News & Analysis

DFS data dive: The highest fantasy ceilings of Week 11

Sep 22, 2019; Glendale, AZ, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen (88) catches a second half touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the advantages of being a “data scientist” is that everyone assumes you know what you’re talking about. While that has its privileges, more important to the craft is the ability to leverage statistical programming packages like R and Python and apply them to almost any questions that can be answered through data.

Recently I started publishing analyses on the single-game DraftKings showdown slates that use the combination of current projections, historical game results and similarity algorithms to simulate an upcoming game by looking back at the most similar historical matchups. In this analysis I’m taking the same outline and applying it instead to the DFS main slate by projecting the likelihood each individual QB, RB, WR, TE, and DST option will be the highest-scoring of the slate. In doing this, we can find the unlikely tournament plays who may not have been on your radar.

British statistician George E.P. Box once said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful,” and that’s the mindframe you should bring to this analysis. The numbers below are not “right” in the traditional sense of maximizing accuracy, which would only mimic the recommendations you’ll find throughout the DFS toutersphere. The numbers below are harnessing the unexpected connections and reactions between players that have actually happened over the past several years, and thereby points to under/overvalued players that won’t be identified through traditional projections and logical deduction.

METHODOLOGY

For each game on the DFS Sunday main slate, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups from 2012-2018 and found the closest analogies according to the following parameters: Betting spread, over/under, average fantasy points scoring for the top-ranked positional players of both rosters (QB1, RB1, WR1, TE1).

Once I find the 75 most similar matchups for each upcoming game, I then simulate the main slate 10K times by randomly choosing one of the 75 matchups for each game and then find the highest-scoring QB, RB, WR, TE and DST on the entire slate.

Every match of historical and current games is not perfect, but by matching 75 different matchups to each game and simulating 10K times we can smooth out the bumps and get a strong picture of how a slate of similar games would have played out.

The last step is totaling up the number of times that a particular team shows up as the top option for the slate at each position and divide by the total simulations. That number is what I call “highest-scoring %” in the bar charts below labeled by team. Below the bar charts by team, I join the highest projected player on that team for the position and list his projected fantasy points and salaries for DraftKings and FanDuel.

QUARTERBACKS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
QB 10.23 Derek Carr OAK 18.6 6,100 17.6 7,400
QB 9.43 Kyle Allen CAR 18.2 5,300 17.1 7,200
QB 8.87 Lamar Jackson BLT 25.6 7,700 24.0 8,800
QB 6.35 Drew Brees NO 19.5 6,900 18.0 8,300
QB 6.26 Jameis Winston TB 21.6 6,500 19.8 7,600
QB 6.12 Tom Brady NE 18.2 6,400 17.0 7,800
QB 6.05 Jacoby Brissett IND 18.3 5,900 17.4 7,500
QB 5.55 Carson Wentz PHI 17.8 5,400 16.5 7,000
QB 5.22 Dak Prescott DAL 21.5 6,700 20.3 8,100
QB 5.08 Nick Foles JAX 16.6 5,600 15.3 7,000
QB 4.43 Matt Ryan ATL 18.2 6,200 16.9 7,600
QB 3.98 Jimmy Garoppolo SF 19.0 6,700 18.1 8,000
QB 3.88 Deshaun Watson HST 21.4 6,800 20.2 8,200
QB 3.73 Josh Allen BUF 18.1 6,600 17.3 7,800
QB 3.24 Kirk Cousins MIN 20.2 6,300 19.1 7,700
QB 3.01 Sam Darnold NYJ 15.7 5,700 14.9 7,300
QB 2.84 Kyler Murray ARZ 16.8 6,100 16.1 7,600
QB 2.10 Ryan Finley CIN 16.2 5,000 15.2 6,300
QB 1.81 Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 16.9 5,100 16.0 7,100
QB 1.55 Brandon Allen DEN 14.8 4,700 14.0 6,800
QB 1.49 Matthew Stafford DET 18.0 6,000 16.7 7,900
QB 0.20 Dwayne Haskins WAS 15.2 4,800 14.5 6,500

RUNNING BACK

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
RB 8.45 Josh Jacobs OAK 17.9 6,900 16.0 8,000
RB 8.15 Alvin Kamara NO 20.7 7,400 17.4 7,800
RB 7.64 Dalvin Cook MIN 18.8 8,900 15.7 8,600
RB 6.65 Tevin Coleman SF 13.8 6,100 12.4 6,700
RB 6.19 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 17.4 9,000 15.1 8,400
RB 5.87 Marlon Mack IND 15.6 6,400 14.0 7,300
RB 5.81 Christian McCaffrey CAR 23.4 10,500 19.7 10,500
RB 5.31 Mark Ingram II BLT 10.3 6,600 9.2 7,500
RB 5.06 Devin Singletary BUF 11.9 6,000 10.2 6,500
RB 4.77 Adrian Peterson WAS 9.2 4,500 8.4 6,300
RB 4.66 Brian Hill ATL 14.1 4,800 12.3 5,900
RB 4.58 Ronald Jones TB 10.8 5,200 9.3 6,400
RB 4.30 Leonard Fournette JAX 20.7 7,900 17.4 7,200
RB 4.18 James White NE 12.0 5,400 9.5 6,100
RB 3.84 Carlos Hyde HST 9.5 4,600 8.6 6,300
RB 3.29 Le'Veon Bell NYJ 19.0 7,200 16.0 7,400
RB 2.85 Kalen Ballage MIA 14.0 4,300 12.0 5,300
RB 2.78 Joe Mixon CIN 12.5 5,500 10.9 6,600
RB 2.36 Miles Sanders PHI 9.8 4,100 8.1 5,600
RB 2.15 J.D. McKissic DET 12.9 4,600 10.9 5,800
RB 1.54 Kenyan Drake ARZ 9.6 5,400 7.9 6,300
RB 1.35 Phillip Lindsay DEN 12.2 5,300 10.4 6,600

WIDE RECEIVER

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
WR 9.42 Hunter Renfrow OAK 11.3 4,000 9.1 5,700
WR 9.40 Mike Evans TB 18.6 7,400 14.7 8,200
WR 7.99 D.J. Moore CAR 17.2 5,900 13.5 6,000
WR 6.78 T.Y. Hilton IND 11.3 6,600 9.1 7,300
WR 6.47 Julio Jones ATL 19.2 7,500 14.9 7,800
WR 6.34 Alshon Jeffery PHI 14.5 4,800 11.5 6,200
WR 5.26 D.J. Chark Jr. JAX 14.2 6,200 11.1 6,000
WR 4.81 Terry McLaurin WAS 11.4 5,600 9.1 5,500
WR 4.09 Marquise Brown BLT 12.7 5,600 10.0 5,600
WR 4.09 Julian Edelman NE 18.5 7,600 14.5 7,400
WR 3.97 Stefon Diggs MIN 16.1 6,900 12.8 7,300
WR 3.89 DeAndre Hopkins HST 20.1 8,100 15.6 8,300
WR 3.88 Christian Kirk ARZ 12.6 5,700 9.9 6,200
WR 3.65 Kenny Golladay DET 14.9 6,700 11.9 7,600
WR 3.57 Michael Thomas NO 26.2 9,900 19.8 9,000
WR 3.27 John Brown BUF 14.1 6,400 11.4 5,900
WR 2.99 Amari Cooper DAL 17.1 7,700 13.5 8,100
WR 2.93 Jamison Crowder NYJ 13.6 5,700 10.5 6,500
WR 2.52 Emmanuel Sanders SF 12.7 7,200 10.2 6,900
WR 2.40 DeVante Parker MIA 12.9 4,700 9.9 5,600
WR 2.07 Tyler Boyd CIN 15.8 5,200 12.3 5,900
WR 1.86 Courtland Sutton DEN 16.4 6,000 13.0 6,600

TIGHT END

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
TE 13.18 Greg Olsen CAR 11.7 3,900 9.4 5,100
TE 9.03 Mark Andrews BLT 16.5 6,100 13.1 6,900
TE 8.24 Ross Dwelley SF 6.4 3,400 5.2 4,900
TE 8.10 Darren Waller OAK 13.6 5,500 11.0 6,700
TE 7.01 Jared Cook NO 8.8 4,400 7.1 6,000
TE 6.96 Eric Ebron IND 10.1 3,600 8.1 5,200
TE 6.40 Benjamin Watson NE 5.4 2,900 4.3 4,900
TE 6.29 Kyle Rudolph MIN 9.1 3,600 7.5 4,500
TE 6.28 Jason Witten DAL 9.0 3,700 7.2 5,600
TE 6.24 Dawson Knox BUF 5.1 3,000 4.0 4,500
TE 3.98 Vernon Davis WAS 6.0 3,200 4.9 4,500
TE 3.58 Zach Ertz PHI 13.5 5,000 10.4 6,200
TE 3.20 O.J. Howard TB 8.3 3,600 6.8 5,300
TE 2.86 Noah Fant DEN 8.2 3,700 6.4 5,100
TE 2.23 T.J. Hockenson DET 8.5 3,600 6.8 5,300
TE 2.12 Darren Fells HST 5.9 3,800 4.7 5,100
TE 1.69 Luke Stocker ATL 4.9 3,000 3.9 4,000
TE 1.15 Tyler Eifert CIN 7.9 3,200 6.3 5,000
TE 1.13 Ryan Griffin NYJ 4.8 2,900 3.7 4,800
TE 1.12 Mike Gesicki MIA 8.1 3,500 6.3 5,100
TE 1.10 Seth DeValve JAX 5.5 2,800 4.4 4,700
TE 0.17 Charles Clay ARZ 2.6 2,700 2.0 4,500

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
DST 9.90 Jets DST NYJ 7.2 3,100 7.2 4,500
DST 8.44 Redskins DST WAS 8.4 2,800 8.4 4,000
DST 7.33 Bills DST BUF 8.6 3,800 8.6 5,000
DST 7.27 Vikings DST MIN 8.7 3,400 8.7 4,700
DST 6.87 Colts DST IND 6.1 3,200 6.1 4,400
DST 6.35 Lions DST DET 6.2 1,800 6.2 3,600
DST 6.33 Dolphins DST MIA 7.8 2,500 7.8 3,600
DST 5.94 Texans DST HST 6.2 2,300 6.2 3,500
DST 5.83 49ers DST SF 9.7 4,000 9.7 4,900
DST 5.55 Patriots DST NE 8.2 3,500 8.2 5,000
DST 5.47 Jaguars DST JAX 7.4 3,100 7.4 3,800
DST 5.23 Broncos DST DEN 7.1 2,400 7.1 3,700
DST 4.98 Panthers DST CAR 7.1 3,000 7.1 3,700
DST 4.94 Cowboys DST DAL 7.9 3,600 7.9 4,100
DST 4.56 Eagles DST PHI 5.1 2,700 5.1 3,200
DST 4.00 Raiders DST OAK 8.0 3,300 8.0 5,000
DST 3.81 Cardinals DST ARZ 6.6 1,500 6.6 3,500
DST 3.39 Ravens DST BLT 9.3 3,000 9.3 4,300
DST 2.68 Saints DST NO 8.5 2,900 8.5 4,800
DST 2.07 Buccaneers DST TB 4.1 2,600 4.1 3,300
DST 1.72 Bengals DST CIN 4.3 2,100 4.3 3,000
DST 0.84 Falcons DST ATL 5.4 2,600 5.4 3,500

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