By David Dodds
Over the course of 17 weeks last season, FanDuel gave you 1,252 quarterback choices. Of course, the majority of these were never even going to play—Tarvaris Jackson, for example, was never a realistic option. Considering only the projected starters each week yielded 510 options in that span.
Choosing randomly from among these 510 starters would have actually produced fine results:
Average cost = $7,648
Average production = 16.5 fantasy points (FP)
Dollars per point = $464
As you can see, quarterbacks routinely hit twice their salary (as measured in thousands of dollars). This is an important measure because your salary cap is $60,000, and scoring 120 points in a cash game will usually put you in the money. You're therefore looking for each player to score twice their salary. Since so many quarterbacks hit the 2x mark, I screened the data against 2x, 2.1x, and 2.2x. It was relatively close, but the best data set came from screening for 2.1x value. Screening the data for players who I expected to reach 2.1x value—based on my weekly posted projections—yielded 387 players in 2014. This data set actually performed quite well:
Average cost = $7,453
Average production = 16.7 FP
Dollars per point = $446
232 of 387 hit 2x value (60.0%)
80 of 387 hit 3x value (20.7%)
This is still a very large list including nearly 23 quarterbacks a week, however. We don't need that many choices, so I dug deeper into the groupings within these 387 players to get to a list closer to 50-60 names. The variable that made the biggest difference to this data set—by a wide margin—was the Vegas over/under line. If Vegas thought the game could be a shootout, that was a very good sign for its quarterbacks.
In general, the bigger the Over/Under, the better the production from the quarterback. In fact the best data set came from these criteria:
- I projected the quarterback to score at least 2.1 times his salary
- The quarterback was involved in a game that Vegas predicted to be 50 or more points
Those criteria yielded the following (presented below):
- 60 choices for weeks 1-17
- Average cost = $8,562
- Average production = 20.7 FP
- Dollars per point = $414
- 43 of 60 hit 2x value (71.7%)
- 14 of 60 hit 3x value (23.3%)
|1||Matt Ryan||ATL||18.22||NO @ ATL||$8,100||31.42||16.2||24.3||home||3||51|
|1||Andrew Luck||IND||20.04||IND @ DEN||$9,200||28.7||18.4||27.6||away||8||53.5|
|2||Andrew Luck||IND||24.16||PHI @ IND||$9,200||19.88||18.4||27.6||home||-3||53.5|
|2||Nick Foles||PHI||19.14||PHI @ IND||$8,300||18.44||16.6||24.9||away||3||53.5|
|3||Matthew Stafford||DET||19.68||GB @ DET||$9,000||6.64||18||27||home||-1||51.5|
|4||Drew Brees||NO||21.52||NO @ DAL||$9,200||21.2||18.4||27.6||away||-3||53.5|
|4||Jay Cutler||CHI||18.86||GB @ CHI||$8,100||19.14||16.2||24.3||home||1.5||50.5|
|4||Tony Romo||DAL||17.4||NO @ DAL||$7,500||24.48||15||22.5||home||3||53.5|
|5||Eli Manning||NYG||17.14||ATL @ NYG||$7,300||15.7||14.6||21.9||home||-4||50.5|
|5||Matt Ryan||ATL||18.88||ATL @ NYG||$8,500||15.64||17||25.5||away||4||50.5|
|6||Matt Ryan||ATL||20.4||CHI @ ATL||$8,700||13.74||17.4||26.1||home||-3||55.5|
|6||Nick Foles||PHI||18.5||NYG @ PHI||$8,100||16.42||16.2||24.3||home||-1.5||50.5|
|6||Eli Manning||NYG||19.46||NYG @ PHI||$7,200||6.34||14.4||21.6||away||1.5||50.5|
|6||Jay Cutler||CHI||19.94||CHI @ ATL||$8,500||21.64||17||25.5||away||3||55.5|
|7||Andrew Luck||IND||21.24||CIN @ IND||$10,000||20.26||20||30||home||-3||50.5|
|8||Peyton Manning||DEN||21.9||SD @ DEN||$10,200||23.44||20.4||30.6||home||-9||50.5|
|8||Tom Brady||NE||19.26||CHI @ NE||$8,600||34.16||17.2||25.8||home||-5.5||52|
|8||Drew Brees||NO||19.88||GB @ NO||$9,100||25.04||18.2||27.3||home||-2||55|
|8||Aaron Rodgers||GB||21.78||GB @ NO||$10,000||26.82||20||30||away||2||55|
|8||Jay Cutler||CHI||18.54||CHI @ NE||$8,300||22.68||16.6||24.9||away||5.5||52|
|8||Philip Rivers||SD||18.88||SD @ DEN||$8,900||21.78||17.8||26.7||away||9||50.5|
|9||Andrew Luck||IND||22.18||IND @ NYG||$10,100||30.66||20.2||30.3||away||-3||51|
|9||Tom Brady||NE||20.92||DEN @ NE||$9,000||28.72||18||27||home||3||52.5|
|9||Eli Manning||NYG||16||IND @ NYG||$7,600||22.16||15.2||22.8||home||3||51|
|10||Peyton Manning||DEN||22.1||DEN @OAK||$10,000||31.6||20||30||away||-12||50.5|
|10||Aaron Rodgers||GB||22.94||CHI @ GB||$9,900||36.6||19.8||29.7||home||-9||52.5|
|10||Jay Cutler||CHI||18.86||CHI @ GB||$8,000||10.88||16||24||away||9||52.5|
|10||Derek Carr||OAK||15.46||DEN @OAK||$6,800||13.68||13.6||20.4||home||12||50.5|
|11||Drew Brees||NO||20.92||CIN @ NO||$9,300||14.5||18.6||27.9||home||-8.5||51|
|11||Aaron Rodgers||GB||22.32||PHI @ GB||$10,100||28.84||20.2||30.3||home||-4||55.5|
|11||Andrew Luck||IND||22.16||NE @ IND||$10,200||20.62||20.4||30.6||home||-3||58|
|11||Tom Brady||NE||21.44||NE @ IND||$9,500||16.08||19||28.5||away||3||58|
|11||Mark Sanchez||PHI||17.1||PHI @ GB||$6,900||15.84||13.8||20.7||away||4||55.5|
|11||Andy Dalton||CIN||16.62||CIN @ NO||$7,900||22||15.8||23.7||away||8.5||51|
|12||Drew Brees||NO||20.02||BAL @ NO||$9,000||29.3||18||27||home||-3||50.5|
|12||Joe Flacco||BAL||16.84||BAL @ NO||$7,800||13.92||15.6||23.4||away||3||50.5|
|13||Ben Roethlisberger||PIT||20.8||NO @ PIT||$8,300||28.2||16.6||24.9||home||-3.5||55|
|13||Aaron Rodgers||GB||21.84||NE @ GB||$9,900||24.92||19.8||29.7||home||-3||57.5|
|13||Tony Romo||DAL||19.4||PHI @ DAL||$8,700||5.86||17.4||26.1||home||-3||56|
|13||Mark Sanchez||PHI||18.1||PHI @ DAL||$7,600||21.48||15.2||22.8||away||3||56|
|14||Aaron Rodgers||GB||23.42||ATL @ GB||$10,400||27.88||20.8||31.2||home||-13.5||54.5|
|14||Drew Brees||NO||20.76||CAR @ NO||$9,400||13||18.8||28.2||home||-9||50|
|14||Tony Romo||DAL||18.8||DAL @ CHI||$8,300||20||16.6||24.9||away||-3.5||50|
|14||Brian Hoyer||CLE||16.06||IND @ CLE||$6,700||3.74||13.4||20.1||home||3||50.5|
|14||Jay Cutler||CHI||18.84||DAL @ CHI||$8,300||27.54||16.6||24.9||home||3.5||50|
|14||Philip Rivers||SD||18.7||NE @ SD||$8,200||11.36||16.4||24.6||home||4||53.5|
|14||Cam Newton||CAR||18.72||CAR @ NO||$7,800||35.34||15.6||23.4||away||9||50|
|14||Matt Ryan||ATL||18.06||ATL @ GB||$7,900||32.3||15.8||23.7||away||13.5||54.5|
|15||Ben Roethlisberger||PIT||20.08||PIT @ ATL||$8,700||14.2||17.4||26.1||away||-3||55.5|
|15||Drew Brees||NO||19.76||NO @ CHI||$9,200||27.2||18.4||27.6||away||-3||53.5|
|15||Mark Sanchez||PHI||19.7||DAL @ PHI||$7,500||8.08||15||22.5||home||-3||54.5|
|15||Matt Ryan||ATL||16.94||PIT @ ATL||$7,900||22.1||15.8||23.7||home||3||55.5|
|15||Jay Cutler||CHI||19.5||NO @ CHI||$8,600||16.76||17.2||25.8||home||3||53.5|
|16||Mark Sanchez||PHI||18.14||PHI @ WAS||$7,500||22.16||15||22.5||away||-7||51|
|16||Drew Brees||NO||20.76||ATL @ NO||$9,100||13.32||18.2||27.3||home||-6||56|
|16||Tony Romo||DAL||18.26||IND @ DAL||$8,400||27.52||16.8||25.2||home||-3||53.5|
|16||Matt Ryan||ATL||19.58||ATL @ NO||$8,700||17.58||17.4||26.1||away||6||56|
|16||Robert Griffin III||WAS||18.8||PHI @ WAS||$6,900||8.9||13.8||20.7||home||7||51|
|17||Eli Manning||NYG||18.02||PHI @ NYG||$8,200||20.16||16.4||24.6||home||-1||52|
|17||Mark Sanchez||PHI||17.58||PHI @ NYG||$7,400||20.88||14.8||22.2||away||1||52|
In summary: Choose quarterbacks who are projected to score at least 2.1 times their salaries and who are playing in games with over/unders of at least 50 points.
Over the course of a 17-week regular season, FanDuel gave their players 2,530 running back choices. If a person threw darts at a board, they would have reached the cash-game goal of 2x just 11.1% (282 times). We can do better than a random dart throw.
Looking back on my weekly posted projections from last season, I screened for players who were expected to reach 2x their salaries (as measured in thousands of dollars). That search yielded 162 players in 2014. This data set actually performed quite well:
162 running backs Predicted to Reach 2x Value
Average cost = $7,157
Average production = 15.1 FP
Dollars per point = $474
79 of 162 hit 2x value (48.8%)
35 of 162 hit 3x value (21.6%)
We really don't need nine or ten running backs to choose from each week, however, so we can refine our list using location (home is better than away) and point spread (favorites are better than underdogs). Screening for just those at home left 89 choices and 47 of those hit 2x. On average, each running back cost $7,188 and yielded 15.6 fantasy points ($461/point).
Looking further, what about players on home teams favored by four points or more? These criteria provided 50 choices for the entire NFL regular season. Compared to the 162 players in the entire 2x set, these players were much better performers in cash-game lineups:
50 running backs as Big Home Favorites
Average cost = $7,202
Average production = 16.6 FP
Dollars per point = $434
29 of 50 hit 2x value (58.0%)
14 of 50 hit 3X value (28.0%)
If we want to narrow the list further, the highest over/under totals can be used as a tiebreaker. The higher the game total, the more likely points are to be scored.
Screening for the highest projected point totals yielded the following:
34 running backs Predicted to Reach 2x Value, Playing as Big Home Favorites, In the Highest Over/Unders
Average cost = $7,450
Average production = 17.7 FP
Dollars per point = $421
24 of 34 hit 2x value (70.6%)
9 of 34 hit 3x value (26.5%)
RB Examples from the 2014 Regular Season
2x projection, home favorites over four points, high over/unders.
|1||Montee Ball||DEN||16.8||IND @ DEN||$8,000||15.3||16||24||-8||53.5|
|1||LeSean McCoy||PHI||19.5||JAC @ PHI||$9,400||14.5||18.8||28.2||-9.5||49.5|
|2||Giovani Bernard||CIN||18.5||ATL @ CIN||$7,800||25.4||15.6||23.4||-6||49|
|2||Bobby Rainey||TB||13.3||STL @ TB||$5,000||18.9||10||15||-4.5||37.5|
|3||Giovani Bernard||CIN||18.4||TEN @ CIN||$8,500||17.9||17||25.5||-6||45|
|3||Khiry Robinson||NO||10.3||MIN @ NO||$4,700||6.9||9.4||14.1||-9.5||49.5|
|4||Ahmad Bradshaw||IND||12.6||TEN @ IND||$6,100||12.2||12.2||18.3||-7||46|
|4||Donald Brown||SD||14.4||JAC @ SD||$6,300||7.4||12.6||18.9||-11||45.5|
|5||DeMarco Murray||DAL||19.2||HOU @ DAL||$9,000||20.2||18||27||-4.5||48|
|5||Khiry Robinson||NO||12||TB @ NO||$4,900||16.2||9.8||14.7||-11||47|
|6||Giovani Bernard||CIN||19.6||CAR @ CIN||$8,700||23.7||17.4||26.1||-7||44|
|6||Marshawn Lynch||SEA||19.6||DAL @ SEA||$9,200||6.7||18.4||27.6||-9.5||47|
|7||DeMarco Murray||DAL||24.4||NYG @ DAL||$9,400||19.7||18.8||28.2||-5||46.5|
|7||Justin Forsett||BAL||14.6||ATL @ BAL||$6,200||9.5||12.4||18.6||-7||49.5|
|8||Jamaal Charles||KC||19.2||STL @ KC||$8,700||23.1||17.4||26.1||-7.5||44|
|8||DeMarco Murray||DAL||20.3||WAS @ DAL||$9,600||22.1||19.2||28.8||-9||49|
|9||Jeremy Hill||CIN||13||JAC @ CIN||$5,200||28.8||10.4||15.6||-10||44|
|9||Arian Foster||HOU||19.4||PHI @ HOU||$9,400||18.9||18.8||28.2||2||48.5|
|10||Marshawn Lynch||SEA||17.4||NYG @ SEA||$8,300||40.8||16.6||24.9||-9||44.5|
|10||Justin Forsett||BAL||14.6||TEN @ BAL||$6,500||23.2||13||19.5||-10||44.5|
|11||Matt Forte||CHI||19.2||MIN @ CHI||$9,300||20.5||18.6||27.9||-2.5||46.5|
|11||Bishop Sankey||TEN||11.8||PIT @ TEN||$5,300||11||10.6||15.9||7||46|
|12||LeSean McCoy||PHI||16.5||TEN @ PHI||$7,700||19.6||15.4||23.1||-11||48.5|
|12||Trent Richardson||IND||15.2||JAC @ IND||$5,700||10.2||11.4||17.1||-13||49|
|13||Joique Bell||DET||14.1||CHI @ DET||$6,300||23.7||12.6||18.9||-7||46|
|13||Dan Herron||IND||13.1||WAS @ IND||$5,800||14.6||11.6||17.4||-7.5||48.5|
|14||Eddie Lacy||GB||18.8||ATL @ GB||$8,500||25.1||17||25.5||-13.5||54.5|
|14||C.J. Anderson||DEN||17.7||BUF @ DEN||$7,800||23.8||15.6||23.4||-9.5||47.5|
|15||Jamaal Charles||KC||20.9||OAK @ KC||$9,200||5.8||18.4||27.6||-11||41.5|
|15||Justin Forsett||BAL||17.4||JAC @ BAL||$7,700||5.2||15.4||23.1||-14||44.5|
|16||Tre Mason||STL||14.1||NYG @ STL||$6,500||14.8||13||19.5||-6.5||43.5|
|16||Mark Ingram||NO||14.9||ATL @ NO||$7,400||13||14.8||22.2||-6||56|
|17||C.J. Anderson||DEN||18.8||OAK @ DEN||$8,300||29.7||16.6||24.9||-16||49|
|17||Justin Forsett||BAL||14.9||CLE @ BAL||$6,900||14.6||13.8||20.7||-14||40|
- Choose home running backs that are projected for 2x+.
- Pay attention to the point spread (larger favorites are better).
- Also note the game's Over/Under (larger totals are better).
Much like the running back position, if a DFS player were to randomly choose his wide receivers, he would be facing long odds at grabbing one that was valuable. FanDuel offered their players 3,583 wide receivers over the course of a 17-week regular season. These receivers cost an average of $5,240 while yielding an average of just 4.1 fantasy points.
Since analyzing 3,583 wide receivers would be time consuming, let's cull this to a more manageable list. After screening all the possible receivers on the season, picking out only the ones that I projected to hit 1.8x their value yielded 262 different combinations. Please note that we are using 1.8x here as a guideline as the receivers tend to be priced a bit higher and don't hit 2x as often as quarterbacks and running backs.
This analysis yielded a decent list:
262 wide receivers Projected to Reach 1.8X of Value
Average cost = $6,924
Average production = 13.0 FP
Dollars per point = $533
108 of 262 hit 2x value (41.2%)
But players don't really need approximately 15 receivers to choose from each week, so I looked harder at the groupings within these 262 players to get to a list closer to 100 names.
Using location (home is better), point spread (favorite is better), and over/under of 51+ points all made a difference. The biggest distinction was that the bigger the home favorite, the better the production from the wide receiver.
Looking back at the 2014 projections, the best data set came from this formula: First, find the receivers who were projected to reach 1.8x their salary. Next, find those playing at home. And finally, choose the three receivers where their team was favored the most for that week.
I broke ties by choosing the team playing in the highest over/under game and if that was tied, chose the receiver I projected for the most fantasy points.
That yielded the following (and is presented below):
51 wide receiver Predicted to Reach 1.8x Value, Playing as Big Home Favorites, In the Highest Over/Unders Average cost = $7,298
Average production = 16.1 FP
Dollars per point = $453
25 of 51 hit 2x value (49.0%)
14 of 51 hit 3X value (27.5%)
WR Examples from the 2014 Regular Season
1.8x projection, home favorites over four points, high over/unders.
|1||Jeremy Maclin||PHI||10.5||JAC @ PHI||$5,000||17.7||10||15||-9.5||49.5|
|1||Emmanuel Sanders||DEN||12||IND @ DEN||$6,400||11.8||12.8||19.2||-8||53.5|
|1||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||16.1||IND @ DEN||$8,700||6.8||17.4||26.1||-8||53.5|
|2||Jordy Nelson||GB||15.3||NYJ @ GB||$7,900||31.4||15.8||23.7||-7||46.5|
|2||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||20.1||KC @ DEN||$8,700||14.7||17.4||26.1||-13||49|
|2||Emmanuel Sanders||DEN||12.5||KC @ DEN||$6,900||14.6||13.8||20.7||-13||49|
|3||Julio Jones||ATL||17.3||TB @ ATL||$8,500||32.6||17||25.5||-7||47|
|3||Julian Edelman||NE||13.2||OAK @ NE||$6,900||13.9||13.8||20.7||-13.5||47|
|3||Marques Colston||NO||11.6||MIN @ NO||$5,600||9.5||11.2||16.8||-9.5||49.5|
|4||Antonio Brown||PIT||16.2||TB @ PIT||$8,400||29.3||16.8||25.2||-7||44.5|
|4||Keenan Allen||SD||12.4||JAC @ SD||$6,700||18.5||13.4||20.1||-11||45.5|
|4||Malcom Floyd||SD||9.3||JAC @ SD||$4,700||11.4||9.4||14.1||-11||45.5|
|5||Golden Tate||DET||11.6||BUF @ DET||$6,300||22.9||12.6||18.9||-4.5||43|
|5||Jordy Nelson||GB||16.3||MIN @ GB||$8,500||13.1||17||25.5||-9.5||46.5|
|5||Marques Colston||NO||10.2||TB @ NO||$5,500||7.8||11||16.5||-11||47|
|6||Mohamed Sanu||CIN||11.1||CAR @ CIN||$6,000||23||12||18||-7||44|
|6||Michael Floyd||ARI||11.6||WAS @ ARI||$6,300||12.7||12.6||18.9||-5||47|
|6||Doug Baldwin||SEA||8.6||DAL @ SEA||$4,500||4.2||9||13.5||-9.5||47|
|7||Jordy Nelson||GB||20.5||CAR @ GB||$8,900||16||17.8||26.7||-6.5||48.5|
|7||Davante Adams||GB||10||CAR @ GB||$5,200||8.6||10.4||15.6||-6.5||48.5|
|7||Brandon LaFell||NE||9.8||NYJ @ NE||$5,400||7.5||10.8||16.2||-9.5||44.5|
|8||Brandon LaFell||NE||9.8||CHI @ NE||$5,300||23.9||10.6||15.9||-5.5||52|
|8||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||17.8||SD @ DEN||$9,400||14.5||18.8||28.2||-9||50.5|
|8||Dez Bryant||DAL||16.5||WAS @ DAL||$8,800||10.5||17.6||26.4||-9||49|
|9||Antonio Brown||PIT||17.6||BAL @ PIT||$9,000||25.9||18||27||-2||47.5|
|9||Andrew Hawkins||CLE||11.7||TB @ CLE||$6,400||4.9||12.8||19.2||-7||44|
|9||Andre Johnson||HOU||13.6||PHI @ HOU||$6,900||2.2||13.8||20.7||2||48.5|
|10||Jordy Nelson||GB||15.7||CHI @ GB||$8,500||30.2||17||25.5||-9||52.5|
|10||Mike Evans||TB||11.9||ATL @ TB||$6,600||22||13.2||19.8||3||47|
|10||Calvin Johnson||DET||16.7||MIA @ DET||$8,800||20.8||17.6||26.4||-3||43|
|11||Jordy Nelson||GB||16.9||PHI @ GB||$8,900||18.9||17.8||26.7||-4||55.5|
|11||Malcom Floyd||SD||10.9||OAK @ SD||$5,400||12.4||10.8||16.2||-10||45.5|
|11||Keenan Allen||SD||11.7||OAK @ SD||$6,400||10.3||12.8||19.2||-10||45.5|
|12||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||19.1||MIA @ DEN||$9,000||31.7||18||27||-6||47|
|12||Anquan Boldin||SF||12.7||WAS @ SF||$6,800||24.2||13.6||20.4||-9.5||43.5|
|12||Reggie Wayne||IND||12.9||JAC @ IND||$6,900||2.5||13.8||20.7||-13||49|
|13||Calvin Johnson||DET||16.6||CHI @ DET||$8,600||32.1||17.2||25.8||-7||46|
|13||Reggie Wayne||IND||12.6||WAS @ IND||$6,700||5.1||13.4||20.1||-7.5||48.5|
|13||Steve Smith||BAL||11.6||SD @ BAL||$6,400||0.7||12.8||19.2||-6.5||45.5|
|14||Jordy Nelson||GB||16.2||ATL @ GB||$8,900||30.6||17.8||26.7||-13.5||54.5|
|14||Calvin Johnson||DET||16.8||TB @ DET||$9,200||25.8||18.4||27.6||-10||42|
|14||Randall Cobb||GB||15.6||ATL @ GB||$8,400||7.7||16.8||25.2||-13.5||54.5|
|15||Odell Beckham Jr.||NYG||18.8||WAS @ NYG||$8,500||36.3||17||25.5||-7||46|
|15||Kelvin Benjamin||CAR||13.7||TB @ CAR||$7,600||14.4||15.2||22.8||-3.5||41|
|15||Calvin Johnson||DET||19.4||MIN @ DET||$9,400||7.3||18.8||28.2||-8||42.5|
|16||Dez Bryant||DAL||17.3||IND @ DAL||$8,600||15.8||17.2||25.8||-3||53.5|
|16||Marques Colston||NO||11.1||ATL @ NO||$6,100||11||12.2||18.3||-6||56|
|16||Kenny Stills||NO||12.1||ATL @ NO||$6,100||9.8||12.2||18.3||-6||56|
|17||Randall Cobb||GB||15.5||DET @ GB||$8,500||20.6||17||25.5||-8||46|
|17||Demaryius Thomas||DEN||17.1||OAK @ DEN||$9,000||15.5||18||27||-16||49|
|17||Doug Baldwin||SEA||11||STL @ SEA||$6,100||6.6||12.2||18.3||-11||41|
- Choose home wide receivers that are projected for 1.8 times value (or better).
- Pay attention to the point spread (larger favorites are better).
- Also note the game's Over/Under (larger totals are better).
- Break ties by using projected fantasy points.
Tight Ends are rough to roster. You have to choose one each week, and they're going to let you down a lot of the time. Except for a couple of elite tight ends, most of the players at this position will only achieve twice their value if they score a touchdown.
As with the other skill positions, if you were to choose a tight end randomly, you would be facing long odds of grabbing one that was valuable. FanDuel offered 1,807 choices during the 2014 regular season, and they cost an average of $4,842 while yielding an average of just 2.7 fantasy points.
Analyzing 1,807 tight ends is overkill, so let's pare this down to a reasonable list. I screened all the tight ends that I projected to score at least eight fantasy points. Generally these were tight ends that should have at least a 30% chance of scoring a touchdown. This yielded a decent list:
Average cost = $6,131
Average production = 9.4 fantasy points
Dollars per point = $652
64 of 215 hit 2x value (29.8%)
The usual suspects—home, favorites, and over/under—all improved things. Over/Under made the biggest difference, and that makes sense because a lot of a tight ends' points depend on whether or not they reach the end zone.
The best data set included only those tight ends that I projected for at least eight fantasy points playing for a team that was favored in a game where the over/under was more than 48 points. This generated the following subset:
Average cost = $6,732
Average production = 12.3 fantasy points
Dollars per point = $547
19 of 41 hit 2x value (46.3%)
7 of 41 hit 3x value (17.1%)
|1||Julius Thomas||DEN||11.6||IND @ DEN||$7,400||31.9||14.8||22.2||home||-8.0||53.5|
|1||Jimmy Graham||NO||14.9||NO @ ATL||$8,100||12.2||16.2||24.3||away||-3.0||51.0|
|1||Vernon Davis||SF||9.0||SF @ DAL||$6,300||18.4||12.6||18.9||away||-3.0||49.0|
|2||Julius Thomas||DEN||15.1||KC @ DEN||$8,100||11.9||16.2||24.3||home||-13.0||49.0|
|2||Jimmy Graham||NO||15.3||NO @ CLE||$8,000||28.8||16.0||24.0||away||-5.0||49.0|
|2||Dwayne Allen||IND||8.2||PHI @ IND||$4,800||0.0||9.6||14.4||home||-3.0||53.5|
|2||Rob Gronkowski||NE||14.1||NE @ MIN||$7,900||5.2||15.8||23.7||away||-3.0||49.0|
|2||Delanie Walker||TEN||8.6||DAL @ TEN||$5,000||25.2||10.0||15.0||home||-3.0||49.0|
|3||Jimmy Graham||NO||15.7||MIN @ NO||$8,400||8.4||16.8||25.2||home||-9.5||49.5|
|3||Zach Ertz||PHI||10.7||WAS @ PHI||$5,800||2.4||11.6||17.4||home||-4.0||49.5|
|4||Vernon Davis||SF||9.6||PHI @ SF||$6,200||1.8||12.4||18.6||home||-3.5||49.0|
|4||Jimmy Graham||NO||15.6||NO @ DAL||$8,200||16.6||16.4||24.6||away||-3.0||53.5|
|5||Larry Donnell||NYG||11.0||ATL @ NYG||$6,200||0.0||12.4||18.6||home||-4.0||50.5|
|7||Owen Daniels||BAL||8.0||ATL @ BAL||$5,200||14.8||10.4||15.6||home||-7.0||49.5|
|7||Dwayne Allen||IND||9.0||CIN @ IND||$5,700||12.7||11.4||17.1||home||-3.0||50.5|
|8||Julius Thomas||DEN||11.9||SD @ DEN||$8,500||3.3||17.0||25.5||home||-9.0||50.5|
|8||Jason Witten||DAL||8.2||WAS @ DAL||$5,700||15.5||11.4||17.1||home||-9.0||49.0|
|8||Rob Gronkowski||NE||13.1||CHI @ NE||$7,200||37.4||14.4||21.6||home||-5.5||52.0|
|8||Jimmy Graham||NO||9.7||GB @ NO||$7,000||14.4||14.0||21.0||home||-2.0||55.0|
|9||Julius Thomas||DEN||11.6||DEN @ NE||$7,800||10.3||15.6||23.4||away||-3.0||52.5|
|9||Dwayne Allen||IND||8.8||IND @ NYG||$6,200||12.8||12.4||18.6||away||-3.0||51.0|
|9||Jimmy Graham||NO||11.7||NO @ CAR||$7,000||17.8||14.0||21.0||away||-3.0||49.0|
|9||Zach Ertz||PHI||8.9||PHI @ HOU||$5,400||0.9||10.8||16.2||away||-2.0||48.5|
|10||Julius Thomas||DEN||12.2||DEN @ OAK||$7,300||21.3||14.6||21.9||away||-12.0||50.5|
|10||Jimmy Graham||NO||13.8||SF @ NO||$7,500||24.6||15.0||22.5||home||-6.0||49.0|
|11||Jimmy Graham||NO||15.8||CIN @ NO||$7,900||4.4||15.8||23.7||home||-8.5||51.0|
|11||Julius Thomas||DEN||11.5||DEN @ STL||$7,500||1.3||15.0||22.5||away||-8.0||49.5|
|11||Dwayne Allen||IND||9.2||NE @ IND||$6,100||0.0||12.2||18.3||home||-3.0||58.0|
|12||Coby Fleener||IND||12.0||JAC @ IND||$5,400||3.8||10.8||16.2||home||-13.0||49.0|
|12||Jason Witten||DAL||8.8||DAL @ NYG||$5,700||11.0||11.4||17.1||away||-4.0||48.5|
|12||Jimmy Graham||NO||13.1||BAL @ NO||$7,500||19.7||15.0||22.5||home||-3.0||50.5|
|13||Coby Fleener||IND||8.8||WAS @ IND||$5,800||26.7||11.6||17.4||home||-7.5||48.5|
|13||Jason Witten||DAL||10.9||PHI @ DAL||$5,700||1.3||11.4||17.1||home||-3.0||56.0|
|14||Jimmy Graham||NO||12.9||CAR @ NO||$7,100||4.0||14.2||21.3||home||-9.0||50.0|
|14||Rob Gronkowski||NE||12.3||NE @ SD||$7,700||18.7||15.4||23.1||away||-4.0||53.5|
|14||Jason Witten||DAL||8.9||DAL @ CHI||$5,500||3.6||11.0||16.5||away||-3.5||50.0|
|15||Rob Gronkowski||NE||12.6||MIA @ NE||$7,600||17.1||15.2||22.8||home||-9.0||49.0|
|15||Julius Thomas||DEN||10.2||DEN @ SD||$6,300||3.5||12.6||18.9||away||-4.0||49.0|
|15||Jimmy Graham||NO||11.5||NO @ CHI||$6,900||11.2||13.8||20.7||away||-3.0||53.5|
|16||Jimmy Graham||NO||13.1||ATL @ NO||$7,100||12.3||14.2||21.3||home||-6.0||56.0|
|16||Jason Witten||DAL||8.1||IND @ DAL||$5,300||18.5||10.6||15.9||home||-3.0||53.5|
In summary: Choose tight ends projected to score eight or more fantasy points in games where their team is favored and the over/under is more than 48 points.
The kicking position at FanDuel causes a lot of stress for people submitting lineups each week. Most people believe the position is so random that having it lessens the skill factor considerably. What if I were to tell you that the exact opposite is true?
That's right, I cracked the code for kickers on FanDuel.
Before presenting my solution, let's look at some data. In 2014, FanDuel essentially gave you 507 kickers to choose from during the 17 weeks of the regular season. I say "essentially" because they offered some kickers who were not kicking on certain weeks and other times didn't have every starting kicker available due to late signings after a benching. Of those 507 kicker performances, 161 scored twice their salary, which is the desired output for cash games, and just 46 reached 3x their salary, which hits the desired level of production for tournaments. So from the macro view, it would appear to be a daunting task to try and get roughly 10 fantasy points from this position.
This past year, FanDuel created a bigger wedge for kicker pricing. In years past, they priced all kickers between $5,000 and $5,500 with nearly all of them at $5,000. In 2014, they widened that pricing to cover the $4,500 to $5,600 range with a cleaner spread. In the table below, we can study the fantasy value of each kicker based on their prices from last season.
|Price||total||2X||2X %||3X||3X %|
Smoothing the data, it's easy to state that kickers costing $5,000 or less achieve twice their price at a noticeably higher rate than kickers priced over $5,000. But even armed with this data, kickers still fail at too high of a rate to just use price to determine the best plays each week.
There are a lot of factors that determine who should have a great kicking week, including the Vegas line, weather conditions, home field advantage, and whether the game is indoors. However, I am not certain that there is one expert capable of accurately assessing all of these factors and creating a near perfect kicker list each week. But as much as any one expert is incapable of having a perfect list, the wisdom of the crowds actually offers a lot of smart data that leads to a better answer.
FantasyPros consensus data includes weekly kicker rankings from roughly 100 fantasy experts, including several Footballguys staffers. These consensus kicker lists clearly show that not all low-priced kickers are equal. Here is a list of kickers priced at $5,000 and under with their corresponding FantasyPros position ranking.
|Rank||#||2x||2x %||3x||3x %|
These are small sample sizes, but low-priced players ranked in the top six at FantasyPros had a very high success rate. In fact, of the 34 instances where these conditions were met in 2014, 20 times—or 58.8% of the time—the kicker more than doubled his price.
|1||Matt Bryant||K||ATL||NO @ ATL||5000||18||10||15||6|
|2||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||PIT @ BAL||4800||14||9.6||14.4||4|
|2||Mason Crosby||K||GB||NYJ @ GB||5000||13||10||15||5|
|3||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||BAL @ CLE||5000||11||10||15||3|
|3||Adam Vinatieri||K||IND||IND @ JAC||5000||16||10||15||5|
|4||Mason Crosby||K||GB||GB @ CHI||5000||10||10||15||6|
|5||Cody Parkey||K||PHI||STL @ PHI||4900||10||9.8||14.7||5|
|5||Mason Crosby||K||GB||MIN @ GB||5000||6||10||15||4|
|7||Nick Novak||K||SD||KC @ SD||5000||9||10||15||5|
|8||Mason Crosby||K||GB||GB @ NO||5000||12||10||15||6|
|9||Steven Hauschka||K||SEA||OAK @ SEA||5000||13||10||15||2|
|10||Chandler Catanzaro||K||ARI||STL @ ARI||4700||8||9.4||14.1||6|
|10||Mason Crosby||K||GB||CHI @ GB||4800||15||9.6||14.4||5|
|10||Cody Parkey||K||PHI||CAR @ PHI||5000||9||10||15||4|
|11||Nick Novak||K||SD||OAK @ SD||4500||9||9||13.5||5|
|11||Mason Crosby||K||GB||PHI @ GB||4800||11||9.6||14.4||3|
|11||Adam Vinatieri||K||IND||NE @ IND||4900||10||9.8||14.7||2|
|11||Cody Parkey||K||PHI||PHI @ GB||4900||8||9.8||14.7||4|
|12||Mason Crosby||K||GB||GB @ MIN||4900||7||9.8||14.7||6|
|12||Cody Parkey||K||PHI||TEN @ PHI||5000||21||10||15||4|
|13||Mason Crosby||K||GB||NE @ GB||4900||14||9.8||14.7||5|
|13||Dan Bailey||K||DAL||PHI @ DAL||5000||4||10||15||3|
|13||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||SD @ BAL||5000||15||10||15||6|
|14||Dan Bailey||K||DAL||DAL @ CHI||4900||11||9.8||14.7||4|
|14||Mason Crosby||K||GB||ATL @ GB||5000||15||10||15||2|
|15||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||JAC @ BAL||5000||8||10||15||3|
|15||Mason Crosby||K||GB||GB @ BUF||5000||8||10||15||6|
|16||Mason Crosby||K||GB||GB @ TB||4900||9||9.8||14.7||3|
|16||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||BAL @ HOU||5000||1||10||15||6|
|17||Justin Tucker||K||BAL||CLE @ BAL||4800||8||9.6||14.4||4|
|17||Mason Crosby||K||GB||DET @ GB||4900||4||9.8||14.7||2|
|17||Dan Bailey||K||DAL||DAL @ WAS||4900||14||9.8||14.7||3|
|17||Adam Vinatieri||K||IND||IND @ TEN||4900||9||9.8||14.7||5|
|17||Connor Barth||K||DEN||OAK @ DEN||5000||18||10||15||6|
This group of 34 kickers averaged 10.8 points and cost an average of $4,924. Week 6 was the only week without a kicker that met this criteria. Had you just taken the top FantasyPros kicker that week, you would have paid $5,400 and got Stephen Gostkowski's 17-point game. Had you instead chosen to take the highest-ranked kicker at or below $5,000, you would have landed Mason Crosby's 10-point performance for $5,000. Either way, you still would have met the 2x threshold, achieving cash-game success.
In summary: Choose a consensus top-six kicker with a salary of $5,000 or less.
As with kickers, many players stress over how to identify a top defense. And as with kickers, identifying top defenses is not as random as it seems.
After studying the subject, I found a way to identify high-performing defenses with pretty good frequency.
In 2014, FanDuel gave players 512 options to choose over the course of the 17-week regular season. Of those 512 team defense performances, only 161 scored twice their salary (the desired output for cash games) and just 67 reached three times (desired level in tournaments). A random selection yielded 7.5 points and cost $4,940.
This past year, FanDuel created a bigger wedge for defensive team pricing. In years past they had priced all defenses between $5,000 and $5,500. In 2014, much like they did with kickers, FanDuel widened that pricing from $4,500 to $5,800 with a cleaner spread.
In looking for a pattern, one could search through a million variables looking for correlations. But as sample sizes get smaller, that reverse engineering becomes more likely to just be from chance. I prefer to start with a hypothesis regarding what leads to defenses having big games.
My hypothesis: Games with the widest margin of victory likely include big defensive performances. Return touchdowns, key fumbles, and interceptions all play into this hypothesis.
Players don't know the score of the game before it's played, but choosing a variable like point spread (which should correlate well to actual margin of victory) can be tested.
|Spread||Times||2x||Percent||Avg Cost||Avg FP||Cost/FP|
|9.5 to 10||16||3||18.80%||$4,656||6.1||$763|
|8.5 to 9||11||4||36.40%||$4,664||4.7||$992|
|7.5 to 8||9||1||11.10%||$4,744||3.2||$1,483|
|6.5 to 7||39||5||12.80%||$4,797||5.4||$888|
|5.5 to 6||22||4||18.20%||$4,800||5.5||$873|
|4.5 to 5||16||5||31.30%||$4,881||7.2||$678|
|3.5 to 4||25||8||32.00%||$4,728||7.2||$657|
|2.5 to 3||70||23||32.90%||$4,881||7.5||$651|
|1.5 to 2||16||4||25.00%||$4,838||7.3||$663|
|0.5 to 1||17||8||47.10%||$5,059||8.8||$575|
|pick to -1.0||17||3||17.60%||$5,000||6.4||$781|
|-1.5 to -2.0||16||7||43.80%||$4,925||9.9||$497|
|-2.5 to -3.0||70||22||31.40%||$5,006||7.7||$650|
|-3.5 to -4.0||25||10||40.00%||$5,072||9.3||$545|
|-4.5 to -5.0||16||5||31.30%||$5,050||7.3||$692|
|-5.5 to -6.0||22||10||45.50%||$5,032||9.2||$547|
|-6.5 to -7.0||39||11||28.20%||$5,136||7.9||$650|
|-7.5 to -8.0||9||6||66.70%||$5,189||12.6||$412|
|-8.5 to -9.0||11||4||36.40%||$5,091||7.5||$679|
|-9.5 to -10||16||8||50.00%||$5,213||10.4||$501|
Smoothing the data, it is plain to see that teams that are favored by 7.5 points or more yield an average of 10.6 FanDuel fantasy points. This happened 51 times in 2014. Let's look closer at that data and see what else jumps out.
Forty-two times the home team was favored by 7.5 points or more, and in those situations their team defense averaged 11.0 fantasy points. The away teams did much worse at 8.7 fantasy points. As playing away from home includes a lot more variables (jet-lag, hotels, stadium unfamiliarity, etc.), this seems logical.
Let's look closer at these 42 home teams and see if we can smartly narrow the data further. Four times a team entering the game with a losing record was favored by 7.5 points. All four times it was the New Orleans Saints.
|3||New Orleans Saints||0-2||MIN||$4,600||6||9.2||13.8|
|5||New Orleans Saints||1-3||TB||$5,000||5||10||15|
|11||New Orleans Saints||4-5||CIN||$4,700||1||9.4||14.1|
|14||New Orleans Saints||5-7||CAR||$4,800||-4||9.6||14.4|
Eliminating the team with a losing record, we are left with 38 home teams favored by 7.5 or more points that entered the game with a winning record.
|3||New England Patriots||1-1||OAK||$5,400||6||10.8||16.2|
|4||San Diego Chargers||2-1||JAC||$5,300||10||10.6||15.9|
|5||Green Bay Packers||2-2||MIN||$4,800||22||9.6||14.4|
|7||New England Patriots||4-2||NYJ||$5,600||5||11.2||16.8|
|8||Kansas City Chiefs||3-3||STL||$4,800||19||9.6||14.4|
|9||San Francisco 49ers||4-3||STL||$5,200||9||10.4||15.6|
|9||Kansas City Chiefs||4-3||NYJ||$5,300||7||10.6||15.9|
|10||Green Bay Packers||5-3||CHI||$4,500||20||9||13.5|
|11||San Diego Chargers||5-4||OAK||$5,300||11||10.6||15.9|
|12||San Francisco 49ers||6-4||WAS||$5,300||11||10.6||15.9|
|14||Green Bay Packers||9-3||ATL||$5,100||1||10.2||15.3|
|15||Kansas City Chiefs||7-6||OAK||$4,900||16||9.8||14.7|
|15||New England Patriots||10-3||MIA||$5,000||14||10||15|
|17||Green Bay Packers||11-4||DET||$5,100||13||10.2||15.3|
Had you chosen any of these defenses you would have likely had a good week.
After Week 10 (when the NFL has a lot more data to accurately assign point spreads), you would have crushed things.
From Week 10 on, these criteria yielded 22 suggestions. Nineteen of those would have yielded you 3x their salary. These defenses would have cost you $5,209 on average and yielded an average of 14.0 FanDuel fantasy points.
In summary: Choose a team defense with a winning record playing at home favored by 7.5 points or more.