Find Your Edge: Week 10

Director of Data and Analytics, Kevin Cole, returns with a look at how past DFS slates can yield valuable insights to roster construction, decision making, and winning strategies for the coming slate of games. This is a big deal. We’ve collected a massive amount of data on past DFS slates, and Kevin is going to help you “find the edge” buried deep within them.

Week 10

This week I’m going to look back into the format that is making a huge mark on the DFS landscape: NFL single-game Showdown.

If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve dedicated a lot of time and resources into providing some of the most actionable information out there for Showdown contests in our dedicated hub.

What you’ll find in the hub’s individual matchup writeup and the broader posts on different game profiles are numbers based on the actual results from hundreds of similar historical matchups.

While I still believe using similar historical matchups from the past ten years is a great way to project what will happen, there’s also value in checking in on the actual Showdown contest results to see if they align with our expectations.

In the tables below, I’m going to look at the numbers for the biggest contests from each of the 45 Showdown slates so far this year. I’m calling top-0.1% entires “Winners” and comparing those player allocations to the averages for the field.

Captain allocations

Again, this is a straight comparison of top-0.1% entries versus the field.

Winners have used WR1, RB1 and QB roughly equally in the CPT slot at around 21%. This matches our expectation for normal game profiles to have those as the top three.

Winners have benefitted most from the field by using a higher allocation of WR1 at CPT, harnessing the volatility in that position.

The rest of the differences between winners and the field are fairly small, with TE1 underperforming likely being more small-sample noise than actionable information.

Total roster allocations

This table has a little more detail when comparing the winners to the field.

Columns with “Two” include entries that had that position from both teams in the lineup. “One” columns include entries that only had that position from one team in the lineup.

I think there’s a lot more actionable here than in the CPT allocations.

First, doubling up at QB, RB1 and WR1 (slightly) all produced positive leverage for winners. You don’t want to read too much into 40-something contests, but I believe there will continue to be value using two QBs or two RB1s.

It’s logical that the field will want to avoid betting on both RB1s, with the assumption that game flow in one direction will limit the ability for both teams’ RB1s paying off.

The same thought could be true for QBs, though that might be more about a lack of appreciation for how much scoring you get from the ability to roster two QBs.

The great performances of kickers in Showdown contests has been a storyline all season, and the numbers show outperformance of winners who rostered two of them. Winners have rostered two kickers almost twice as much as the field, and this also is a trend that could continue going forward.

My one concern with betting too heavily on two kickers going forward is that the fact it’s become a talking point might offset any benefit from doing so.

Big picture

What we’ve learned so far from the results of 2018 Showdown contests mostly matches with our expectations.

It does look like there is still value to be gained by fading contrarianism and rostering more WR1 as CPT, and using more lineups with two QBs or RB1s.

What’s still important is to look at the dynamics of individual matchups, which is what we’re doing in our showdown hub.

About the Author

  • Kevin Cole (colekev)

  • Kevin Cole previously worked on Wall Street as an equity and credit analyst before transitioning to data-related sports analysis. For a number of years, Kevin has specialized in creating predictive sports models that includes published work at Pro Football Focus, Rotoworld, numberFire, and RotoViz. He is now the Director of Data and Analytics at RotoGrinders.


  • titostissue

    What about rostering defenses to lower costs and build a higher value lineup?

  • Volkster6

    I’ve been playing every showdown this year with multiple LUs usually. Defences seem to be a great salary saver, but their floor is so small.

    For example, the Steelers controlled everyone outside of CMC all game, turned in a Pick 6 and had numerous sacks and a DFR. While they were on the winning (nuts for muletool — heavy congrats) line up they still came in at 14%.

    His success was due to Samuels grabbing a TD when Conner went out.

    Reason I bring this up is that the t-2nd lineup that took home a hefty win too had Samuels at 0.34% ownership as well, but didn’t roster the Steelers.

    Wrapping up my novel my point is this – - even with all the scoring the Steelers did, the pick 6 and multiple sacks didn’t matter to anyone except 1 out of 117k plus… and without that defensive TD which is rare he doesn’t win.

    Don’t put as much stock into the Defensive numbers just yet in my opinion.

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