Win the DraftKings $10 Million Millionaire Maker Event

In this article, I discuss player decisions to win the Week 1 NFL $10M Millionaire Maker event at DraftKings. I was given a freeroll into the event. Having played myself, I decided to post the good deals I found in research. I won’t post my lineup, but I’ll give you a selection of the best values at each position.

The player tips can be used on any DFS site, but I recommend strategies for winning big tournament-style contests. Part of the strategy is to start several of the top players, while stacking less well-known players with an elite quarterback. The suggestions I make below should help. Here’s why.

Most advice on these topics are general in nature. This is player advice up to date for early September 2015. It should help.

Let me give a qualification. If I could win guaranteed $2 million at will, I’d be sitting on a beach somewhere. But DFS owners can make starting lineup decisions which increase their chances of winning. The huge player pool and the nature of probability means you probably won’t win a prize, but you’ll have a lot better chance than most of the other entries.

Before I get to player information, let’s look at the details of the contest.

How to Win the DraftKings NFL $10M Millionaire Maker [$2 Million Guaranteed] in Week 1

Entry Fee: $20
Top Prize: $2,000,000
Total Prizes: $10,000,000
FPP Award: 80

At the moment, the Week 1 NFL $2M Play-Action has 94,317 entries. The max number of entrants DraftKings wants is 572,500.

The contest goes live at 1pm on Sunday, September 13. Sunday games are included. The Patriots/Steelers game on Thursday is not playable. Early withdrawals are allowed.

This is the biggest weekly event DraftKings has during the NFL regular seasons. Hundreds of thousands of players enter. One emerges really happy with a $2 million prize. Many others share out the remaining $10 million in prize money.

So how do you win? 

(1) You build a great lineup and (2) you get awfully lucky.

I can’t help you with the second of those, but I can help owners build the best lineup possible. Here are my tips for winning the DraftKings Millionaire Maker.

How to Build a Winning Lineup: Cap Busters

In my experience, people who win big at daily fantasy sports contests need one or two “cap busters”. These are players who are vastly undervalued, usually through injury, late-breaking news, or suspensions.

When a contest is first posted, DraftKings has done a lot of work evaluating players. They try to account for known injuries, suspensions, and player news. To advertise and draw a customer base, DK has to post such a contest weeks in advance. Especially at the start of the season, this provides opportunities.

Below is the best information on cap busters I have 10 days before the contest. I’ll post more news as it becomes available. Because they are the key wild card in one-day fantasy football, let’s start at a non-traditional starting place: the wide receivers.

Week 1 Wide Receivers: Value Picks

Jarvis Landry – Mia@Was: $5600
Davante Adams – GB@Chi: $4400
Corey Brown (“Philly”) – Caro@Jax : $3000
Eddie Royal – GB@Chi: $3900
Brandon Coleman – NO@Ari: $3000
Ty Montgomery – GB@Chi: $3000
Jeff Janis – GB@Chi: $3000
Leonard Hankerson – Phi@Atl: $3000


Brandon Coleman Should Get Single Coverage on the Outside in 3-Wide Receiver Sets

Brandon Coleman, WR, Saints

Brandon Coleman is a player for dynasty league owners, as well as redraft league members. He has locked down the 3rd wide receiver position with the New Orleans Saints. Whether that makes him start-worthy in Week 1 of 2015 is another matter. If you’re desperate for a high-upside player, Coleman’s looked great in training camp, is 6’6″ with talent, and is playing a suspect pass defense.

Some reports say that Brandon Coleman has won the 2nd receiver position and will start in New Orleans opposite of Brandin Cooks. Let me repeat that: reports have Brandon Coleman beating out Marques Colston for the starting job.

That was flash news, but it doesn’t appear to be true. If it were, it would be all over the Internet fantasy football news sites and community forums. It isn’t.

Behind those rumors is this kernal of truth: word in Saints camp has been that Colston is playing in the slot. That isn’t the same as losing his starting position. What it means is Colston will play on the outside when 2 receivers are on the field, then slide inside when there are 3 receivers. Brandon Coleman is going to be playing on the outside in the 3-wide receiver sets, which gives him a chance to make big plays.

With the Cardinals focusing on Brandin Cooks on the other side and Marques Colston underneath, Coleman should have 1-on-1 coverage and the chance to be a fantasy factor. But he’s a speculative Week 1 this early in the season.

As the season goes on, keep Brandon Coleman in mind, especially if Colston begins to wear down. In 2014, Colston had his worst year since the injury-plagued 2008 season. Colston’s injury prone and might only be capable of a limited contribution. Brandon Coleman might be a better bet at this point in their careers.

Coleman is a classic cap buster. Not only that, but Drew Brees and the Saints play the Arizona Cardinals. The Cards had a good defense last year, but they were suspect against the pass. Cha-ching.

Brandon Coleman is getting a lot of buzz this summer, so a bunch of DFS owners are going to add him to their starting lineups in Week 1. They might be jumping the gun a bit.

That’s why I suggest you add the following sleeper pick…Philly Brown!

Corey “Philly” Brown, WR, Panthers

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced Corey Brown is the Panthers wide receiver to draft this year. If the redraft in your local league was awful, go pick up Philly Brown, if he’s still on the waiver wire. You might be cutting him in Week 3, or he could break out.

In Week 1 daily fantasy action, Brown is as cheap as you get at $3000. He and Ted Ginn Jr have been announced the Week 1 starters. Yes, that Ted Ginn.  Almost by default, I think Philly Brown may be the go-to guy in Week 1.

Now, when you start to read about the 2nd-year Corey Brown, you’ll read that the team threw him 14 balls in preseason and he only caught 2. You’ll read that he had 5 or 6 dropped balls in those passes. You’ll read that the team might have been considering cutting the guy, which I don’t believe for a minute. Read what the coaches say and they never gave that indication.

Philly Brown worked all offseason with receivers coach Ricky Proehl on his route running. Go watch a couple of YouTube videos of Philly Brown running routes and you’ll be amazed. He’s 5’11” and 185 pounds with 4.3 speed. He’ll never be the imposing receiver you would expect to replace Kelvin Benjamin, but the team compares him to Steve Smith.

Then look at his highlights last year. He was a playmaker on special teams and in limited action on the offense. He came on in the very late stages of 2014, which is what you want to see from breakout candidates. Cam Newton is going to be looking for go-to guy in Week 1. Kelvin Benjamin is raw. Ted Ginn is a veteran, but he’s not starting receiver material–Funchess will replace Ginn eventually in that spot.

But it’s Corey Brown who’s been in the offense for a year, Corey Brown who’s actually shown elite route running and speed, and Corey Brown who hooked up with Cam Newton for scores late last season. If he catches the early balls thrown to him, Corey Brown should have a lot of opportunities and upside for a player costing $3,000.

And he plays the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1.

Jarvis Landry, WR, Dolphins

Based on production in 2014, Jarvis Landry is undervalued. He’s a cheap elite receiver playing a bad defense. After he started getting on the field last season, Jarvis Landry caught 84 balls and was Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target. He was on a pace for 105 balls last year, had he started all season.

Many people see the Miami Dolphins as a breakout candidate in 2015. That depends on the development of Ryan Tannehill. Those who see him as slow developer have to remember Tannehill had only played 20 games in his entire life as a quarterback before the NFL (he was a converted receiver in college). If he’s turned the corner, the Dolphins could be stout.

It helps that the Dolphins play the Washington Redskins in Week 1. The Skins had one of the worst defenses last season in terms of giving up fantasy production.

Davante Adams, WR, Packers

One of the best values is Davante Adams, because DraftKings thought Adams was going to be the third string and backup when the numbers were posted. Now, Jordy Nelson is out for the year and Davante Adams, a talented 2nd year wideout, is the new starter. Mix in the awful Bears Defense and Adams is one of the best values you’ll find.

Ty Montgomery or Jeff Janis, 3rd WRs, Packers

Speaking of the Packers, the third receiver in Green Bay has been productive in the past. Randall Cobb is dealing with a shoulder injury. Jordy Nelson is gone and the 2nd receiver is still young. The Chicago Bears had the 31st defense in 2014 and is still retooling. These various factors coincide to produce an opportunity for big points. The Packers third receiver is therefore a way to save salary cap space and swing for the fences, especially if you’re starting Aaron Rodgers.

The problem is no one but Mike McCarthy knows who the third receiver will be in Week 1. Most observors believe the rookie Ty Montegomery has the edge. The 2nd year Jeff Janis has lots of tools and should be ready to take the job, but is said to have lost the trust of Aaron Rodgers. Therefore, if you go in this direction, I’d suggest Ty Montgomery.

While some people suggest you stack players, I would argue against stacking a roster too  much. If you stack Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, I would not add to the stack by selecting on Montgomery or Janis. If Davante Adams scores, then (by definition) it’s a scoring chance the third receiver has lost. And if Randall Cobb scores, it’s cutting the throat of two of your receivers.

Note: James Jones signed with the Green Bay Packers after the 53-man roster cuts. DO NOT USE JANIS OR MONTEGOMERY in NFL WEEK ONE!

Eddie Royal, WR, Bears

Eddie Royal seems like he should be 65, but he’s still in his twenties (29). He is reunited with Jay Cutler, who in Royal’s rookie season threw him 91 balls.

In Week 1, Alshon Jeffrey may or may not be playing. Kevin White is likely out for the season. That leaves Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson as viable second receivers. Even if Alshon Jeffrey plays and Marquess Wilson gets the start, Eddie Royal has been playing in the slots. The Bears are likely to be down to the Packers early and need to throw the ball a lot. Cutler is going to throw a lot of checkdowns underneath and in the flat, so Royal isn’t a bad pick. If Jeffrey can’t play, he has some upside.

Leonard Hankerson, WR, Falcons

Leonard Hankerson was signed in the offseason to replace the departed Harry Douglas. He fills the same role…not much if Julio Jones and Roddy White are healthy, but WR2 type starter when one is out. Roddy White might be out. If so, play Leonard Hankerson in a pinch.

Week 1 RBs: Daily Fantasy Football

Doug Martin – Ten@TB – $4500
Alfred Blue – KC@Hou – $3600
Darren Sproles – Phi@Atl – $3300
Devonta Freeman – Phi@Atl – $4300
Tevin Coleman – Phi@Atl – $4800
Danny Woodhead – Det@SD – $3700
Bryce Brown – Ind@Buf – $3000

Running backs are the motor which runs a fantasy football starting lineup. If you have top runners in the week, you’re likely to have a solid score. If not, then you need extraordinary weeks from everything else to post big totals. The problem is you can’t have a stud everywhere. Here are some cap busters for those who need at least 1 more running back or flex starter.


Doug Martin Was a Forgotten Man until New O.C. Dirk Koettner Watched Game Film

Doug Martin, RB, Buccaneers

Anyone who’s owned Doug Martin in local leagues in 2013 or 2014 is likely to stay away. Anyone who owned his services in his rookie season might still hold out hope. I have Doug Martin in a dynasty league, so I’m both.

The Bucs were done with Doug Martin. They thought he was useless. Then Lovie Smith brought in Dirk Koettner to run the offense. As Koettner watched tape on Doug Martin, he decided Doug Martin looked pretty good. He determined to build the Bucs’ offense around the 4th year runner. Doug Martin has responded and he’s supposedly looking better than he has in years. The Bucs are likely to rely on the running game, with a rookie quarterback. And the Buccaneers play the lowly Titans in Week 1, also with a rookie QB.

Alfred Blue, RB, Texans

Alfred Blue starts in place of Arian Foster. Blue hasn’t always looked good this preseason, but that’s all you really need to know. Alfred Blue had his moments filling in for Arian Foster in 2014, though his talent is average at best. Still, this is a team with a solid receiving corps to keep defenses honest, but which prefers to run the ball first.

Darren Sproles, RB, Eagles

Darren Sproles has seen his better days. But at 32, if you’re going to get see the Sproles of old, it’s likely to be early in the season. Chip Kelly said is planning to utilize his shifty back more in 2014. Kelly said, “We just need to make sure we get him the ball, and we have a plan to do that.”

The Eagles play the Falcons in a dome. They are easy in a new QB, new starting RB, and rookie WR. Sproles might be a focal point against the league’s worst statistical defense in 2014.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, RBs, Falcons

Speaking of the Falcons, they have a two-headed monster at running back this year. Devonta Freeman is the 2nd year pass-catching RB. Tevin Coleman is a rookie from Indiana who fills a more traditional role.

Both have been dinged up in training camp. Coleman is more expensive, because he’s expected to be the eventual starter. For Week 1, you get Devonte Freeman for $500 cheaper and a matchup where the Falcons play a revamped team.

It’s a matter of game mode: playing with the lead or playing from behind. If you think the Falcons get ahead early, play Coleman. If you think the Falcons are behind all day, play Freeman.

Danny Woodhead, RB, Chargers

Danny Woodhead is back. Those who had his services in 2013 knew how valuable he could be in PPR leagues. In the 3rd preseason game, Danny Woodhead had 6 receptions in one half. It’s a running back by committee, so this and the Falcons situation are desperation plays. But if you are, take the guy who gets trash stats.

Bills Starting Running Back

The situation with the Buffalo Bills running back corps is a mess right now. Lesean McCoy has a slight tear in his hamstring and might not play to start the season. The three players behind him–Anthony Dixon, Bryce Brown, and rookie Karlos Wiliams–are in line to be the starter Week 1. With the release of Fred Jackson, it’s obvious one has the confidence of the team. The question is which one?

Anthony Dixon is the veteran presence, but that might not have stock with a brand new Bills coaching staff. The day Jackson was cut, that was the day Anthony Dixon (and Lesean McCoy) started practicing on the side or were at practice for the first time. I’m assuming the cut had more to do with McCoy, but maybe they had the primary backup back at practice.

Karlos Williams is an intriguing dynasty league player. In a one-week league, I see him as next to useless. Williams had the opportunity to impress coaches with all the injuries ahead of him, but he got injured himself. Without a training camp to learn the offense, I have a hard time seeing a rookie being trusted to carry the load in Week 1.

That leaves Bryce Brown. Brown has been an intriguing option for year, both with the Eagles and with the Bills. He once was an UDFA who had the size and speed to compete in the NFL, but a troublesome shoulder injury. Bryce Brown has never done much in the NFL, and he has had nagging injuries in 2015. Still, if the team is looking for a starter, he might fill the sweet spot in talent, veteran know-how, and opportunity.

Ultimately, the Bills Depth Chart is a mess and I wouldn’t risk a chance at $100,000 on picking the right candidate. If you get concrete information on Sunday morning that McCoy is definitely Out one of these guys is the starter, it’s an option for a cheap starting runner.

Tight Ends in Week 1: DFS Cap Busters

Larry Donnell – NYG@Dal – $3200
Benjamin Watson – NO@Ari – $2600
Ladarius Green – Det@SD – $3000
Maxx Williams – Bal@Den – $2700


Larry Donnell Broke Out in the First Half of 2014, But His Numbers Dropped When Odell Beckham Got Hot

Larry Donnell, TE, Giants

Larry Donnell was a solid starter in 2014. His production slowed after Odell Beckham’s rise began. With Victor Cruz and OBD healthy and ready to go, Donnell’s production might dip. Still, he’s cheap and I’m betting on a Giants/Cowboys shootout, which usually happens when these teams play Week 1.

Benjamin Watson, TE, Saints

While Josh Hill got all the attention in preseason fantasy football magazines, Benjamin Watson appears to be practicing as the #1 tight end. At a $2600 price tag, he’s cheap. Watson is a classic cap buster, especially if you start Drew Brees. Everyone knows Brees loves tight ends, having thrown to Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates in his career.

Ben Watson is not Gates or Graham, but he’s a starter for a high-powered offense in Week 1.

Ladarius Green, TE, Chargers

Speaking of Ladarius Green, the 6’6″ tight end is going to be replacing Gates for the first four weeks of the NFL season. Ladarius Green is a constant pick as a breakout candidate and eventual successor to Gates, but it never happens. Ladarius Green has freakish speed–he once ran a 4.3 40-time and is considered a 4.4 athlete right now–but he is easily knocked off his routes for such a big guy. The Chargers/Lions game should be a shootout, so Ladarius Green is an affordable tight end with opportunity and upside.

Maxx Williams, TE, Ravens

Maxx Williams was drafted to be the replacement for Dennis Pitta, who unfortunately cannot stay healthy enough to play pro football. Williams is seen as the best pass-catching tight end in this draft. He should be a Week 1 starter in a game where the Ravens might need to play catch-up (vs the Broncos). But the word out of camp is he hasn’t looked good, while he’s been dinged up along the way. Maxx Williams is a cheap Week 1 starter, though.

Week 1 Quarterbacks: Value Picks

Tyrod Taylor – Ind@Buf – $5000
Kirk Cousins – Mia@Was – $5000
Blake Bortles – Car@Jax – $5900

First of all, I do not recommend to DFF owners they skimp on the quarterback position. You need big points from every position and simply can’t give up 20 points because opponents start Aaron Rodgers and you start Kirk Cousins. That’s why this is the last set of players mentioned–not the first. If you insist on saving salary cap on QBs, here are the options.


Kirk Cousins Has Been Named the Redskins’ Starter Not Just in Week 1, But for the 2015 Season

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Bills

The Bills have named Tyrod Taylor as their Week 1 starter. The Bills are playing the NFL’s #1 offense in 2014. Tyrod Taylor is likely to be behind, needing to throw. The Colts Defense isn’t as formidable as some, either. The Bills are having serious issues, though. Their top 4 running backs have been injured and Lesean McCoy might not play this week. I would not pick Tyrod Taylor, but he’s got the best shot of these guys to be forced to throw early and often.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins

Kirk Cousins is the new starting quarterback in Washington. He replaces RGIII as the starter, though RGIII costs more than a thousand salary cap dollars more. He’s playing at home, but he’s also playing against a Miami Defense which should be something of a wrecking crew. Ndamukong Suh anchors the line, which should free up Cameron Wake to get after the quarterback. And Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry, and a decent supporting cast assure that the Dolphins are going to score more points this year.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars

Blake Bortles plays a top defense from 2014. The Jaguars also have been awful in recent years, especially on offense. But there are signs Blake Bortles is improving, while the supporting cast is getting better. Allan Robinson, Allan Hurns, and T.J. Yeldon gives the team some talent on the offensive side of the ball. On the other hand, Julius Thomas is Out in week 1. I like Bortles’ long term progress, but I don’t believe he’s ready to build a daily fantasy sports starting lineup around. Again…Don’t Skimp on Quarterbacks!

Those are the cap busters for Week 1 of the fantasy season. These will change from week-to-week, sometimes in midweek. Don’t use all of them. Adding a couple of these players to my DraftKings NFL $1M Play-Action starting lineup, I was able to add 5 bone fide elite, blue-chip studs to my team. I also included a couple of players who were a little more accomplished than the players on this list (stars, but not All-Stars).

With that 9-player lineup, I feel like I have nine positions with a real chance to score big points. I stacked a quarterback with one of my cap busters. From there, it’s a matter of hoping I’m right and hoping I get lucky. Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky. If not me, then my readers. If you do, please give me a few words of credit somewhere (not an ego boost…but free advertisement).

I should mention these players are not specific to the Week 1 NFL $10M Millionaire Maker [$2 Million Guaraneteed] event. You can use them for head-to-head contests, 50/50, private leagues, or the DraftKings NFL $1M Play-Action, $1 Million Guaranteed event. Whatever kind of contests you enter, the important thing to remember is to find a few cap busting players with high value. You’ll find them every week; it’s what the DFS professionals do.