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 cash games, with a definition and how to approach using them in everyday strategy.
If you’re familiar with our training camp section, you’ve probably read about cash games. These are contests in which at least half of the field will cash. This includes Double-Up contests, 50/50 contests and head-to-head contests on DraftKings. Strategy changes for these contests compared to GPPs because the highest score doesn’t matter, everybody will be get paid out the same as long as they are above the cash line.
We’re going to go position-by-position and break down how to construct a cash-game lineup. We’ll start with forwards because those are the most important players you’ll be looking at. There are two different ways we can approach forwards for cash games. We can either use the traditional strategy of line stacking or we can pick and choose which forwards we think are in the best position to succeed. Correlation isn’t as important in cash games since we aren’t going for a top prize like in tournaments. We want to pick forwards who have a high shots + blocks percentage, are fairly priced, and have a strong matchup.
Right off the bat, the best way to allocate funds in a cash-game lineup is with a high-priced line stack. The Colorado Avalanche first line of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog stands out. The Bruins’ first line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak is another. The Oilers top guys in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are also strong options. Remember, though, these forwards are going to be costly, so it will be important for us to mix in the right value at either defenseman or goaltender to make it work.
Defensemen are a staple of cash-game lineups because generally they cost less than forwards. This is because of the point discrepancy between the two positions. D-Men just don’t score as often as forwards, and the D-Men who do score at a high clip are going to be priced as such. Guys like John Carlson, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman and Alex Pietrangelo are all going to cost a premium in NHL DFS.
The good thing about those defensemen I list above is they can all be found in high-priced power play stacks for their respective teams. If the matchup dictates anything, those defensemen will be quarterbacking a power play that will be relatively potent. Sometimes it’s effective to use an elite defenseman as a one-off, but generally you’re going to want to pair them with at least 2-3 strong options that correlate.
The opposite end of the defenseman spectrum are the cheapies. Most defensemen are going to be priced around the $4-5K range, providing us with solid value for cash games. If you are opting for a high-priced line or power play stack using mostly forwards, you can reserve the defensemen slots for cheap guys who average a strong amount of shots + blocks relative to their price. The other great thing about cheap defensemen is they can get you leverage. Usually, leverage isn’t as important in cash games, but this isn’t always the case for a sport like hockey, where there is a bit of variance. Fitting in a leverage play or two in cash games is a decent practice.
Picking a goaltender in cash games has somewhat changed since the scoring switch on DK. Usually there were two ways to approach goalie. You could go with the stud option who has a strong chance to at least grab a win or roll with a very cheap goalie who should see a lot of rubber. This is still a decent way of approaching things, but it’s not always easy to pay up at goaltender in any format. Since saves and reaching the 35+ save bonus are important as ever, that’s the main thing we’ll consider when choosing a goaltender.
I’m going to use a fake example to explain why saves are so important now. Let’s say Goalie A gets 20 saves and allows one goal in a 2-1 victory. Goalie A would accumulate 16.5 fantasy points on the night. Meanwhile, Goalie B makes 38 saves and allows three goals in a 3-2 loss. Goalie B gets 19.1 fantasy points. It’s pretty easy to see that chasing the win doesn’t always work out. So when considering a goalie for cash games, we want whoever we believe will see the most shots on goal.
A lot of the times the goalie who will see a ton of shots will be a goalie on a bad team or in a bad matchup. Even if a goaltender allows 3-4 goals, if he sees 40-45 shots, it won’t matter. His point total will return value depending on his price. So if we’re looking for a perfect storm at goaltender, it would be a goalie on a good team that allows a lot of shots, who is also in a favorable matchup.
Jets G Connor Hellebuyck and Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy both fit this mold. Each sees a high amount of shots, has a save percentage over .915 and is on a team in playoff position. Goalies like Corey Crawford, Alexander Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist for the Blackhawks and Rangers would be on the other side — goalies on worse teams who should see a high amount of shots.