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100 Fantasy Football Tips in 100 Days, Day 78: How to Allocate Your Salary Cap

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At DraftKings, I discussed how to best allocate funds when working within the confines of a daily fantasy salary cap:

The Data

Luckily, I have some DraftKings data on what actually won NFL leagues in 2013. With results from over 10,000 individual leagues, the numbers are significant.

Remember, the general consensus is that you should pay up for the most predictable positions in cash games, but you can deviate from that plan a bit in tournaments. In the latter, you should be much more willing to embrace variance, which paying up for receivers allows for.

To test this idea, let’s take a look at the typical salary cap allocation of lineups that won 50/50s in 2013. Note that kicker is included here, but has since been abolished by DraftKings.


In a vacuum, these numbers don’t have much meaning. Is 16.5 percent of the cap a lot to spend on passers? It’s tough to say without analyzing other league types, so here’s a look at the typical allocation of funds for lineups that won tournaments.


These differences might appear small, but with such a large sample, they’re quite meaningful. By comparing what’s winning GPPs versus 50/50s, we can get a sense of when it’s right to pay for consistency. Here’s how the percentages break down when we compare the two leagues.

QB: 0.7 percentage points more in 50/50s

RB: 0.2 percentage points more in 50/50s

WR: 0.1 percentage point more in tournaments

TE: 0.5 percentage points more in tournaments

FLEX: 0.2 percentage points more in 50/50s

D: 0.5 percentage points more in tournaments

Again, the exact percentages themselves don’t matter, but the differences between the two league types are important. And in 50/50 leagues, winning teams are paying more for elite quarterbacks, especially. As the most predictable position, by far, this isn’t a surprise. If you want to improve your odds of winning a cash game, you can and should pay up for a top-tier passer. Winning 50/50 lineups have also paid more at the running back position, too.

Meanwhile, winning GPP teams have slid down the salary ranks a bit at the quarterback and running back positions, allocating more of their cap to wide receivers, tight ends, and defenses. These three positions—tight ends and defenses, especially—are much more volatile than quarterbacks and running backs on a weekly basis.

The evidence seems clear that the consensus is correct: allocate a higher percentage of your salary cap to predictable positions in cash games, but less of your salary cap to those same positions in tournaments.

Here’s the full post.

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