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Feb 28, 2024
Garrett Ball

GridRival DFS Primer

So, you want to try out Formula 1 Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)? Awesome! Whether you are a DFS novice or a seasoned veteran, this article is for you! We will cover a lot of ground in this article, so strap in. I’ll try to make things as concise and clear as possible while giving you a solid foundational knowledge of DFS.

Before we begin, I want to stress one thing: have fun. Whether you’re planning on just playing around with a few dollars and hoping to luck into some cash, or you’re trying to consistently win some side money, have fun. Don’t play with more than you can afford to lose because you won’t win every week. Don’t let early success make you overconfident; don’t let early failure make you quit. Keep at it, and make sure to have fun!

Let’s dive in, shall we?

What is DFS, and how is it different from regular fantasy leagues?

For some of you, this is an easy question. For others, it’s a new thing. DFS stands for “daily fantasy sports” and offers you a different way to engage in the sports you enjoy. I come from the NFL space, and I play a lot of fantasy football. I may not have guys like Josh Allen, Justin Jefferson, Puka Nacua, or Breece Hall on my teams in regular fantasy leagues with how the draft or waiver wire works out.

But with DFS, that is not an issue. I have access to every player, every week. GridRival DFS works much the same.

That makes regular motorsports fantasy leagues and DFS contests somewhat similar. Regardless of the “format,” you have access to all drivers in every single race. The main difference is on GridRival, you have a contract system that locks drivers/constructors onto your team anywhere between 1-5 races. But, to quote myself from earlier, “in DFS, that is not an issue.” You are playing for the best result for that race rather than shooting for a good 4 races in contract style, for example. It is a weekly game, not a long term one.

How Does it Work?

In DFS, you pay an entry fee into a contest, $3, $5, $25, or whatever you choose, in order to have a chance to win money. You play against other contestants and how your lineup does compared to theirs determines who wins and who loses.

There are four main types of contests on GridRival: Sprint, Winner Takes All, 50/50, and Head-to-Head (or H2H). In Sprints, usually around 30% of the contestants win cash prizes. The upside to that is the winners usually rake in a lot more cash, with prizes getting larger the better you do. Winner Takes All works like implied and is a style of play that you should approach like a Sprint contest. We’ll get to that in a minute.

In 50/50 and H2H contests, half of the contestants win money. These types of contests should be approached similarly. Pro-tip: 50/50 and H2H are good for building your “bankroll” (also known as your money). However, you don’t have the same winning potential as Sprint and Winner Takes All.

In short, Sprint and Winner Takes All (which will now be referred to as WTA for brevity) have a smaller percentage of winning, but a much higher payout potential. 50/50 and H2H have a higher percentage of winning, but a lower payout.

DFS Strategy and Process

Some terminology that will help us discuss strategy:

Ceiling: The highest a driver can reasonably score.

Chalk: A driver or constructor who is more likely to be on a lot of player’s lineups.
Fade: When you choose to not roster a driver/constructor based on how you think they will do. Fades can be popular or unpopular. I.e. fading Haas is not hard, most people do. Fading Max and not playing him is much harder, most people don’t.

Field: The group of contestants you are playing against. “The field” could be 100 people, 10 people, or 1000 people, it basically refers to everyone who is in a particular contest.

Floor: The lowest amount a driver can reasonably score.

Rostership: percentage of how much a driver or constructor is in rosters, if Hamilton is in 8 of 20 lineups, he is 40% rostered.

Value: A particular driver's points per $ score. If a driver scores 120 points and costs $30M to roster, his value is 4.0. The higher the value, the better.

Sprint and Winner Takes All

Alright, let’s focus on gameplay. As I’ve mentioned, you don’t have to worry about driver and constructor contracts, so no long-term worries. Just that one race. Right? Seems simple enough.

And it is in theory, but not as much in practice. Driver salaries come into play. They do in the regular GridRival leagues but with a twist. In GridRival your team salary can rise and fall with the driver's performance, giving you more or less to spend on your team contracts in the future. In DFS, you always have $100M, no more, no less, but driver prices still fluctuate. You must build a new lineup each week and it likely won’t feature the same drivers as the previous week.

Not only that but let’s say for example Oscar Pisatri is really cheap relative to the other drivers. Really cheap and scores a lot of points, who doesn’t want that? That makes him a good play right? Not exactly.

That’s where strategy comes in. If YOU see Piastri as an obvious play, odds are the field does too. If you play with 9 other people and 90% of people play Piastri and he crashes as he did in Belgium in 2023, the one person who played Lance Stroll instead probably had the better result and won the contest. Piastri would have been chalk and the chalk would have failed.

That’s not to say every value is bad. You need to find it to gain an edge over your competition. The key is spotting good values. When Esteban Ocon finished P3 in Monaco in 2023, it meant Alpine had a good event score. They were cheap and likely low-rostered as well, helping your lineup and giving you a leg up. (PS: I can’t say the roster numbers for certain because I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but Alpine just wasn’t a popular constructor pick in 2023 in general. But the principle idea is still there!) 

Not only that, but inversely if Piastri had done well in Belgium, you would have done well, but so would everyone else. If you keep pace with the pack, you don’t put yourself in a position to win the big bucks. So if you played Piastri, you’d have to find someone else to play who was not highly rostered and who had at least a decent race, like Stroll or Ocon.

If you do that, that sets your lineup apart from everyone else, even if you have a chalky play.

To summarize, when you’re playing Sprint or WTA, it’s important to make sure that your lineup is different than what everyone else is playing. If you’re seeing that Piastri, Albon, or Mercedes are getting a lot of buzz before a race, odd are they are popular and it might be wise to pivot off of them. If you decide to choose a popular driver, make sure you get different elsewhere. In this style, it’s important to make sure you have a unique lineup that has a high ceiling. You are playing to win first, after all, especially in WTA contests.

50/50 and Head to Head

For 50/50 or H2H contests, playing Piastri like in our example above would have been fine, half of the contestants would have made money and most probably played Piastri, meaning his crash hurt everyone equally.

Because 50% of the contestants are winning money, all you have to do is make sure your lineup beats half of the field. It needs to be: 1. Safe and not too risky and 2. Still have enough upside that you can see yourself in the top half of lineup scores. Coming first in a 10-person 50/50 contest is great, but you win just as much as someone who came in 5th.

Closing Thoughts

There is a lot more I could go into with DFS, but that should help jumpstart you! There is a lot of nuance, good chalk vs bad chalk, good value vs bad value, etc. It’s why I wrote this column, to help players understand the process of playing DFS and playing it well.

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