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DFS Strategy: Cash vs GPPs

DFS strategy

Whether you have played zero contests of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) or have played for a couple years like myself, there is always room to learn and improve your skills. The best players learn to adapt and evolve with the game as new strategies and contests arise. These players are always looking for an edge on the competition. When there is an edge, there is profitability. Who doesn’t like profitability? Let us help take your DFS strategy game to the next level with our first installment of DFS Strategy just in time for the upcoming NFL season.


The Basics

Let’s start with the basics of understanding terminology and concepts before we jump into how to pick what contest types to play.  First and foremost, there are two separate types of contests: Cash and GPP.

Cash Games

Cash games mainly consist of double ups, triple ups, and head to heads. Generally, any contest that pays out more than 30% of the field at an equal rate is considered a cash game. The one and only goal of playing cash games is to make it into the payout zone. Upside does not matter in these contest types because the entire field is paid out at an equal rate. Let’s use a double up contest for an example:

Let’s say 100 total people are entered into the double up contest. Around the top 40 scores will be paid out exactly double their entry fee (hence the term “double up”). The reason half of the field makes money while the other half doesn’t is because the sites have to also make money, unfortunately for us.

As I mentioned before, upside doesn’t matter in this format because the 40th place player wins the exact same amount as the person who places first. Instead, the focus is on safe picks rather than those with high risk. DFS cash players need guaranteed points from players with high floors more than a risky play who could get a low amount of points relative to salary.

This seems like common sense, but this is one of the biggest mistakes I see people make. They fail to separate their cash plays from their GPP plays. Some players qualify as both types, but not always.


GPP stands for Guaranteed Prize Pool. These are tournaments that are guaranteed to run regardless if the tournament fills or not. Contrary to cash games, GPP players should target upside. Remember, cash games are reserved for the safer plays, but GPPs are reserved for the riskier and more volatile plays. Since these tournaments usually payout a good percentage of the total prize pool to only the top finishers, DFS players must outscore the majority of the tournament players to really boost their bankroll. In order to do this, they must take risks on players that have a low floor (a chance of scoring little to no points) yet also have a shot to rack up a significant amount of points (high ceiling).

Given this, one tip is to play in the smaller field tournaments. The payouts are generally way less than the big field tournaments, but your chances of actually winning first place is much higher. Being able to consistently place high in tournaments is the best way to boost your return on investment (ROI). The less people you play against, the more likely you are to win because there are less lineup combinations and you won’t need as high of a score for first place.

Lastly, you can capitalize on entering unfilled GPP tournaments to increase your likelihood of winning a payout. The Guaranteed tournaments pay the same amount of players and money whether the tournament fills or not. So, always check the lobby right before a slate of games locks to take advantage.

What Type of DFS Strategy Player are You

This is a question each DFS player needs to ask themselves. Do I find myself more likely to take a chance on a player who has a wide range of outcomes? Or do I find myself continuously landing on the safe and obvious plays? Only you can answer that question. If you are the person who doesn’t care about risk and will gladly roster someone like Desean Jackson, then you are a perfect soul for GPPs. If you would never in your right mind roster such a boom-or-bust player, then you are built for mainly cash games.

A player like Desean Jackson is a perfect example of how people fail to draw the line between cash and tournament plays. Many people will just input their cash lineups into tournaments and vice versa without making any adjustments based on player types and it can cost them their profitability.

To summarize, we want upside in GPPs and safety in Cash DFS. Just by using this simple roster construction strategy and doing your research on fantasy players, your DFS strategy will drastically increase your chances of success.

Don’t forget to check out all our great content at TFA and follow the team on Twitter for updated fantasy news and advice!



Sports have always been my #1 passion. I have been playing fantasy football since I was 15 years old. At the age of 5 I was known for reading box scores in the newspaper instead of watching cartoons like the 'normal' kids. I played professional baseball in an independent league. Even though I played baseball for over 20 years of my life, fantasy football is by far my biggest passion among fantasy sports. I provide insight regarding Redraft leagues and DFS here at The Fantasy Authority.

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  1. Pingback: DFS Strategy: Using Game Theory to Your Advantage

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