How To Play NFL Single-Game Showdown DFS On DraftKings

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How To Play NFL Single-Game Showdown DFS On DraftKings

NFL football season is finally close enough to taste, and many of us will not want to wait until NFL Sunday to get down on some DFS action. With the first game of the season coming up on Thursday, many of us are going to want to get in on the single-game showdown contests happening on DraftKings.

DraftKings is offering a $10 entry 150-max entry GPP with a million dollars up top. This is in addition to tons of other tournaments with big prize pools at many buy-in levels.

With these colossal prize pools ripe for winning, you’ll want to have your NFL showdown DFS process on point to give yourself the best chance at a big payday.

The strategy for single-game NFL DFS tournaments on DK is considerably different than full slates, and you’ll want to adjust accordingly. I’m going to dig into some optimal processes for constructing DraftKings NFL showdown DFS lineups.

DraftKings NFL Showdown Format

The most important thing is to start by understanding the format. On DraftKings, you are entering a six-man lineup with one multiplier “captain” spot. The player in that spot gets 1.5x the fantasy points but also costs 1.5x the price.

This causes the puzzle that, of course, you would want the player that you think will score the most fantasy points in that position. Yet, if you roster one of the more expensive star players as your captain, it will hamstring the rest of your lineup. So much of your salary will be used at captain that you may have to play some very shaky plays in some of your flex positions. You have to gauge the reward versus the cost on the rest of your lineup.

DraftKings NFL Showdown Captain Selection

An advisable strategy is to seek out a player with a reasonable probability to be among the highest-scoring players on the slate that is a bit cheaper than the star quarterback, running back, or superstar WR1. This would often be a lower-priced wide receiver.

Not only do you gain the benefit of saving money for the rest of your lineup, but you’ll generally wind up with a lower-owned captain. Especially in these very large field GPPs, it is imperative to differentiate your lineups from the field if you want to take first place. Star QBs, RBs, and big-name WR1s will generally be very high-owned in the captain spot.

Sometimes you could even “punt” (throw caution to the wind with a cheap low probability option) your captain. You can go with a very low-priced player who could possibly luck into a couple of touchdowns. This could be a non-star tight end or a backup RB. Not only will you often get very low ownership with these captains. They will also enable you to pay up at other positions where others have to play undesirables.

Considering Game Script

It is essential when playing NFL showdown DFS to consider how you think the game is likely to play out. Is it going to be a shootout with a lot of offensive fireworks or a defensive slog?

DraftKings allows you to roster a defense, and defenses are generally very cheap. You might be more prone to do this in cases where you see the game being slow-moving. Or even if you just expect one team to dominate the other defensively, even if they score significant points.

Since you get a lot of points for turnovers, you’d want to consider the likelihood of turnovers as well when choosing whether to play defense. Does the opposing QB throw a lot of interceptions? Does the running back have issues holding onto the ball?

You can also roster kickers, and game script considerations would go into whether this is beneficial for your teams. Kickers are pretty inexpensive and generally close to guaranteed to at least score some points. You would be more likely to roster a kicker if you envision a game script where the team kicks many field goals, especially from a distance.

Of course, the number of players you roster from each team would greatly depend on the game script you anticipate. You have to roster at least one player from each squad, but if you expect a blowout, you may tend to play more players from the team you think will win.

Gaining Leverage In Large Field GPPs

In these vast, low buy-in contests with huge prizes up top, you will really need to find ways to differentiate your lineups from the field to take first place. Particularly without tieing with hundreds if not thousands of people. There are only so many combinations with any viability you can make in a single game format. With so many other DFSers competing, the most apparent roster constructions are not going to be unique.

You really want to try to land upon a unique lineup that no one else is playing that still has legitimate win equity.

The simplest way to do this is to consider the ownership of the players in your lineup. This includes your captain spot. Try to find some lower-owned sleeper picks, and don’t just go with the most apparent plays that are the most likely to succeed.

Another way to gain uniqueness and give yourself a better chance to win first place is to leave a considerable amount of money on the table. People just don’t like doing it, and if you go even a little under the cap, let alone a lot, it will automatically make your team more unique.

You could also consider intentionally negative correlations, such as rostering two running backs from the same team. People don’t like to do this because, of course, two running backs will not correlate. When one is on the field, the other is likely not. This is quite precisely why you can consider it. Few people are doing it, and it can pay off from time to time when multiple running backs score touchdowns.

An example of using intentional lack of correlation would be to play a wide receiver without his quarterback. You can even eschew playing either quarterback in a game, which a lot of the field will generally not do.

Playing a roster that is weighted toward players from the squad that is the underdog is another strategy. Players on non-favored teams will automatically be lower-owned, and fewer teams will have 3-5 players from an underdog. Another option that can assist with uniqueness is to play a captain from an underdog or just a captain from one team while playing more players from the other team in the flex positions.

You essentially want to do things that don’t make logical sense, as most of the field won’t, and weird things happen in football games. If it looks funny and less-than-ideal, it is probably perfect for large-field GPPs.


With football finally here and million-dollar prize pools up top on DraftKings, you’ll definitely want to get in on the fun this Thursday for Dallas at Tampa Bay. These tips and tricks can help you construct a roster with a chance to win on DraftKings. In my next NFL DFS article, I’ll discuss the strategy for FanDuel showdown contests. Best of luck in your showdowns this season!

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