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CoachS111’s Beginner’s Guide to Daily Fantasy Showdown Contests





What is the purpose of this article? Who would read this? Why would I read it?

The purpose of this article is to explain what a DFS showdown contest is, why we enjoy it so much, basic strategies for winning, and to help players who are just getting started.  At one point I read an article like this many years ago. Now hundreds of thousands of “sweats” later, I am passing on some tricks of my trade. By the way, the term “sweat” is referred to the process of a DFS player sweating (being nervous) during the final moments of a contest.

As you are reading this article, you will see: ***ADVICE FROM COACH***

This is when I’m offering my own personal tips or strategies on the topic.



What is it? (if you have already started playing showdown contest feel free to skip this part)

If you have read this far you probably already know what a showdown is. Showdown contests involve only one game rather than a given week or day’s slate of games like a classic DFS contest would encompass. That means your player pool only includes the two teams playing.

Of course, the lineup construction is much different. On DraftKings, you will pick six players in a Showdown lineup, one is called the captain, and five utility players. The captain will have his points multiplied by 1.5, and his salary will also be multiplied by 1.5. The captain and five utility players can be any offensive players in the game. You can also choose from the kickers or the team defense and special teams’ units.

The scoring itself matches up with DraftKings’ standard scoring. FanDuel is slightly different. Their showdown rosters only play five players, and there is no multiplier on the salary of your “MVP” or “Captain” Spot.


FanDuel has way more ties due to having to roster one less player and there not being any salary difference in the “MVP” slot. If you like FanDuel I suggest playing cash showdowns, or single entry. If you do play the large top heavy GPPs, mass enter or enter multiple lines.
I recommend following my rule of 4-3-2-1.
This means for every 10-lineups:
I enter my best lineup 4 times.
A second lineup 3 times.
A third lineup 2 times.
A fourth lineup 1 time.
This allows me to win more when there are super large ties. The lineups entered the lessor amounts project for less ownership. You should win the same amount of money no matter which lineup wins.


Cash Games vs GPP

Cash games are all about making sure your lineup has the highest floor possible, unlike GPPS where you want a combo of floor and ceiling. In showdowns, I focus more on double-ups not H2H. My hypothesis is that more casual players are more likely to throw an entry into a double-up than post H2H contests. In addition, I feel the causal player does not often make their lineups any different between GPP and Cash when entering showdowns.


For showdowns you must ask yourself this question:
How adverse to risk are you?
If you answered extremely high, you must be able to handle losing a lot more than winning. But when you win, you win big! If you are not able to stomach risk, play cash only in showdowns. If you always lean towards chalky builds, you will lose money in large top-heavy GPP’S over time, except for possibly basketball. You may be able to win in cash though. If you can handle risk, and are willing to be contrarian, showdown GPP’S are for you.


Showdown Difference Between Sports

I hate ties! If you want to be a winner, you should hate ties too. That being said, basketball is my least favorite showdown sport. It is the most predictable sport as there are times you just can not get away from the chalk. This often leads to way more chalky builds and many more ties. Football and baseball have a huge amount of variance and are excellent sports for large GPP showdown contests.

You must play each sport slightly different, and come up with game scripts and builds based on each sport and particular games being played that night.  You will want to take more risks in football and baseball. In basketball, you will want to pick a few places and spots in which you can make your lineups different. In basketball you’ll want to pay up for the captain spot and spend more of your salary than the other sports.

Basketball Specific Strategies

  1. Use your Salary- I looked at over 350 different NBA showdowns. In the top 1% of lineups, 7% used at least $48,000 in salary.
Lineup Salary Range # of top 1% % of Lineups
$49500 to $50000 145 39.30%
$49000 to $49499 89 24.12%
$48000 to $48999 75 20.33%
Under $48000 60 16.26%


  1. Pay Up for Captain; There are times in which there are low-salary, high-upside players you can play in captain. This happens a lot of the time in NBA due to injuries. Over 80% of optimal lineups payed at least $10,000 for Captain.
  2. Do not Pay Attention to Stacking; For NBA showdowns and one-game contest there is not as much correlation and value in stacking. The 3/3 and 4/2 builds were the most successful NBA lineups. But game script is far more important. An example of this would be if you think one team blows the other team out, you might want to include one or two bench players from that team.
  3. Pay Attention to Correlations, Not Stacks; In NBA correlations are more important. You want to play players who have positive correlations, but even more important you want to avoid negative ones. A good example would be to not play DeAndre Jordan and Jared Allen in the same lineup as generally they show negative correlation.
  4. Do Not Forget the Bench; Over 80% of optimal lineups included at least one bench player. If you have a high scoring sixth man, you can play them in the captain spot as roughly 15% of optimal lineups included a bench player in captain slot.


Closing Advice

I will be adding a football and baseball section of this article later this week. I wanted to get the NBA part out first so you could read it while we still have a few NBA Finals games left.  Our DFS Karma Optimizer is an excellent tool for showdowns. Give it a try!

There is so much more to cover. I hope some of this has helped you. I am putting together many high-level articles and training documents. My last piece of advice is do not play with your heart! Do not pick players because you like them or vice versa. Just because the best plays of the weekend are going against the team you root for that does not mean you cannot play them. Players that play like that are the fish. Learn to eat the fish not become one!

Until next time. Signing Off  WHO-DEY!

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