DraftKings Running Back Pricing & Performance Review

DraftKings Running Back Pricing & Performance Review

By Chris Raybon (Senior Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Sep 3, 2015

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Chris Raybon is the Senior Daily Fantasy Editor at 4for4 Fantasy Football.

Follow Chris Raybon on Twitter: @ChrisRaybon.

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 FanDuel and DraftKings salaries 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.

FanDuel Pricing & Performance Reviews: QBRBWRTE, K, D/ST

DraftKings Pricing & Performance Reviews: QBRBWR, TE, D/ST

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.

 

DraftKings Running Back Value vs. Other Positions

Let's take a look at DraftKings running backs. Table 1 below shows the average value1 returned in 2014 by running backs compared to other positions2:

Table 1: Average DraftKings Value Per Game Returned by Salary Range & Position, 2014
Salary QB Avg RB Avg WR Avg TE Avg D/ST Avg
$10,000 + 2.65 1.87      
$9,500-$9,900 2.46 2.26 3.16    
$9,000-$9,400 2.67 2.21 2.93    
$8,500-$8,900 2.20 2.65 2.26    
$8,000-$8,400 2.38 2.77 2.39 2.13  
$7,500-$7,900 2.47 2.44 2.53 2.25  
$7,000-$7,400 2.49 2.55 2.60 2.24  
$6,500-$6,900 2.64 2.77 2.24 2.06  
$6,000-$6,400 2.80 2.24 2.25 1.48  
$5,500-$5,900 2.56 2.03 2.44 2.25  
$5,000-$5,400 2.85 2.41 2.34 2.40  
$4,500-$4,900   2.43 2.61 2.43  
$4,000-$4,400   2.10 2.40 1.98 1.64
$3,500-$3,900   2.04 2.37 2.41 2.00
$3,000-$3,400   1.61 1.98 1.84 2.87
$2,500-$2,900         2.48
$2,000-$2,400         3.05
<= $1,900         2.43

The best value at running back could be found in the $6,500-$8,900 price range last year. At $9,000 and above, diminishing returns set in, as the (albeit small) sample of 17 running backs combined to return 2.20x value, which is less than any $5,000 increment in the $6,500-$8,900 range. That 2.20x value at $9,000-plus for running backs also lagged behind the 35 quarterbacks (2.59x) and nine wide receivers (3.00x) at that price range.

All signs point to the $6,500-$8,900 price range being a sweet spot for running back value on DraftKings, but value per game is merely a piece of the puzzle; how consistently a player can return value is also critical to fully understanding the level of risk involved with a roster selection.

 

DraftKings Running Back Cash Game Value

The percentage of time a player "hit value" is a good way to measure player consistency versus the salary cap. Since you generally need to score around 150 points on DraftKings to win cash games, I calculated the percentage of time players hit 3x value. The results are shown in Table 2 below.  

Table 2: % of Time Reaching 3x Value on DraftKings by Salary & Position, 2014
  QB 3x % RB 3x % WR 3x % TE 3x % D/ST 3x %
$10,000 33% 0%      
$9,500-$9,900 25% 14% 67%    
$9,000-$9,400 45% 25% 50%    
$8,500-$8,900 13% 28% 19%    
$8,000-$8,400 29% 36% 33% 0%  
$7,500-$7,900 29% 42% 36% 14%  
$7,000-$7,400 34% 31% 39% 29%  
$6,500-$6,900 39% 41% 24% 36%  
$6,000-$6,400 39% 25% 29% 9%  
$5,500-$5,900 37% 21% 33% 24%  
$5,000-$5,400 44% 26% 28% 31%  
$4,500-$4,900   35% 35% 39%  
$4,000-$4,400   22% 31% 19% 25%
$3,500-$3,900   26% 32% 32% 23%
$3,000-$3,400   16% 23% 19% 44%
$2,500-$2,900         36%
$2,000-$2,400         49%
<= $1,900         33%

The $6,500-$8,900 price range indeed looks like a fruitful price range to select running backs from, as backs in this price range edged both quarterbacks and wide receivers in four of the five $5,000 increments within this range. Overall, 42 of 119 (36 percent) running backs in the $6,500-$8,900 range hit 3x value, while only 60 of 190 (32 percent) wide receivers and 74 of 237 (31 percent) quarterbacks did so.

I've already touched on running backs offering little value at $9,000 and above, but running backs under $6,500 also struggle to hit 3x value relative to other positions. Running backs particularly struggled in the $5,000-$6,400 range, hitting 3x value only 47 of 195 times (24 percent), which lagged behind quarterbacks (96 of 240, 40 percent) and wide receivers (98 of 328, 30 percent).

Running backs in the lower price ranges (under $5,000) also struggled to return value, but the sample is somewhat skewed by the large amount of running backs at or near minimum price who wouldn't have been considered startable, as discussed in footnote no. 2. I will discuss cheaper backs in the Individual Running Back Performance vs. DraftKings Salary Cap section below.

 

DraftKings Running Back Tournament Value

Table 3 below displays how often players hit 4x value on DraftKings in 2014.

Table 3: % of Time Reaching 4x Value on DraftKings by Salary & Position, 2014
  QB 4x % RB 4x % WR 4x % TE 4x % D/ST 4x %
$10,000 + 0% 0%      
$9,500-$9,900 0% 0% 33%    
$9,000-$9,400 5% 13% 17%    
$8,500-$8,900 0% 17% 14%    
$8,000-$8,400 0% 9% 17% 0%  
$7,500-$7,900 10% 4% 14% 0%  
$7,000-$7,400 11% 19% 24% 14%  
$6,500-$6,900 7% 26% 11% 0%  
$6,000-$6,400 17% 8% 17% 0%  
$5,500-$5,900 11% 10% 16% 14%  
$5,000-$5,400 18% 12% 14% 27%  
$4,500-$4,900   18% 20% 22%  
$4,000-$4,400   12% 19% 9% 0%
$3,500-$3,900   12% 14% 21% 16%
$3,000-$3,400   8% 13% 9% 25%
$2,500-$2,900         24%
$2,000-$2,400         30%
<= $1,900         33%

Whereas the $6,500-$8,900 price range was a sweet spot for running back peak cash game value, the range shrinks to $6,500-$7,400 for running back peak tournament value. Fifteen of 66 (23 percent) of running backs priced between $6,500 and $7,400 hit 4x value, compared to 15 of 82 (18 percent) wide receivers and 11 of 122 (nine percent) quarterbacks.

Under $6,500, running backs hit 4x value only 20 of 195 times (10 percent); a significantly lower rate than wide receivers (51 of 328, 16 percent) and quarterbacks (37 of 240, 15 percent).

While 4x value will usually leave you in the money in a tournament, it took an average score of around 250 to take down a Millionaire Maker. Table 4 below shows how often players hit 5x value.

Table 4: % of Time Reaching 5x Value on DraftKings by Salary & Position, 2014
  QB 5x % RB 5x % WR 5x % TE 5x % D/ST 5x %
$10,000 + 0% 0%      
$9,500-$9,900 0% 0% 0%    
$9,000-$9,400 0% 13% 0%    
$8,500-$8,900 0% 0% 0%    
$8,000-$8,400 0% 9% 10% 0%  
$7,500-$7,900 2% 0% 2% 0%  
$7,000-$7,400 6% 0% 8% 14%  
$6,500-$6,900 6% 9% 4% 0%  
$6,000-$6,400 6% 6% 7% 0%  
$5,500-$5,900 2% 3% 7% 7%  
$5,000-$5,400 7% 6% 7% 8%  
$4,500-$4,900   6% 11% 7%  
$4,000-$4,400   8% 10% 4% 0%
$3,500-$3,900   8% 8% 10% 6%
$3,000-$3,400   5% 7% 6% 15%
$2,500-$2,900         13%
$2,000-$2,400         19%
<= $1,900         33%

Hitting 5x value is a tough feat; it was done by running backs only 75 times, or 4.4 times per week, last season. The main thing to note in Table 4 is that running backs hit 5x value a bit less than wide receivers at almost every price point, indicating you should tend to forgo running backs in the flex slot when trying to blow the lid off with your lineup.

 

Individual Running Back Performance vs. DraftKings Salary Cap

A list of the average value returned of all running backs in 2014 (minimum six games played, 10 DKP/Game) is shown below in Table 5.

Table 5: DraftKings RB Stats, 2014 (Min. 6 Games, 10 DKP/Game)
Rk RB Avg. Value Avg. DKP Avg. Salary Games
1 Hill, Jeremy 3.30 14.24 $4,531 16
2 Bradshaw, Ahmad 3.30 15.65 $4,950 10
3 Asiata, Matt 3.29 13.01 $4,093 15
4 Gray, Jonas 3.23 10.64 $3,429 7
5 Anderson, C.J. 3.12 16.72 $5,085 13
6 Bell, Le'Veon 3.11 24.09 $7,788 16
7 Hillman, Ronnie 3.09 13.54 $4,425 8
8 Forsett, Justin 3.07 16.37 $5,656 16
9 Stewart, Jonathan 3.06 11.75 $3,938 13
10 Oliver, Branden 2.97 11.55 $4,238 13
11 Murray, DeMarco 2.96 24.51 $8,419 16
12 Ingram, Mark 2.95 15.76 $5,677 13
13 Miller, Lamar 2.88 14.53 $5,131 16
14 Mason, Tre 2.87 11.86 $4,317 12
15 Lynch, Marshawn 2.83 19.96 $7,206 16
16 Jackson, Fred 2.79 13.47 $4,979 14
17 Foster, Arian 2.79 22.81 $8,269 13
18 Lacy, Eddie 2.78 17.91 $6,500 16
19 Bell, Joique 2.69 13.28 $5,073 15
20 Forte, Matt 2.59 22.54 $8,731 16
21 Ellington, Andre 2.55 15.21 $6,050 12
22 Gore, Frank 2.50 10.79 $4,475 16
23 Thomas, Pierre 2.49 11.18 $4,573 11
24 Bernard, Giovani 2.48 14.68 $6,085 13
25 Morris, Alfred 2.44 11.93 $5,088 16
26 Mathews, Ryan 2.42 11.65 $4,800 6
27 Jennings, Rashad 2.42 12.95 $5,573 11
28 Charles, Jamaal 2.32 17.20 $7,647 15
29 Sproles, Darren 2.29 10.77 $4,707 15
30 McCoy, LeSean 2.04 13.46 $6,738 16
31 Vereen, Shane 1.97 10.43 $5,194 16

Seven of the top 10 backs in Table 5 had an average salary of under $5,000. Because of the huge range between maximum and minimum price on DraftKings, running backs who emerge with prominent roles usually see their price take a while to adjust up because it is starting at a lower point than it would on a site like FanDuel, where the maximum salary is similar to DraftKings (~$10,000) but the minimum is much higher ($4,500).

Of all the top-10 backs, only LeVeon Bell had a recent track record of success coming into the season. All the other backs were expected to be backups, but gained prominent roles and thus provided more value than established players whose prices had already adjusted to their true level of production. Particularly on DraftKings, running backs who are slated to see decent volume at or near minimum price tend to provide excellent value.

 


Footnotes

1Value = Fantasy points per one thousand salary dollars, or [fantasy points/ [salary / 1,000].

2The 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.

Appendix 1: Sample Size
  QB  RB  WR  TE  D/ST 
$10,000 + 3 2      
$9,500-$9,900 12 7 3    
$9,000-$9,400 20 8 6    
$8,500-$8,900 24 18 21    
$8,000-$8,400 42 11 42 2  
$7,500-$7,900 49 24 44 7  
$7,000-$7,400 53 32 38 7  
$6,500-$6,900 69 34 45 11  
$6,000-$6,400 69 48 84 11  
$5,500-$5,900 82 63 117 29  
$5,000-$5,400 89 84 127 126  
$4,500-$4,900   113 172 41  
$4,000-$4,400   111 172 54 8
$3,500-$3,900   98 170 77 31
$3,000-$3,400   764 799 606 209
$2,500-$2,900         214
$2,000-$2,400         47
<= $1,900         3
Filed Under:
Preseason
,
2015

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