NFL DFS DraftKings Conference Championship Simulations: Tired or Wired
I’ve switched things up for the Conference Championship Round. Instead of providing the raw and value probabilities this week, I ran 20,000 simulations, accounting for team and opponent correlations, and found the optimal lineup within each of those simulations.
In the spirit of the “Tired-Wired” meme, I will dig into all of the optimal lineup combinations, while also paying attention to the most common lineups. Using that information, I will label strategies as either “tired” (something we take for granted that may or may not be true) or “wired” (the galaxy brain version of the same concept).
Tired: Max 2 Skill Players Versus Your DST
In the DailyRoto Optimizer, you have the ability to set how many players you want to allow in a lineup against the DST you’re using in that lineup. What should you set that at?
Our default setting in the DR opto for this is 0, which is geared towards main slates where there are generally enough options that you don’t need to take a skill player against your defense. On short slates, it’s common to increase this to 1 or 2, but most people generally stop there. After all, if a stack is going off, the defense is probably doing poorly.
Wired: No Max DvO
You’d be surprised to find that the correlation between defenses and opposing skill players isn’t as high as you’d think.
One of the more logical explanations is how fantasy scoring works. On DraftKings, full PPR scoring and bonuses for yardage make it possible for teams in negative game scripts to rack up solid fantasy value, despite good production from the opposing defense. Conversely, opposing defenses generally rack up fantasy value via sacks, turnovers, and, if they are lucky, touchdowns. The points allowed aspect is vastly overrated. In the most common of outcomes (a defense allows between 14 and 34 points), the swing in fantasy points is a whopping 2 points. A defense allowing 14 points gets a bonus of 1 DraftKings point while a defense allowing 34 points gets -1 DraftKings points.
One of the more galaxy brain explanations is exemplified by Patrick Mahomes. He actually has a large, positive correlation with opposing defenses for the past two seasons. At first glance, this makes no sense, but as you think through the scenarios, you start to understand why. In general, all games Mahomes plays the opposing defenses don’t perform well. As a result, in the games they are lucky enough to score a fluke TD or register 1 or 2 turnovers, they are going to finish among the highest DST scorers against Mahomes. Meanwhile, getting Mahomes in a negative game script, where he’s still highly efficient due to his skill and supporting cast, accomplishes a scorched earth KC offense approach where they get more up tempo and pass happy – all things that lead to higher scores from Mahomes.
Last week’s game against Houston was an outlier, but it was a good example of this scenario. Houston jumped to a 24-0 lead on the heels of a blocked punt TD and another turnover, which was followed by a Mahomes trouncing. Additionally, because it was such a small slate, the Houston defense, despite allowing 51 points, was the highest-scoring defense on the 2-game slate at the cheapest price tag.
Between the volatility of such a small slate and the market overrating and misunderstanding the correlation between defenses and opposing skill players, it makes sense not to restrict your possible lineup combinations here. Does this mean I am going to try to build stacks against my defense? Of course, not, but in my MME runs, it’s not something I will disallow, particularly in the case of Mahomes against the Titans.
The Titans defense appears in our optimal sims lineups about 35-40% of the time (depending on how you filter things); they appear in Mahomes optimal lineups about 30% of the time. Interestingly enough, that number does not reduce when looking at Mahomes teams that are game onslaughts (have 5+ skill players from the game), likely in part due to the higher cost of the higher upside KC players.