NFL DFS Contest Selection for FanDuel

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Last week, I wrote all about NFL DFS contest selection on DraftKings, and this week’s it’s all about FanDuel. A lot of the general concepts in regard to DFS contest selection apply no matter where you’re playing. I’ll post some of those general tips here to start the article, but this will primarily focus on specific contests for FanDuel and why they are a recommended tournament.

General Tips

Be Rake Conscious

“Rake” refers to the percentage of entry fees that the DFS sites keep as a fee for creating the contest. Think of it as the DFS platforms “raking off the top” of whatever the total entry cost is for a given contest. The higher the rake, the lower the amount of money that gets paid out to those who enter the contest. While this is inevitable to avoid (it’s a huge source of revenue for these platforms), be mindful that we generally want to find contests with a lower rake as this will allow more money to go to us, the DFS player. In general, higher stakes contests tend to have a lower rake and vice versa.

Look for Overlay

The term ‘overlay’ refers to the idea that guaranteed contests don’t fill to their max capacity. Guaranteed contests are those that are going to run no matter how many entrants are in the field. The overlay can be a way to increase our chance of winning by trying to identify contests that don’t fill. Let’s say, for example, that there’s a contest on FanDuel that’s a GPP (guaranteed prize pool) that has 1,000 entrants. If this contest fills we’re playing against 999 other DFS players, but let’s say for example that only 875 people enter the contest. Our chance of winning the tournament increases because, in this scenario, we’re playing against 874 people. The chances of winning the whole thing increase and the chance of hitting the cash line also improve. This isn’t rocket science – we want to be playing against the fewest number of opponents possible in order to increase our chances of winning. It’s recommended to check for contests that may not fill close to lock. Anecdotally speaking, I have also seen more overlay in the shorter slate contests (the 1PM only slate, the 4 PM only slate, or the Primetime slate, for example) because they’re far less popular than the main slate contests.

Contest Selection With a Purpose

As Kyle and I have discussed in recent DFS Podcast episodes, it’s important to be honest with yourself as a DFS player in regard to your goals. This includes short-term and long-term goals. Are you just logging into have some fun and throw some darts at a Million bucks while having an expendable income? Great, play the large field lottos. Are you trying to build a bankroll consistently on a tighter budget? It probably makes sense to try to find tournaments that pay out a larger percentage of the field or focus on cash-style contests. Are you a serious DFS player who relies on winning as part of your income? Looking for overlay and being rake conscious are hugely important.

Depending on your experience, goals, and the type of player you are, this is going to look vastly different for every person. Be honest with yourself and be realistic about what you expect to happen during the NFL season. The worst thing you can do is unload all of your funds in the first three weeks of the year blindly firing away at random contests and hoping it works. Be honest, be consistent, and have a process that works for you.

Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out the 2022 Ultimate Draft Kit+ to gain access to the DFS Pass, which includes premium resources like DFS Rankings, DraftKings picks, FanDuel picks and our Roster Percentage Report.

Cash Games

I get asked this question all the time – should I play cash on both sites, only on DraftKings? Only on FanDuel? To me, when you think about the biggest edge possible in DFS, I personally feel the cash contests available on FanDuel are not a great investment. Why? On DraftKings, the large-field double-ups and 50/50s allow us to play a safe lineup and generally perform well against a large field of opponents who we know are going to make mistakes. On FanDuel, however, the contests are much smaller. The largest available double-up on FanDuel is somewhere in the range of 300-800 people. Comparatively, we can consistently take advantage of a weak field on DraftKings with thousands of entrants. Simply put, I do not play cash on FanDuel for this reason.

Now, that said, you can certainly play Head-To-Head contests and be profitable. The same philosophy applies on this site as it does over on DK. We generally want to create our own contests. I discussed why in this article.

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Here’s how to do it:

In the main FanDuel lobby, click ‘NFL.’ From here, select Head to Heads then Create Contest in the green bar on the left side of the screen – see image below.

From there, select the entry fees you’d like to play then be sure to limit your opponents to 1. This helps to mitigate the risk of really sharp players from consistently picking off your contests and helps to limit variance in cash games.


We generally recommend a tiered approach to head-to-head contests. Here’s what it might look like if you’re playing $100, for example. Of course, feel free to adjust based on your bank roll and goals

Recommended Contests if you want to play $100 in H2H:

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  • Twenty $1 contests ($20)
  • Fifteen $2 contests ($30)
  • Five $3 contest ($15)
  • Three $5 contests ($15)
  • Two $10 contests ($20)

GPPs and Tournaments

GPP stands for ‘Guaranteed Prize Pool’ and most DFS players generally think of these contests as tournaments. These are the contests where we want to embrace volatility and shoot for those high end outcomes given that the payout structures are generally pretty top-heavy. I wrote all about building tournament lineups in this Roster Construction Checklist article. Our lineups should obviously look a lot different in these contests vs. cash games, but knowing which tournaments to enter is just as important.

Contest Name Entry Fee Entrants Entry Limit Rake % of Field Paid 1st Place Prize
$100K Sun NFL Spike (Single Entry) $5 23,809 Single Entry 16.0% 25.3% $10,000
$20K Sun NFL Three And Out (3 Entries Max) $3 7,936 3 16.0% 25.2% $2,000
$100K Sun NFL Sweep (Single Entry) $25 4,705 Single Entry 15.0% 25.5% $10,000
$25K Sun NFL Flea Flicker (5 Entries Max) $7 4,251 5 16.0% 25.2% $2,500
$100K Sun NFL Snap ($10K to 1st) $3 3,682 150 16.0% 26.6% $10,000
$70K Sun NFL Stiff Arm (Single Entry) $75 1,060 Single Entry 11.9% 25% $10,000
$5K Sun NFL Small Hot Route (Single Entry $50 112 Single Entry 10.7% 20.5% $1,000
$2K Sun NFL Small Sweep (Single Entry) $25 94 Single Entry 15.0% 17.0% $400

This is a list of tournaments that generally have the structure we’re looking for – manageable rake, a high percentage of the field getting paid, and a balanced pay structure to the top 10% of lineups.

Personally, I love playing in the single-entry contests on FanDuel because they provide a solid payout structure with a lower rake. While these smaller field contests won’t lead to those huge payouts we see in the 150 max lottos, it’s a more realistic way to build a bankroll.

If you’ve got the bankroll to play it, the $70K Sun NFL Stiff Arm is a great tournament. With just over 1,000 entrants and less than a 12% rake, it’s not only a tournament where a top 10% finish is realistic, but it’s also friendly to DFS players given the low rake. In addition, it’s got a really impressive $10,000 up top to first place. If you’re looking for an even smaller field, the $50 single entry $5K NFL Small Hot Route tournament with 112 entrants is great in terms of low rake (10.7%), but of course, the first-place prize is smaller. These are two contests I routinely play in over on FanDuel given that they’re rake conscious and also pay out a large portion of the field.

Of course, FanDuel offers many contests that fit a variety of goals for each player. Finding those contests is a critical part of being a successful DFS player. If these specific contests aren’t for you, focus on these core concepts:

  • Seek out low rake contests
  • Search for overlay
  • Regardless of the contest, make sure your lineup matches the contest you’re playing
  • Understand payout structure – the more top-heavy the payout, the fewer the number of entrants gets paid out. This will invite more variance, and thus, more losing weeks. Depending on your experience level, this can be frustrating. If you’re not able to take losing consistently as a GPP player, search for flatter payout structures.
  • Find small field contests the day of – oftentimes after the large field contests fill, FanDuel will release smaller field contests a few hours before lock. This is a great spot to not only find softer opponents but also a great place to find overlay. Note – I can’t list those contests in this article given that they aren’t yet available but if you keep your eyes on the lobby, you’ll find them on Sunday mornings.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful as you prep for your NFL DFS season. If you’re looking for more on contest selection, be sure to check out the DFS Podcast or find me on the #DFS Discord channel. Best of luck!

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