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Intermediate NFL DFS: DVOA

We continue our breakdown of NFL DFS. In this section, we look at DVOA, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Aaron Donald #99 of The Los Angeles Rams speaks to teammates on the bench prior the beginning of the second half of a game against the Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 17, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Los Angeles Rams defeated the Chicago Bears 17 - 7. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In daily fantasy football, like in most things, getting the fundamentals down is integral toward laying a foundation of knowledge to build from as you progress as a player. For DFS, that means understanding how DVOA plays into your DFS strategy.

League selection

Definition

There are plenty of statistics out there that can help you in DFS, but DVOA is one that gives us a good overall view of multiple aspects of offenses and defenses. DVOA was developed by Football Outsiders and stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. It “calculates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the season, then calculates how much more or less successful each team is compared to the league average.”

Adding context to statistics is one way to give them better projecting power and DVOA has shown to be one of the more predictive statistics.

Strategy

Offensive & defensive line

Football Outsiders uses DVOA in multiple ways, but one that gets a lot of attention is offensive and defensive line statistics. Studying the NFL for DFS inherently pushes us to focus on offensive skill players. They touch the ball and accumulate counting stats that seem easy to understand, whereas line play is complicated and time consuming. That’s where DVOA comes into play.

You can find offensive line DVOA here and defensive line DVOA here. There are many ways they break down how effective the line play is, but adjusted sack rate is one of the most useful. Seeing how team offensive lines stack up to their opponent’s defensive lines in adjusted sack rate gives us a good idea of who should come out on top in the trenches, which is extremely important for both the running and passing games.

Defensive efficiency ratings

DVOA also helps us look at overall defensive efficiency against the pass and run. You can see those efficiency numbers here. You can see that the Buccaneers led the league in DVOA against the run while the Patriots led against the pass. That won’t surprise anyone, but overall, DVOA cuts out noise from a matchup that isn’t useful for predicting future play.

When looking at game matchups, you can get a good idea of how strong each defense is against the run and pass, which might show you which avenue an offense might take in game planning. And it will also give you a good idea of a defenses weakness.