Saturday, September 12, 2015

How Much Does Roster Uniqueness Matter?

Large GPPs are fun to play but also hard to cash with consistency. FanDuel's $5M NFL Sunday Million in Week 1 (currently only about half full) is open to just about 230,000 lineups. While the top prize is a selling point (there are a lot of ways to spend $1 million), just doubling our money, assuming the contest fills, will be challenging enough.

There are, however, a few strategies that we can implement to protect our bankrolls. Each week we'll present two articles focusing those strategies.  

The first one, titled "The Fade", will identify popular plays that we should pivot away from, as well as loss leaders--players that we should have in our lineups despite the fact that they are highly owned.

The second feature, titled "The Contrarian" takes an opposite approach. We need contrarian options--players that will be low owned and likely low priced--in our lineups to separate ourselves from the crowd.

If you want more detail about how these ideologies work, we put together an introductory piece that digs into the process.

The Fade: Week 1 is available here.
The Contrarian: Week 1 is available here.

But let's focus on the subject matter both of these articles are spun around: uniqueness. How much does it really matter how unique our lineups are?

To answer that question, here's an excerpt from the introductory piece listed above:

Our own John Lee (@tipandpick) posted an excellent theory on roster uniqueness in the RotoGrinders forums last year. To paraphrase—using an example from Week 1—Jeremy Hill is the fourth highest priced running back at $8,600. In order for him to hit tournament value (at least 3x), he’ll need to score 25.8 points. Let’s say we project him to be 30% owned. Per Lee’s theory, you have to ask yourself will Hill score 25.8 points 30% of the time? Last year, in the 10 games where he had at least 10 carries, Hill scored 25.8 points or more twice. He met our criteria only 20% of the time.

Conversely, Chris Ivory is $6,400 (requiring a tournament score of 19.2 points). Let’s say he’s projected to be 6.5% owned. Over his entire career, when given 10 carries or more, Ivory has scored at least 19.2 points 9.1% of the time. Now we can tie together a fade with a contrarian play and leave Hill out of our lineups in favor of Ivory. The $2,200 we save in the process frees up a ton of roster flexibility.

This example comes with some obvious arbitrary numbers, but it illustrates a great process that we’ll use every week in 2015.

We also wanted to know, what if you went with the chalk play at every position? That is, what if you looked back at the 2014 NFL Sunday Million series, built lineups using the highest owned player at each position (within the means of the salary cap) and calculated their total fantasy points?

We did that. Here are the results:

Week
Ave Own%
Total FPs
1
18.52
122.96
2
17.18
128.98
3
24.85
102.32
4
24.28
158.06
5
23.71
107.1
6
27.02
130.44
7
22.04
109.32
8
20.64
105.72
9
20.86
139.38
10
22.31
130.42
11
22.55
114.38
12
20.35
145.22
13
25.07
151.8
14
24.05
89.2
15
22.55
142.28
16
22.92
106.12
17
18.98
101.46




The second column, Ave Own%, takes the average ownership of each player in the lineup. All 17 lineups featured the highest owned player at each position, so long as we could fit them within the salary cap. The results speak for themselves. Never once did a single one of these lineups hit tournament value. The highest score was 158.06—not bad but not a cash cow. The average score was 122.7 points—a score that will cost you your entry fee in most weeks.

In reality, you’re never going to load your lineups with the chalk play. But this exercise illustrates how far off groupthink was in 2014, and why it’s always a good idea to fade the crowd, when it makes sense to do so, in large-field tournaments.


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