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DFS Soccer Strategy: A guide to using Sportsbook odds

DFS Soccer Strategy: A guide to using Sportsbook odds
galindragiev
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DFS Soccer Strategy: A guide to using Sportsbook odds

One thing I reference often in my DFS soccer strategy columns are chances of an event happening as calculated from sportsbook odds. Sportsbooks are in the business of predicting player and team performance, and it’s imperative they do it correctly every week. Because of that, it’s generally a good place to start when doing your weekly research. I’ll walk you through calculating chances of events happening, as well as a few other research quirks, and highlight a few ways these chances can be used to create quality fantasy lineups.

Let’s start off with calculating chances to win, the most important event in daily fantasy soccer.

Calculating Win Percentages

Here’s an example of odds as provided by SkyBet for an upcoming match, in fractional format:

Result

Odds

Liverpool Win 1/1
Draw 13/5
Southampton Win 13/5

To calculate to chances of each event happening, we use the following formula for each result:

Chances = 1/(1 + Odds)

 *This equation is different if using Decimal or US Odds. The equation would be:
Chances = 1/(Odds) if you were using Decimal odds.

Result

Chances

Liverpool Win (A) 0.50
Draw (B) 0.278
Southampton Win (C) 0.278

We now have the chances for all three results. One thing you may notice is that the three chances don’t add up to 1 even though they should. That’s because sportsbook are giving themselves better chances at making a profit. You can think of it as a rake of sorts. To remove that bias from the results, we normalize the chances. To normalize means to “return to a normal condition”, which in our case means a sum of all chances equaling to 1.0, or 100%.

In order to do that, we use the following formula for all three cases:
Normalized Chances of A = Chances of A / (Chances of A + Chances of B + Chances of C)

In this case, that would be:
Normalized chances of a Liverpool Win = A / (A + B + C)

We substitute in the numbers and get the normalized chances as:
0.5 / (0.5 + 0.278 + 0.278)  = 0.47 Normalized Chances of a Liverpool Win.

Doing the same for the other two events, we get:

Result

Normalized Chances

Liverpool Win (CLV) 0.473
Draw (CD) 0.263
Southampton Win (CSW) 0.263

These are now the true chances of each event happening and as you can see, they now add up to 1.0. You can multiply them all by 100 to get the percentages.

Why are Win Odds Useful?

Now that we know how to calculate win percentages, let’s get to WHY they’re useful in daily fantasy soccer.

The win odds are obviously quite beneficial in determining what goalkeeper to play as there is a five point bonus for the goalkeepers. But beyond that, win odds can be a predictor for a number of statistics in soccer.

We have data to check that. So let’s take a look at how the shots and shots on target increase as the chances to win get larger.


Home Chances to Win (%)

Home Shots

Home SOT

0-20 12 3.88
20-40 12.2 3.92
40-60 15.1 4.92
60-80 18.1 6.7
80-100 21.2 7.28

*Data from EPL Season 2014-2015 acquired from http://www.football-data.co.uk/data.php.


This table shows that as a team’s chance to win increase, the shots and shots on target increase substantially. This is one of the biggest reasons why I always recommend players from winning teams. They aren’t just more likely to score, they’re a lot more likely to shoot, which increases their floor substantially.

Take a look at the info in chart form.

Soccer_Odds1

There is a clear trend that a team’s shots increase as their winning percentages increase. Also important to note is that as a team’s chances to win increase, their opponents’ shots decrease.

Soccer_odds2

These are examples of shots and shots against, but goals, corners, and crosses exhibit similar behavior. Looking at the win odds in soccer is quite important, and it can help you a lot more than the betting line or over/under in an NBA game.

Other Odds

Calculating the clean sheet chances follows a similar process.

Look at the odds of a clean sheet in the hypothetical match we discussed above:

Event

Odds

Liverpool Clean Sheet 13/8
Southampton Clean Sheet 3/1

Calculating the chances following the formula (1) from earlier:

Event

Chances

Liverpool Clean Sheet 0.38
Southampton Clean Sheet 0.25

But here, normalization has to be done differently, because these events are not mutually exclusive. They’re actually completely independent! So what we have to do here is get a little tricky. In order to normalize the chances of a Liverpool clean sheet, we need to look at the chances of them getting a clean sheet and the odds of them NOT getting a clean sheet, which in the bookies’ minds is looked at as the odds for Southampton scoring 1+ Goals. The odds of Southampton scoring 1+ goals are 4/9.

Event

Chances

Liverpool Clean Sheet (X) 0.38
Southampton to Score 1+ Goals (Y) 0.69  (as calculated from Odds = 4/9)

This, we CAN normalize, just as we did above.

Normalized Liverpool Clean Sheet = X / (X+Y)

Normalizing these two, we get an updated table:

Event

Chances

Liverpool Clean Sheet 0.36
Southampton to Score 1+ Goals 0.64

Clean sheets are not as important as they used to be on DraftKings, as now the bonus for a clean sheet is just three points for defenders, but there’s still value in chasing clean sheets as the bonus for goalkeepers is five points and a mini defensive stack can yield as high as 11 bonus points if you play the goalkeeper and two of his defenders. Those 11 bonus points shouldn’t be ignored.

Total Goals Over/Under

Another useful tool is looking at a series of Over/Unders given by the sportsbooks. The site I like using here is www.bet365.com, as I find them to have a good selection of over/under bets.  The most obvious over/under is for goals.

Let’s look at a sample Aston Villa – Arsenal match and see the odds given for the over/under total goals for each team.

Soccer_Odds3

Here, we can use these odds to calculate the chances once again, and we can normalize fairly easily as the over/under of a team is mutually exclusive.

To show you an example:

Result

Odds

Chances

Normalized Chances

Arsenal Over 1.5 4/6 0.60 0.56
Arsenal Under 1.5 11/10 0.48 0.44

Looking at this, we see Arsenal has a 56% of scoring 2 goals or more (the equivalent of over 1.5 goals).

Similarly:

Result

Odds

Chances

Normalized Chances

Aston Villa Over 1.5 3.33 0.23 0.22
Aston Villa Under 1.5 0.2 0.83 0.78

Aston Villa, on the other hand, has a 78% chance of scoring 1 goal or less. We obviously would want to invest in Arsenal’s attack here. This one is quite the extreme example, since almost anyone will tell you to invest in Arsenal’s attack over Aston Villa’s, but looking at the odds for total goals can tell you whether to invest more heavily in Arsenal’s attack or another team that’s also highly favored in a different match. Different styles of play and different matchups will generally give one game a better chance of being high scoring.

Corner Kicks

An over/under I really like looking at is corner kicks. Corner kick takers have quite a high floor in daily fantasy, and a corner kick taker on a team with a high number of expected corners will have quite good fantasy value. Definitely look at the over/under of corners when considering who to put in your fantasy lineup. They can be found on www.bet365.com.

To Win To Nil

This is referred to as a team’s chances to win and keep a clean sheet. A win and a clean sheet is a total of ten bonus points for the goalkeeper, so goalkeepers whose team has a high chance of a win to nil are generally good plays.

Goal Scorers

Sportsbooks give odds on how likely a player is to score. With goals worth ten fantasy points on DraftKings, I hope you see how this can be helpful.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below or on Twitter.  I generally tweet out DFS EPL and NBA news when I think they are being overlooked by other outlets and I always try to answer any questions you guys may have!  Also keep an eye out for a big DraftKings tourney in the next EPL slate on Wednesday, January 13th. The prices are already out and we’ll have a slate specific piece coming up early next week. Good luck!

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