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NFL Playoffs WOAT: DraftKings Weekly Ownership and Trends
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This will be a weekly series discussing DraftKings Weekly Ownership and Trends (WOAT) in Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournaments that we can use to better ourselves as DFS players. If pricing were perfectly efficient, some DFS players could beat GPPs on ownership alone. Vince Lombardi once said ownership isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.

Shout out to my friends at The Fantasy Fanatics for access to their NFL Ownership tools which I leveraged for most of this analysis. You can access all ownership data in their premium tools.

Week 17 Look Back

I don’t want to harp too long on Week 17, except to possibly give us a couple tidbits to reflect back on if we stumble across this article on the google machine during the 2017 fall. The Cliffnotes? The market at quarterback fell exactly how we would expect it to with Rodgers, Brees, Stafford, Ryan and Cousins going off as the highest owned QBs, ranging from 9% to 20% ownership. In total these QBs grabbed around 65% of the ownership at the position with the rest being distributed to Wilson, Luck, Winston, Brady and a smattering of 2% ‘ers. We speculated that Vegas Odds would drive the ownership at QB and they definitely did.

At running back things were a combination of Vegas driven and value oriented as Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers, David Johnson, Mark Ingram and Thomas Rawls were the highest owned players in the Millionaire Maker. One value play whose ownership is worth noting is Rex Burkhead, who was just 7.5% in the Milly Maker, but went off at 20% in the large $333 Wildcat tournament. This is worth filing away as many times this year the chalk value has been obvious an highly owned across the board but this week 17 play was definitely enough to make the more casual player feel a little bit queasy. Burkhead was the biggest “sharp play” as quantified by the difference in his ownership at different buyin levels, a guy the DailyRoto projections loved, and someone who rewarded DFS players with a strong Week 17.

At wide receiver, and especially tight end, it was another week where you could gain a lot of leverage by pivoting off the popular option for the next in line. While Travis Kelce was out getting blasted on NYE, Zach Ertz was setting up to deliver the best performance of the week in a 40-point outing that was owned by just 11% of the field. With Kelce’s ownership hovering at 30-40%, it feels like a broken record and I wonder if the most profitable pivot on the year has been off of the chalk tight ends.  Given the ownership of quarterbacks, it isn’t surprising that guys like Jordy Nelson, Julio Jones, Golden Tate, Davante Adams, Doug Baldwin and Mike Evans ended up as double digit owned options. What perhaps is surprising is that 20% of the field chased the “Steve Smith retirement game” narrative and that it was chased even harder at the highest of stakes in DFS. I will let people lick those wounds without additional commentary.


The Playoffs! A Look Ahead.

If you have been degenerately playing all of the primetime, early, and late slates you are probably in pretty good shape to have positive expected value this weekend. After all, you are more intimately familiar with what happens on 4-game slates and what it takes to separate yourself from the pack. The rest of us heathens who are jumping into a 4-game slate can only rely on great ownership data and things like the WOAT to educate ourselves. By delving back into The Fantasy Fanatics ownership data we are able to get a better feel for how ownership will break down by exploring prime time and late slates. Leveraging this data we can find other slates with 4 games and a decent range of talents to make the following observations about the Wild Card slate.

  • QB: There are 8 options. Of these, Roethlisburger, Wilson, and Rodgers are playing at home as favorites with the highest team total. I would expect these QBs to soak up 70% of the ownership, with Stafford and Eli Manning grabbing another 8-10% or so each, and 10% spread across the likes of Matt Moore, Connor Cook and Brock Osweiler. The market has been fairly efficient at predicting good QB performances. While our QB value rankings are flatter than expected, you are still better off paying up at QB more often than not.
  • RB: We have seen RBs on short slates go off at nearly 70% ownership on multiple occasions. This seems inevitable with LeVeon Bell this weekend. Knowing that, it is also going to stuff more ownership down onto the likes of Zach Zenner, despite a matchup against the Seahawks that nobody would touch if not for the presence of Bell on this slate. This will spread out the ownership on backs like Ajayi, Miller, Rawls and Montgomery who have secure roles. There will be some ownership on Latavius Murray, and either Rashad Jennings or Paul Perkins, who at least have a path to outscore Zenner if they fall into the end zone. The decision at RB isn’t so much who is the best play, because it is clearly Bell, but whether you think enough expensive wide receivers will find the end zone to sacrifice the points he is guaranteed to bring.
  • WR and TE: Not quite as straight forward, but Antonio Brown should eclipse 50% ownership, followed by Jordy Nelson and Odell Beckham Jr. in the 30-40% range. From there ownership should drop to value guys like Devonte Adams, Jarvis Landry, Sterling Shephard, and Devonte Parker. On these small slates it is often just one wide receiver pivot that can separate teams and guys like DeAndre Hopkins, Golden Tate, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper have all flashed 100 yard multi-touchdown upside this season. Hitting just one play in this range can be enough to allow you to eat the short slate chalk everywhere else. At tight end, people will basically be choosing between Jimmy Graham, Ladarius Green, CJ Fiedorowicz and Jared Cook. The tradeoffs here are of course health, upside, and pricing.

As a final note, one of the best things about this DFS slate is that it is split between Saturday and Sunday. Why is that the best? Many people choose to “set it and forget it” with there rosters. You can gain an advantage, albeit small, in both cash games and GPPs by leveraging late swap. As news breaks on Sunday morning many people will feel they are already ahead, on the perfect team, or drawing dead with their lineups. Those that are willing to invest the time and energy into optimizing on news can benefit. Similarly, by doing small things like putting Sunday players in the FLEX position you can give yourself more flexibility. Be sure to check your teams Sunday morning to see where you may be drawing dead, playing with a lead or from behind.

Whether you turn into a nit on wild card weekend, play one lineup for fun, or roll out an onslaught of DFS teams, it should be a fun weekend of football and DFS. Just don’t be the WOAT out there.

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