The past few weeks in this space, I've been experimenting with various redraft strategies to see if they work in FantasyScore's Draft-N-Gos (DNG). Does the zero running back strategy work? Find out here. Is it smart to wait until the last round to select your defense? Find out here. Today, I'm going to examine a strategy based on a well-known concept in DFS circles: upside. To be sure, drafting for upside is a strategy used in redrafts, but it's mainly used for selecting reserves; in DNGs, there are no reserves.
I've mentioned in previous articles that a FantasyScore DNG is the DFS equivalent of a poker Sit-N-Go (SNG). But now let me be more specific: An 8-person, 3-prize DNG is most equivalent to a poker SNG, which typically consists of nine people and (also) pays the top three finishers. Because of this setup, where all of the profit comes from finishing first or second out of nine (3rd place only wins their entry fee back), the game theory-optimal strategy is often to play more aggressively and to speculate more with drawing hands. These two tactics, aggression and speculation, translate to "drafting for upside" in the language of DFS, which means that such a strategy might work as well in 8-person DNGs as it does in a 9-person SNG.
As is my wont, we can do an experiment to find out.
week 6 draft lists
As always, before I present the results of my experiment, I first need to give you the Week 6 draft lists:
For today's experiment, we're going to focus on the 8-person draft list and make the following assumptions:
- Everyone selects a wide receiver as their flex starter.
- Everyone selects the best player available unless they've already filled that player's position in their lineup.
- Everyone uses the 8-person draft list shown above.
- Except us. We're using an upside draft list, not the one shown above.
If you're a regular reader of this column, you'll immediately notice something different from previous weeks: Pick 1 isn't the projected winner in a baseline draft, regardless of whether we calculate their projection using the average or the maximum. Not only that; they finish last using maximum projections. This happens because using the non-upside draft list, as we've done here, produces a lineup for Pick 1 that's the "safest" compared to everyone else. It does fine at maximizing Pick 1's average score, but fails miserably at maximizing their upside. This is laid bare in the bottom row of the table, which represents the difference between each lineup's average projection and maximum projection: Pick 1's +7.0 upside is the lowest of the bunch.
From there, I did the usual procedure in these experiments. First, I gave us Pick 1, made selections using the upside draft list, and making selections for everyone else using the non-upside draft list. Then, I gave us Pick 2, and did the same; then Pick 3, and so on. For each iteration, I calculated the maximum projection for each team, and compared it to the maximum projection in the baseline draft. All of these iteration results are in the table below:
|Scenario||Pick 1||Pick 2||Pick 3||Pick 4||Pick 5||Pick 6||Pick 7||Pick 8|
|Pick 1 Upside||+5.5||-1.7||-3.3||-0.6||+0.2||0.0||-2.1||+1.8|
|Pick 2 Upside||0.0||+0.2||-1.7||+0.4||+0.4||-0.5||-2.0||+3.0|
|Pick 3 Upside||+0.2||+0.9||+0.6||-0.2||+0.4||+2.0||-4.1||0.0|
|Pick 4 Upside||+0.2||+0.9||-0.9||+1.5||+1.5||+0.7||-4.1||0.0|
|Pick 5 Upside||0.0||-0.4||+0.9||-0.1||+3.6||-1.3||-4.7||+1.8|
|Pick 6 Upside||+0.3||+0.1||-0.6||0.0||-0.3||+3.4||-4.7||+1.6|
|Pick 7 Upside||+0.3||0.0||-0.8||+2.5||-0.3||-1.6||+1.1||-1.4|
|Pick 8 Upside||+0.5||+0.1||-0.7||+0.8||-0.3||-1.6||-2.0||+3.0|
Well, this is interesting. Unlike the previous ones I've tested, drafting for upside is a net-positive strategy at every pick (as indicated by the green cells). That is, if we're the one using the upside strategy, everyone else isn't, then we end up with a better lineup no matter where we pick.
In addition, given what we saw in the baseline draft, it should come as no surprise that Pick 1 benefits the most from the upside strategy by far. But here's the kicker: They go from dead last at baseline to actually winning the DNG. Furthermore, it turns out that Pick 1 benefits (or at least doesn't suffer) when anyone else in the draft employs the upside strategy.
The bottom line here doesn't require its own section: In an 8-person, 3-prize DNG, always use the upside draft list, especially if you're randomly assigned to the first pick.
upside draft list for 8-person dngs
I know, I know. You're wondering, "But Danny, you haven't given us the upside draft list for this week!" Well, here you go:
If you wish, you can dig into the details of how this draft list differs from the earlier one. I'll simply give you the names of players that, due to large differences between their maximum projection and average projection, repeatedly ended up among our upside draft selections: Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Carlos Hyde, Calvin Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, Golden Tate, Marquess Wilson, and Larry Donnell.