When building college football DFS lineups, it’s extremely beneficial to know how many points each one of your players should be expected to produce in order to cash in various formats. We’ve also got options at flex – is there a particular position that we should be using in these spots? How about stacking QB and WR – what is the optimal way to construct our college football lineups?
I’ve gone back to August 2018 and have broken down 150+ DFS slates to help us answer some of these questions. Here what I found:
Defining Value on DraftKings
While there is no “magic number” when it comes to how many points you’ll need to cash in different DFS formats, we can use the law of averages to help give us a baseline of what to shoot for.
For example, if we need 3x a player’s salary for cash games, that might help us to decide between a $9,000 player (that needs 27 DK points) and a $4,500 player (that only needs to score 13.5 fantasy points). Last week, I identified Tee Higgins as a player that was overpriced using this method. At his $7,300 salary, we would’ve needed 21.9 DK points to hit value – something that he’d done only 3 times in his last 13 games (Higgins finished with just 11 DK points against Texas A&M).
In the table below, I’ve laid out the values we’re looking for in order to cash in your average double up, to min-cash your average GPP, and what the average first-place score is in GPP’s. Once we’ve defined what point-per-dollar value we’re looking for, we can start building smarter lineups dependent on slate size and type of contest entered.
As you can see, as the slate size goes up, so does the average value we need in our lineups. There are a few takeaways here.
*WHY EVEN PLAY CASH GAMES? – The values needed to min-cash a double up versus a GPP are nominal. This obviously doesn’t apply to GPP with less than 2x minimum payout, but why even play double ups otherwise? You can 2x your money with just about the same score, with the potential to get far more than a 2x investment should your cash lineup smash.
*NEAR PERFECTION TO TAKE DOWN LARGE GPP – 4.85x is the average value needed to take down a GPP on a large slate. This is insane. You’ve got to be just about perfect everywhere in your lineup. It’s nearly impossible for every player to hit 5x, so this is where the low-priced plays become so important. If you can find a couple min-priced gems, that can take a lot of the burden off your other roster spots.
*LESS MARGIN FOR ERROR ON SMALL SLATES – We see most of our 2-4 game slates on weeknights, or during the late night 10:30pm contests. As you can see, the value we need per dollar drops from the larger slates, but does that make it easier to cash? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary, really. You’re cutting your player pool by over 50%, yet still need to find ALMOST the same amount of value as we do in slates of 10+ games.
Defining Value on FanDuel
FanDuel is quite different when it comes to lineup construction. We have $10,000 more to work with, and one fewer roster spot to fill than on DK. Salaries also tend to be inflated, PPR scoring is just 0.5 per catch, and large slates typically include 12+ games. So how does that all impact the value we need per dollar on FD? Here’s a look at the average numbers since August 2018:
As you can see, we don’t need as much value per dollar, but the higher salaries on this site tend to offset that.
The big difference for me is the gap in value needed between cash and GPP contests. On DK, we saw very similar cut lines in double ups and GPP’s. On FD, the scores needed to double up are generally much easier to attain. Therefore, I would definitely recommend getting your cash-game fix on FanDuel, and sticking to GPP’s on DraftKings.
Optimal Roster Construction – Flex Spots
I went through each slate’s optimal lineup to get an idea of what positions appear most in flex spots. Here’s what I found on DraftKings:
Here’s what I takeaway from these numbers.
*As the slate size increases, the higher upside of a WR becomes the better flex option. On smaller slates, the safer floor of the RB seems to be a much better choice.
*Quarterback is almost always the best option in superflex, although a RB/WR winds up in the optimal lineup almost one-third of the time – so don’t necessarily lock yourself into a QB if you think the value of a RB/WR is greater.
*Our sample size for the larger DK slates is rather small, so take this data with a grain of salt. I will continue to keep this list updated, and will be sure to let you guys know should I see any major changes as the season goes on.
We only have one flex spot on FanDuel, but let’s have a look how the numbers shake out by position on that site:
Well, this is surprising. I think it is very clear that you should not be using wide receivers in your FD flex positions. Only 3 times out of 89 total slates has that position wound up in the optimal lineup’s flex spot.
Also, quarterback appears to be the best position to use on this site, too. Remember – these are optimal, or perfect lineups – there is no player bias going on here. Especially on the big slates, QB gives you the best value at the position – almost 80% of the time for 12+ game slates.
Optimal Roster Construction – QB/WR Stacking
The last thing I want to look at is QB/WR stacking. How often should we be doing this, and how big are the best stacks? Let’s have a look at the numbers from optimal lineups on DraftKings:
As you might expect, stacking is more prevalent in the optimal lineups on smaller slates. There are simply fewer WR’s in the player pool, and therefore it’s much easier to land on a QB/WR combo from the same team. We even see QB/WR/WR stacks over 20% of the time in slates under 4 games.
When you get to the bigger slates though, playing a “naked” QB (meaning without any of his WR’s) is far more common. This is due to a couple reasons. 1) Teams generally have much deeper rosters, with more pass-catching options, which spreads the receiving stats out thinner than we see in the NFL. 2) Dual-threat quarterbacks are the standard in college football, and often we see the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback pick up a majority of his points on the ground.
Let’s see if these numbers look similar on FanDuel:
Yep. The data looks very similar. There are zero instances of QB/WR/WR stacks in optimal lineups of medium-to-large slates – probably the biggest difference. We still see “naked” quarterbacks more than we see them stacked.
I think the conclusion to make here is this: if you are rostering a quarterback that is bound to pick up a big portion of his fantasy numbers on the ground, you may not want to force one of his pass-catchers into your lineup. The only exceptions for me would be if there is a very clear #1 target on the team. There is absolutely no worse feeling than having a lineup ruined because you stacked your slate-breaking QB with the wrong wide receiver.
Hopefully this data helps in your lineup construction process. Moving forward, I’ll be keeping track of the numbers, and will make necessary updates if I see any of these values change drastically. If there are any specific topics you’d like me to cover in future strategy sessions, feel free to reach out to me @RyanClifford on Twitter, or hit me up anytime in Saturday morning chats.