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DFS data dive: Hunting the highest ceilings of Week 3

By Kevin Cole
Sep 20, 2019

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FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 14: DeAndre Hopkins #10 of the Houston Texans runs the ball in the second half against the New England Patriots during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Gillette Stadium on January 14, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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 50 most similar matchups for each upcoming game, I then simulate the main slate 10K times by randomly choosing one of the 50 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 50 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 7.89 Patrick Mahomes KC 23.6 7,600 22.2 9,200
QB 6.94 Jacoby Brissett IND 18.0 5,200 17.0 6,800
QB 6.79 Dak Prescott DAL 23.6 6,500 22.3 8,400
QB 6.52 Philip Rivers LAC 20.1 5,800 18.6 7,500
QB 6.48 Lamar Jackson BLT 23.4 7,000 21.9 8,500
QB 6.36 Matt Ryan ATL 19.6 5,700 18.0 7,800
QB 6.00 Carson Wentz PHI 20.4 5,600 19.0 7,700
QB 5.72 Russell Wilson SEA 21.5 6,300 20.3 7,600
QB 5.57 Tom Brady NE 20.0 6,600 18.5 7,800
QB 5.33 Daniel Jones NYG 14.8 5,000 13.9 6,000
QB 4.77 Aaron Rodgers GB 19.3 6,100 18.3 7,900
QB 4.52 Teddy Bridgewater NO 13.7 4,700 13.0 6,800
QB 4.46 Deshaun Watson HST 20.2 6,400 19.1 8,200
QB 3.52 Kyler Murray ARZ 18.5 5,800 17.7 7,200
QB 3.51 Jimmy Garoppolo SF 18.2 6,200 17.3 7,200
QB 3.47 Josh Allen BUF 18.0 5,900 17.3 7,500
QB 3.33 Derek Carr OAK 16.0 4,900 14.8 6,700
QB 2.33 Jameis Winston TB 21.5 5,400 19.7 7,300
QB 2.14 Andy Dalton CIN 15.2 5,300 14.4 7,100
QB 2.08 Kyle Allen CAR 18.6 4,000 17.4 6,000
QB 1.61 Kirk Cousins MIN 22.7 5,100 21.1 7,200
QB 1.07 Mason Rudolph PIT 15.8 4,800 14.9 6,600
QB 0.62 Matthew Stafford DET 17.3 5,500 15.9 6,900
QB 0.54 Joe Flacco DEN 15.0 4,600 14.1 6,400
QB 0.03 Luke Falk NYJ 11.5 4,600 11.0 6,000
QB 0.02 Ryan Fitzpatrick MIA 13.8 4,500 13.1 6,100

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