This is the 164th installment of The Labyrinthian, a series dedicated to exploring random fields of knowledge to give you unordinary theoretical, philosophical, strategic, and/or often rambling guidance on daily fantasy sports. Consult the introductory piece to the series for further explanation.
Recently we’ve introduced the FantasyLabs Player Props Tool, which is perhaps the greatest Labs tool ever. We’re releasing some content in support of the Props Tool, as there is a variety of ways in which DFS players and sports bettors can use the tool to enhance their investments. For instance, you can use our Props Tool to invest against the players you fade in DFS.
In this piece I want to highlight another way the tool can be leveraged: To provide an alternative means of investing in players who are good but don’t make it into your DFS lineups.
The Bargain Rating Function
At FantasyLabs we have a Bargain Rating metric that shows how discounted a player is on DraftKings in comparison to FanDuel and vice versa. The metric is on a 1-100 scale, and it’s based on the historical correlations in pricing between the two sites. It allows DFS players to quantify the degree to which athletes provide value on particular sites, which in turn helps them know which DFS market to use when investing in those players.
You can see the Bargain Ratings for each player in our Models. As I’m writing this, it’s Sunday of Week 11. Vikings quarterback Case Keenum leads his position with a 99 percent Bargain Rating on DraftKings while Giants quarterback Eli Manning leads the position with a 71 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel. Based on these numbers, we can easily see that, if we wanted to invest in Keenum or Manning, we would be wise to consider rostering them respectively on DraftKings and FanDuel, where they provide the most value. We can also see that, in general, quarterbacks this week are priced up on FanDuel relative to DraftKings.
If you research with our Trends tool, you’ll notice that players with higher Bargain Ratings tend to outperform their salary-based expectations (as measured by our Plus/Minus metric). Similarly, players with lower Bargain Ratings tend to underperform expectations. In effect, Bargain Rating can help DFS players see which sites to use — and which sites not to use — when investing in players.
Ultimately, Bargain Rating highlights the value of playing DFS in multiple markets. Some people play almost exclusively on DraftKings or almost exclusively on FanDuel — and there are also some people who play almost exclusively on Yahoo! or FantasyDraft. The people who limit themselves to a single DFS site forgo opportunities. When you invest in multiple markets, you have the ability to arbitrage. You have the capability to shop for the best price, just as a sports bettor looks at multiple books before placing a bet. When you play in multiple DFS markets, you roster players where the value is. When you play on only one DFS site, you don’t have a full sense of what salaries should be and your investments tend not to be as sharp as they could be.
Basically, people who want to invest in particular professional athletes should always be monitoring and willing to invest in multiple DFS markets — and also the props market.
What Do You Do When There Is No Value?
Warren Buffett’s No. 1 rule is “Don’t lose money,” and he tries to keep that rule by investing in assets only when they are discounted. It’s a great best practice, and it makes sense. If Buffett buys stock in a company that he thinks is 20 percent cheaper than it should be, he has a better chance of those shares returning value (or at least not dropping in value) than he would if he had bought those shares where they should be priced. It always — always — makes sense to invest in assets only when our calculations suggest the assets are cheaper than they should be. In buying at a discount, we give ourselves a margin of error in case our calculations are wrong or the asset doesn’t perform as expected.
So what do you do when you like a player who isn’t available at a DFS discount? — a player who doesn’t have a high Bargain Rating at any site and who doesn’t have a high Projected Plus/Minus in our Models?
In this situation a lot of people will go against their better judgment and roster the player anyway because they want to be invested in him: They notice that he has a great matchup, and — price be damned! — they’re going to have some DFS fun by splurging! And some other people will have the discipline not to roster him, but then they’ll spend the rest of the slate regretting their decision and feeling as if they missed out.
To these people, I present our Props Tool.
Use the Props Tool
When a player offers no DFS value on DraftKings, FanDuel, etc., but is still desirable for a number of reasons then the intelligent sports investor should see if that player is investable on 5Dimes, Sportsbook.com, Bovada, BetOnline, Heritage, or other sportsbooks.
For some people DFS is a fun means through which they can play fantasy sports and have players they like in their lineups. That’s great. These people probably don’t need to venture into the props market (although if they enjoy fantasy sports they also might like the experience of having some action on individual players). For other people, DFS is an investment. It’s just one way through which they can leverage their knowledge and analytical skill set to make a profit. For these people, whenever the DFS market fails to offer value on quality assets then they should turn to the props market.
Example: In Week 11, Saints quarterback Drew Brees is at the Coors Field of fantasy football. There are a lot of reasons to like him. The Saints are implied for a slate-high 31.0 points as home favorites, and Brees has extreme home/road splits, but he isn’t especially cheap, and he has middling Bargain Ratings with good (but not great) Projected Plus/Minus values. Based on these factors and also potential roster construction issues, it would be reasonable for some DFS players to be underweight on him in guaranteed prize pools and not to roster him in cash games. To be clear: I’m not saying that in Week 11 Brees is a bad DFS investment. I’m saying that some DFS players through a series of reasoned decisions might have limited exposure to him.
In this situation, the props market is an excellent alternative means of investment. If you’re bullish on Brees in general but have limited DFS exposure to him, you can still get action on him through the Props Tool. Right now we have him projected for two touchdowns passing. If you sort by “Best Bet” in the tool, you can see that Brees has an available prop of 1.5 touchdowns at -225, which has been assigned a strong “Bet Quality” of 8 (on a 1-10 scale).
If you want to have exposure to Brees this weekend but haven’t felt comfortable with him in the DFS market, the props market is a consideration.
More to Come
Look for more pieces on our Props Tool and ways that DFS players can use it to enhance their sports investing avenues and to leverage the knowledge they already possess.
Be sure to check out the Props Tool and the rest of the Labs Tools for yourself. I’m sure you’ll be impressed with how quickly our site adds value to your DFS process.
The Labyrinthian: 2017.69, 164
Matthew Freedman is the Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs. He has a dog and sometimes a British accent. In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he’s known only as The Labyrinthian. Previous installments of the series can be accessed via the series archive.