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Advanced NHL DFS: GPPs

We continue our breakdown of advanced NHL DFS. In this section, we look at GPPs, with definitions and some strategy.

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane in action during the game between the Stars and the Blackhawks at the American Airlines Center. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

In daily fantasy hockey, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. We go over GPPs, with a definition and how to approach using them in everyday strategy.

GPPs

Definition

GPP stands for guaranteed prize pool. These are contests in which a smaller percentage of lineups will cash, but the prize pool is much larger. Some GPPs will have over 100,000 entries available while others will have 25 or so. Usually the high-pop GPPs will have lower entries, enticing players to make multiple lineups to try and hit big. Usually around 25-30% of lineups will cash in GPPs and tournaments.

Strategy

Forward

Similar to the cash-game breakdown, we’ll go about this position-by-position. Starting with forward, these will be the most important picks you make in your lineup. In order for us to hit big in a GPP, we’ll need one of the higher scoring line stacks on the slate. The thing is, we can use the same type of thinking as in cash games, chasing the most obvious option. In GPPs because of how many entries there are, we’ll need leverage in some form.

The best way to get leverage is to pivot off of the popular line stack and onto another one. First, you’re probably saying, “Ben, why don’t we just go after one-off plays that give us the best value?” The reason we don’t want to do that is because that strategy is way too volatile. Without any correlation, it’s very risky to use one-off plays. Line stacking is more of an all-in strategy, but it’s the one that will pay off the most if done correctly.

Anyway, getting back to pivoting. So let’s say the Lightning have a killer matchup against the Detroit Red Wings. Just that statement alone means the Bolts’ first line of Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov will garner high ownership. An easy way to get leverage would be to pivot to either the second or third lines in hopes one of those pops. So Ondrej Palat, Alex Killorn and Anthony Cirelli may not be as talented and may still have some ownership, but will still provide us some leverage. We also get a little bit of PP1 exposure with Killorn in case TBL1 goes off.

If you are looking for 1-2 one-off plays to surround a line or PP stack, in GPPs we want forwards with the highest ceiling possible. We’ll need to consider recent form, matchup and shots + blocks percentage coupled with a strong scoring stat. Think points/60 minutes or shooting percentage.

Defenseman

The great part about defensemen in NHL DFS, particularly for GPP lineup construction, is the inflation on the elite options. There will be a handful of defensemen who are priced up as if they were forwards, usually D-Men who see a lot of ice time per game and who score at a high clip while providing a good amount of shots. Generally, with the high prices comes lower ownership compared to forwards. There will almost always be defensemen who are priced up but won’t have a ton of ownership, perhaps because of a matchup or because of a cold streak.

A good way to get leverage while also saving some salary is targeting defensemen who strictly operate on the power play. Obviously, this defenseman will also skate time at even-strength but his core value lies in what he does at the point on the power play. A few good examples include Keith Yandle, Neal Pionk and Rasmus Dahlin, all who have scored around 50% of their points with the man-advantage this season. Depending on the matchup, we should be able to get all three around the $4-5K range on DraftKings.

So we’ve looked at top options, we shown how to identify some mid-range plays, now let’s get to the good part: Value. Cheap defensemen are going to be our best source of value in GPPs. Like with all things NHL DFS, we want to look at guys who are cheap who have a decent shots + blocks percentage. These are guys who are going to hit value pretty easily given their price.

These also could be chalky options, so we need to think against the grain and find some upside. This could mean, again, looking at a guy who gets some exposure to the PP — whether it be the first or second unit. It could also be a cheap D-Man who sees a lot of ice time on a strong offensive team, increasing his chance of getting us a point or two. Value at defense is almost always going to be the key to unlocking a top line or PP stack.

Goaltender

Your strategy at goaltender really isn’t going to change much from cash games. This is mostly because of the scoring update. We’d usually want to chase wins in cash games and chase a high amount of saves and leverage in GPPs. Now, we know that wins aren’t everything, so chasing a high amount of saves with leverage, plus win potential. In high-pop GPPs, hitting on the highest scoring — or one of the higher scoring goalies — will be key.

An easy way to figure out which goalie is in a good position is looking at betting info. We’d potentially want a goalie who is on a team that is favored, but in a matchup that may not be forgiving. Really, goals allowed won’t matter at all. Even if you allow 3-4 goals, it doesn’t matter as long as we reach that 35+ save mark. Generally teams that allow a lot of shots and are against an opponent that generates a lot of shots will be in a good spot for GPPs. Jets G Connor Hellebuyck and Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy are going to usually be great GPP options, granted they’ll garner high ownership.

It’s not a bad idea to take a shot on goalies on bad teams. We’ll be able to use the savings to pay up for those line stacks and we know we’ll be getting built in leverage because people are worried about not getting the win. Don’t worry about win equity as much. If a bad goalie on a losing team reaches 35+ saves on a night, they will almost ALWAYS bring back value. The more unique your GPP lineup is the better chance you’ll have of taking down the big purse.