If you read Part 1 or Part 2 of this series of articles, you already know what I am talking about, and that by “positional strategy” what I really mean is “different ways to spend your salary cap.” Every single day of daily NBA action is different – how many teams are playing, which teams are playing, which teams are playing which teams, in which venues, with which injuries… it can go on forever.
It would be nice, therefore, if we could develop a framework to help us approach building our lineups no matter what the circumstances. It would enable us to start in a consistent way, and frame our thinking so that when we deviate from the norm, it is for a good reason, and not just on a whim.
This was the point of the last two articles, and the conclusion we reached was relatively simple. In Part 1, we took a look at the idea of consistency, as it relates to a fantasy point scoring average. A player’s average gives you a lot of information about him in a single statistic, but you don’t see whether he gets that average by scoring close to it consistently, or via wild swings of scores dismally below average together with some games where they reach staggering heights. And in daily leagues, unlike year-long leagues, that matters. In fact, it’s kind of all that matters. And once you realize that, the next logical step brings with it some actual advice: in GPPs, you WANT the wild swings, and you just hope that you’re right (or that you entered enough times), but in smaller tourneys, 50/50s and the like, you definitely don’t. You want the consistency.
We then took a look at who some of those most consistent players were, and the top ten were the obvious guys – Chris Paul, Westbrook, LeBron, Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, etc – the obvious “best” players in fantasy. And it was about even between smalls and bigs. But when you looked at the next ten, and the next ten after that, it turned out that the top 30 leaned HEAVILY towards bigs. And then we reached our epic conclusion: in certain types of daily fantasy tournaments (50/50s), the best fantasy option available often isn’t the guy with the highest fantasy point average, even with matchup and recent performance being equal. And one step further, I told you where to look for those consistent exceptions: with Power Forwards and Centers.
In Part 2, we talked about the fact that it was most important to notice and address this consistency factor in your most expensive roster choices. That, too often, we feel like we need to concentrate hardest when picking our long shots, our “value plays,” because, well, those players aren’t very good. OF COURSE THEY FEEL RISKIER! But, the fact is, they’re not. Since those players aren’t that good, when they have a bad game it doesn’t matter so much, because their good games aren’t that great anyway, so you’re not losing much. The point is this: you are, for all players, paying for BOTH their average and their upside. For a guy who averages 25 fantasy points a game, his range is probably something like 18-32 fantasy points. So if you draft him, worst case scenario, you lost yourself 14 points.
For a guy who averages 45 fantasy points a night, though, his range would be anything – 25-65? Something like that? So, if you draft him – again, paying for BOTH the average and the upside – and he only scores 25 points, you’re basically done. You cost yourself 40 points you can’t get back.
And while these consistent players may tilt towards power forwards and centers which might help inform your decision on a tie-breaker, or at least just give you an idea about where to start, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Because Westbrook and Chris Paul and James Harden and Steph Curry do exist. So how do you determine who they are as you build your fantasy lineup?
There are tools for year-long leagues that could apply here, with efficiency ratings or player raters already being built to analyze aggregated performances and spit out a ranking. But let’s be honest, no one really wants to be sitting there sorting through one list of stats about a season-long league while they’re scrolling down the player list on DraftKings. I know I don’t. So how can you make the determination with the tools at hand? You’ve got easy access to a season long scoring average and ten games worth of data points, if you want to be nerdy about it. Doing this exercise for the entire season would be better, but we’ll take what we can get, and you start with this: if you take approximately 20% of a player’s scoring average, that is an acceptable range. If you average 40 fantasy points, 20% of 40 is 8 – if your floor is 32 and your ceiling is 48, that’s solid. If you average 25 points per game, your cost will be lower, and a nice solid range would be 20-30 (20% above or below the average). That’s consistent. That’s worth the money.
So you take 20% of any player’s scoring average, go through his game log, and count how many times he was outside of that range, either above or below his average. It’s that simple. If they are consistently above that number over the last ten, then maybe they’re getting better, or vice versa. But most often you’ll find a relatively even split (especially the further back you go) – games below that range, and games above and that, that’s inconsistency. So just do this: if they’re outside that range more than 50% of the time, shave a couple of points off their average. If they are outside the range less than 50% of the time, add a couple of points. If it’s more than 80% of the time, add a couple more. And those are the averages you should have in your mind when you are drafting for those 50/50s that are how you build your bankroll.
Consistency with upside: it’s what you’re paying for… hopefully. Good luck.