DFS Soccer Strategy: Changes in the DraftKings Soccer Platform
As you all have probably heard already, DraftKings completely revamped their soccer platform last week. They made changes in both roster sizes and scoring in an attempt to improve their product using user recommendations. I’m happy to see the changes, especially since I was a huge proponent for some of them. Below is a look at the new scoring rules.
In terms of scoring, many things are left the same, with the biggest change being the addition of tackles won, passes intercepted, yellow cards, and fouls conceded to the scoring list. Fouls drawn are now 1.0 points instead of 0.75, while clean sheets for defenders are decreased to just 3 points. Goalkeeper scoring is untouched, but DraftKings has not clarified whether or not goalkeepers can earn rare offensive stats. A fairly sizable change is that crosses can now be earned from corner kicks as well as open play, so corner kick takers get a decent bump in floor.
A big difference is that DraftKings have now changed stats providers. They’ve moved onto OPTA, which is the gold standard in soccer statistics. The good news here is that we now have clarity in what each stat means, which can be found here. On top of that, a lot of soccer stat aggregators like WhoScored and Squawka use OPTA stats, which will now line up with DraftKings scoring. WhoScored in particular has a wide array of statistics that will be helpful.
But back to the scoring itself, the most important question we need to answer is how much do the new stats matter. Let’s take a look first at how defenders earned their points using the new scoring, but done with data from last year to give us a good enough sample size. Stats that award negative points are not represented here, as they are extremely unpredictable and rare. The only one that should be taken into account when making lineup choices is fouls committed, while the others can be safely ignored.
Defenders in the New Scoring System
The thing that pops out first for me is that tackles won and interceptions account for a total of 37% of defender scoring using the new scoring system. That’s huge, and what it implies is that there will be changes in how we approach defender selection from now on.
Take a look at how defenders earned their points in the old scoring format.
Defenders in the Old Scoring System
In the old scoring, clean sheets and crosses ruled everything, and if you’ve been reading our content this year, you know that crossing-fullbacks with a good chance at a clean sheet were automatic picks week in and week out. Things have now changed. Clean sheets are only 13% of the scoring, and I’ll go ahead and argue that they won’t be important for defenders in the new scoring format. It’s very rare that a team has a clean sheet chance of over 50%, and that results in 1.5 expected points for defenders, which isn’t very much. Clean sheets will basically be used as a tiebreaker between players for me going forward – they help, but they’re not that important.
For cash games, the most important thing would be finding defenders who cross, tackle, and intercept passes. Some guys that stand out to me immediately are:
- Erik Pieters
- Jordan Amavi
- Robbie Brady
- Cedric Soares
- Kyle Walker
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but these are all guys that triple-dip in all three categories. The scoring changes also give players that don’t cross a chance at value. Center backs are no long extinct!
Look at some defenders that excelled in interceptions and tackles last year.
Interceptions per match
Tackles per match
|Ritchie de Laet||2.7||2.4|
This isn’t exactly great upside, and these guys are not going to be options every week, but we haven’t been able to even consider a center back in any game-type so far. They are now at least in the conversation. Don’t get me wrong, full-backs still rule, by a huge margin, but there will be instances where center backs will be in play.
Midfielders Scoring in the New Scoring System
Midfielders haven’t changed as much as defenders, mainly because the majority of their contributions come from the old scoring categories. Crosses still dominate and are the best source of “floor points”, while shots are a solid way to get points as well. Interceptions and tackles here can be a bit misleading. Let me explain why. A big amount of the interceptions and tackles are from defensive midfielders, who don’t generally have the upside of goals and assists, so your wingers and attacking midfielders will not be effected as much as this chart suggests. Some midfielders with medium-to-high interception and tackle numbers that also have goal upside are:
- Yohan Cabaye
- Santi Cazorla
- Aaron Ramsey
- Adam Lallana
- Cesc Fabregas
Again, this is not an all-comprehensive lists, it’s more of an example of some players to target in the upcoming weeks. Tackles won and interceptions data can be found on WhoScored as noted above.
Another big thing that I believe went largely unnoticed was DraftKings’ change of how they define crosses. Corner kicks now count towards crosses, which is an extremely predictable way to earn points. Corner kick takers will always earn a few points per match from simply being on corner duty, and for some, that averages out to 4-5 points per match. That’s HUGE in cash games. Here are the corner kick leaders so far this season:
Two names pop up here: Dimitri Payet and Yohan Cabaye. Payet is so far ahead of everyone else, this change gives a good player a huge boost to make him an absolute stud. Cabaye stands out because we saw him on a previous list, the one about midfielders with goal upside that get tackles and interceptions. To put this in perspective, Cabaye is the second best player at any position in interceptions per match, while coming in 13th in tackles at 3.5 per match. That’s a good floor for someone who is also on penalty duty and free-kick duty. Ride him in cash games until his price increases, even in questionable matchups.
One thing to keep in mind is that some teams only have one corner kick taker while other alternate depending on which side the corner kick is on. Great value can be had if one of those guys is out. Follow corner kick trends as the season progresses, as value can certainly be found there. There is a frequently updated list of corner kick takers here.
Forwards Scoring the in New Scoring System
I don’t want to say that forwards’ scoring hasn’t changed much but the truth is that it hasn’t. Tackles won and interceptions account for a total of 12% of their scoring in the current format and they absolutely dominate with goals, shots, and shots on target accounting for over 60% of their points. Keep going for upside here.
I hope you found this helpful. There are certainly some scoring changes that will impact our decision making, with the biggest changes being in the defender and midfielder positions. Feel free to discuss in the comments below or ask questions on Twitter! Best of luck!