Have you wanted to take a plunge into the NHL DFS world? Here is everything you need to know about how to play NHL DFS!
I get it. You don’t know hockey that well. That was me learning how to play NBA DFS a little while back after enjoying playing NFL, MLB and NHL. Without a background of following the sport, it can be a daunting task to leap in and give it a whirl. So what do you need to know before you start to play?
The key is to find great resources that can help teach you the basics, then learn from there! You don’t have to start big. If you are a high stakes player in other sports, take the time to learn the basics, and build up from there. The NHL games are more inefficient than many of the other major sports which are covered in depth by many in the DFS industry. That said, let’s take a look at ten quick points that can get you started in terms of learning how to play hockey on FanDuel and DraftKings.
- Shots are king. Yes, hockey is a sport where you get points for taking shots, even if they do not result in any actual scoring. Better yet, they are fairly predictable as well – meaning that guys who have a bias to shooting vs. passing the puck to a teammate tend to shoot over significant periods of time. Now, don’t go into your contests thinking that you are likely to win on shots alone – you’ll need some goals and assists to go along with them – but in a sport without a whole lot of reliable data outside of goals and assists to go on when building DFS line-ups, shots are an often overlooked aspect of the game for players starting to play DFS hockey.
- Vegas can be your friend. This applies to other sports as well and if you do play other sports, you will already be familiar with this. When choosing your goalie, a very basic way to not go wrong is to look for an affordable net minder from a team that is a heavy favourite. If those don’t exist, don’t be afraid to pay up for an elite goalie who is expected to pick up the win. On most nights, there is no shortage of quality skaters that you can choose from and many make the mistake of getting too cute in net to pay up for too many elite skaters. This can be a great strategy for GPP’s, but for cash games – it is tough to overcome a night where you don’t get the points from a goalie win. There are some exceptions to this rule (teams that allow low quality shots in bulk that allow for that goalie to rack up save points, but I don’t recommend going this route right off the bat). You can be very profitable by playing it safe in net for cash games.
- Pay attention to the pricing. This applies more to FanDuel than DraftKings – but historically, FanDuel has been VERY slow to move the prices of players. Sure, this can create a chalky environment – but it is something you can use to your advantage versus others who may be newer to playing the game.
- Blocked shots also count for points. This is another fairly predicative stat, especially for some players that are not afraid of helping their team out when their team gives up a ton of shots to the opposition. You won’t find many of these guys that are elite offensive players, so you can often find them for very cheap, and they can help contribute to your nightly totals in cash games, all the while providing you with salary relief.
- To stack or not to stack? The answer for this is, it depends. That said, I want to make sure that all three options of a line have the ability to score goals, and aren’t solely (or primarily dependent) on assists for production. Stacking a full top line of a heavy favourite can pay off in spades in cash games, but make sure that they all shoot the puck before doing so. That said, if they fall flat on a given night, you will likely lose – so keep that in mind. Many will opt to go with 2 of the 3 from a line to help minimize the risk.
- Power play time is another key stat to look at. Players have the best chance of putting up points if they are playing lots of time with the man advantage, so the chances of me rostering a player who won’t see any PP time are slim to none. You can often find a few cheap defensemen that see time with the top power play unit, especially as the season wears on and there are some injuries to that team’s roster.
- Get to know your resources. Follow beat writers. Get to know sites such as LeftWingLock and DailyFaceOff, both of which do a fantastic job of posting projected goalies, lines, power play units, and other breaking news. These sources are vital.
- A zero won’t kill you. From a volatility standpoint, hockey is somewhat similar to MLB DFS in that any given night Sidney Crosby may put up no points. This can be extremely attractive when playing GPP’s for a fade the chalk mentality, but can be frustrating for cash games. With that in mind, if you are looking for some bankroll management advice, I recommend treating it similar to MLB – in that, you won’t want too much of your action in play any given night. Sure, taking players who shoot the puck a lot can help – but let’s be honest, you aren’t winning many nights on shots on goal alone.
- Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns are a step above any other defencemen. Their respective teams run just about everything through them on the point, and they are big difference makers. Getting either, or both of them into your line-up is as close as you can get to having an additional elite forward, and if there are some strong value plays up front on the nights that Ottawa and San Jose play, they are both fantastic core players to roster in all formats.
- Don’t trust everything you read. I don’t say this often about other sports, but there is a lot of flat out plain bad advice written about NHL DFS. That said, there are some fantastic pieces produced as well. Generally though, compared to other sports, I feel it is one of the least known, which creates a ton of opportunity! Try it out yourself. Play conservatively and learn the ropes of how to navigate the DFS world of hockey – it is a ton of fun!
For those of you that already play NHL DFS, this likely wasn’t much help – but I do hope that it helps those that do not have a baseline knowledge get started. I will check back in later in October with a more advanced strategy piece. If there are any specific topics that you’d like me to cover, just let me know and I’d be more than happy to do that!
Myself and Zach will be providing you with daily coverage for opening night, so make sure to check back in order to see our tips for the puck drop Wednesday night. We will be providing coverage for all slates that have 5 or more games throughout the NHL season (plus opening night, despite there only being four games).