In years past, Daily Fantasy Sports was something I participated in once I was close to, or officially eliminated from, my season-long leagues. Now, however, MLB DFS has become daily habit that has helped to guide season-long research. DFS lineup preparation has been vital when it comes to deciding who to target in my weekly waiver wire transactions. Even on nights when I am not cashing, I am still paying attention to what players are getting it done overall.
So, as we start to ramp up our NFL draft preparation, what lessons can we take from our MLB DFS experiences this summer that we can carry over into this fall’s NFL season?
For me, there are three topics that are worth exploring:
1. Is ‘stacking’ advantageous in NFL DFS like it has shown to be in MLB DFS?
Personally, I don’t think it is. For those not familiar with the term “stacking,” it implies using as many players as is allowed from the team you believe will dominate offensively on that particular day. In baseball, however, there is not a clock. This means there is no reason why four or five players from a particular team can’t all share in the offensive output. In fact, often for one player to do well in DFS, he requires the player behind him in the batting order to also do well.
In the NFL, however, it is more difficult to spread out Fantasy production for players from the same team. Instead, consider using a “pairing” strategy. This could involve pairing a quarterback with his team’s top wide receiver or tight end. You might also consider pairing a team’s defense and running back. If, for example, you believe Green Bay will be up by 20 points on their opponent, there is a very good chance most of the offense in the second half will go through Eddie Lacy.
2. Targeting NFL stadiums where scoring and offense is more proficient
Traditionally, DFS players love stacking players from the Colorado Rockies and the Toronto Blue Jays because of the way home runs fly out of both respective ballparks.
Does this type of home field advantage also exist in the NFL? The answer is yes. One of the reasons is because there are so many more indoor stadiums in the NFL compared to Major League Baseball. So while it’s obvious that it’s easier to complete a reception inside the friendly confines of an indoor arena, many DFS players forget how kickers also benefit from a controlled environment. The prospect of a 48-yard field goal attempt in mid-December in Pittsburgh is much more likely to result in a punt, than it would in St. Louis, where they play indoors.
3. Are there any new NFL advanced statistics that could be key success indicators?
WOBA has emerged more recently to join BABIB as one of the leading advance statistics used to forecast performance in Fantasy Baseball.
One of the more recently talked about stats in Fantasy Football that I have come across is DVOA which stands for Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average. Like FIB in Fantasy Baseball, this calculation aims to help/expose players whose statistics make them look worse/better than they should because of the selected sample size. So, similarly the way FIB can help show how a pitcher’s stats might look better/worse if they received “average” defensive support, DVOA is meant to try and quantify the difference between a running back who runs for three yards on first and 10 in their own half versus a player who gains three yards on third and goal.
While this measurement is valuable for evaluating an NFL player’s value on the field, in my opinion, it don’t necessarily predict how they affect production in Fantasy Football. Smashing ahead for two yards and earning a vital first down offers the same Fantasy value as earning two yards on third and 20 when you compare the two individual plays on their own. Fantasy Football is still a few years behind baseball when it comes to advanced statistics.
So what then are good DFS success indicators for the NFL?
Touches and Targets.
Check out FantasyPros’ 2014 per game wide receiver ranking for targets. You may notice that 19th on this list is Odell Beckham Jr. Why is he so low? Because after being injured for the first four games of the 2014 season, he only averaged five targets a game in his first three games back. When did his production increase? After his targets per game did. In his last four games, he averaged over 15 targets a game. To put that into context, Demaryius Thomas led the NFL with an average of 11.5 targets in 2014. No one is saying ODB is not a special talent, but without the injury to Victor Cruz which opened the door, we might not have seen the same level of production down the stretch.
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