NASCAR 101: The differences between FanDuel and DraftKings for NASCAR DFS
What’s up, everyone? My name is Ryan Larkin aka Larkin8 and I appreciate you guys checking out this special NASCAR 101 article on the differences between FanDuel and DraftKings for NASCAR DFS. I hope you enjoy this article and will be back to check out more installments in our blog series.
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Fanduel vs Draftkings
Since Fanduel began offering NASCAR contests in 2018, many have been curious about the differences between the two sites. It’s important to understand the differences between Fanduel and DraftKings contests when it comes to strategy, potential edges, and scoring.
By looking deeper into these two sites, we can gain a better understanding of how each platform operates and which one may be better suited for our individual needs. Specifically, by examining the scoring for each site, we can gain insight into how to optimize our gameplay.
The first place to start is with a driver’s finishing position. Fundamentally, DraftKings and FanDuel are fairly similar in regard to their scoring but there are a couple of areas where they differ slightly.
On FanDuel, they give last place or 40th 1 point, 39th 2 points, and so on. They add one point for every position all the way to 3rd place which scores 38 points. Then they give an extra point to 2nd place who scores 40 points and finally, the race winner gets 43 points.
On Draftkings, they score fairly similar but with a couple of small differences. DK also scores 40th with 1 point, 39th with 2, etc. However, when they get to 30th they give an extra point. So 31st scores 10 points and 30th scores 12. They repeat this for the 20th and 10th positions as well. Essentially giving a bonus point for finishing top 10 or top 20.
From 10th to 2nd goes up in 1-point increments with 2nd scoring 42 points. And the race winner scores 45 points. Thus giving the race winner 3 bonus points.
The differences are minor but still a part of the overall puzzle.
Now for the most important part of the equation. Dominator or Dom points are the accumulation of laps led and/or fast laps throughout a race.
This is where the site’s scoring varies the most and where people often misinterpret how to play on a certain site. For Draftkings they utilize a system in which laps led score .25 of a point each and fast laps score .45 of a point each. Fanduel on the other hand do not utilize fast laps as part of their scoring and only reward .1 of a point for a lap led.
These differences create a major contrast in how slates are played on the two sites. Of course, a dominator who leads 100 laps but crashes out probably isn’t on the winning lineup as a result of the finishing position and negative place differential.
On DK you may often pick 2, 3, or even 4 potential dominators. Not only because they can all lead a large number of laps but due to the fact they can secure a large number of fast laps while also potentially leading. These fast laps are a major separator each and every week.
To give a quick example of how this DraftKings NASCAR scoring works, let us do some quick math.
Driver A leads 100 laps and secures 50 fast laps.
100 laps x .25 = 25 Dom points for laps led
50 fast laps x .45 = 22.5 points for laps led
This equals a total of 47.5 extra points over the competition.
On the other side, Fanduel offers very little separation by a race dominator. Another side effect of Fanduel’s way of doing things is that the number of laps in a race can greatly change the scoring potential of the dominator. If there are 90 laps in a race like at Watkins Glen then that means there are a total of 9 dom points available. While if you look at Martinsville or Bristol there are 500 laps or 50 potential dom points. This means from week to week the dominator importance varies massively depending on how many laps are in the race.
For comparison to the Draftkings math above let’s see what it would look like under Fanduel NASCAR scoring.
100 laps led x .1 = 10 points
50 fast laps x 0 = 0 points
This means the dominator only separated themselves by 10 total points. A number that can be overcome by place differential or better overall lineup construction.
Place Differential is a scoring aspect that is offered by both DraftKings and FanDuel. It can be scored positively or negatively and is calculated using a driver’s starting and finishing positions. For example, if a driver starts in 20th place and finishes in 10th, they will have a positive Place Differential. However, if they finish in 30th place, they will have a negative Place Differential.
The difference between DraftKings and FanDuel comes in how they score Place Differential. DraftKings awards 1 point for every position gained or lost, while FanDuel awards 0.5 points.
This means that if a driver has a positive Place Differential of 10, they will score 10 points on DraftKings and 5 points on FanDuel. It’s worth noting that Place Differential can have a significant impact on a driver’s score on DraftKings, but it is less influential on FanDuel. This means that there is more of a balance between picking drivers based on their finishing position and Place Differential on FanDuel.
Lastly, there is one final form of scoring utilized, Laps completed. This scoring is only used by Fanduel and overall is borderline pointless. Drivers get 0.1 of a point for each lap completed. At the end of the race if a driver is 3 laps down then he scores 0.3 of a point less than a lead lap car.
.3 of a point is such a minor amount that it will have little to no effect on a slate. Occasionally, a driver could finish one lap ahead of another driver and the .1 of a point ends up being the difference between 1st and 2nd in a DFS contest but in my experience that is extremely rare. It is a very minor detail in the long run.
When playing on DraftKings, the biggest key to success is identifying the top performers (referred to as “dominators”) and selecting them for your lineup. It can be a difficult task but it is crucial to pinpoint who those drivers are that can separate themselves from the field with dominator points.
Additionally, paying attention to place differential is crucial. This is because any driver who gains multiple spots can earn a significant amount of PD points and potentially outscore a driver who finishes higher but gains fewer positions. A driver with a high negative place differential can significantly hurt your lineup as well.
It is important to choose drivers with a combination of high finishing positions, positive place differential, and being a dominator.
- Pinpoint dominators – most vital part of DK lineup building
- Find a Stud – drivers who can score well with positive place differential and fast laps potential. These drivers are usually in the mid to high-tier price point but score enough to justify the cost.
- Hit on the crucial low-tier/punt value plays who can help your lineup afford the dominators/studs in a race. These drivers may finish anywhere from top 10 on a great day or all the way back in 30th. As long as the price and points scored is right, these drivers can end up on an optimal lineup. This is something that will almost never happen on Fanduel.
The importance of having a “dominator” in your lineup may vary depending on the number of laps in a race when playing on Fanduel. In races with a lot of laps, the dominator becomes crucial as they typically separate themselves from the rest of the field and score the most points. However, in races with fewer laps, the dominator’s impact can be mitigated with a well-constructed lineup. This is not the case on DraftKings, where dominators, who finish the race towards the front are a must-have in nearly every race.
Of course, a dominator who leads 100 laps but crashes out probably isn’t on the winning lineup as a result of the finishing position and negative place differential. However, for what we are doing here, let’s assume our dominators are delivering good finishes as well.
Another aspect to consider in Fanduel is the half-point place differential. There is a common misconception that place differential is not important when building lineups and that you should focus on choosing drivers with high-finishing positions. However, this is not entirely the case.
Often, players overlook drivers with good place differential potential, which is a mistake. The driver starting 19th and finishing 10th will outscore a driver who starts and finishes 6th. There is a balance and strategy to be considered here. I am a big fan of place differential plays personally on FD. I have a very successful cash rate on the site as a result but maybe sometimes I miss that optimal lineup because I am not playing that 10th-place starter who finishes 4th because I played the guy starting 24th.
As I said before, it really is finding the balance between the two.
With Fanduel, the necessity of a dominator varies depending on the number of laps in a race. Races with a lot of laps will make needing the dominator extremely important as that is the greatest point of separation for lineups. When racing on tracks with a low number of laps, drivers with a high place differential score may end up outscoring the top dominator. This is due to the fact the dominators can not truly separate themselves from the field. This can mean that a driver who leads 100 out of 200 laps in a race isn’t on the winning lineup.
This would almost never be possible on Draftkings. Unless of course, that dominator crashes out or has a significant issue.
Another significant factor to consider when playing on Fanduel is the half-point place differential. This is a topic that often generates debate among Fanduel players, and there is a prevalent misconception that place differential is not essential. It is frequently suggested that lineups should be constructed based solely on finishing position. While it is true that the finishing position carries more weight on Fanduel than on DraftKings, it is not advisable to prioritize it over place differential.
Inexperienced players often overlook drivers with high place differential potential, which can be a costly mistake, or on the flip side, you might miss a great slate winning GPP play by chasing the place differential. There really is a balance and strategy to be considered when selecting drivers based on place differential.
High lap total races 300 laps or more
- Pinpoint the dominators – Any driver who leads 100+ laps and finishes at the front is going to separate themselves from the pack and likely end up optimal.
- Find a good balance between the finishing position and place differential for the remaining drivers. Do you want a driver who starts 25th and finishes 12th or a driver who starts and finishes 7th? Simply run the math. Also, the place differential play might be chalkier but the 7th-place driver might have the bigger upside at a much lower ownership number.
Low lap total races below 267 or less
- Pick the highest finishers possible and if any offer a good place differential number then they are a top play. If there are drivers starting in the very back of the field with decent finishing upside then you will want to utilize their place differential as a way to beat out higher-finishing drivers. Lineup construction will be all about
- Dominator – If you want to win big on Fanduel you need to pick the race winner. Often the race winner will be the same driver who leads the most laps or a portion of the laps. As a result, you can technically say you need a dominator in your lineup. But sometimes there are surprise winners that lead just a handful of laps. They are probably still on the optimal lineup, but what about the driver who led 100 laps, are they optimal?
If the dominator who led 100 laps and scored 10 dom points has a negative place differential then they will lose part of their value gained from dominating. If they started 3rd and finished 11th they would score -4 PD points and only 11th place points. The driver starting 8th and finishing 5th outscores them.
Without the fast laps it can be hard for a driver to separate themselves but also doesn’t give them the safety net like getting 50 fast laps does on DraftKings.
Deciding which site is the best to play for YOU
Draftkings can be a little more volatile as a whole. Miss a dominator and you will struggle to cash your lineup. Miss on a driver with a massive place differential total and you will again struggle to cash. The separation from a lineup with these drivers versus a driver who misses on these plays is much larger.
Fanduel, especially with low-lap total races, can be much easier to play. You mainly focus on finishing position and any drivers with high place differential possibilities. When it comes to the races with high lap totals the slate becomes much more like Draftkings where you can not afford to miss on a massive dominator.
DraftKings on the whole will offer more consistency week to week with how the outcomes of slates are decided. However, it also has the sharpest players and is more punishing if you miss on key drivers.
Fanduel changes more week to week but as a result, can offer a better edge. Paying close attention to the details of each race is key here. How you should build your lineup based on the scoring changes frequently.
At the end of the day, choosing the site that is right for you is a personal preference. Both offer great formats but with different ways of deciding who takes home the winnings. Hopefully, all the information in this article helps you decide the best way to play NASCAR DFS going forward.