to take confirmed goalies, and lines that aren’t likely to be split up or changed. If you know a player is a game-time decision and his inclusion or exclusion with in the lineup will greatly affect the lines, it’s an edge to be around your lineups when that decision is made.

One of Stokastic.com’s founders, TomJK321, won a GPP last year because he rostered a player who was sick with the flu and unlikely to play. When TomJK321 found out he was playing, he slotted him in with the rest of his line. They blinked (that player, Jack Roslovic had a hat trick), and he won all the money.

Other Helpful Tips

Contest Selection

If you are new to NHL DFS, stay away from the pros. Start out small. Pros can’t compete in low dollar tournaments, or non-150-max tournaments ($4 entry and less). Do not enter the $8 on DraftKings, or the $4.44 on FanDuel. Find success in smaller tournaments and work your way up. Head over to sites like Yahoo and FantasyDraft where there are less pros and more chances at overlay.

Look at the Vegas lines

Find yourself a good gambling site and get an idea of which teams are projected for the highest totals and which teams aren’t. This will allow you to get a feel for which lines to pay up for, and which goalies are in good spots.

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