Single-Entry Tournament Strategy For MLB DFS


One of the most often overlooked factors in DFS is contest selection and the optimal strategies to use when building lineups for the particular contest you are in. Many DFS players tend to ignore much of the lobby on their DFS site of choice and simply enter the massive GPPs with the largest prize pools.

For many recreational players, this might make sense. It is more fun to take a crack at five and six-figure prizes than grind out smaller winnings in alternative contests. Yet, the deck is stacked against anyone playing these extremely large GPPs with considerable payouts to first and quickly diminishing returns due to top-heavy payout structures.

Not to mention that the top pros are multi entering these contests with up to 150 entries each. It could take a lifetime of entering single bullet lineups in these huge contests to see any return.

That is not to say that one should not play in these contests. The buy-ins are low, the top prizes are enormous, and it is unlikely to make or break you to throw a lineup or two into these big GPPs.

While that may be the case, it is wise to enter smaller-field, single-entry GPPs, and cater your lineups to these contests. The type of roster you would construct for a top-heavy, mass multi-entry tournament is quite different than for a smaller single-entry tourney.

There are many benefits to these types of contests. They are generally smaller-field and therefore inherently easier to win. The payout structures can be flatter and less top-heavy. No one can enter more than one lineup, so you aren’t competing with people entering 150 different lineups.

Not only will you have a much better chance of being immediately profitable in the short term. You will also have the opportunity to build your bankroll, enabling you to fire more bullets in the huge GPPs.

I’m going to dig into some key strategy points for constructing single-entry lineups optimally for those contests.

Correlation In Single-Entry GPPs

There has been a common conception in the industry that you should correlate your lineup less in smaller-field, single-entry contests. It is common to enter something more akin to a cash game lineup.

The idea is that you don’t need as high of a score to win in a smaller-field single-entry contest. For this reason, you don’t need to employ an all-or-nothing, high-variance stacking strategy.

While this approach has some logic, you can employ another more exploitive system in these contests.

As mentioned, you don’t need to hit as high of a score in these contests as you would in the largest GPPs. So, you can actually look at it the opposite way and correlate even more by making sure to play 5-3 constructions on DraftKings and 4-4 on FanDuel. If you simply get the two teams right, you will likely achieve a high enough score to win money in the tournament.

In the enormous GPPs, it is more likely that a less correlated lineup with the one-offs that happen to have big games is needed to achieve the highest score. There are simply so many lineups being entered that it is more likely that someone lands on the absolute optimal construction.

In smaller single-entry contests, getting two stacks right may be all you need, and this is easier than somehow predicting which players will do well as one-offs.

Ownership In Single Entry GPPs

Another way we can exploit the field in single-entry tournaments is in how we approach ownership.

Yet again, there has been a common conception that it is less necessary to gain leverage in smaller single-entry contests. Since there aren’t as many contestants, you generally don’t need as high of a score to win.

Players are less likely to land on the absolute optimal low-owned lineup that leapfrogs the field. So, by this logic, you don’t need to get as different to win these smaller tourneys.

You will often see people with this perception entering the highest-projected, most obvious chalky lineups in these contests. Ownership on chalk pitchers, stacks, and one-offs will consistently be considerably higher than in the large-field MME (mass-multi-entry) GPPs with huge prizes up top.

Being that you know this to be the case, it is easy to gain massive leverage. Simply avoid the highest-owned/projected stacks and pitchers and play slightly off-the-board options instead. Since ownership condenses to a greater extent on the “best plays,” you don’t have to do much to get different.

You can still play stacks and pitchers that are highly likely to succeed and get them at low enough ownership to leverage the field considerably. Just avoid the most apparent chalk, and you are good.

Leverage In Single Entry GPPs

Direct and indirect leverage are often misunderstood in DFS. Simply being over or under the field on plays in terms of ownership can create some, but it would be considered indirect.

Yet, the direct variety is the most authentic type of leverage and should be analyzed as a separate factor in DFS. It becomes even more amplified in smaller single-entry contests due to the condensing of ownership.

A pitcher that might be 30% owned in a large-field GPP will be 40% or more in a single-entry contest with fewer entries. So, there is even more relative value in stacking against that pitcher. Your stack will be inherently low-owned due to the pitcher being high-owned, and if your stack goes off, you gain points while close to half the field loses them. You effectively wipe out a large portion of your competition with a simple lineup construction decision if things fall your way.

You can also go the opposite way and stack a pitcher against a high-owned stack to gain direct leverage in small field MLB GPPs.

Going as far as to seek out direct leverage may not even be necessary for these contests. It should be gauged based on the slate and the probability of this approach paying off. Yet, considering that in smaller single-entry, the amount of leverage you gain through these direct approaches is even more considerable than in large-field, this is an approach that should be considered.

Next time you pull up DraftKings or FanDuel, take a look at all the contests available. Consider entering some single-entry contests and employing some of the strategies I’ve discussed here. Your bankroll will thank you.

Sports Analyst at | + posts

I'm a DFS player (JackG1111), DFS content provider, and musician.