FanDuel Running Back Pricing & Performance Review

FanDuel 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 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.

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.

 

FanDuel Running Back Value vs. Other Positions

The table below shows the average value1 returned by running backs compared to other positions2:

Table 1: Average FanDuel Value Per Game Returned by Salary Range & Position, 2014
Salary QB Avg RB Avg WR Avg TE Avg K Avg D/ST Avg
$10,000 + 2.13          
$9,500-$9,900 2.08 1.73        
$9,000-$9,400 2.28 2.00 1.83      
$8,500-$8,900 1.89 1.90 1.80 0.93    
$8,000-$8,400 2.17 1.75 1.82 1.91    
$7,500-$7,900 2.31 1.61 1.64 1.41    
$7,000-$7,400 1.99 1.40 1.34 2.03    
$6,500-$6,900 2.02 1.45 1.45 1.38    
$6,000-$6,400 2.27 1.50 1.53 1.26    
$5,500-$5,900 2.80 1.21 1.44 1.42 1.42 1.29
$5,000-$5,400 2.61 1.19 1.23 1.05 1.66 1.66
$4,500-$4,900   0.82 1.02 0.77 1.63 1.46

Running back returned less value per dollar than quarterback at nearly every price point. Above $8,500, running backs did offer a slightly greater return on investment than wide receivers. At under $6,000, running back value begins to lag behind wide receiver value since running backs in the lower pricing tiers tend to not see a full compliment of snaps, while many wide receivers in these tiers are starters, affording the receivers the opportunity to produce more value relative to the running backs. 

 

FanDuel Running Back Cash Game Value

Looking at average value per game is a solid starting point, but doesn't necessarily paint a clear picture of the risk/reward involved with a pick. To get a better sense of the risk/reward, it's helpful to know what percentage of the time a player "hit value". First, lets take a look at what percentage of the time running backs returned at least 2x (cash game) value:

Table 2: % of Time Reaching 2x Value on FanDuel by Salary & Position, 2014
  QB 2x % RB 2x % WR 2x % TE 2x % K 2x % D/ST 2x %
$10,000 + 67%          
$9,500-$9,900 55% 43%        
$9,000-$9,400 67% 53% 32%      
$8,500-$8,900 38% 44% 40% 0%    
$8,000-$8,400 58% 35% 37% 40%    
$7,500-$7,900 57% 29% 30% 29%    
$7,000-$7,400 51% 24% 22% 54%    
$6,500-$6,900 58% 29% 30% 29%    
$6,000-$6,400 63% 25% 30% 26%    
$5,500-$5,900 76% 17% 28% 23% 9% 28%
$5,000-$5,400 63% 19% 20% 17% 32% 37%
$4,500-$4,900   10% 15% 9% 32% 29%

Above $9,000, running backs were riskier than quarterbacks but safer than wide receivers. This trend continued in the $8,500-$8,900 tier, except that running backs were safer than quarterbacks in this range (I explained why quarterbacks in this tier aren't good values in section 3 here).

Running backs and wide receivers are the only positions where you need to roster multiple options, so it's very important to note that running backs above $8,500 have been much better cash game building blocks. Running backs priced $8,500 and above hit 2x value 46 out of 97 times (47 percent), while wide receivers priced $8,500 and above hit 2x value just 42 out of 112 times (38 percent).

In the middle tiers, running backs and wide receivers were both equally risky, lagging way behind quarterbacks.

Below $6,500, it can again be seen that a lower percentage of running backs hit 2x value than wide receivers because the receivers tend to be starters who play more snaps than running backs, who are often part of a committee if they are in that price range.

 

Minimum-Priced Running Backs on FanDuel

The running back sample includes 532 backs priced under $5,000, but a lot of those backs wouldn't have been considered startable. While I attempted to weed out as many of the minimum-priced backs that weren't considered startable (as detailed in footnote no. 2), many still remained, so let's take a new approach and see what we can glean from looking at Table 3 below, which lists all running backs who returned at least 2x value on FanDuel in 2014 at a price of under $5,000.

Table 3: RBs Under $5,000 That Hit 2x+ Value on FanDuel, 2014
Rk Team Week Team Opponent FDP Salary Value
1 Davis, Knile 2 kan @ den 25.5 $4,500 5.67
2 McKnight, Joe 3 kan @ mia 21.7 $4,500 4.82
3 Blount, LeGarrette 3 nwe v. oak 17.8 $4,600 3.87
4 Taylor, Stepfan 7 ari @ oak 18.9 $4,900 3.86
5 Asiata, Matt 2 min v. nwe 16.9 $4,500 3.76
6 Blue, Alfred 17 hou v. jac 16.6 $4,500 3.69
7 Riddick, Theo 6 det @ min 16.6 $4,500 3.69
8 West, Terrance 17 cle @ bal 17.6 $4,900 3.59
9 Washington, Leon 16 ten @ jac 16.8 $4,700 3.57
10 Williams, Damien 16 mia v. min 15.8 $4,500 3.51
11 McKinnon, Jerick 4 min v. atl 15.7 $4,500 3.49
12 Freeman, Devonta 16 atl @ nor 15.9 $4,600 3.46
13 Forsett, Justin 1 bal v. cin 16.9 $4,900 3.45
14 Hill, Jeremy 2 cin v. atl 16.6 $4,900 3.39
15 Crowell, Isaiah 1 cle @ pit 15.2 $4,500 3.38
16 Taliaferro, Lorenzo 3 bal @ cle 15.1 $4,500 3.36
17 Reece, Marcel 14 oak v. sfo 16.1 $4,800 3.35
18 Robinson, Khiry 5 nor v. tam 16.2 $4,900 3.31
19 Todman, Jordan 16 jac v. ten 14.6 $4,500 3.24
20 Cunningham, Benny 5 stl @ phi 14.6 $4,500 3.24
21 Randle, Joseph 17 dal @ was 13.7 $4,500 3.04
22 Young, Darrel 16 was v. phi 13 $4,500 2.89
23 Juszczyk, Kyle 3 bal @ cle 12.9 $4,500 2.87
24 Sims, Charles 17 tam v. nor 14 $4,900 2.86
25 Smith, Antone 1 atl v. nor 12.6 $4,500 2.80
26 Turbin, Robert 13 sea @ sfo 12.5 $4,600 2.72
27 Whittaker, Fozzy 6 car @ cin 12.2 $4,500 2.71
28 Stewart, Jonathan 2 car v. det 12.4 $4,600 2.70
29 Gerhart, Toby 16 jac v. ten 12.5 $4,700 2.66
30 Riddick, Theo 17 det @ gnb 11.9 $4,500 2.64
31 Williams, Andre 4 nyg @ was 12.6 $4,900 2.57
32 Turbin, Robert 2 sea @ sdg 11.2 $4,500 2.49
33 Randle, Joseph 10 dal @ jac 11.6 $4,700 2.47
34 Darkwa, Orleans 16 nyg @ stl 10.8 $4,500 2.40
35 West, Terrance 9 cle v. tam 11.5 $4,800 2.40
36 Robinson, Khiry 17 nor @ tam 10.7 $4,500 2.38
37 Robinson, Khiry 4 nor @ dal 11.5 $4,900 2.35
38 Polk, Chris 9 phi @ hou 11 $4,800 2.29
39 Redd, Silas 2 was v. jac 10.1 $4,500 2.24
40 Herron, Dan 12 ind v. jac 10.1 $4,500 2.24
41 Dixon, Anthony 17 buf @ nwe 10 $4,500 2.22
42 Rodgers, Jacquizz 12 atl v. cle 10.2 $4,600 2.22
43 Young, Darrel 2 was v. jac 9.7 $4,500 2.16
44 Crowell, Isaiah 10 cle @ cin 10.1 $4,700 2.15
45 Rodgers, Jacquizz 1 atl v. nor 10 $4,700 2.13
46 Greene, Shonn 17 ten v. ind 9.4 $4,500 2.09
47 Cadet, Travaris 5 nor v. tam 9.4 $4,500 2.09
48 Blue, Alfred 3 hou @ nyg 9.3 $4,500 2.07
49 Thomas, Daniel 12 mia @ den 9.9 $4,800 2.06
50 Taylor, Stepfan 1 ari v. sdg 10.1 $4,900 2.06
51 Miller, Bruce 17 sfo v. ari 9.2 $4,500 2.04
52 Hillis, Peyton 9 nyg v. ind 9.5 $4,700 2.02
53 Hill, Jeremy 3 cin v. ten 9.9 $4,900 2.02

There were 53 running backs in total, which works out to 3.1 running backs per week that hit at least 2x value at a cost of under $5,000. If you remove the five fullbacks (including infamous goal-line vulture Darelle Young twice), there are 48 halfbacks in total, or 2.8 per week. What types of players made up those 48 backs?

By my count, there were six running backs that entered the week as clear starters due to injury and returned 2x value: Matt Asiata (Week 2), Jonathan Stewart (Week 2), Alfred Blue (Week 3), Khiry Robinson (Weeks 4 and 5), and Toby Gerhart (Week 16). It's no coincidence that most of the backs who hit 2x value under $5,000 did so early in the season, so be sure to take advantage of these opportunities as they arise; once a player's price goes over $5,000, it rarely dips back under. Branden Oliver (Week 15) was the only back I found that entered the week as the clear starter yet failed to return 2x value - he returned 9 FanDuel points at a cost of $4,800 for 1.88x value. 

The remaining 42 backs who hit 2x value under $5,000 were made up mainly of backups who got goal-line work (Jeremy Hill early in the season, Stepfan Taylor, LeGarrette Blount, Chris Polk, Isaiah Crowell, Lorenzo Taliaferro, Anthony Dixon, etc.), and full-time third down backs (Theo Riddick with Reggie Bush out, Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims, Leon Washington, Benny Cunningham, etc). A running back with a clear role as either a goal-line or third-down back would be your best bet at a cheap contrarian tournament dart-throw, if you so choose to dip into the sub-$5,000 price range at running back and there are no clear starters available.

 

FanDuel Running Back Tournament Value

How often running backs hit 3x (tournament) value compared to the other positions in shown in Table 4 below.

Table 4: % of Time Reaching 3x Value on FanDuel by Salary & Position, 2014
  QB 3x% RB 3x% WR 3x% TE 3x% K 3x% D/ST 3x%
$10,000 + 13%          
$9,500-$9,900 17% 0%        
$9,000-$9,400 25% 13% 18%      
$8,500-$8,900 11% 12% 15% 0%    
$8,000-$8,400 30% 16% 16% 10%    
$7,500-$7,900 19% 14% 11% 5%    
$7,000-$7,400 16% 7% 6% 15%    
$6,500-$6,900 14% 6% 9% 7%    
$6,000-$6,400 22% 12% 11% 7%    
$5,500-$5,900 53% 5% 8% 9% 0% 10%
$5,000-$5,400 32% 8% 6% 6% 9% 15%
$4,500-$4,900   4% 6% 4% 10% 12%

Because most of the cheap value plays got drowned out by the large overall sample as discussed above, let's focus on the top tiers of pricing. When comparing running backs wide receivers in the $8,500-plus pricing tiers, the data is consistent with research3 I've done which shows that stud wide receivers tend to have more upside when compared to stud running backs.

Running backs priced $8,500 and above hit 3x value 11 percent of the time, while wide receivers hit 3x value 16 percent of the time. This is in stark contrast to how often the two positions each hit 2x value, remember, where running backs had the advantage over wide receivers 47 percent to 38 percent. 

 

Individual Running Back Performance vs. FanDuel Salary Cap

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

Table 5: FanDuel RB Stats, 2014 (Min. 6 Games, 8 FDP/Game)
Rk RB Avg. Value Avg. FDP Avg. Salary Games
1 Bell, Le'Veon 2.32 20.56 $8,875 16
2 Bradshaw, Ahmad 2.25 13.55 $6,310 10
3 Foster, Arian 2.25 19.58 $8,738 13
4 Murray, DeMarco 2.23 20.16 $9,100 16
5 Forsett, Justin 2.21 14.06 $6,475 16
6 Ingram, Mark 2.18 14.46 $7,042 12
7 Anderson, C.J. 2.16 14.95 $6,469 13
8 Lynch, Marshawn 2.05 17.74 $8,731 16
9 Hill, Jeremy 2.04 12.34 $6,106 16
10 Forte, Matt 2.04 18.48 $9,056 16
11 Asiata, Matt 1.97 11.48 $5,947 15
12 Stewart, Jonathan 1.93 10.25 $5,369 13
13 Lacy, Eddie 1.91 15.73 $8,275 16
14 Miller, Lamar 1.89 12.78 $6,831 16
15 Hillman, Ronnie 1.83 11.48 $6,038 8
16 Gray, Jonas 1.82 10.4 $5,817 6
17 Mason, Tre 1.80 10.61 $6,000 12
18 Bell, Joique 1.78 12.08 $6,860 15
19 Ellington, Andre 1.77 12.88 $7,367 12
20 Charles, Jamaal 1.77 15.53 $8,900 15
21 Jackson, Fred 1.76 11.11 $6,386 14
22 Oliver, Branden 1.75 9.71 $5,738 13
23 Jennings, Rashad 1.66 11.23 $6,882 11
24 Sproles, Darren 1.66 9.83 $5,900 14
25 Bernard, Giovani 1.63 12.8 $7,977 13
26 Ivory, Chris 1.60 8.96 $5,706 16
27 Helu, Roy 1.59 8.18 $5,200 13
28 Mathews, Ryan 1.56 10.4 $6,717 6
29 Morris, Alfred 1.56 11.21 $7,288 16
30 Gore, Frank 1.47 9.58 $6,738 16
31 Thomas, Pierre 1.45 9.14 $6,300 11
32 McCoy, LeSean 1.42 11.62 $8,288 16
33 Vereen, Shane 1.41 8.77 $6,213 16
34 Williams, Andre 1.39 8.5 $6,050 16

There were eight running backs who averaged a salary of over $8,000, and six (75 percent) averaged over 2x value on the season -- paying up for a stud running back is generally a safe bet.

Eight of the top 10 running backs were on winning teams, including seven on teams who won 10-plus games. This reinforces the notion that game script is crucial to a running back's success.

 


Footnotes 

1. Value = 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
Salary QB Avg RB Avg WR Avg TE Avg K Avg D/ST Avg
$10,000 + 24          
$9,500-$9,900 29 7        
$9,000-$9,400 24 40 34      
$8,500-$8,900 47 50 78 2    
$8,000-$8,400 79 37 73 10    
$7,500-$7,900 81 49 61 21    
$7,000-$7,400 67 71 97 13    
$6,500-$6,900 80 121 175 14    
$6,000-$6,400 46 130 236 43    
$5,500-$5,900 17 133 172 79 11 29
$5,000-$5,400 19 162 287 223 205 207
$4,500-$4,900   532 623 575 291 276

3. This research will be published in the Daily Fantasy Playbook 2015: Wide Receiver Strategy article on 4for4.com on August 25, 2015.

Filed Under:
Preseason
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2015

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