FanDuel Quarterback Pricing & Performance Review
The salary cap influences every decision you make in daily fantasy, yet there hasn't been much big-picture research done that analyzes player performance relative to the cap. For every cap dollar you spend, what is the return on investment? Do returns vary based on position, price point, or even individual player?
I compiled data on how every player performed relative to their salary in 2014. In the coming weeks, I will be taking a position-by-position look at player performance relative to the FanDuel and DraftKings salary caps. Links to each report can be found below as they become available.
Editors Note: If you open a new account with FanDuel with a minimum $10 deposit, you’ll receive a free one-year subscription to 4for4! Details here.
FanDuel Quarterback Value vs. Other Positions
|Salary||QB Avg||RB Avg||WR Avg||TE Avg||K Avg||D/ST Avg|
Quarterback consistently returned a higher value multiplier than any other position on FanDuel in 2014. The stud ($9,000-plus) quarterbacks returned more value than studs at at other positions, and the gap between expected returns on quarterbacks and the other positions widened even farther as prices decreased.
Looking at average value per game is a solid starting point in judging return on investment, but doesn't necessarily paint a clear picture of the risk/reward involved with a pick. Ryan Fitzpatrick's 39.32 FanDuel-point game, for example, occurred when he cost $5,000 and thus returned 7.86x value -- an outlier that inflates the $5,000-$5,400 quarterback tier's average value per game to 2.61x.
FanDuel Quarterback Cash Game Value
To get a better sense of the risk/reward involved with each pick, it's helpful to know what percentage of the time a player "hit value". Table 2 below takes a look at what percentage of the time quarterbacks returned at least 2x (cash game) value:
|QB 2x %||RB 2x %||WR 2x %||TE 2x %||K 2x %||D/ST 2x %|
Quarterbacks priced $9,000 and above returned 2x value 62 percent of the time, and quarterbacks under $6,000 returned 2x value 69 percent of the time. However, quarterbacks in between those two extremes -- those priced between $6,000 and $8,900 -- returned 2x value just 55 percent of the time.
Stud quarterbacks are the most consistent players in fantasy, while cheap quarterbacks see enough volume that even when they perform relatively poorly, they still have a high floor compared to other positions. Revisiting Fitzpatrick's huge game, he was an outlier in terms of the obscene amount of value he returned, but inexpensive quarterbacks returning at least 2x value is typical.
The main takeaway here is paying up for a quarterback in cash games is ideal in theory -- you get more bang for your buck than spending at any other position -- but is not always the optimal move. Value at quarterback relative to other positions is abundant in all pricing tiers, so the best move is to use cash game cap dollars to secure as much consistency as you can at positions where there is less supply (such as Antonio Brown, a extraordinarily consistent player at the typically inconsistent wide receiver position) and deploy a quarterback projected for solid value that fits in to your salary cap.
"Second-Tier" Quarterbacks Were Matchup-Dependent
What stands out from Table 2 is returns from the $8,500-$8,900 quarterback tier were poor -- inconsistent with returns from quarterbacks at surrounding price points. Why were quarterbacks in this pricing tier struggling to return value? First, it helps to know which passers the tier is made up of.
The $8,500-$8,900 quarterback tier contained 47 total games and was mainly comprised of six signal-callers who were each priced in this tier at least three times: Russell Wilson (nine times), Matt Ryan (eight), Matthew Stafford (six), Jay Cutler (four), Philip Rivers (four), and Tony Romo (three).
The aforementioned quarterbacks made up 72 percent of the tier, and it's safe to say they are all a notch below "elite" -- multiple notches in Cutler's case. I'll refer to these quarterbacks as "second-tier".
Second-tier quarterbacks were capable of elite fantasy production in the right matchup, and since FanDuel's pricing tends to adjust upward to reflect a strong performance more quickly than it adjusts downward to reflect a weak performance, quarterbacks in the second tier tended to be overpriced after exploiting a good matchup. Their "true" price probably belonged in the $8,000-$8,400 tier.
Just how matchup-dependent were the second-tier quarterbacks? Against defenses ranked in the top half of fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks, $8,500-$8,900 quarterbacks hit 2x value just four of 19 times (21 percent), compared to 14 of 28 (55 percent) against defenses ranked in the bottom-half against quarterbacks.
The $9,000-plus quarterbacks, on the other hand, were able to hit 2x value against a top-half quarterback matchup 22 of 40 times (55 percent), while destroying bottom-half quarterback defenses to the tune of hitting 2x value in 26 out of 37 games (70 percent).
Who were the $9,000-plus "elite" quarterbacks? Seventy-two of the 77 in that pricing tier were made up from the usual top-five suspects: Andrew Luck (16 times), Peyton Manning (16), Aaron Rodgers (16), Drew Brees (15), and Tom Brady (9). Matthew Stafford was in the tier for the first three weeks of the season off the strength of his top-five finish in 2013, and Philip Rivers briefly cracked this tier in Weeks 6-7 after an early-season hot streak.
FanDuel Quarterback Tournament Value
Table 3 below displays how often quarterbacks hit 3x (tournament) value compared to other positions.
|QB 3x%||RB 3x%||WR 3x%||TE 3x%||K 3x%||D/ST 3x%|
The return on investment from low-cost quarterbacks last year was amazing. In tournaments, giving affordable quarterbacks a whirl is crucial. Saving at quarterback allows you to pay up for studs at other positions where there is a much steeper drop-off in the odds of hitting 3x as salary decreases.
Inexpensive quarterbacks simply don't need to have very good games to provide a great return on investment. For example, a $6,000 quarterback can hit 3x value with 18 FanDuel points -- a solid-but-unspectacular 250-yard, two-touchdown game would suffice.
Individual Quarterback Performance vs. FanDuel Salary Cap
Table 4 below lists the average value returned of all quarterbacks in 2014 (minimum six starts):
|QB||Avg. Value||Avg. FDP||Avg. Salary||Starts|
|Griffin III, Robert||1.63||11.51||$7,263||8|
The best way to use the information above is to look at the quarterbacks who returned the least value to see if there were any warning signs. Nick Foles and Andy Dalton had outlying 2013 seasons and were bound to regress, although Dalton's regression may have been due to the fact that A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert combined to miss 34 games after missing only one in 2013.
This season, Ben Roethlisberger will be a player to watch. He'll start the season priced high, but if Martavis Bryant were to miss time, it could spell trouble for Big Ben -- Roethlisberger's fantasy production was 40 percent lower before Bryant entered the lineup last season.
1. Value = Fantasy points per one thousand salary dollars, or [fantasy points/ [salary / 1,000].
2. The sample size is in Appendix 1 below. For quarterbacks, only starts were used. For running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, the challenge was eliminating minimum-priced players from the sample who wouldn't have been considered as fantasy starters, such as fullbacks or wide receivers who played only on special teams. Ultimately, I settled on removing all players at the minimum price who registered zero points. This method isn't perfect, as some players who wouldn't have been considered viable at minimum price remain if they registered any stats, but it was the most consistent way to eliminate many of the irrelevant data points at minimum salary while keeping the research process sane.
|Salary||QB Avg||RB Avg||WR Avg||TE Avg||K Avg||D/ST Avg|