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DFS targets with the biggest fantasy point ceilings in the wild-card round

Detroit, Michigan, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) runs for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions in the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-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, such as R and Python, and apply them to almost any question that can be answered through data.


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I publish 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 quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and D/ST option will be the highest scorer of the slate. In doing this, we can find the unlikely tournament plays who may not have been on your radar.

METHODOLOGY

For the DFS Saturday and Sunday wild card slates, I looked through thousands of NFL matchups from 2014-2021 and found the closest analogies according to the following parameters: betting spread, over/under and 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 10,000 times by randomly choosing one of the 75 matchups for each game. Then I find the highest-scoring quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end and D/ST on the entire slate.

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

Saturday Slate

QUARTERBACKS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
QB 35.26 Joe Burrow CIN 24.0 6,800 22.1 7,800
QB 28.24 Derek Carr LV 18.3 5,500 17.0 6,800
QB 24.27 Josh Allen BUF 25.4 7,800 23.7 8,800
QB 12.84 Mac Jones NE 17.8 5,100 16.6 6,500

RUNNING BACKS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
RB 32.83 Joe Mixon CIN 17.7 6,800 15.3 8,500
RB 26.25 Devin Singletary BUF 12.8 5,700 11.0 6,900
RB 23.54 Josh Jacobs LV 15.6 6,500 13.4 7,200
RB 18.25 Rhamondre Stevenson NE 9.4 4,700 8.5 5,200

WIDE RECEIVERS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
WR 36.08 Hunter Renfrow LV 14.5 6,000 11.2 7,300
WR 23.00 Stefon Diggs BUF 19.3 7,200 15.0 8,000
WR 20.88 Ja'Marr Chase CIN 20.2 7,400 16.1 8,200
WR 20.87 Jakobi Meyers NE 12.8 4,500 9.9 5,900

TIGHT ENDS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
TE 37.39 C.J. Uzomah CIN 8.7 3,200 6.9 5,200
TE 29.11 Dawson Knox BUF 8.9 4,800 7.2 6,000
TE 18.22 Darren Waller LV 14.3 5,700 11.3 6,300
TE 16.60 Hunter Henry NE 9.2 3,700 7.5 5,900

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
DST 36.30 Bills BUF 7.4 3,200 7.4 4,500
DST 30.27 Bengals CIN 5.5 3,000 5.5 4,300
DST 20.54 Patriots NE 5.8 2,600 5.8 3,800
DST 20.10 Raiders LV 6.3 2,900 6.3 3,300

Sunday Slate

QUARTERBACKS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
QB 22.14 Jimmy Garoppolo SF 19.5 5,300 18.0 6,800
QB 22.04 Patrick Mahomes KC 23.3 7,400 21.7 8,700
QB 20.32 Tom Brady TB 25.9 7,300 23.6 8,400
QB 17.31 Dak Prescott DAL 22.9 6,400 21.2 8,000
QB 13.70 Jalen Hurts PHI 21.5 6,100 20.1 7,700
QB 4.96 Ben Roethlisberger PIT 14.1 5,200 13.1 6,400

RUNNING BACKS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
RB 24.47 Ezekiel Elliott DAL 15.5 6,100 13.5 7,700
RB 18.33 Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC 11.8 5,600 10.5 6,600
RB 16.66 Leonard Fournette TB 17.9 5,900 15.4 7,300
RB 14.71 Elijah Mitchell SF 17.8 5,500 15.4 7,400
RB 13.54 Miles Sanders PHI 9.6 5,100 8.2 5,900
RB 13.07 Najee Harris PIT 17.3 6,600 14.6 8,000

WIDE RECEIVERS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
WR 26.21 Deebo Samuel SF 18.1 8,100 14.1 8,700
WR 23.96 Tyreek Hill KC 17.0 7,100 13.6 8,000
WR 17.47 DeVonta Smith PHI 14.1 5,500 11.1 6,200
WR 12.64 CeeDee Lamb DAL 16.2 6,200 12.8 7,300
WR 11.68 Mike Evans TB 16.6 6,900 13.4 8,200
WR 8.99 Diontae Johnson PIT 15.4 6,700 11.7 7,200

TIGHT ENDS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
TE 23.62 Rob Gronkowski TB 13.6 6,400 11.0 7,400
TE 22.19 Dalton Schultz DAL 12.6 5,000 9.9 6,200
TE 20.48 Travis Kelce KC 15.9 6,700 12.5 7,500
TE 16.39 George Kittle SF 15.4 6,000 12.1 6,500
TE 11.92 Dallas Goedert PHI 11.5 4,500 9.1 5,900
TE 6.43 Pat Freiermuth PIT 9.5 4,200 7.4 5,400

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos Highest % Player Team DK Fpts DK Salary FD Fpts FD Salary
DST 31.79 Chiefs KC 7.8 3,300 7.8 4,800
DST 24.37 Buccaneers TB 7.7 3,400 7.7 4,200
DST 22.60 Cowboys DAL 6.6 3,100 6.6 4,100
DST 11.13 Steelers PIT 4.0 2,400 4.0 3,100
DST 10.61 49ers SF 4.9 2,800 4.9 3,700
DST 8.20 Eagles PHI 2.8 2,500 2.8 3,300

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