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SOC Hall of Fame - Lesson 04 - Starting Lineups

Just like every other type of game in DFS here at DraftKings, making sure you check lineups prior to roster locks is incredibly important. Beyond just making sure guys are actually starting, looking at formations is very important to determine value of the options you’re considering…

Just like every other type of game in DFS here at DraftKings, making sure you check lineups prior to roster locks is incredibly important. Beyond just making sure guys are actually starting, looking at formations is very important to determine value of the options you’re considering for your varied lineup. How to read formations and what-means-what in a 4-4-2, a 4-3-3 and so on, is valuable in order to play.

So when it comes to Saturday morning, Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon, or whenever games are nearing roster lock, have your information sources set. Setting up some “dummy” lineups prior to the slate makes sense in, perhaps, the hours leading up to the contest start time, but once official starting lineups are announced (usually around a hour prior to kickoff) you can gauge how a team’s lineup will, literally…line up.

Same Team, Different Lineup

For example, let’s compare and contrast this pair of Manchester United lineups and formations (the team labeled in red), – one from early in the 2014-15 season and another from March of 2015 – and break them down for DFS purposes.

The first, against Tottenham, was a projected 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield. If you saw this lineup, it would allow you a wider spectrum of options to choose from. You would not only have the well-known, Fellaini and Rooney to select in good positions, but you also see a second striker in James Wilson. Further, you’ll notice a pair of orthodox wingers in Young and Januzaj and two actual outside backs in Shaw and Da Silva. It’s a very straightforward team that gives you the ability to select players with potential to collect crosses and possible goals/assists from many areas of the field.

Now, let’s weigh it against the second projected lineup. This formation is a 3-5-2 that removes one outside back. This gives the wing backs a much more necessary defensive posture that, in the end, limits their chances going forward. With that, you only have choices at first glance of De Gea (as a starting keeper), Di Maria, Da Silva, Rooney and the front two of Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao. Only the front three and De Gea are top level solutions. Because Di Maria and Da Silva aren’t listed as defenders, they won’t receive a clean sheet bonus if one occurs.

Of course, formation is just part of the equation – personnel is the other main piece of the puzzle. While Fellaini isn’t your prototypical #10, this formation puts the Belgian in a pretty good position to garner points. Strikers are strikers; some work better in a pairing, while some work better as a single-high striker. In Manchester United’s case, neither Rooney nor Wilson would be a good as a lone striker, which is why they mostly play with two strikers. However, in most cases, a lone striker is a better play in that chances aren’t likely to be split between two strikers. This also leads to the rest of the formation (especially the front half of it, likely in a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-3) being tailored towards feeding that lone striker.

In Conclusion

When lineups are announced, you have to determine in that 30 to 45 minute window what spots are best for you to exploit. You’ll want to find value in the lower and mid-value priced options based on what formation the team is going to be playing in. Finding those valuable players in a formation set to exploit their opponent is easily accessible by looking at a team’s starting formation. Remember, always be sure to check to see everyone in your lineup is playing, and make the necessary changes to your lineup(s) to best maximize your chances for success.