On to one of the most exciting formats in all of DFS – Showdowns!
Nothing like a 1v1 battle where ANY player can be in the winning lineup. The leaderboards change almost every play and one catch can swing you from a min. cash to a first-place finish.
To construct a showdown lineup there are no lineup restrictions other than the one superstar rule and that you must use at least one player from each team. Otherwise, anything is fair game. You can even play multiple players from the same defense where each player will give you the same points that the defense scores. (NOTE: for defense it does not matter if the player is out, they will still score points for you!)
Basing Roster Construction on Showdowns
A quick aside: In my opinion, one of the most effective strategies for building your Reignmakers roster is to prioritize players from teams that have overlapping showdown games. This approach offers excellent value for your investment. Reason being is that there are compressed prize pools for a limited number of players in showdowns. By focusing your purchases on the top-performing players from these teams, you increase your chances of them appearing in optimal lineups for both showdowns and the main slate.
Another way to maximize your roster’s potential is to select players from teams likely to make the playoffs. During the playoffs, there are much larger prize pools with a shrinking pool of teams. Teams that win more during the season retain their value better than losing teams as their playoff prospects improve.
This year, it turns out that some of the best teams have the most showdown games.
As an example, I went ahead and analyzed some of the teams with overlapping games and have found that this combination of 9 teams has the most common showdown games amongst them (14):
These teams also have secondary overlaps with other strong contenders like BAL, DAL, JAX, MIA, and PHI.
Before getting to lineup construction, I want to talk about serials. One of the biggest knocks against showdowns in traditional DFS is that often times the winning lineup is played by multiple people and the prizes are split. Sometimes this happens hundreds of times and all of a sudden, a first-place finish isn’t worth all that much. You don’t have to worry about that in Reignmakers where the sum of a lineup’s serial numbers will be used to break ties instead.
If you are playing anything even remotely chalky (high-owned) you can be sure that you will be duped and you might be making a big mistake by entering that lineup with bad serials. Since payouts are top-heavy, every better-serial lineup that dupes you significantly reduces your equity in the contest.
As an example, let’s look at the payout table for the $20k elite showdown:
If your lineup is duped and loses tiebreaks just 6 times, then you already lost half your equity in the contest before kickoff.
I find that I am okay being duped 1-2 times but anything beyond that and I’ve lost too much equity.
Generally, where serials matter most is in comparison to the optimal lineup. I'd ballpark the following serial ranges as where you will need to get different and by how much:
Elite: 100+ - 2 pts of differentiation, 60+ 1 pt of differentiation
Rare: 300+ - 2 pts of differentiation, 150+ 1 pt of differentiation
Core: 1k+ - 2 pts of differentiation, 500+ 1 pt of differentiation
A point of differentiation can be as simple as playing a different captain within the same four players. For example, in the Giants vs 49ers showdown game:
Playing kickers and defense are a great way to get unique as most are averse to playing them given their limited ceilings. We can use this to our advantage when playing bad serials as those positions pop up in the winning lineups more often than you might expect.
Playing the Optimal Lineup
When you have great serials, I typically recommend playing the optimal or highest-projected lineup. In my opinion, this gives you the greatest equity for the least amount of work. You can just sit back, relax, and let everyone else try to beat you.
In fact, during the super bowl (the showdown with the biggest prize pool) the optimal lineup won. In rare tier this lineup was duped 123 times.
The person in 123rd might not have realized it but they were better off selling their cards than submitting this lineup.
Unfortunately, the data isn’t available for contests that I didn’t join so I couldn’t do a deep dive into the winning lineups for last year’s showdowns. However, I looked at all 54 showdown games last season and analyzed “the nuts” (lineups with the highest possible score) in order to gain insights into constructing better lineups (with a ton of caveats of course). As you go up in tier, the further away your lineup can be from the nuts and still win.
Captain (CPT) -
You can see that the players with the highest scoring potential are often the captains in the nut lineup (duh). WR1/RB1/QB are the captain 80% of the time with TE trailing behind QB and the next men up appearing as fringe captains. A kicker and WR3+ never ended up being the captain in the nuts last season.
While any WR can always bust off a big play I am pretty comfortable with saying:
DO NOT PUT A KICKER IN THE CAPTAIN SPOT.
To me this means that it’s almost foolish to play a showdown lineup without a superstar in it unless you were either looking to min. cash or were purposefully being contrarian (which is a viable strategy).
A couple of things that surprised me:
With showdown lineups try to predict a game script that makes sense and construct your lineup around it. I like to think that each lineup predicts a story:
"Mahomes has nobody to throw to"
"Guys not worth $82 million"
"They run and we throw"
Here are some other common viable builds:
QB + 2 pass catchers +1
QB + WR1 + RB1 + 1
"The Shootout" (QB/WR1 + QB/WR1)
There are some viable options that you can enter each week for cheap:
2 DST + RB + 1
3DST + 1
Deep roster is the final contest type and utilizes 9 players from all games of a week.
Simultaneously it's a great way to plug and play the same lineup every week AND/OR* it's a good way to combine everything we've learned to take advantage of late swap as there are multiple windows to swap players in (Thurs -> Sunday early -> Sunday late -> Sunday night -> Monday) opportunities.
Deep roster gets more and more valuable as you move up in tiers as you can play up more and more spots. At the highest extreme, Reignmaker tier allows you to field a lineup where you can simply play a reignmaker in the kicker, defense, and tight end spots and play up legendaries everywhere else.
You generally want an average score of 20+ per position where TE/K/DST are MAJOR differentiators due to how volatile the positions Because of this, I've adjusted my strategy to take shots more at these positions in the earlier games.
Reason being is that
a: they are usually the cheapest cards in a tier and
b. a bad score at these positions won't necessarily kill your line and a good score will put you in great position for a top finish.