You guys wanna hear a funny story? I had Josh Gordon in 75 percent of my lineups on Sunday morning, then took him out of every single one before kickoff.
Because of the wind.
I’m doing some research on wind speeds for my book and I’ve found that when the wind approaches 20 mph, passing production drops to 82 percent of what it is when the wind is below 5 mph. So I did some research, uncovered what I thought was a competitive advantage, implemented it, and lost hundreds of dollars.
Is Stafford great value at $9,400? Hell no, but you have six quarterbacks you can theoretically choose. In my opinion, the pool is really just two—Stafford or Tony Romo. Stafford is $1,700 more expensive, but he’s also safer with higher upside.
There are better values than Bell, including Rashad Jennings at $100 cheaper, but here’s the thing…if you’re playing a Thanksgiving tournament, you’re going to need to diversify your lineup from the pack in some way. Jennings and perhaps Eddie Lacy are going to be very highly owned, but that might not be the case for Bell.
First, he’s kind of a boring back right now. Second, he has a difficult matchup against a Ravens defense that has allowed the sixth-fewest points to running backs. But there’s no good reason to think that Bell won’t see 20 carries and catch at least three passes, so he’s a decent bet for 100 total yards and a touchdown.
Every weekend, my brothers (who play daily fantasy) call me and ask who I think is going to have a big game that week, and I answer the same thing:
“Players X, Y, and Z, but just watch out for their salary. They only have value at a certain price.”
And that’s definitely true. Daily fantasy football—especially a heads-up league—is all about finding value. You want as many projected points as possible for each dollar that you spend.
But there’s also value in, you know, actually getting those points. It doesn’t do you much good if those projected points aren’t realized.
I’ve explained in the past that I think $/point, while useful, is a little misleading because a high-salary player who matches his projection is more valuable to you than a low-salary player doing the same. Same $/point, different worth to your lineup.
Even in head-to-head games, though, I think there’s something to be said for having high-upside players. When you stock your team with high-floor/low-ceiling players, you’re increasing the probability of each one of them individually reaching a certain threshold of points, but are you really doing the same for your entire team? If you need seven players to all score at least 12 points, that’s going to be really difficult, even if they’re all “safe” players who are likely to accomplish the feat on their own.
Further, I think there are true high-floor/high-ceiling players out there. I’ve been touting Antonio Brown as one of them all year, and he’s been in my lineup every week. Brown has at least five catches and 50 yards in every game, but he also has two games with at least 147 yards and two touchdowns. Due to the nature of his game and the Steelers’ offense, Brown is safe with high upside.
Because of that, I think a player like Brown (and there are others) offers value that isn’t reflected in $/point. There’s value in playing a guy like Brown in a head-to-head matchup because you can be relatively certain he’s going to reach a set level of production, but he can also make up for other players not doing the same. And that’s excessively valuable. In effect, Brown acts as a hedge against down performances from others.
But here’s the thing: his salary has risen after last week’s big game, dramatically so on some sites. By the numbers, Brown isn’t a quality $/point option. He’s ranked rather low on both the FanDuel and DraftKings Value Reports. He’s getting near the top of the second tier of receivers in terms of price, and if you’re looking at his mean projection, his value is rapidly disintegrating.
And I’m still going to own Brown this week. I’ll have more than just a little exposure to him because he offers you something outside of the traditional value calculation. When you view Brown as a range of probability—something I’m trying to do more and more as a daily fantasy player—I think his true value is more apparent.
I’ve proposed this idea in the past when analyzing bargain bin players. Yes, they offer $/point value, but what’s the probability that they and a high-priced player both reach a certain threshold? Probably not superior to a pair of second-tier players who have the same total salary and $/point value.
Now, I’m deconstructing (<— no idea if that’s the right word, but I like it) that argument to apply solely to the individual. You should care about $/point, yes, but think about the range of possibilities surrounding each player in a given week. Consider game flow—how the various courses of the game could affect certain players, and the probability of each occurring. Think about players’ ceiling and floors in all league types, not just one for heads-up and one for tournaments. In effect, consider not only the mean projection for each player relative to his salary, but also ponder the odds that he provides you certain levels of points.
Also did another Google Hangout and talked Week 12. . .
So with that said, let’s take a look at the correlation between a few stats and final wide receiver fantasy rank over the past four seasons. Note all the correlations are negative because as each increase, final wide receiver rank decreases (meaning it improves).
It’s a little surprising to me that the wide receivers who’ve put up the most yards have been more valuable than those with the most touchdowns. Yards account for a greater percentage of points, but there’s more deviation in touchdowns.
I’ve actually built my wide receiver corps around red-zone ability in recent years – which I’ll likely continue to do since it’s such a consistent stat from year to year – but the receivers with the most points are more likely to lead the league in yards than touchdowns.
It was around a month into the season when I told you guys that I’d be taking some shots in this staking series, hoping to “pay for” my tournament entries with head-to-head and 50/50 winnings. Well, here are the results of that endeavor.
Tournaments are relatively volatile, so you just need to stay in the game long enough to cash in on a big payday. Well, I’ve stayed in the game, currently sitting at $2,090.13 on the year. Here are screenshots of each account balance up to this point.
Garcon has a difficult matchup this week, but he’s also priced to reflect that. With that in mind, it’s difficult to pass on a player who already has 109 targets this year, including at least 10 in all but two games. Garcon also has five catches in every game, so he’s a relatively safe option, even against the Niners.
This is me going out on a limb: I think Cameron will have a big game on Sunday. He hasn’t scored in a month and he has only 33 combined yards in his past two games. But he’s so cheap that he’ll give you lots of flexibility elsewhere in your lineup, and he’s so athletic that his upside is outstanding. The quarterback situation is awful, but it’s been that way all year. If you’re going cheap at tight end, might as well use someone with elite athletic ability.
If you aren’t a regular reader of AdvancedNFLStats.com, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy the analytical approach to fantasy football here at 4for4, you’ll probably like the same approach to NFL decision-making.
In this week’s ANS Podcast, Brian Burke—the site’s creator—was discussing randomness and had a cool story about a college professor who split his class into two groups, telling one to flip a coin and mark down “heads” or “tails” and the other to recreate a series of “heads” or “tails” just by guessing what the sequence might look like.
After excusing himself from the class for this exercise, the professor came back and instantly recognized the non-random sequence. If you ask someone you know to do this same task (have them start with trying to reproduce a random sequence), you should be able to recognize the random series as well.
Why? Because humans suck at identifying and replicating randomness. We’re built to detect patterns, so we naturally create them. Most people equate “random” to “alternating,” creating a series that might look something like HTHTHHTTHT, regardless of how long the sequence extends. In reality, long stretches of either heads or tails are common—expected, even.
If you flip a coin 100 times, you’ll almost certainly get a run of five straight heads or tails at some point. So imagine if someone who’s never seen a coin (Bill Gates hasn’t) were to watch our hypothetical coin-flipper and the first thing he saw were a stretch of six straight heads. What do you think he’d guess for the next flip?
I bring this up because, at this point in the season, we’ve seen some long stretches of outstanding and awful play. Some of this is due to repeatable factors, such as a change in scheme or personnel. But some of it is just noise, and we can obtain an advantage by recognizing which stretches of poor play are likely to improve in the future. That’s really all we’re doing in the world of daily fantasy sports—predicting regression.
Check out the strength of those relationships. Note that there’s a negative correlation for every measurable except for the broad jump. That just means the longer a running back’s broad jump, the greater his NFL production. Meanwhile, the lower the back’s weight, 40 time, vertical, short shuttle, three-come, and draft round, the better his production.
Let’s take these one at a time.
Weight: There’s a very weak relationship between weight and pro stats, likely because lighter running backs can run faster. Weight itself isn’t inherently disadvantageous, it seems, but it becomes a problem when it slows a running back down. More to come on this.
40-Yard Dash: Not really a surprise here. The 40-yard dash is the second-most predictive trait for running backs, behind the round in which they were drafted.
Vertical: The negative correlation is surprising and obviously just noise. If a lower vertical jump actually helped players perform better, I’d be in the NFL. However, I think the data definitely suggests something I’ve had a hunch is true; the vertical jump doesn’t matter. It doesn’t capture true explosiveness, which is what’s important for running backs.
Broad Jump: The broad jump is the most underrated physical test out there. Most NFL teams seem to care more about a player’s vertical than his broad jump, but I’ve found that there’s an extremely strong correlation between broad jump and 40-yard dash time. Both measure explosiveness in a way that the other tests can’t.
I’m in the midst of adding a fourth book to the Fantasy Football for Smart People series—a daily fantasy football book that I’m hoping to release within a month—and I just began writing the chapter on creating values.
In my first daily fantasy book, I discussed the value of $/point—the system we use in the 4for4 Value Reports. It’s definitely a valuable foundation for creating lineups—it would be senseless to not understand how much each player costs relative to his expected production—but I also think that it would be a mistake to blindly follow $/point.
One reason is that it’s a somewhat fragile system. If you look at our FanDuel quarterback values, for example, you’ll see that the second-ranked quarterback, Case Keenum ($356 per point) costs only $56 less per point than the 17th-ranked quarterback, Russell Wilson ($412 per point).
A lot of daily fantasy players might never use Wilson, which is fine, but he costs just over 15 percent more than Keenum on a per-point basis. But don’t forget that the values are based completely on (relatively) subjective projections, so they’re far from flawless.
To be sure that Keenum offers better value than Wilson, we’d need to be confident in our ability to consistently differentiate between 15 percent changes in expected production. Can you do that? I can’t.
So in addition to other issues I’ve had with $/point as a standalone value tool, the biggest is just that it’s a fragile system; small changes in projections, which could result just from studying X data instead of Y, can create big deviations in value.
Again, I don’t think that $/point is worthless—I use it to create my own lineups—but be careful not to follow it so closely that you miss out on a truly optimized lineup.
McCown is by far the top quarterback value on FanDuel this week. I’ve been going with some higher-priced passers lately and I’ve warned about the dangers of overvaluing cheap players, but I think McCown has a great chance to return lots of value in Week 11.
The most important aspect of McCown’s play thus far is that he’s been efficient. He’s averaged 7.7 YPA on 70 throws this year—not a massive sample but good enough that we know he’s at least capable of putting up numbers. He’s also got four touchdowns and no picks.
If McCown can get into the 40-attempt area, he’s basically a guarantee to provide a good ROI. He’ll also give you a couple points on the ground.
I normally prefer pass-catching running backs because they’re safer from week to week; Lynch is admittedly a little situation-dependent. But it’s unlikely that Seattle will get down big to Minnesota, so Lynch makes for a safe play. He’s a better option on FanDuel (0.5 PPR) than the other full PPR sites out there.
“I’ve had a couple back-to-back five-figure weeks. I’ve been a contrarian lately and I was pretty bullish on some underperforming guys, so I had a lot of exposure to a few values that ended up working out in my favor.”
Those are the words of Peter Jennings, a Colorado native who used to make his living as a stock trader. He still practices the trader lingo, but these days, Peter is buying and selling stocks of a different sort—professional athletes.
Peter is one of a handful of individuals making a living in the daily fantasy sports industry. The concept is simple: working within the confines of a salary cap, users build a team of players, all of whom have “salaries” set by particular fantasy sites, and accumulate points as they play in real games.
Unlike traditional season-long fantasy sports leagues, though, most daily fantasy sports leagues end in less than 24 hours. Competing against others in real cash games—a legal endeavor since the United States government astutely considers fantasy sports a game of skill—one can put as much or as little time into the games as they’d like. Most newcomers to the daily fantasy sites fill out lineups in a matter of minutes and hope for the best.
Others spend countless hours creating projections, tweaking models, watching film, and constructing lineups. And for Peter and others like him—the industry’s elite players known as “sharks”—the end result is quite lucrative.
In the daily fantasy sports world, Peter is the prototype. Affectionately known by his fantasy sports username “CSURAM88” within the fantasy sports community, Peter once made a living playing poker professionally. When the poker industry collapsed, he worked his way into trading before setting his sights on what he considers the best investment opportunity available right now.
“I pretty much knew I wanted to get out of stock trading and into daily fantasy sports right away. I was set to make that move as a player when StarStreet.com (a daily fantasy sports site) asked me to come work for them. And when I won the FFFC in late-2012, it was a nice little incentive to make me feel like I made the right decision.”
The “FFFC” is the championship tournament hosted by FanDuel—the industry’s largest site—and their “nice little incentive” was a $150,000 grand prize. Competing against 23 others in Las Vegas, Peter won daily fantasy sports’ largest single payout in a matter of hours on a single Sunday. He qualified at a buy-in level of just $10.
When you’re competing against thousands of other players in a single tournament, part of the outcome—perhaps even most of it—is controlled by luck. But by shifting the odds in their favor, Peter and the other sharks can continually dominate a game that, like poker, is heavily influenced by randomness.
“There’s lots of variance, obviously,” Peter told me, “but I’m usually profitable around 75 percent of weeks in NFL. And football is the most difficult sport just because the typical user knows so much, so it’s a lot easier to profit in NBA or MLB.”
And how does this poker player turned stock trader turned daily fantasy sports guru shift the percentages in his favor?
“It’s like any investment, really. You’re basically just looking to find value where players’ salaries are too low relative to their expected production. So obviously there’s a lot of math involved with that. I use the Vegas lines a lot in my projections, so that’s a really big part of my models.”
All of the work—think two full-time jobs worth of it—is paying off. RotoGrinders.com—a site dedicated solely to daily fantasy sports analysis—currently has Peter ranked as the 10th-best player in the world, including No. 7 in NFL and No. 4 in NBA.
I accidentally got them in some tournaments yesterday before the game started, so I’m off to a good start there.
Tip No. 2: Consider Eli Manning on every site, especially FanDuel.
At $6400 on FanDuel, I’ll be all over Manning again this week. You’d think I’d just be right about him one week out of luck, but let’s see how long he can keep his I’m-going-to-bankrupt-you streak alive.
Tip No. 3: Become a Bush supporter.
I didn’t vote for George W. Bush because (insert any reason at all that you prefer) and I didn’t vote for his dad because they don’t let three-year old kids vote, so this week will be my chance to make up for that.
Reggie Bush has a matchup against the Bears that suddenly looks enticing. Because of his workload, he’s become a very high-ceiling/high-floor player who offers something that most backs in his price range can’t match.
Tip No. 4: Save on wide receivers.
I’m in the midst of working on a new daily fantasy sports book, and I’m doing more work on week-to-week consistency.
Quarterbacks and running backs have been overwhelmingly more consistent than the other positions the past few years, i.e you get what you pay for.
It’s difficult to justify paying top dollar for Thomas when his teammates are so much cheaper. Why would I pay $8300 for Thomas when I can have Eric Decker, who probably has just a slightly lower chance of posting huge numbers, costs only $6200?
If you want to spend big on a receiver this week, I think Marshall should be your man. Otherwise, save the cash.
RGIII is the 10th-best value at quarterback in the DraftKings Value Report, but no one ahead of him costs more than $6600. The question is whether or not Griffin is a legitimate threat to post huge numbers, and I think he is. He was actually extremely efficient last week with 9.1 YPA, but he was just unlucky to not score when the Redskins got close to the goal line.
RGIII had only 24 combined rushing yards in the past two games, but he also had 161 in the two before that. For the price, you’re getting value on a player who has a really good chance to improve in one of two really important categories—quarterback rushing yards and passing touchdowns.
Quietly, Bush has at least 20 carries in each of the past two games and 13 or more in every game except one this year. He’s also been targeted at least six times in all but one contest.
With his play-making ability and versatility, Bush is an excellent choice in both tournaments and heads-up leagues. The Bears’ defense doesn’t intimidate offenses anymore, and I could have more exposure to Bush than any other running back this week.
I’ve talked about why I like Brown in heads-up leagues; he sees a lot of targets, many of which are screens and other short, safe passes, so he has a really high floor each game.
You’d like to see more scores from Brown, but how about this for consistency: he has at least five catches and 50 yards in every single game this year. He’s also seen at least 11 targets in four contests. Brown should be a staple of pretty much all of your heads-up lineups because he’s so safe.
You might want to fade Graham in heads-up just because of his price, but it will be tough to say no in tournaments. There’s a good chance that Graham just destroys Dallas this week, giving him the potential to be a must-start for all winning tournament lineups.
Right now, Graham is on pace for 98 catches, 1,492 yards, and 20 touchdowns. That’s an okay season for a tight end, right?
Here, you can see a much stronger relationship. Outside of a handful of outliers (I’m looking at you Darren Sproles), all of the running backs fall within a pretty narrow range. The strength of this correlation is .71. That’s more than twice as strong as the relationship between YPC and running back success.
I have a feeling that RGIII is quickly turning into the new Eli Manning for me. I had more exposure to Griffin than any other player in Week 8, hence the losses.
I’m betting that Week 8 was a fluke for Griffin, who seems to have his legs back under him. He should be able to pass and run his way to 20 points this week. RGIII was the fifth-priciest quarterback on FanDuel last week, but now he’s down to No. 9 with a matchup that’s about the same.
This is kind of a no-brainer pick. Lacy had at least 82 rushing yards in his past four games, including two touchdowns. He even has nine catches over the past two weeks, adding a little extra value (FanDuel is 0.5 PPR).
The matchup with the Bears will scare away some players, but Chicago actually ranks in the bottom half of the league in rushing yards allowed. With Jay Cutler out, there’s an even better chance that Green Bay will be handing off the ball to Lacy lots in the fourth quarter.
Terrance Williams might have the best head-to-head matchup in all of football this week against cornerback Josh Robinson, but that doesn’t mean that Bryant can’t go off. After last week’s episode, it seems like Tony Romo is going to do everything he can to get the ball in Bryant’s hands.
Bryant is the top-priced player in a week without a lot of elite options at wide receiver. For reference,Jordy Nelson is the second-priciest receiver, just $700 less than Bryant.
If you’re paying up for a tight end, it has to be Gronkowski or Jimmy Graham. Gronk’s stock is down, but he costs $800 less than Graham and it’s not like Tom Brady isn’t throwing to him. Regardless of how or who they’re playing, the Brady-Gronkowski connection is always capable of a three-touchdown outing. Some lower-priced tight ends might make better heads-up plays, but Gronk is a quality tournament option.
I own wide receiver Eric Decker in quite a few season-long leagues, but I have no exposure to teammateWes Welker. The reason is that I believed the Broncos’ wide receiver situation to still be a little cloudy in the preseason. I wanted in on it, but without knowing how everything would shake it out, it was smartest to just go cheap, i.e. draft Decker because of his plummeting ADP.
Everyone likes a bargain. When you can acquire quality production from a low-priced player in daily fantasy, that’s incredibly valuable to your team. All other things the same, cheaper is better.
Not all points are created equally, though; a 15-point week from Zac Stacy is worth more to you than a 15-point week from Adrian Peterson because of the opportunity cost associated with each player. Namely, Stacy affords you more opportunities elsewhere.
But shopping in the bargain bin isn’t valuable for its own sake. One of the problems with low-priced players is that they don’t need to produce much to offer value in terms of $/point. That might seem like a positive, but we always need to analyze our lineups as a whole.
Low-priced players can offer value, but what is the effect on total points?
RGIII is back. After rushing 18 times in his first four games, Griffin has 20 carries in the past two. He’s totaled 161 yards on those rushes, including runs of 23 and 26 yards. The coaches seem more open to letting him use his legs as a weapon and, more important, Griffin isn’t hesitating to leave the pocket anymore.
When Griffin runs, he’s a top five fantasy quarterback. He’s going to see a whole lot of dropbacks this week, and thus a bunch of opportunities to rack up both passing and rushing yards.
RB Le’Veon Bell @OAK
Bell is one of the few mid-priced running backs who could see a heavy workload. He’s received at least 16 carries in his first three NFL games, and you just aren’t going to see other backs as cheap as him getting those kind of touches.
With a quality matchup in Oakland, Bell is a good bet to score at least once this week. The Steelers have also used Bell at least moderately in the passing game; he has eight receptions in his three games, which would put him on pace for 43 in a 16-game season.
I also did another Google Hangout with Josh Moore.
At 4for4, I provided optimal plays for both FanDuel and DraftDay. Here’s FanDuel:
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. That’s not actually the definition of insanity, but whatever, let’s roll with it.
They also say there’s a fine line between genius and madness. I think I’m walking that line right now, and I have a strong hunch that, instead of being brilliant, I’m insane. A lunatic. A nut.
Because I will indeed be doing the same thing this week that I’ve done almost all season—starting Eli Manning in my fantasy leagues—and expecting a different result.
I really don’t like Eli at all. I hate the way he licks his hands. I hate the way he tilts his head all the time. I hate that he looks like Eeyore.
That didn’t even take me 10 minutes to create in Paint. Nbd. Donkeys talk out of their shoulders, by the way.
But despite Manning’s paradoxical ability to be likeable and hated at the same time, I’m going to be all over him again this week. So I ask, please, will you all join me in placing an exorbitant amount of your bankroll in Eli Manning until he severely cuts into our profitability and eventually bankrupts all of us? It should be a fun ride.
In all seriousness, I think fantasy owners need to be willing to buy into guys who have burned them in the past. If you haven’t had Manning on any teams this year and you look at his salary and matchup in Week 8, you’ll probably be more likely to recognize he offers value than someone who had him in their lineups over the past month.
But that’s the beauty of daily fantasy football; we get a new go at it each week, so your past choices shouldn’t affect your current ones. If you think Manning offers a high ceiling-to-price ratio, which he does, you need to be willing to pull the trigger even if he’s killed you in the past.
As a side note, don’t play Manning in Thursday leagues. The reason is that I think we should monitor the weather in Philly on Sunday morning before putting him into lineups. Namely, if it’s excessively windy, don’t start him. As much as people think rain and snow hurts the passing game, it’s wind that really kills it. The Eagles’ stadium has the ability to turn into a wind tunnel, so make sure everything is calm on that front before plugging him in.
I’m generally bullish on players others view as injury-prone (even if they are indeed injury-prone) in daily fantasy because the odds of getting injured in a single game are small. Having said that, I’d still play Vick only in tournaments this week, just to be safe. The last thing you want it to put half of your heads-up money on him and he pulls up lame in the first quarter.
Sproles is always a high-ceiling week-to-week play in PPR leagues. I think he’s going to have a monster game against the Bills, but his salary has fallen into the mid-tier range to account for his recent drop in production. Like Vick, he’s probably just a tournament play due to a potentially low number of touches.
I participate in too many fantasy leagues to mention without being horribly embarrassed, one of which is a league with some people work within the Dallas Cowboys organization (some writers, a Cowboys cheerleader, and a fan).
Now I’m not going to completely speculate on the quality of the owners in the league because some might be decent for all I know, but let me just say Tom Brady was drafted in the first round. So there’s that.
You’d think I could just run over a league like that. But after missing the playoffs last year, I’m currently 2-5 and in second-to-last place. I’ve scored almost 50 points less than the cheerleader. I’m winning or in the top quarter of multiple high-stakes leagues, yet I can’t crack the top half of a league in which Brady was a first-rounder and Jamaal Charles nearly slipped into the third.
You might argue I’m writing this because I’m bitter, and you’d be exactly right. It’s pretty annoying to make what you consider to be optimal decisions and then just get killed by a game filled with so much inherent variance.
If you recall from Tuesday’s Week 6 recap, I’m up $112.93 on the initial $2k investment. I thought I’d be in a better position through six weeks, but it’s not horrendous considering I’ve taken quite a few shots in some big tournaments.
The reason that I’ve played a decent percentage of my bankroll in tournaments is because of the upside, obviously, which is enhanced by all of the bad money in them. Tournaments offer the best long-term money-making opportunity because all of the fish play them. But they’re also really volatile because, with low payout percentages, even the best players lose their entry fee more than they cash.
That’s why I’ve been playing a lot of DraftKings tourneys; most pay out the top quarter of entrants. It’s not like I can put $500 into them each week, though, considering my bankroll is still just above $2k. I also can’t enter a huge number of tournaments because that’s a recipe for losses.
If I enter a bunch of tournaments and use the same lineup, the results would be drastic from week to week. I’d likely either cash in almost all of them or lose all of my money. But if I enter a whole bunch of tournaments and then completely diversify my lineups to basically ensure cashing, all I’ll really do is slowly lose my money because I’d be playing sub-optimal players.
Remember, we’re always trying to balance playing optimal lineups with a little bit of risk-minimization. It’s smart to hedge against down weeks (or injuries to DeMarco Murray and Cecil Shorts) so that we don’t compromise the integrity of our bankrolls.
Regardless of how it’s defined, the majority of expert fantasy owners utilize some scarcity metric in their drafting. Most call it ‘VBD’ (Value Based Drafting) or ‘VORP’ (Value Over Replacement Player). Either way, the goal is to maximize the difference between the points for a potential pick and the points of a player you could obtain later at the same position – a measurement of each potential pick’s scarcity.
Some have spoken out against the usefulness or predictive capabilities of such scarcity metrics, and there are a lot of well-argued points against VBD. But no matter how you slice it, VBD is a strong way to measure and analyze past findings. Predictive ability aside, VBD provides a clear indication as to which players and positions have been the most valuable in the past.
So I wanted to create a visualization to show just how scarce each position has been through Week 6. Here’s the points per game for the top 20 players at each position in PPR leagues.
Freeman checks in as the third-best quarterback value because of his price tag. But what can he really do for you this week? He was horrific in Tampa Bay in an offense he knew with weapons much better than those in Minnesota. Even with a favorable matchup, Freeman’s ceiling in this game is probably like 200 yards.
Freeman is the perfect example of why min-priced players can appear to offer value. He’s so cheap that, in isolation, he won’t kill you because a 200-yard, 1 TD game will probably give you “value.” And you’ll get to fill your team with some high-priced studs, too.
But those players are less likely to return lots of value; the higher the salary, the lower the chances of a player greatly surpassing his expectation. Freeman could conceivably double his expectation, whereas a player like Peyton Manning can’t do it, for example. That’s a reflection of their prices and not their talent, obviously, but it means when you’re bullish on a min-priced option, it needs to be someone who has a legitimately high enough ceiling to really return value since you might just “break even” at the other spots.
I cover the Cowboys, and I’m about as bearish on Randle as you can get. He’s light and slow—a really crappy combo. I’ve explained why I don’t like Randle here, here, here, and here.
More important, everyone is going to own Randle this week. Bypassing him offers a great opportunity to acquire an advantage at the running back position if he fails, so I’ll be fading Randle in heads-up leagues and especially in tournaments.
The only reason to jump on Brown is to be a contrarian with a lot of people figuring to use Keenan Allen this week. But just because you might be fading one player doesn’t mean you need to be bullish on one of his teammates.
The top of the DraftKings’ wide receiver value report is littered with low-priced guys like Brown ($301 dollars per point), but you don’t need to move too far down the list to see comparable value in Vincent Jackson ($333 DPP), Josh Gordon ($335 DPP), and Reggie Wayne ($336 DPP), all of whom are better options because they possess a much higher probability of producing at an elite level.
Miller is the top tight end value, but nipping at his heels is Jordan Cameron. The Browns tight end costs $1300 more than Miller. That’s not chump change, but I don’t think you’ll find the same sort of difference in ceiling at any other $1300 deviation in price. Miller is an option in head-to-head leagues, but Cameron is almost a must-start in DraftKings’ tournaments.