If you’re a fantasy football fan, this is the event you’ve been waiting for. DraftKings is currently hosting the Millionaire Series. Several people are going to walk away with $1 million each. And there’s a good chance they’ll do it after paying a measly $27 entry fee.
Let’s start with a reality check: winning the top prize in DraftKings’ Millionaire Series is going to take a lot of hard work and a fair bit of luck. You’ll be squaring off against some of the most experienced fantasy football players on the site.
That doesn’t mean you can’t win. In fact, you can greatly improve your chances of winning by using a few smart draft tips, which I’ll give you below. Even if you don’t end up in first place, you can still earn a healthy payout by finishing near the top of the field. There’s millions of dollars at stake and a lot of it will go to folks who finish well behind the first-place winners.
Are you excited yet? Let’s clarify what the DraftKings Millionaire Series is all about. Then, we’ll cover 6 quick tips you can use to boost your odds of winning.
What Is The DraftKings Millionaire Series?
Here it is in a nutshell: enter the fantasy football tournament with a $27 buy-in and get a shot at winning the $1 million top prize.
The event is entirely legal and above board. DraftKings is no stranger to hosting tournaments with huge prize pools at stake. Many of its members know firsthand what it’s like to win generous portions of those prize pools.
That’s why the Millionaire Series is so seductive. Some team owners are going to strike gold. The promotion is not just a gimmick.
The Series is composed of several events that are taking place over 4 months. The events are listed below:
- Week 5 – Millionaire Maker
- Week 6 – Millionaire Maker – Part II
- Week 11 – to be announced
- Week 14 – King Of The Beach
- Week 16 – World Championship
The week 5 Millionaire Maker recently ended, so it’s too late to participate in it. But you still have plenty of chances to win big during the Series. By the time the dust settles, 5 people will have become fantasy football millionaires.
I mentioned above that you can take part in the Series by paying a $27 entry fee. But you can actually participate for a fraction of that cost – as little as $0.25. How? By entering one of the many satellites and qualifiers leading up to the main events. Satellites and qualifiers for the Millionaire Series are running almost daily and will continue to do so through October 12.
With all of that out of the way, let’s talk about draft strategy for the Series. If you’ve been following along with my weekly DraftKings picks and sleepers, you have a head start.
#1 – Create Multiple Lineups
You want to hedge your bets by adding some diversity into your draft picks. Players whom you expect to have a tremendous week sometimes choke. If you’re pinning your hopes on a single lineup, a terrible performance by your QB or main wide receiver can sink your chances of winning.
It’s like picking a high-tech stock. If the company misses its earnings forecast, the price of the stock plummets. You hedge your bets by purchasing other stocks.
Do the same thing in the Millionaire Series. Create several lineups for diversification. If one of your teams stumbles, you have others that can help you cash.
#2 – Don’t Overestimate The Value Of Projections
Projections can give you an edge in nearly every type of fantasy contest, from head-to-heads to 50-player leagues. But they’re less useful when you’re competing in large-field events.
To understand the reason, consider a typical 50/50. You don’t need an explosive score to win. You just need to score more points than half the field. There’s no incentive to do otherwise because the payout structure for a 50/50 is flat. The cash prize for first place is the same as the cash prize for barely making the cutoff. Projections are valuable in these contests because they can give you the slight edge you need to finish in the top half.
In a large-field event like DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker, having a slight edge won’t cut it. You need a huge edge. A smaller percentage of the field gets paid, and the payout structure is usually top-heavy. That means you shouldn’t be looking for Brees or Manning to have a better-than-average night. You need something extra. You’re looking for Ben Roethlisberger or Phillip Rivers to have an explosive night. You want a performance that will catapult you ahead of the other team owners.
Projections aren’t likely to reveal those types of draft picks.
#3 – Look For Players Who Might Have A Breakout Week
We touched on this concept above, but it’s worth spending a little more time on it. First, volatility is your friend in large-field tournaments. It’s what allows you to sprint ahead of the pack when one or more of your players exceeds your expectations.
How do you add volatility to your lineup? By picking promising sleepers. You want to draft players who are being ignored by other team owners. No one expects them to do much on the field. As a result, you’ll often see them with low salaries. You can pick them up at a discount to their potential and have plenty of cash left over to draft a few studs.
To be sure, picking sleepers comes with risk. They’re unreliable. You can’t count on them in the same way you can count on guys like Brees and Manning. But if they have a breakout performance, they can help you clinch a spot at the top of your field.
#4 – Look For Productive QB/WR Combinations
First, look for a quarterback who has been racking up a lot of passing yards this season. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis), Matt Ryan (Atlanta) and Drew Brees (New Orleans) are currently leading the field in that area. There are also a lot of QBs flirting with the 1,200-yard mark, which is respectable at this point in the season.
Next, hone in on their wide receivers. Luck tends to spread his passes to a number of receivers, but Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are his usual targets. Ryan tends to rely on Julio Jones for his pass attempts. When Brees isn’t passing to Jimmy Graham, he often looks to Marques Colston.
The idea is that if the QB is throwing the rock, the receivers are catching it. Their efforts work in tandem. So why not leverage their teamwork?
It should go without saying that you should avoid QBs who are having trouble with completions. For example, guys like Mike Glennon (Tampa Bay), Nick Foles (Philadelphia) and Drew Stanton (Arizona) have had terrible starts this season. I’d even be wary of picking them as sleepers.
#5 – Familiarize Yourself With Tournament Variance
You’re going to experience variance regardless of whether you’re competing in a head-to-head contest or a large-field tournament. There’s no way to avoid it. But it’s important to realize that the level of variance differs for each contest format. Before you enroll into DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker or King of the Beach, it’s a good idea to get familiar with how variance influences large-field tournaments.
This isn’t intended to be a course on variance in weekly fantasy football. Suffice to say, it’s a huge factor in large-field events. Unlike a 50/50, where half the field cashes, the payout structure for a big tournament is narrow and top-heavy. A smaller percentage of the field gets paid, and most of the prize money is distributed to the top 1%.
There’s not much you can do to eliminate variance in tournaments. But understanding it will reveal why a particular lineup crushes the competition one week and gets pummeled the next.
#6 – Avoid Heavily-Owned Players
Certain players are almost guaranteed to get drafted by a huge percentage of the field. I’m talking about guys like Brees and A.J. Green. They’re reliable players whom everyone expects to be productive. Hence, it’s no surprise that everyone drafts them. You’ll find some of these guys taking up space in nearly 60% of the lineups. To put that into perspective, that’s more than 50,000 rosters for DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker.
Unless you’re relying on a heavily-owned player to be the foundation on which you build some volatility into your lineup, you’re better off going against the pack. Drafting the “easy pick” – the one everyone else drafts – will just normalize your score toward the mean of the field.
That won’t help you win tournaments.
Remember, you can’t win unless you play!