CFL DFS Strategy: Receiving Efficiency
If DraftKings offered to pay you One Million Canadian dollars in a CFL Millionaire Maker this week instead of US dollars would you take it? It might be the polite Canadian thing to do, but you’d have to be a worse money manager than Goldman Sachs to do that deal, because we know that not all dollars are equal.
In the uncharted territory of CFL DFS, very few helpful stats and even fewer helpful metrics existed coming into this season. Back a few weeks ago Chris Kay started to dig into some of the data to try to find some standard of value with his wide receiver price per target article. It was a quick way to find value in a wasteland of advanced metrics. Unfortunately, not all targets are created equal as evidenced by Bryan Burnham’s scorching 12.57 yards/target versus Shamawd Chambers shameful 5.92 yards/target. They’ll both get you about six targets a game, but it’s obvious who you want. Right?
Well Shamawd will only cost you $560/target, while Burnham will cost you a whopping $1033/target. So now, you being the bright young whipper-snapper that you are, you say to yourself, “Self, that Chambers is the guy for me! I’ll minimize my opportunity costs and win all my cash games!” I’m here to tell you not to fall for that Sham like the Roughriders did.
While we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, it should be obvious to any football fan, that not all receiving targets are. Burnham is certainly a better play even with his inflated price per target ($/tar) opportunity cost because what he does with his targets is far more valuable. But how do we measure that you say? Enter the Target Efficiency Score!
Our original attempt at a metric gave us a $/tar price to work from. This time we’re coming at it from the opposite direction and looking at how many targets you’re getting per dollar and then factoring in yards per target as well: [(Targets per game/$) x Yards per Target] x 1000. Multiplying by 1000 just gives us a much more workable number. Come let me show you how it works:
Shamawd Chambers [(6.3/3500) x 5.92] x 1000 = 10.57
Bryan Burnham [(6.0/6200) x 12.57] x 1000 = 12.17
Hopefully this will give us a better picture of what we’re actually paying for. There’s certainly more to a receivers worth than just yardage in DraftKings scoring, but receptions and touchdowns are much harder to predict. We’re looking purely at opportunity costs here to find value, but also hopefully work towards giving a better valuation of the receiver position overall by adding some valuation of what a receiver does with the targets they get. I’ve left Dionte Spencer out of the data set for now as he has only played one game and got a whopping 19 targets. He’s still likely to be a good play, but not that good. If you’re interested in chasing points, I’ll just sit here and yell “STATISTICAL REGRESSION!” from the cash line. Let’s take a look at the top five and bottom five scores:
Looking at the full page of data bears out much of the same results, that high targets with a high price can still be very efficient (Roosevelt), high targets with a high price can be very inefficient (Fantuz), that mid-priced receivers who do a lot with the targets they get can give you great value (Burnham/Gore), and that low target guys with low prices are rarely worth it even as punt plays (Parker/Watson). That final group is pretty much touchdown dependent.
One of the most interesting things to come out of the data is just how inefficient Ernest Jackson is despite all the buzz around him upon Henry Burris’ return. His scoring is pretty much entirely touchdown dependent and as such is completely worth ignoring in cash games. On the other hand, Naaman Roosevelt, despite a couple poor outings in a row, is still a great value at his price. Certainly, you should be targeting Bryan Burnham this week as a great value against a Calgary defence he has found some success against in the past.
The Target Efficiency Score, also works effectively at letting you know touchdown dependent a player is to reach value on any given week compared to their DraftKings salary. It’s a relatively young sport, but as a general rule, you’ll need about 120 points to get to the cash line in a double-up. This means you need about 2.4 x player salary to reach the cash line from each player. If you can build a lineup from players that reach close to their expected value on their receiving yardage alone, you are well on your way to cashing that week: any touchdowns they score are a bonus and not a necessity as such.
The middle of the data set shows some pretty good groupings of players you’d expect to see together based on production and salary which tells me we’re on to something here. We’ll have the entire chart available for viewing in the CFL DFS Week 10 thread in the The Forum, which by the way, you really should be joining and participating in. Good luck this week!