The CFB DFS Winning Formula

Building a Winning DFS Lineup

With another season of College Football returning soon, I decided to do a deep dive into every optimal lineup on FanDuel across the 13 week 2019 season, to see if there were any trends that we could take into 2020. These lineups came from every “Main Slate” during the regular season, which qualified as having 12 or more games to choose from. It was shocking to find so many common themes week-to-week, some of which were painstakingly obvious, and others that revolved much more on the games themselves rather than the players.

Throughout this article I will cover the four common traits that went into the optimal CFB DFS lineups on FanDuel last season. The decision to focus on FanDuel moving forward is because content for DraftKings is becoming oversaturated, and there is still a giant edge in main and small slates on FanDuel. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look at roster spots and scoring on FanDuel. Starting lineups consist of the following:


The main difference in scoring for FanDuel vs DraftKings is the half point vs full point per reception, making target hogs at the WR spot a bit less appealing, and it was apparent in the optimal lineups. Now that we’ve broken that down, let’s take a look at what worked in the 2019 College Football Season.

1. 2-QB Lineups Reign Supreme, and You Better Make Sure One of Them Has Wheels (Especially in the Red Zone)

13 weeks and 13 optimal lineups consisting of a Quarterback in the Super Flex spot. This was the most obvious takeaway as QBs in college have the most upside of anyone on the field. But, a closer look reveals which archetype to look for at the position. Having at least one mobile QB in your lineup was the way to go, and it was apparent EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Take a look at the QB pairings from each week, along with the rushing stats from each player:

With the exception of Week 4, EVERY optimal lineup contained a Quarterback that had at least one rushing touchdown. The majority of weeks, there was a floor of about 30 rushing yards on at least one of the QBs selected. Over the 13 weeks there were 19 QBs placed on an optimal team. Malcolm Perry, Jalen Hurts (made optimal lineup 4 separate times), and Bryce Perkins were the only three QBs last year to register 200+ rushing attempts on the season, according to ExpandTheBoxscore’s Quarterback Leaderboard.

Along with that, 15 of the 19 QBs registered 70+ carries on the season, and were particularly effective in the Red Zone. In 2020, finding the running Quarterbacks who attack in short yardage situations will be the key to unlocking the rest of your lineup.

*XTB will have data dashboards set up specifically for DFS slates with player pricing and advanced analytics to help you locate specific player types to help gain an edge each week.

2. Stack That Heavy Favorite Pocket Passer With His WR1/2 Every. Single. Time.

13 weeks and 8 QB/WR stacks across the board. Again, this seems like an obvious correlation, yet it seems to go ignored too often. The majority of these optimal stacks ended up pairing either the WR1/WR2 with that pocket passing QB. Let’s take a look at the QB/WR stacks along with some Vegas numbers:

I personally am a huge fan of game stacking, and any time you see a game total of 70+ it should be an automatic sign to play multiple players from the game. In other words, playing the mobile QB naked, while pairing the high volume throwers with pass catchers was the way to go. 4 of the 8 stacks included either LSU or Alabama in games where they were favored by 20+ points, and every QB/WR stack came in a game with an O/U of at least 62. Touts across the industry will tell you to be contrarian when it comes to GPPs and large field tournaments, but playing the favorites is the play, regardless of ownership.

The underlying theme you will see here is building high upside lineups through heavy favorites and mobile Quarterbacks. The next aspect of optimizing these lineups comes from the Running Back position, and we’ll see a similar trend here in terms of favorites in high scoring games.

3. Running Backs Do Matter (At Least In CFB DFS), And Paying Up At The Position Is The Key To Success (INSERT CHUBA HUBBARD GIF)

13 weeks and 11 lineups with a Running Back costing $9,500 or more in salary. Let’s take a quick look at the RB positions in each optimal lineup from 2019:

Side note, how about Chuba (f-word) Hubbard showing up roughly 25% of perfect lineups. Oh, and he’ll be back next season…

The truth of the matter is that paying up at the Running Back position is even more crucial on FanDuel with the half point PPR scoring format. Mix that with the fact that CFB RBs tend to do most of the damage on the ground, whether that be through big bodied backs overpowering defenses, or freak athletes who need one step of space to make eleven guys miss. You will see opinions week-in and week-out on pivoting at a certain position to be contrarian, but Running Back should not be that position. Pay up, and pay up often, knowing that more often than not these high priced RBs will return value.

Two QBs, WR stacks, paying up for RB… seems simple enough. Let’s move onto the final aspect of this lineup configuration: finding the right punt at WR.

4. Targets Trending Up In Last 2 Weeks = WR Relief with Optimal Upside (Oh, and Don’t Be Afraid to Leave a LOT of Your Salary Cap Off the Table)

13 weeks and 11 optimal lineups leaving salary on the table. Taking it one step further, 9 of the 13 weeks saw over $500 of salary left off the roster. Differentiating yourself through salary relief, rather than through contrarian plays seems to be the optimal way of filling out your lineups. The most surprising piece that I found with this was the fact that these extremely cheap WRs to punt were ALL trending up in targets leading up to a breakout game.

Of the 13 weeks, 9 lineups had a WR priced at $7500 or below produce enough value to make its way onto these teams. Players in lineups for the first 3 weeks of the season are excluded, as trends were not visible yet. Let’s take a look at the target volume in the games prior:

The amazing thing about this is the fact that all four of these characteristics appear in more than 75% of the optimal lineups throughout the season. So, in conclusion, we can see a relatively similar pattern throughout the entire season. Note that 6 of the 9 players netted 8+ targets in two weeks. We hear all the time that recency bias is a negative trait of DFS, but it can also be extremely beneficial to catch upcoming trends. XTB helped me tremendously in this regard!

  1. Play 2 Quarterbacks, making sure one is mobile and not afraid to get dirty around the End Zone.  
  2. Stack your other Quarterback with his WR1/WR2 for optimal upside.
  3. Pay up for at least one RB spot, if not both.
  4. Leave salary and find those value WRs with targets trending up, even if only a handful.

I hope this helps when conducting research going into next season. Be sure to check back in for my weekly write ups, where I will be taking deep dives into which players fit these categories each week. Be sure to check out and our data dashboards to gain an edge each week.

#WeGotStats #SuperiorStatistics