Value is a key thing to look for in fantasy football; you want to get the most value out of a player as possible, and if the value is not beneficial to you, your team’s overall impact will suffer. Most fantasy players know this, but most cannot define the word “value” very well, and this ends up adversely affecting how they perform in league after league. Knowing what value is, and how it will make you a better fantasy football manager is a huge part of your success, especially as you start playing in more competitive leagues.
What is value? It’s something that’s used during league drafts to determine the correctness of your players and picks. The more value a player has, the better the pick he is. However, a player that has value as a third round pick in a snake draft does not necessarily have value in the first round. In other words, you want a large amount of benefit for a small cost to you. This concept can also be applied within salary cap leagues, but it’s not quite as easy to translate.
In daily fantasy sports, the term “value” is now a bit different, and the main reason is because daily leagues tend to revolve around the salary cap. The secondary reason is because value also needs to be examined on a day to day basis, so the price of the player needs to be evaluated about current playing conditions and how many points he can and should produce. If you have played in a year long auction format, you will have an advantage over other players in the league that do not have this background since you will roughly have seen how a player’s ability translates to a dollar amount. This concept has become known as points per dollar (PPD). So value now means that you are spending less on him than he is comparatively worth within the league as far as his given salary goes. If you have $50,000 to spend on drafting a team, is spending 15% of your available bankroll on one player worth it?
Now that you know the basics of value, and why it’s so important, we can move forward. Now, we need to apply the concept to your play, and that means we need to address another problem: the fact that value changes depending upon where you’re playing and the type of league you’re in. A player that’s worthwhile in a 50/50 game might not have value in a triple up contest. It’s a tough concept because most sites don’t go into detail on this, but it is a huge part of turning your play into a profitable experience. Here’s a basic breakdown of what things look like at the two biggest one day league sites: FanDuel and DraftKings.
This might seem to be gibberish, but it’s not. First, notice the three different kinds of games. There are the cash games, the league games, and the GPP games (the big tourneys). Remember, things are different within each as your goal should be changing based upon how payouts range. In a tournament, the higher you finish, the more you are paid, so your goal shouldn’t be just to survive to the end, but to keep yourself as high up on the leaderboard as possible.
These are just rules of thumbs, but they are pretty accurate as each site is a bit different in how player salaries are assigned and scoring/payout formats go. In a cash game at FanDuel, you will win with an average score of 120, while in a GPP, you need to be up around 180 to finish close to the top. The leagues and triple up games are right in the middle of these, hence the 2.5x designation.
But if you look at the DraftKings numbers, the multipliers are much higher. This is because of the salary and scoring differences between the sites. One has a $50,000 salary cap, the other a $60,000 cap. This will naturally skew the numbers you need to look at, but scoring as a tiny bit different, too. FanDuel has a 0.5 point addition per reception, while DraftKings has a full point. DraftKings also has 3 point bonuses when 100 yards of rushing or receiving are accomplished, or 300 yards of passing. These bonuses add up quickly and place an emphasis on certain players over others.
It puts a big priority on getting star wide receivers. Someone like Calvin Johnson that is performing at a high level week after week will usually have a price around $8,500 to $9,000. Let’s say $9,000 for the sake of simplicity. Now, take him to the chart we saw above. In order to reach “value” he needs to produce twice his price in a cash game at FanDuel and three times at DraftKings. This translates to 18 points at FanDuel and 27 at DraftKings. If he has eight catches, 100 yards, and one touchdown, he will hit his cash game goals (20 on FanDuel and 27 on DraftKings), but will be below goal in other formats where 3-5x production is needed. It’s possible on a good day that he could be there, but it’s not common..
Now look at Mike Wallace. He should be around $4,000 on DraftKings and a bit higher on FanDuel, so he’s consistently lower in salary than Johnson. But because he’s a lower producing player, his value is only worthwhile if he has a breakout game. This makes him an acceptable choice within the GPP format, but not great anywhere else. Just one good game makes him a great choice at the GPP level. However, this is not the norm for him and cannot be relied upon consistently, so looking at the competition he faces during an upcoming game is important. He should only be used rarely in cash games for this reason.
Value is a key part of success, but you need to understand what it means if you want to get to that level. A value player in a cash game might not be close to a value player in the big tournaments. This knowledge will give you an edge over the competition. However, be aware that you will often see the all or nothing type players giving their managers big wins in tourneys. Sometimes this happens by accident, but most often not. Great fantasy players know these things and routinely incorporate them into their draft strategy. There’s no reason why you can’t incorporate these things, too.