Staking Bales: Week 13 Recap and Rest-of-Season Strategy

Staking Bales: Week 13 Recap and Rest-of-Season Strategy

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Dec 3, 2013

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Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. His latest book, How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports, is a data-driven guide to winning on DraftKings. He is also (unofficially) sponsored by GrubHub.

Follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter: @BalesFootball.

I guess there were a whole lot of McCown/Jeffery stacks out there in Week 13. In addition to missing on McCown/Marshall and Dalton/Green and hitting on Palmer/Floyd, I also had some McCown/Jeffery exposure.

Nonetheless, I didn’t find much tournament success and I was pretty poor heads-up as well. Here are the results.


























That $50 loss represents just a little over two percent of my bankroll prior to the week, so it’s not a major loss. Still, I thought I had some pretty good picks in Week 13 (which included moderate Josh Gordon usage, as well as lots of C.J. Spiller, Andre Brown, and Rob Gronkowski).

Sometimes, though, you just don’t mix and match your lineups in the right way. I didn’t have any Jeffery/Gordon combinations—something that could have happened by chance alone—so that limited my ability to score big cashes in tourneys.

This is the exact sort of week that leads me to emphasize the importance of player exposure over particular lineups. Yes, the lineup combinations matter for each league type, but it’s more important that you place the most money on the best values, regardless of the lineup structure.

This week, it didn’t work out for me, but there have also been a couple weeks that I’ve been profitable with picks far worse than what I submitted in Week 13. In the end, it evens out.


Rest-of-Season Strategy

In all honesty, I’ve performed worse in this Staking Bales series than I was hoping. I’m still profitable on the year, but I haven’t had any major cashes to really propel my bankroll. I’ve been taking some shots, using my heads-up profits to pay for tournament entries.

One of the tactics I’ve discussed in the past that I’m going to utilize moving forward is entering more 50/50s with single lineups to increase upside. Remember, 50/50 leagues are really safe to start, but they become highly volatile if you enter the same lineup into more and more. If that lineup tanks, you’ll lose all of your money.

However, in doing research for my new daily fantasy book (look for that later this week), I found evidence that 50/50 leagues might be a better long-term investment than heads-up leagues because daily fantasy players approach them in the wrong way.

Namely, most players seem to be submitting high-variance lineups into 50/50s when they should be maximizing their floors. That creates an effect like that below.

The dotted line represents an average score. The distribution of scores we actually see in 50/50 leagues is wider than what we should expect if players were approaching them in an optimal fashion. It means that, although the average score isn’t affected, the score needed to profit is lower than that in the typical head-to-head.

In the graph, you can see that the fifth score—one that would cash in a 10-team 50/50—is well below the average head-to-head score. Yet all of the scores in the graph add up to that same score. That means 50/50s can be highly profitable, even if the average score is the same as (or even higher than) that in a head-to-head, assuming people aren’t playing them with a low-variance strategy as they should.

Because of that and since 50/50s offer lots of upside, depending how you approach them, I’m going to increase my usage of them over the final month of the season. That’s going to create a more volatile effect through which I can hopefully increase the ceiling of my profits without banking on a low-probability tournament win.

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