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DFS Strategy Tips & Advice: Single-Entry vs. Multi-Entry Tournaments

by Zachary Hanshew | @ZaktheMonster | Featured Writer
Jul 19, 2020

Tournaments (also called guaranteed prize pools (GPPs)) represent the biggest money-makers among DFS contests. Prizes are paid out in a tiered structure, with the top scorer walking away with the biggest prize, and only a small percentage of entrants win. Tournaments comprise single-entry and multi-entry games, and each has its own strategy. Let’s dive into both!

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Single-Entry

Single-entry tournaments combine some elements of cash games and GPPs. In cash games, the top half of entrants win a fixed amount of prize money (usually double the entry fee). In single-entry tournaments, you’re still trying to set the best lineup possible to win the biggest prize, but you also have to be a little more on the conservative side when building your lineup because you only get one shot. As such, make sure to prioritize research and set the absolute best lineup you can. Keep in mind player price overall, price within a slate, chalk plays, risk, floor, and ceiling when setting a single-entry lineup. You should set your lineups with the amount of risk somewhere between cash games and multi-entry tournaments. With only one lineup, there’s not a lot of strategy information to digest, but that’s not the case for multi-entry tournaments…

Multi-Entry

Multi-entry tournaments typically offer the biggest payouts, but these are the games that can be the toughest to win. With the ability to enter sometimes hundreds

  • Enter multiple lineups: If you’re playing in a multi-entry tournament, don’t just enter one lineup and hope for the best. Your odds are significantly lower than those entrants who entered multiple lineups, as they will have the advantage of diversifying lineups, getting plenty of exposure to certain players, and utilizing different lineup-building strategies. If you only want to enter one lineup, do it in a single-entry GPP.
  • Diversify: With so many entrants setting dozens of lineups, the player combinations are endless. That’s why it’s important to make your
  • Exposure: Which players do you value the most? Which players will be good chalk and which ones will be bad chalk? Those are questions to ask yourself when building lineups for a multi-entry tournament. For players that you value most, expose multiple lineups to them with a core. Your core group of players is 3-4 guys who represent good value at their given price, a solid foundation of fantasy points, and maybe a little risk or lower ownership on a particular slate. You can set multiple lineups with the same core while diversifying the rest of the lineup around it to ensure effective exposure and diversity.
  • Chalk: As mentioned above, there is good chalk and bad chalk. Chalk plays represent the most popular players on a particular slate who are likely to be in a lot of lineups due to fantasy scoring ability (James Harden, Patrick Mahomes, Mike Trout), opportunity created from injuries or inactives up the depth chart, depreciated salary, or a combination of those. Your GPP entries should always be a little bit chalky to keep you competitive. For example, say Harden is the most highly-priced SG in an NBA contest by a country mile. The next most expensive player is one who doesn’t offer much in the way of floor or upside. In that case, Harden will probably be included in a lot of lineups. This is good chalk because he’s very likely to be the best play at that position, and to fade him could put you behind the field. If there isn’t much discrepancy in price or performance from Harden to the next guy and there are better values at the position, putting Harden in your lineup is bad chalk because of his high ownership (which won’t separate you from the field) and the ability to save money with another SG who could return equal or better value.
  • Ownership: Keep an eye on the players who are most likely to be owned and those who will probably get little exposure. This relates to chalk, and it’s an important concept for tournament play. Try to avoid highly-owned players unless excluding them puts you at a competitive disadvantage (good chalk). Instead, look for players who may be under-owned due to recent performance (due for a bounceback?), salary (top-shelf players are expensive for a reason), or other options on the slate who look like better values (do your research and determine value for yourself). Pay attention to why a player may go under the radar, and if he has a high ceiling and could bust through his value, he should be plugged into your lineups. It’s important to separate from the field in tournaments, so rostering guys with low ownership is a necessity.
  • Go contrarian: A contrarian play is one that goes against the grain (see “low ownership” above).
  • Stack: Stacking is a great way to capitalize on fantasy points and excel in tournaments (for more information on stacking, click here). A stack is a combination of two or more players from the same team. When stacking, pay attention to good chalk (a chalky stack can sometimes be necessary) and contrarian plays (low-owned stacks can separate you from the field even more because you’re essentially doubling down on the success of a team).
  • Upside: In tournament play, your goal isn’t to finish in the top-half of entrants like in cash games. Instead, you’re trying to separate from the field, score the most points, and win the largest prize. To do that, you need to look for upside. High-floor, low-ceiling options aren’t recommended here. Instead, target players whose range of outcomes could be a little more varied. That’s not to say your lineup should consist of all boom-or-bust guys. Just make sure that the players in your lineup have the potential to score a lot of fantasy points. High-floor, high-ceiling options are best, but oftentimes you’ll trade some security for upside.
  • Balance: A good mix of chalk plays and contrarian plays (or stacks) can lead to a winning lineup in multi-entry tournaments. Make sure to build your lineups a little more risky in terms of ownership and floor/ceiling, but keep in mind the importance of one or two safer plays or chalky options.

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

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