Daily Fantasy Sports team optimizing - NFL Football Mathematics Part 1

Daily Fantasy Sports just seems to get hotter every week. agrees with the 40+ State Attorney Generals that it is a game of skill.  To win you need to identify lopsided matchups, pick players who are hot, read and evaluate team injury reports, grasp how your fantasy site weights the stats and in general be a fan of the game.   There are lots of sites and twitter feeds that follow each sport in detail to help you with all of these.
But there is one more critical factor in daily fantasy sports that this article addresses : Daily Fantasy Mathematical Strategy.  You really need to understand the value of any player in the context of the salary that the daily fantasy site has assigned that player.  You will have to pick a team that meets a salary cap which means picking a team that generates the most scoring points per dollar  you have control over.
This article will look at one site and sport - NFL - and outline some of the mathematics of selecting the optimal team of players within a salary cap.  It is more complex than it appears.

Daily Fantasy Sports team optimizing - NFL Football Mathematics Part 2

In Daily Fantasy Strategy part 1, we described that when you have a choice, always pick players with the highest potential fantasy points per (salary - floor)  that you can afford.  Be aware of the salary floor and divide out what you think the points per effective salary return will be.


Above we have a table showing this calculation for NFL teams that have generated at least 8 fantasy points per game.  The Fantasy Salary is converted to Salary $100 by subtracting the floor salary and dividing by 100.  The value calculation is then fantasy points per token.



Daily Fantasy Sports team optimizing – NFL Mathematics Part 4 – Using VORP Value Over Replacement Player

Daily Fantasy Sport Team Ladder Line with VORP

In part 3, we showed that the Ladder Line provides an easy to visualize graph of how your team is coming together by showing the incremental salary on the X (horizontal) axis and the average points per game on the Y (vertical) axis.  The value (reference part 1 and part 2 ) is the slope of each segment.


An optimized Daily Fantasy Team is the team that gives the maximum number of expected fantasy points for a given salary cap.  When the team is displayed on a Ladder Line, you should be looking for a curve that has a steady or consistent  slope for each player segment. 


However, to get the ladder line as flat as possible we have to borrow a method from the baseball analyst’s field of Sabremetrics : Value over Replacement Player (VORP)


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Daily Fantasy Sports team optimizing – NFL Football Mathematics Part 3 - The Ladder Line

The most important aspect of Daily Fantasy Sports is managing your budget within the salary cap to ensure you are getting maximum value for the salary tokens you have available ( See part 1 and part 2 for how to calculate player value ).


To build a winning team you must be able to picture how your team is coming together on your overall goal of getting the most points for your team.  A Ladder Line – sometimes also called a waterfall chart or an accumulator display – is an important tool to evaluate how one team compares to another. 


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