Find Your Edge - Week 2: Enhancing Leverage
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.
For the first installment of Find Your Edge, we dug into the tons of historical tournament data we’ve collected through the last two years and identified stacks that tournament winners (top 0.1% of entries) used at a higher rate than the field.
To refresh your memory, here are the stacks with the highest usage by the field and how it translates to winning lineups. “Leverage” is defined as the percentage of winners versus the field; i.e: 200% equals 2x usage for winners over the field.
This week we’re going to dig even deeper into stacking. Beyond which offensive stacks we should use, let’s look at how pairing a DST with offensive players performs. Plus, are there ways to enhance stack leverage beyond the numbers we see above by turning them into game stacks and adding players from the opposing team?
Week 1 results
Before we dig into DST stacks and enhancing stack leverage, let’s take a quick look at how things went down in DraftKings’ Week 1 Milly Maker.
Here’s how stack usage broke down between the top-0.1% and the field.
What you’re seeing in this graph is that the stack with overwhelming usage versus the field in the Week 1 was QB/RB/WR, accounting for 30% of top-0.1% lineups versus 9.3% for the field. As is the case of all small samples of a single week, the results were almost entirely driven by the Brees/Kamara/Thomas stack that was high scoring and not exactly contrarian. There was also a sprinkling of Buccaneers stacks, and one Saints stack rostered Ted Ginn in place of Michael Thomas.
What we identified last week as the highest leverage stack (QB/WR/WR) had decent leverage last week (135%), but lower than its 200% average in 2016 and 2017. But the QB/WR/WR stack did account for the highest scoring lineup who took down the $1M top prize, with a score more than 15 points higher than the next highest lineup.
Despite playing in Superdome in a game with the highest Week 1 total, the ownership percentages for Fitzpatrick, Evans and DeSean Jackson were minimal. This enabled the lineup to be contrarian while still fitting lots of chalky options across the board, including Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas from the same game.
Speaking of chalk, it paid off in Week 1. Especially at the RB position.
Stacking with DST
Before we dig into game stacking, let’s round out last week’s offensive stack analysis by adding DST to the mix.
The RB/DST stack is well known in DFS circles, and unsurprisingly it’s the highest used DST stack by both winners and the field, though it only offers slight leverage. Below are the numbers for the five most commonly used DST stacks.
Enhancing leverage with game stacking
Game stacking paid off big-time last week, but before we decide it’s a must-use strategy, let’s dig into the larger historical data we have to see if it’s a persistent trend.
I’m going to focus specifically on combining players from the opposing team with the highest leverage and commonly used offensive stacks above: QB/WR and QB/WR/WR.
First, here are the usage rates for different combinations of opposing offensive players for the highest leverage stack, QB/WR/WR.
We can see from the table that using the opposing team’s RB/WR, as the top lineup did in the Week 1 Milly Maker, isn’t very common (roughly 3% of QB/WR/WR stacks), and it hasn’t provided much leverage historically. Simply using one WR from the opposing team has been more commonly used, and provides strong leverage over the field.
Now, here are the usage rates for different combinations of opposing offensive players for the most common stack, QB/WR.
Those using the QB/WR stack are using game stacking much less often across the board than those using the QB/WR/WR stack. The latter appears to be closer to all-in on a particular game, and the fact that they used an extra receiver in the stack reflects that.
Based on historical numbers, using the QB/WR/WR stack by itself gives you 200% leverage over the field, and then combining that with a WR from the opposing team is an additional 176% leverage.
And the QB/WR stack by itself gives you 118% leverage over the field, and then combining that with a WR from the opposing team is an additional 125% leverage.
Now, we can’t think of these as being totally additive as the second number is a subset of the first. But, it’s still compelling evidence that game stacking is another way to enhance your winning percentage beyond stacking in and of itself.
Who do we use in the highest leverage main stacks?
This article focuses specifically on macro concepts. Tomorrow I’ll publish the second week of my Match Matrix in which I simulate every game on the main slate and provide a range of outcomes for all the stack combinations that we identified as having the highest leverage here.