The 2023 NFL season is upon us and within the last few weeks, DraftKings has released their NFL DFS Week 1 contests. We see some familiar Week 1 contests such as a pair of NFL DFS Millionaire Makers rewarding $1 million to first place, but we also have a handful of other great NFL DFS tournaments to consider in addition to cash games. Week 1 is a great opportunity to get some skin in the game. The contests are massive, the players are the cheapest they’ll be all year, and we won’t have to fight too many lineup trains this early in the season. Let’s dig in and dissect the best NFL DFS contests for Week 1 on DraftKings.


The NFL DFS Week 1 Millionaire Maker Contests

In previous years, DraftKings would have three different Milly Maker contests available. This year they only have two. One is a $5 per entry contest while the other is $100 per entry. Here are some more details on each:

  • $5 per entry (150-entry max); 1,194,451 total entries, payouts to the top 25.492%
  • $100 per entry (150-entry max); 28,029 total entries, payouts to the top 20.05%

If playing these contests please understand that 1. You probably aren’t winning it, and 2. The payouts structures are awful for Milly Makers. I’ll be playing ten lineups in the $5 contest because at the end of the day, it’s a million dollars to first. But I also know it’s a lottery ticket against over a million other people. The real winner of this contest will be DraftKings...

The $5 contest sees about 20% of the prize pool go to first place. Not awful. I’ve followed Degenerate75 (@TheDegenerate75) on Twitter for years and he can really help you rethink how you pick and choose your weekly DFS contests for any sport and here’s why. If you see that tenth place only gets $10,000 that should catch your attention because that’s 1% of what the winner gets. That’s a pretty awful payout structure. Second place takes home $200,000 while third wins $100,000. From there it tapers off quickly so I’m almost turned off to contests that don’t have a more balanced structure spread out among the top ten. You need to have a lineup that finishes in the top 12% of this contest to even double your entry fee. Want to triple up your entry fee? Get a lineup in the to finish in the top 2.5% of the contest. And even then that only means you’re in the top 30,000 lineups. It’s a massive field and if you enter, you should know that you’re likely looking at a small return.

Similar to the $5 contest, the $100 contest isn’t much better. In fact, it might be worse. Over 40% of the prize pool goes to the winner and second place gets $100,000. That’s just 10% of what the winner gets. From there we see the payout structure slip similar to the other contest. Tenth place wins $10,000 which is just a fraction of the prize pool. This contest also only sees the top 20% min cash while the $5 sees the top 25% get a payout and you need to finish in the top 8% to double your money in the $100 contest. Once again, these contests are lottery tickets. But there are still contests to get exposure to that have better payout structures and reward more for just getting into the green.

NFL DFS Week 1 GPP Tournament Contests

As mentioned at the top I’m making ten lineups on DraftKings. Normally, I’m a five-lineup per week kind of player. But DraftKings instituted some changes this year that I initially scoffed at, but now I actually think I’ve come around to. Some new contests they’re offering this year at the “1st and 10” and the “4th and 10.” Both contests are 10-entry max contests. Last year they had a great $33, five-entry max contest that I played every week. That looks to be gone, but now I can enter the 1st and 10 contest with more lineups, and for less money. Here are some details on both contests:

  • 1st and 10: $10 per entry (10-entry max); 5,882 total entries; payouts to the top 22.96%
  • 4th and 10: $40 per entry (10-entry max); 2,915 total entries; payouts to the top 20.24%

1st and 10 rewards $5,000 to the winner while the latter contest rewards $10,000 to first place. Obviously, the 1st and 10 costs $100 to max enter while the 4th and 10 contest is $400 to max enter. These contests are more within my reach. If you only have $100 to play every week, I would absolutely max enter the 1st and 10. But if you want to play some cash games, then maybe you play three-to-five lineups in this contest and allocate the rest of your weekly bankroll for cash games. But these contests are reasonable in size and you double up your entry fees by min cashing. And the payouts structures are great for both contests. For both contests, first place gets 10% of the prize pool and whoever comes in tenth place gets 10% of what the winner gets. This is a much more balanced structure that we should look for when entering NFL DFS Tournaments each week.

Another great NFL DFS Tournament contest on DraftKings is the NFL $250K Slant. The only downside is that it’s 150-entry max and I’m not committing $1,350 to one contest. But again, we have a contest with a great payout structure. It’s $25,000 to the winner and $2,500 to tenth. That’s 10% of the prize pool to the winner and then a good payout rounding out the top ten. And it advertises that it’s a 2X min cash contest so you double up if you can finish in the top 20%. Similarly, the NFL $150K Shovel Pass contest has a similar payout structure but it’s $20 to enter.


NFL DFS Week 1 Single-Entry Tournaments

Single-entry contests are phenomenal, especially for the afternoon slate where it’s not hard to get unique without being stupid for lineup builds for a four-game slate. DraftKings offers a ton of single-entry contests each week and that’s no different for Week 1. But there are some that you can probably skip over. There are currently three $12 single-entry “Fair Catch” tournament contests of varying sizes. You should always play the smallest contest. The largest of the Fair Catch contests will have 24,509 entries. The secondary contest has 9,803 entries. And the tertiary contest has just 2,450 entries. That last one is a tenth the size of the largest contest. The winner still gets $2,500 in the smallest of the three contests while the winner of the biggest contest gets $25,000. That’s a great payout for a $12 single-entry winner. But the field size is massive and you only get to enter one lineup. You have to get pretty creative to make a unique lineup that beats 24,508 other lines. The smaller contest is more manageable against 2,449 other people. You can make a lineup that doesn’t need to be as unique with some dart throws.

If you have the bankroll, the End Zone and Red Zone single-entry contests are great on DraftKings. But they are more expensive. The End Zone contests are $75 per entry and the Red Zone is $50 per entry. The contest sizes are reasonable too as none of them feature over 5,000 total entries. The larger End Zone contest is $50,000 to first against just 4,500+ other people. But again it’s $75 to enter so don’t blow your bankroll on this contest if you only play $100 per week. The smaller End Zone contest is still just $75 to enter and rewards $5,000 to first with just 378 total entries. If you can afford it, that’s a great contest to play considering its size. 

These same rules apply to three-entry contests. I don’t love the NFL $100K Engage Eight because it’s three-entry max at $8 per entry. However, you’re also going against 14,000+ other people. My preferred three-entry contests are the Screen Pass contests at $15 per entry. The contest sizes are under 6,000 total entries with the types of payout structures we’ve highlighted as potential targets. Again, you could have a $100 budget and play three lineups in a Screen Pass contest and use the remaining $55 for cash games. If the cash lineups hit you’re turning a profit either way and whatever happens in your Screen Pass contest is just gravy baby.

The 20-entry max contests aren’t great. Honestly you could probably wait until Sunday of Week 1 for the secondary 20-max contests to open up. As it currently stands the $3 per entry, 20-entry max Play-Action contest checks all the boxes. Only 10% of the prize pool ($500,000) goes to the winner ($50,000) and the top 28 all take home at least $1,000. But it’s also a massive contest with almost 200,000 entries. That’s going to be a pass for me.

NFL DFS Week 1 Cash Games

Here we arrive at the bread and butter of DFS bankroll management. Cash games can be your savior. Will you make money in Cash games every week? No. There will be some weeks where all the research just doesn’t translate to DFS success. That happens in both tournaments and cash games. But the key is to hit the cash games more than you fail and that’s certainly attainable. I love playing cash games early in the season. As mentioned earlier, the pricing on players in Week 1 is always soft. And we see less of a presence of lineup trains, which are lineups provided from a lineup generator and 8-12% of the field enters the train. As the season progresses you might see 15-18% of lineups in cash games playing the same build. It happens every single year. And when the lineup trains have a stronger presence in NFL DFS cash games, I tend to play this type of contest less.

But in general, cash games will be your 50/50 contests, your Double Up’s, and your Triple Up’s. You’re trying to establish a good floor for your lineup (usually around 120-130 points on DraftKings) to finish above the moneyline. Some weeks you’ll only need 105-110 points to make it in cash games. Other weeks you’ll miss the line with 120-130 points. It happens.

But for Week 1 there are a variety of cash games at our disposal. I prefer playing single-entry cash games because the lineup trains are less prevalent early in the season. Also, when you enter a multi-entry cash game contest you’ll see that a single user can enter their cash game lineup up to 150 times depending on the contest. So we should be targeting single-entry contests and its best to get your reservations in early for those contests. The users entering the lineups from a generator typically don’t reserve or enter contests until Sunday morning. The earlier you enter a contest, the better. If it fills early, it won’t have as many identical lineups.

In my opinion, contest size doesn’t matter in cash contests, but it can be easier to just play smaller cash games with maybe 20-50 entries. DraftKings offers a variety of $1, $2, $3, $5, $10, $25, $50, etc. cash game contests and the objective is to finish in the top 43.5% in double ups. It doesn’t matter if you finish first or outside the top 1,000. If the contest is big enough, everyone wins the same amount. 

A smart way to approach cash games if you’re a beginner is to just play 50/50 contests. For 50/50 contests you just need to finish in the top 50% while double ups typically require finishing in the top 43.5% mentioned above. 50/50 contests reward 80% ROI for cashing while double-ups give 100%. So if I’m a lower level NFL DFS player, I’d just stay in the range of $1-$5 50/50 contests and take the 80% ROI by finishing in the top half.

Head-to-head contests are also viable, but they do require more attention. You can play the same cash game contest lineup you would put in your 50/50 and double up contests. But you also need to monitor the lineup of your opponent to see if you need to make pivots with the afternoon slate or you examine their build once lineups lock to determine who they might be playing in the afternoon slate. If you’re down 20 points heading into the afternoon games and you can logically deduce you’re playing the same players during the 4:00pm ET window, you’ll want to make some adjustments to give yourself a chance to beat your opponent rather than just playing the same players and not making up any ground.

I hope you found this article helpful as you decide which NFL DFS contests best suit you for Week 1. Contest selection is crucial to building your bankroll and as always you should be on the lookout for the best contests that suit your level of play based on contest size and entry fee(s). Don’t hesitate to tag me or anyone else in the NFL Seasonal channel if you’re looking to make your reservations early and want to know how you should approach NFL DFS contest selection.