FanDuel World Cup Daily Fantasy Soccer: How Scoring Changes Impact Strategy
The World Cup is right around the corner, and FanDuel is offering daily fantasy contests for the world's biggest sporting event. For the entirety of the tournament, there will be a main slate on each day that there's a match, and the World Cup spans from June 14th to July 15th, with at least one match every day from June 14th through June 28th.
FanDuel has offered Premier League DFS the past two club seasons, but scoring has gotten a facelift for the World Cup. It's a condensed scoring system, with several previously-scored categories dropping out altogether while some other got minor tweaks. FanDuel will carry this system into the next Premier League campaign, so now is the time to get acclimated.
Let's peep the changes and try to get a feel for how they will impact soccer DFS as we know it.
Here's a list of all the changes, allowing you to compare the previous scoring format to the new one. To be clear, this is a list of only the modifications, not a complete scoring guide -- you can find that here -- so things like goals (15 points), assists (7) and clean sheets for keepers (10) are still scored and will be treated the same. Roster sizes are the same, as well, as it's still two forwards, three midfielders, two defenders and one goalie. (Single-game contests will consist of five-man lineups with a captain slot, where that player's points are multiplied by 1.5, but we're covering the settings for only the full-roster, multi-match slates in this piece.)
|Stat||Old Format||New Format|
|5 Successful Passes||0.25||N/A|
|Missed Penalty Kick||-5.0||N/A|
|Goalie Goal Against||-1.0||-2.5|
|Goalie Saved Penalty||6.0||N/A|
|Goalie Win Bonus||N/A||7.0|
|Defenders Clean Sheet||N/A||5.0|
Quite the list, huh?
There's a lot to get to here, but the overall theme is a rise in value for defenders while holding midfielders lose most of their shine. And goalies just became a lot more important (insert your own Liverpool Champions League final joke).
Let's check out how each position is impacted.
Defenders and Midfielders
FanDuel has wiped out all of the negative scoring categories except for goals conceded for keepers, which has actually been increased (but we'll get to goalies later). Yellow cards, red cards and own goals will no longer result in a deduction for players. Defenders and defensive-minded midfielders, such as Casemiro, are the big winners here as they are the players most likely to record cards and own goals. That should boost the floor for all players at those positions as well as move them closer to deep-lying (or any non-attacking) midfielders in terms of overall scoring ability.
In addition to that, the value of deep-lying midfielders gets dinged even more by the removal of passing points. In the old format, high-volume passers who had the ball at their feet a lot -- think Kevin De Bruyne and Christian Eriksen -- offered a fairly safe floor. That's not the case anymore. Midfielders who often get forward into attacking areas, like Isco and Philippe Coutinho, will still be dripping in upside thanks to the goal-scoring opportunities they'll be involved in. But for holding midfielders, players such as Jordan Henderson and Toni Kroos, who dictate pace and initiate attacks but don't amass many goals or assists, they don't bring a whole lot to the table anymore.
So, when you couple not having to worry about defenders losing points via cards and own goals with players no longer getting rewarded for passes, ostensibly, the value of holding midfielders takes a pretty big hit with the new format. Since midfielders are usually more expensive than defenders, especially center-backs, it's going to be hard to stomach paying up for any midfielder who isn't involved heavily in his team's attacks. On the flip side, defenders who are expected to be busy defensively, guys who already offered a decent floor in the old system, become even more enticing.
Defenders get yet one more boost with the addition of clean-sheet points for any goalie or defender who plays a full 90 minutes on a team that records a shutout. Obviously, this rewards guys on the best teams, and the best way to gauge a team's odds of getting a clean sheet will be by using our game projections as a supplement to Vegas lines. Five points is no laughing matter, folks. It's one-third of a goal (15.0) and nearly as much as an assist (7.0).
Full-backs such as Marcelo, Joshua Kimmich and Jordi Alba, defenders who spend a lot of time in the attacking half, already offered rare upside for the position. Now that's taken a step further. Attacking-minded full-backs or wing-backs on good teams will offer both goal-creation chances as well as solid clean-sheet odds -- aka upside for days -- making them a rare breed among defenders.
In general, this is another thing that ups the value of all defenders, and when you add it to everything we've mentioned above, defenders are clearly the position that gains the most importance via the new scoring system.
In the old system, goalies were something of an afterthought. Their pricing was typically bunched up, and the scoring system didn't place a ton of importance on the position, with a really good outing and a "meh" showing not differing too much in point total. For the most part, it was a place to save money and hope for the best so you could pay up for the outfield players you wanted.
Well, throw that thinking in the trash can.
Goalies now get a whopping seven points for a win as long as they play all 90 minutes, which would likely only be an issue in the case of an injury since goalies hardly ever get subbed off. This is a massive change, and it guarantees us that at least one goalie will get a seven-point bonus at the end of every match in the knockout stages (teams can tie in group play). That's going to be a significant swing.
Keepers on top teams will get a big lift here, especially in matches in which they are a big favorite. But this will also give a nice lift to cheaper goalies on lower-end teams when they are up against a bad opponent, since they may be able to get a win. And at the risk of getting into too much game theory, those low-end keepers probably won't see much ownership on slates where one of the top-notch keepers is a big favorite, so if you can find a low-cost goalie who racks up saves and his team pulls an upset, it could catapult your roster up the standings.
While they will now certainly be more crucial to winning lineups, keepers do lose two point-scoring opportunities. No longer do they get points for saving a penalty, which, even though it doesn't come into play often, was worth six big points in the previous system. And they also won't get any points from passing. It may seem minor, but for keepers on teams who play out from the back -- David de Gea comes to mind -- it's a blow.
Forwards and attacking midfielders survived the scoring switch with their values pretty much intact, as goals are still going to be the big decider in DFS.
If anything, the new settings actually help forwards, particularly poachers who don't rack up many passes and weren't getting points that way in the old format. And for guys who take penalties, no longer will players be docked 5.0 points for a missed pen.
The only other thing to note here -- and it's minor -- is that players no longer receive a half-point for drawing a foul. That has a slight impact on the playmakers and guys most likely to be fouled -- dudes like Neymar, Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are wizards on the ball -- but that's a loss of only one or two points per match, at most. Neymar, the leader in fouls drawn per match in last season's Champions League, was fouled just 4.0 times per contest.
When there are as many changes as this, it can be tough to wrap our mind around it all, and admittedly, we could be a few days into the tourney until we get a real grip on how all these changes affect the landscape.
But as of now, it sure looks like defenders and defensive midfielders get a boost in value while goalies have become a lot more vital. On the flip side, deep-lying midfielders who used to generate a decent chunk of their value from passing volume lose a lot of their luster, while forwards and attacking midfielders are as valuable as ever.
Austan Kas is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austan Kas also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username akas247. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.