DFS Defense/Special Teams Strategy: DraftKings 2015 Year in Review

DFS Defense/Special Teams Strategy: DraftKings 2015 Year in Review

By Chris Raybon (Senior Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Aug 24, 2016

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

Follow Chris Raybon on Twitter: @ChrisRaybon.

Every position matters. Even though D/STs are the cheapest position on DraftKings and bottom-of-the-barrel units can be had for a mere cost of $2,000, you still want to nail your D/ST selections for maximum profitability.

I compiled data on the performance of D/STs relative to their DraftKings salary in 2015 to see what lessons we can apply going forward.

Salaries were broken down into $500 increments, and points scored per $1,000 of salary, percentage of time hitting cash game value, and percentage of time hitting tournament value were calculated. I also analyzed how each individual team D/ST performed.

My sample consisted of all 512 games from 2015. The D/ST data will be compared across salary ranges and across positions. (Note that for the other positions, only RBs and WRs projected for 8.5 or more DraftKings points and TEs projected for 6.5 or more in a given week were included.)

I will lay out the data below and follow it with some key points, and then I'll summarize the actionable takeaways at the end of the article.

 

Salary vs. Performance

Average DraftKings Value Per Game Returned by Salary Range & Position, 2015
Salary RB Avg WR Avg TE Avg D/ST Avg
$4,000-$4,400 2.86 2.50 2.93 2.04
$3,500-$3,900 2.75 3.46 2.75 2.82
$3,000-$3,400 3.28 3.40 3.05 2.62
$2,500-$2,900     2.95 2.66
$2,000-$2,400       2.86
  • Due in part to the fact that DraftKings awards yardage bonuses and has full-PPR scoting, D/STs lag behind playable options at the other positions in terms of points per dollar.
  • The sweet spot, so to speak, for D/ST value appears to be in the $3,500-$3,900 tier and the $2,000-$2,400 tier. There were far more options in the latter tier in 2015 (7.8 per week) than there were in the former (2.0 per week). 

 

Cash Game Value

The total score you will need to cash will vary weekly, but generally, if your lineup scores three points per $1,000, you'll score 150 points, which is usually good enough to place in a 50/50 league or win just over half of your head-to-heads.

Percentage of Time Reaching 3x Value on DraftKings by Salary & Position, 2015
Salary RB 3x % WR 3x % TE 3x % D/ST 3x %
$4,000-$4,400 45.5% 31.4% 44.4% 25.0%
$3,500-$3,900 36.4% 50.6% 36.4% 41.2%
$3,000-$3,400 46.7% 48.1% 45.4% 35.3%
$2,500-$2,900     41.9% 37.6%
$2,000-$2,400       40.6%
  • There were 195 D/STs that hit 3x value in 2015, or 11.5 per week.

Of the 195 D/STs that hit 3x value:

  • The average spread was -0.04, the average team total was 22.4, and the average opposing team total was also 22.4. The average over/under was 44.8.
  • 48.7 percent were favorites and 46.7 percent were at home.
  • 67.2 percent had opposing team totals under 24, and 34.4 percent had opposing team totals under 21.

 

Tournament Value

You're generally looking to score 200-plus points to place highly in a tournament, and you'll usually need around 250 points to take home the top prize. If your lineup scores four points per $1,000, you'll have a score of 200, which is the value point I will use to examine tournament performance:

Percentage of Time Reaching 4x Value on DraftKings by Salary & Position, 2015
Salary RB 4x % WR 4x % TE 4x % D/ST 4x %
$4,000-$4,400 26.3% 19.6% 19.4% 12.5%
$3,500-$3,900 18.2% 41.4% 22.7% 23.5%
$3,000-$3,400 33.3% 38.5% 27.8% 23.5%
$2,500-$2,900     24.2% 26.6%
$2,000-$2,400       27.8%
  • There were 132 D/STs that hit 4x value, or 7.7 per week.

Of the D/STs that hit 4x value:

  • the average spread was -0.31, the average implied team total was 22.5, and the average opposing team total was 22.3. The average over/under was 44.8.
  • 53.0 percent were favorites and 44.7 percent were at home.
  • 68.2 percent had opposing team totals below 24, and 37.1 percent had opposing team totals below 21.

 

Individual Salaries

D/ST Performance by DraftKings Salary, 2015
Salary Avg. Val. DK Pts/G 3x% 4x% G
$4,300 0.23 1.0 0.0% 0.0% 1
$4,200 2.02 8.5 0.0% 0.0% 2
$4,000 2.40 9.6 40.0% 20.0% 5
$3,900 2.74 10.7 33.3% 16.7% 6
$3,800 2.83 10.8 50.0% 0.0% 4
$3,700 3.38 12.5 50.0% 50.0% 6
$3,600 2.72 9.8 33.3% 22.2% 9
$3,500 2.60 9.1 44.4% 22.2% 9
$3,400 2.92 9.9 38.9% 38.9% 18
$3,300 2.89 9.5 35.3% 23.5% 17
$3,200 2.14 6.9 31.8% 4.5% 22
$3,100 2.56 7.9 29.6% 18.5% 27
$3,000 2.67 8.0 40.0% 31.4% 35
$2,900 2.32 6.7 36.1% 16.7% 36
$2,800 3.19 8.9 42.6% 40.7% 54
$2,700 2.55 6.9 30.4% 23.9% 46
$2,600 2.51 6.5 37.2% 18.6% 43
$2,500 2.53 6.3 41.0% 28.2% 39
$2,400 2.76 6.6 37.5% 20.8% 24
$2,300 3.38 7.8 51.4% 34.3% 35
$2,200 2.16 4.8 24.1% 13.8% 29
$2,100 2.42 5.1 22.7% 13.6% 22
$2,000 3.46 6.9 65.2% 56.5% 23
  • Minimum-priced D/STs surprisingly provided solid value, and it wasn't just as case of D/STs being undervalued early in the season - 87 percent of min-priced D/STs to hit 2x value did so in Week 10 or later. It could simply be small-sample noise, but it is worth noting that min-priced D/STs also produced great value on FanDuel.
  • Interestingly given the success of min-priced D/STs, but perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest value traps were D/STs priced at $2,100 and $2,200.

 

Individual D/ST Value

DraftKings D/ST Stats, 2015
Rk D/ST Avg. Val DK Pts/G Avg. Sal. 3x% 4x%
1 Chiefs 3.68 11.1 $3,050 68.8% 50.0%
2 Broncos 3.44 11.1 $3,306 50.0% 37.5%
3 Vikings 3.39 8.8 $2,663 37.5% 37.5%
4 Redskins 3.34 8.1 $2,463 50.0% 37.5%
5 Texans 3.30 9.4 $2,800 50.0% 43.8%
6 Colts 3.29 7.6 $2,406 56.3% 37.5%
7 Steelers 3.26 9.3 $2,844 56.3% 37.5%
8 Eagles 3.17 8.3 $2,663 37.5% 31.3%
9 Panthers 3.14 10.4 $3,306 43.8% 31.3%
10 Rams 3.13 8.6 $2,963 50.0% 25.0%
11 Cardinals 3.09 10.5 $3,519 31.3% 25.0%
12 Raiders 2.98 7.0 $2,344 56.3% 25.0%
13 Giants 2.79 7.4 $2,575 43.8% 31.3%
14 Bengals 2.78 8.8 $3,144 37.5% 25.0%
15 Seahawks 2.76 10.1 $3,731 43.8% 12.5%
16 Buccaneers 2.72 6.6 $2,463 37.5% 31.3%
17 Patriots 2.57 8.3 $3,219 31.3% 31.3%
18 Packers 2.57 7.6 $3,006 31.3% 18.8%
19 Jaguars 2.51 6.2 $2,538 31.3% 12.5%
20 Jets 2.41 7.3 $2,988 31.3% 18.8%
21 Ravens 2.33 6.2 $2,675 31.3% 25.0%
22 Browns 2.32 5.4 $2,400 31.3% 31.3%
23 Lions 2.30 6.0 $2,594 31.3% 18.8%
24 Dolphins 2.29 6.0 $2,694 31.3% 25.0%
25 Saints 2.25 5.0 $2,256 25.0% 25.0%
26 Titans 2.17 5.6 $2,531 25.0% 6.3%
27 Bears 2.15 4.9 $2,369 37.5% 12.5%
28 Chargers 2.14 5.2 $2,500 25.0% 18.8%
29 Cowboys 2.11 5.2 $2,469 25.0% 25.0%
30 Bills 2.07 6.1 $2,913 31.3% 12.5%
31 49ers 2.03 4.5 $2,263 25.0% 18.8%
32 Falcons 1.98 5.8 $2,913 18.8% 6.3%

 

Final Takeaways

The biggest takeaway is that home field was already priced in, and the main thing you should be looking for is a D/ST facing a team with a low implied team total. While favorites provide a better dollar-for-dollar ROI, the data in this article illuminates the importance of making a priority out of targeting D/STs facing opponents with low team totals. 

 

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