The Effect of the DraftKings Bonus

The Effect of the DraftKings Bonus

By TJ Hernandez (Director of DFS), last update Aug 24, 2018

TJ Hernandez's picture

TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.

Follow TJ Hernandez on Twitter: @TJHernandez.

No matter the type of fantasy football league you play in, having a thorough understanding of your league’s scoring system is a crucial aspect of being a successful player. This holds true for DFS, too. One of the most notable differences between scoring on FanDuel versus DraftKings is points per reception—FanDuel awards 0.5 points per reception, while DraftKings gives a full point. The implications of this contrast in scoring are probably somewhat obvious, but one difference in scoring that often goes overlooked is the fact DraftKings awards yardage bonuses, while FanDuel does not. Here's DraftKings' yardage bonus breakdown: 

  • Passing: +3 for 300 yards
  • Rushing: +3 for 100 yards
  • Receiving: +3 for 100 yards

This study has been updated to reflect data from the 2017 season. Because pricing algorithms can—and do—change from year to year, the most recent data takes precedence over a multi-year sample when discussing DFS value markers. 

The purpose of this study is to determine the impact DraftKings' bonus system has on scoring and decide how we should change our approach to player selection between the two major DFS sites. In order to isolate situations where the DraftKings bonus impacted scoring, I gathered salaries and scoring data for every player that reached a yardage bonus threshold in 2017 and compared how often those players reached cash value and tournament value1 on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

For each position, I will present the data along with some key points. At the end of the article, I will summarize these points along with any actionable takeaways.

Quarterbacks

300-Yard Quarterbacks, 2017
  % to Hit Cash Value % to Hit Tourney Value Average Salary
FanDuel 67.0% 28.9% $7,613
DraftKings 71.1% 45.4% $6,064
  • Virtually the same number of 300-yard quarterbacks on FanDuel hit cash value as those on DraftKings, but a 300-yard game meant a 15 percent higher chance to reach tournament value on DraftKings.
  • Quarterbacks who threw two or fewer touchdowns hit tournament value 25 percent of the time on DraftKings if they hit the 300-yard mark—on FanDuel, that number was just 14 percent.
 

Running Backs

100-Yard Running Backs, 2017
  % to Hit Cash Value % to Hit Tourney Value Average Salary
FanDuel 84.9% 47.7% $7,027
DraftKings 85.9% 58.8% $6,052
  • Running backs without a multi-touchdown game still hit tournament value 48 percent of the time on DraftKings if they amassed 100 yards rushing—only 33 percent of 100-yard backs hit tournament value with fewer than two touchdowns on FanDuel.

Wide Receivers

100-Yard Wide Receivers, 2017
  % to Hit Cash Value % to Hit Tourney Value Average Salary
FanDuel 93.0% 49.6% $6,677
DraftKings 94.7% 70.8% $5,866
  • Almost all 100-yard receivers hit cash value on both sites, but a 100-yard game meant a 21 percent higher chance of hitting tournament value on DraftKings.
  • Wide receivers who gained 100 yards, but scored fewer than two touchdowns hit tournament value 65 percent of the time on DraftKings. Only 41 percent of 100-yard receivers hit tournament value without a multi-touchdown game on FanDuel.

Tight Ends

100-Yard Tight Ends, 2017
  % to Hit Cash Value % to Hit Tourney Value Average Salary
FanDuel 94.1%

47.1%

$6,241
DraftKings 94.1% 82.4% $4,947
  • Of all the positions to hit a yardage milestone, a 100-yard tight end on DraftKings was the most likely to hit tournament value.
  • The average 100-yard tight end hit 5.6x value on DraftKings.

Predicting Bonus Games

The natural question after examining how the DraftKings bonus impacts player value is whether there are any predictive factors for bonus games. For that, let's take a look at the Vegas numbers for players who hit the DK Bonus from each position:

Vegas Lines and Win Percentages in DK Bonus Games, 2017
  Average Spread Favorites Win Average Implied Total
QB -1.5 58.8% 59.8% 23.46
RB -0.3 54.7% 80.2% 22.23
WR -0.7 54.8% 55.7% 22.58
TE -2.7 70.6% 88.2% 24.68
  • This seems to dispell the notion that quarterbacks who are favorites have a much better chance at a big game than signal-callers on losing teams, but that doesn't consider the strong correlation between opposing passing games. Of the 39 quarterbacks from a losing team to throw for 300 yards last season, 13 of those came in a game where the winning quarterback also threw for 300 yards. In other words, just 27 percent of 300-yard passers came in losses where the winning quarterback didn't have a 300-yard game as well. 
  • Vegas isn't always perfectly accurate and there is value in finding running backs on teams that pull off an upset, evidenced by the 80 percent win total among 100-yard backs. With the lowest implied point total of players to hit the bonus, there is value in running backs who have 100-yard potential but aren't on a high-scoring team—low team totals usually keep ownership percentages down.
  • Wide receivers—not quarterbacks—flourish the most in garbage time, so it makes sense that the position doesn't need ideal team conditions to put up a big game.
  • Tight ends need near perfect conditions for a 100-yard game. While many owners look to save at tight end, there may be value in tournaments in favoring tight ends who are big favorites with inflated point totals.
  • Across all positions, being home or away had little impact on the likelihood of hitting a bonus.

Final Takeaways

  • The DraftKings bonus diminishes the value of touchdowns across the site, even in GPPs. Outside of quarterbacks, players can often hit GPP value on DraftKings without a multi-touchdown game.
  • When building lineups on FanDuel, especially for GPPs, targeting touchdown upside, i.e. red zone opportunities, is a must.
  • Nearly 45 percent of all players to hit the DraftKings bonus last season came from a team that was an underdog. Building around opposing correlation plays or teams that are only slight underdogs can be a great contrarian strategy.

Footnotes

1.  Cash game value is two points per $1,000 (2x) on FanDuel and three points per $1,000 (3x) on DraftKings. Tournament value is three points per $1,000 on FanDuel and four points per $1,000 (4x) on DraftKings. For quarterbacks, we raise these thresholds to 2.5x and 3.5x on FanDuel and 3.5x and 4.5x on DraftKings.


Related Articles

Filed Under:
Preseason
,
2018