DFS Strategy: Stars & Scrubs vs. Balanced Lineup

by Ayden Fahlstrom | March 25, 2020 |

When building a daily fantasy sports lineup, there are two general approaches to building the lineup. Do you want to pack in star players and fill out the lineup with value plays or do you want to play more of a balanced roster in hopes of getting great scores across the board.

There is no good answer to this in general, but there is almost always an answer on any given slate. One of the best ways to create a good lineup is to understand the build of the day and deviate from that build in GPPs or just make sure that you are being different enough in the same type of build.

Stars and Scrubs

Stars and Scrubs is the most common lineup build in most DFS contests because most casual players want to play superstars. While this is not always the case because it depends on the pricing and the slate, it is something to understand.

Each sport is a little different when it comes to these builds, but let’s talk a bit about the advantages of this strategy in general in most sports. I would argue that more upside is more likely in this lineup build because of potential value and star consistency.

Let’s say you are making a lineup with 8 players and you can get 4 stars and 4 scrubs, but one of the scrubs is a huge value based on an injury of some sort. You are rarely killed by star players relative to the rest of the field and they obviously have the most likely upside on the slate. Now all you need to do is hit on the 4 value plays when 1 is very likely to succeed.

This strategy also probably creates the best floor because stars are usually less volatile compared to average players, especially when we look at the downside of their volatility. This is something that is very broad, but it is more likely the case than not.

Balanced Lineups

I like using balanced lineups when possible because of the ownership discrepancies that you can often get in the mid tier in most sports. The biggest issue with a balanced lineup in a sport like the NBA is that you likely need all of your players to exceed expectations to win a big prize.

When you are building a lineup with Giannis and you project him at 65 fantasy points and he only gets 61, you can very easily take down a big contest. This is not always the case when a $7,000 player only gets 32 because there are likely 10 players below him that exceeded his salary and allowed them to pay up in other spots for more consistent and better players.

It is more common to see a $4,000 player outperform a $7,000 player than it is to see a $7,000 player outperform a $11,000 player and this inherently creates a tougher lineup build to master in NBA DFS. In sports with more volatility like MLB, the consistency and upside of a backup second baseman and the best player in the world is very much closer than in the NBA, making balanced lineups more common as the volatility of the sport increases.

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