NFL Hall of Fame - Lesson 05 - Evaluating the Pulse of the Crowd

To take advice, or not to take advice? There are all sorts of opinions about whether or not you should listen to experts or follow the wisdom or the crowd when creating your daily fantasy lineups. Some people argue that falling into a certain pattern of thinking, the same as everyone else, can be disastrous, while others maintain that the aggregate of expert opinions taken in isolation can be very powerful.

I find myself in the middle. I believe “the crowd” can be very useful, but only if harnessed correctly. First, let me explain what I mean by the “wisdom of the crowd.”

WISDOM OF THE CROWD

The wisdom of the crowd is a phenomenon by which the average of expert opinions tends to beat out the majority of those opinions taken in isolation. If we were to poll the top daily fantasy experts on their favorite plays each week and then use the players who showed up the most often, there’s a good chance we could actually perform quite well against each of those experts by themselves.

The idea is that you are going to be wrong in one direction, I’ll be wrong in another, someone else in another. By taking the average of our beliefs, we can factor out all of our individual biases to obtain a prediction that’s probably closer to reality than the majority of our predictions alone.

THE BENEFIT OF WISDOM OF THE CROWD

The primary benefit of a wisdom of the crowd approach to daily fantasy sports is accuracy. As I mentioned, I think the aggregate of expert opinions will generally be pretty powerful.

This has the most use in cash games, where the primary objective is to find value. In head-to-head and 50/50 leagues, the goal is ultimately to find as much total value as possible. I think a wisdom of the crowd approach helps to do that.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF WISDOM OF THE CROWD

Where wisdom of the crowd fails is in tournaments. In GPPs, there’s a strong incentive to get away from what the crowd is thinking. Since ownership rates matter so much in tournaments, it can be really detrimental to have a lineup that looks just like everyone else.

I still use expert opinions in my tournament research, but really just as a way to predict ownership. I want to know 1) who everyone likes and 2) who media is suggesting people play so that I can accurately forecast which players will be in the most lineups.

More often than not, I actually fade those players, even though they offer the most value. In most situations, that value is overridden by ownership rates that are too high. Thus, my GPP strategy is a “best of the rest” approach by which I use popular opinion as a barometer for ownership and then select the most high-value players who I don’t believe will be among the most popular.


I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Bales) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.