Oftentimes when someone shares a lineup in chat, the first response you’re likely to see is something like, “Is that for cash or GPP?” In many instances that question makes a lot of sense, but with hockey being such a high variance DFS sport I think it’s smarter to focus on building one hybrid lineup that is playable in all formats. That way, you’re not cutting into your cash game winnings if your GPP doesn’t hit, and vice versa. For this article I’m going to focus on a typical 4-3-1 build. There are other ways to do it, of course, but this is the one I prefer. Here are the steps I go through each time I build. Hopefully it will help your lines cash no matter where you play them.
- VEGAS FIRST. Odds exist for a reason. People that are a lot smarter than we are use computers that are a lot smarter than them to make odds. Are they wrong sometimes? Sure, but they are the definitive starting point when building. Look for favorites. Big favorites are fine. The key is to start with teams you like rather than individual players. Depending on the size of the slate, I try to pick at least three teams that are favored. On bigger slates, or if I happen to be going in a 3-max, I may pick up to five teams. Now, that’s not to say that you completely ignore the underdogs. If the odds are close and you like a slight dog and want to explore them further, there is absolutely nothing wrong with including that team in your group.
- GOALIES ARE KEY. Now that you have the teams you want to focus on, the next thing I do is see what goalie they are facing. The best places for goalie confirmations are Daily Face Off (DFO), Left Wing Lock (LWL), or mining them from beat writers on Twitter. Kenneth Le from GuruElite has put together an amazing list of hockey beat writers on Twitter, so take advantage and subscribe to it (it’s free). I know this is obvious, but going up against a bad or struggling goalie always helps. I always try to look at their last 3-5 starts: are they giving up over three goals a game, and/or is their save rate below .900? If so, that is where we want to focus going to step three. Now let me be clear: facing a better goalie does not mean we automatically scrap that team. However, facing a bad or struggling goalie puts them at the top of our list as we move to step three.
- TEAM STATS FOR TARGETS. Now that we have our favorite teams and goalie targets, the next thing I do is check out the team we are attacking team stats. Of course, until enough games are played to make the statistics significant, we must use last season’s numbers. Here are some of the stats I focus on: Where does the team rank in the league in terms of goals allowed per game, shots allowed per game, and team CORSI. For those who do not know, CORSI is a plus/minus value related to shooting attempts. All shooting attempts are either goals, shots on net, missed shots, or shots blocked. The sum of all attempts for minus the sum of all attempts against provides a CORSI So, if a team we’re targeting has a crappy/struggling goalie starting and ranks among the league’s bottom half in shots and/or goals allowed per game, and has a negative team CORSI, we know they’re a prime target.
- CHOOSE YOUR LINES. So now, we have picked some teams we want to play based on the Vegas odds, and researched their opponent and know they’re ripe to attack. Now it’s time to figure out what lines from our team we want to attack with. Here is where building DFS lines becomes more of an art rather than a science, but just for a second. Here is where we go back to DFO or LWL in order to see which players from our chosen teams are skating on what line and/or power play unit. Again, for the unfamiliar, if I’m referencing the top line of the Dallas Stars, they’re abbreviated DAL1, the second line is DAL2, and so on. Here is where the art of building comes in. It would be great if we could play two top lines, but usually the salary cap prevents that. So, from the teams we’ve decided to attack with, we must first pick a “top shelf” line or power play unit. I usually rank the teams I have decided to use and start my build with the best line from that team, ownership be damned. Typically, I’ll play all three guys from that one line: a center and two wingers. Next, I go to my second favorite team and pick one of their depth lines. This is where you differentiate your build. Don’t be a game log watcher here: if the numbers favor a line that hasn’t scored in a while, don’t be afraid to play them.
- NATURAL STAT TRICK IS YOUR FRIEND. So now we have six spots of our lineup filled (two centers, three wingers and a winger in the UTIL spot), and we still need to pick two defensemen and a goalie. With defensemen, it’s best to correlate one with one of my stacks, and fill in the other spot with a one off. For the one we’re correlating, we want to pick a defenseman that spends a lot of time on the ice with the line we’re playing. Now, if you’re playing a power play unit, you obviously want to pick the defender that plays on that unit. If not, I turn to Natural Stat Trick. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to get to the right place (there used to be a tutorial YouTube video, but I can’t find it anywhere).
- In the top left corner, select “Games” from the menu. That’ll bring up “East” or “West”. Choose the conference your team is in. Then find your team and click on them.
- Next, you’ll see the list of games by date. They are listed with the oldest first, so click that column to bring the most recent game to the top.
- Select “”Full Report” from that most recent game. Then, click “(Your Team)-Linemates” and then “Individual”
- That should bring up your team’s roster. I usually click on the center from the line I’m playing. That will bring up a list of players sorted by who spent the most time on ice with your center.
- Find the defenseman that spent the most time on ice with your center and take note of him. Then repeat the process for the two preceding games, just to make sure the recent game wasn’t a fluke.
I know that’s a lot, but correlating that defender can make a world of difference. Also, if someone finds that tutorial video, PLEASE share it. Now we need to fill in the one-off defender and goalie.
- Always correlate your goalie with one of your stacks. ALWAYS try to do this, because if one of your stacks goes off, there’s a good chance your goalie will get the win and the bonus points that come with it. The last step is picking your one off defender with whatever salary you have left. I always try to pick one from one of the other teams I targeted at the start, but from which I didn’t play a stack.
There you have it. All in all, that’s my process for building a lineup that can be played in all formats. Now, there can be MUCH more to it on any given night, but to get you started building quality hybrid lines, this should have you in the green in no time. PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO HIT ME UP WITH QUESTIONS. It’s why I’m here. In addition, do not be afraid to tinker with this process and make it your own. There’s always more than one way to skin a cat, or so I’ve heard.