There are certain terms in daily fantasy sports that you have probably heard thrown around quite a bit. The three that we are going to focus on in this article are upside, consistency and risk. Here is a quick definition of each term and how it relates to DFS.
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Upside is another word for a player’s fantasy potential. It is basically the maximum fantasy output that we can expect from an individual player. The higher the upside for a player, the more likely it is for him to have a big fantasy outing. A player’s upside is also referred to as his ceiling, meaning his maximum potential fantasy output. Upside is often used to describe players that are appealing options in tournaments.
Consistency is a player’s ability to adhere to the same form, night in and night out. In other words, we know what to expect from a player that is consistent, as he provides similar fantasy production on a nightly basis. Consistency is also used when talking about a player’s floor, which is used to describe the lowest projected fantasy output of an individual player. A player that is consistent and has a high floor makes a great target in cash games.
Risk is often associated with the term upside, but the two aren’t the same. A player can have a lot of upside, yet that doesn’t mean that he is necessarily a risky play. There are numerous risks that we can take in daily fantasy basketball and all focus on being able to differentiate our lineups from the rest of the field. Taking big risks is better suited for tournaments than it is for cash games.
Applying the Terms
The terms above are all important to understand, as they lead us back to the philosophical differences between cash games and tournaments. In cash games, we generally want to target players that pass the eye test. They should be priced fairly, they should have a favorable matchup and they should be productive on a nightly basis. We can certainly target players with upside, but only if the player passes the other tests as well. We want predictability in cash games, which is why consistency is such an important term. We need to know what we can expect from each of our players, as we only need to beat out 50 percent of the field in cash games.
In tournaments, the main goal is to build a lineup that has the potential to beat out every other lineup in the field. Tournaments have top-heavy payout structures that require huge scores in order to cash on a consistent basis. This is where the terms upside and risk both come into play. The key to tournament play is to be able to differentiate your lineups in order to set yourself apart from the competition.
Two strategies that I like to employ in tournaments are to target contrarian players with upside and to fade the players that I expect to be popular. When you target a player that is going to be a contrarian pick, he has the ability to give your lineup an edge on the competition, as he is likely won’t be selected by a lot of people. If he has a big game, your lineup will be one of the select few that benefits. The same can be said for fading players that are expected to be popular. If that player has a bad fantasy outing and is 50% owned by the field, you can immediately get an advantage on half of the field.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Notorious) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.