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DFS Strategy Tips & Advice: Guide to GPPs

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jul 6, 2020

You’ve just started playing in DFS contests, and your head is already swimming just looking at all of the different contests available to you in the draft lobby of your preferred platform. One of the most common types of contests is the guaranteed prize pool (GPP). These contests range from single-entry to multi-entry and are typically the source of the biggest payouts in DFS. These contests are where you can make a lot of money. If you’re just dipping your toes into the waters of DFS, you’re probably wondering how these contests work, what are the common terms associated with them, and which strategies are effective. Fear not, fellow fantasy enthusiast, we’ve got you covered!

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What are they?

GPPs, sometimes referred to as tournaments, are contests with a tiered prize payout structure that reward entrants for higher scores and better finishes. The highest-scoring entrant wins the most money, the second-highest scoring entrant wins a little bit less, and so on. These contests differ from Cash Games (Head-to-Heads, 50/50s), which pay out equal prizes to the top 50 percent of entrants. That means there’s a strong incentive to finish ahead of the pack rather than squeaking out the bare minimum, and your strategy should reflect that.

Important Terms and Strategy

Unlike Cash Games, GPPs reward higher scores and better finishes, so if you play in a GPP, you’re inclined to take more risks to separate from the field and increase your chances of winning rather than playing it safe. Listed below are some helpful terms and general strategy:

  • Differentiation: How much lineup variance exists across all lineups in multiple entries. If you’re playing in a multi-entry contest, you have the chance to submit multiple lineups and increase differentiation significantly. This means maximizing your exposure to a variety of different players on the same slate to increase your odds of submitting a winning entry.
  • Exposure: The amount of entries featuring a certain player or players. As mentioned above, you can expose yourself to a lot of different players and player combinations by increasing differentiation in multi-entry GPPs.
  • Risk: Playing in GPPs means you need to take calculated risks. Tournaments are competitive, and picking the most popular plays of the slate (referred to as ‘chalk plays’) won’t distinguish you from the rest of the field. In Cash Games, it’s important to go with the crowd, but in GPPs, only the highest scoring entries are rewarded with the big bucks. Lineups that win feature riskier players who might not get a lot of exposure in lineups.
  • Ownership: Speaking of exposure, ownership is the percentage of entries that contain a certain player. Players who were not included in many lineups have a low ownership, while players who were included in many lineups have a high ownership. A great strategy for GPPs is to target productive players who may have low ownership so that you can separate yourself from the field and try to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Single-Entry vs Multi-Entry: Single-entry contests allow just one entry, while multi-entry contests allow more than one entry and some times as many as dozens. Some advantages of playing multiple entries in one contest is exposure to different players and the ability to utilize different lineup-building strategies.
  • Chalk: Chalk refers to players who will be popular plays for a given contest. For a variety of reasons including quality matchup, price point, and increased opportunity, chalk plays will have high ownership in a contest. As mentioned above, it’s a great idea to target players who may have low ownership. These picks are the opposite of chalk and often called Contrarian Plays. However, some chalk is valuable and necessary to include in GPP entries. On a given slate, some players find themselves in a tier all their own in terms of pricing or potential outcomes, and to not have them in your lineup can cause you to fall too far behind the field to recover and have a legitimate shot at winning. It’s important to fade the bad chalk and recognize the good chalk in GPPs. Stay contrarian, but not so much that you make yourself noncompetitive.
  • Contrarian Plays: Plays that go against the grain. Look for guys who are perceived to be overpriced, in a bad matchup, or playing poorly as of late, and use them as value plays in your lineups. Do your homework and target contrarian plays with the ability to provide quality scoring.
  • Value: A player who is priced below what his potential outcomes might be. Don’t chase cheap players based on price alone. Sometimes, there’s a reason a player can be had for next to nothing. Go after players who have a realistic shot of outplaying their current salary.
  • Boom-or-bust: A player who could finish with a low point total or a high point total, with few outcomes in the middle. These types of players are often associated with a low-yardage, touchdown-scoring running back (LeGarrette Blount in days of old), a deep-threat wideout (DeSean Jackson) or a shooter with little else in his repertoire (Terrence Ross). They’re nice additions to your GPP lineups, but don’t put too much stock into them. Your lineups should consist of good chalk, calculated risks (low ownership options with solid potential), and one or two (maximum) boom-or-bust options. You’re sure to separate from the field with a lineup of nothing but boom-or-busters, but the odds are stacked against you that all of them will boom, and you’ll take away your competitive edge.
  • Overlay: When a GPP contest fails to fill to capacity, and the entry fees are less than the guaranteed prize pool. For example, a $1 contest with a maximum of 100 entries ($100 maximum entry fees) pays out $90 in guaranteed prizes to winning entrants. Only 80 people enter the contest ($80 actual entry fees), so the total fees collected ($80) are less than the payout ($90). Overlay is advantageous for DFS players because the same amount of guaranteed prize money is available to less entrants, meaning you face less competition to cash, and your odds of winning have increased before any fantasy points have been scored. You can keep an eye out for contests that might have overlay by perusing the draft lobby of your favorite DFS site, checking out the maximum number of entries, and see how many entries have been received. If the contest is not close to being filled, check back in within 15 minutes of the contest locking. Contests can fill up quickly in the final minutes before starting, but overlay should be fairly obvious to spot.

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Beyond our daily fantasy basketball content, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Basketball Tools. From our Lineup Optimizer – which allows you to build winning DFS lineups in seconds for Cash and GPP contests – to our Defense vs. Position Guide – that helps you find favorable positional matchups – we’ve got you covered this fantasy basketball season.

Zachary Hanshew is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Zachary, check out his archive and follow him @zakthemonster.

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