Staking Bales: Why Bargain Bin Players Aren’t Necessarily Valuable

Staking Bales: Why Bargain Bin Players Aren’t Necessarily Valuable

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Nov 1, 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 own wide receiver Eric Decker in quite a few season-long leagues, but I have no exposure to teammate Wes Welker. The reason is that I believed the Broncos’ wide receiver situation to still be a little cloudy in the preseason. I wanted in on it, but without knowing how everything would shake it out, it was smartest to just go cheap, i.e. draft Decker because of his plummeting ADP.

Everyone likes a bargain. When you can acquire quality production from a low-priced player in daily fantasy, that’s incredibly valuable to your team. All other things the same, cheaper is better.

Not all points are created equally, though; a 15-point week from Zac Stacy is worth more to you than a 15-point week from Adrian Peterson because of the opportunity cost associated with each player. Namely, Stacy affords you more opportunities elsewhere.

But shopping in the bargain bin isn’t valuable for its own sake. One of the problems with low-priced players is that they don’t need to produce much to offer value in terms of $/point. That might seem like a positive, but we always need to analyze our lineups as a whole.

Low-priced players can offer value, but what is the effect on total points?


Bargain Bin Math

When a player’s production exceeds his cost, the value to your team depends on his price tag. So instead of analyzing players strictly in terms of $/point, what if we examine them in regards to their probability of crossing certain thresholds?

When you do that, you can see how bargain bin players might not be quite as valuable as they appear on the surface.

Suppose you’re deciding between two RB pairs. RB Pair 1 consists of a stud and bargain bin back, with their salaries adding up to $15000. RB Pair 2 consists of two second-tier backs, and their salaries are also a combined $15000.

In terms of pure $/point, there’s a quality chance that RB Pair 1 is the winner since low-priced players can offer all kinds of value. But let’s look at the situation in terms of hypothetical probabilities. In this example, we’ll say it’s the odds of each back reaching 15 points.


RB Pair 1

Stud RB: 80 percent

Bargain RB: 20 percent

Probability of Both Hitting 15 points: 16 percent


RB Pair 2

Second-Tier RB 1: 50 percent

Second-Tier RB 2: 50 percent

Probability of Both Hitting 15 points: 25 percent


In this case, the second pair of running backs would probably lead to more practical value—point-maximization—than the first pair, despite what the $/point value says.

Remember, remember, always remember: we’re seeking maximum points, not maximum value.


Week 9 Bargains

There are definitely times to seek low-priced players, but only when their potential production greatly exceeds their salary—players who have recently been thrust into the starting lineup or figure to see heavier workloads for some reason. If you’re going to be frugal, though, do it because you can maximize your projected points, not just because you feel good about getting Jamaal Charles into your lineup.


QB Jake Locker @STL

Locker can give you hidden points on the ground, and he has a great matchup this week. Terrelle Pryor is another option, although he costs quite a bit more than Locker on most sites.


RB Eddie Lacy vs. CHI

Lacy isn’t a true bargain bin player, but his presence here highlights two important points. First, his salary has inexplicably remained steady on FanDuel, which is crazy considering his workload. Second, there really aren’t any great low-priced options at running back. Pay there and save at wide receiver this week.


WR Jarrett Boykin vs. CHI

I’ve discussed the importance of using the Vegas lines in your projections. The Bears-Packers game is expected to be the second-highest scoring game of the week, and that’s with Jay Cutler out. When you’re looking at second and third-tier players, ask yourself “how likely is this player to score?”

Boykin and Lacy are both quality bets to score—it’s highly likely that at least one gets into the end zone, and there’s probably a 25 percent chance or more that both score—so don’t be afraid to pair them in your head-to-head lineups.


TE None

Take a look at the FanDuel Value Report for tight ends and sort them by price. If you want to consider Tony Gonzalez and Jordan Reed “low-priced,” then they are options for you. Reed in particular is a great value who figures to be in a high-scoring affair.

But after that, in the true bargain bin area, there’s not much. It looks like a Rob Gronkowski sort of week to me.

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