Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: Taking Advantage of DraftKings' Dynamic Pricing
DraftKings NBA player salaries have fluctuated throughout the season for a number of variables, with one being the perceived strength of their opponents. We tend to see a player's price rise or fall due to a certain matchup, and seeing a change of about $200 or so isn't enough to impact our strategy -- we still look to avoid players in difficult matchups because the price drop is seemingly insignificant.
The substantial discounts were most evident with players priced above $6,000. Those priced below this value seemed to receive the standard discount (about $200). In contrast, many of those priced above $6,000 received salary discounts upwards of $700.
Here is a table showing every player priced above $6,000 that faced off against the Grizzlies and Jazz this past week. Included is each player's average price in his four games prior to the drop.
|Date||Player||Opponent||Salary||Avg. Price (Last 4)||Price Discount|
|8-Jan||G. Hayward||@ MEM||$7,100||$7,825||9.27%|
|8-Jan||R. Gobert||@ MEM||$6,600||$7,275||9.28%|
|8-Jan||M. Conley||v. UTA||$6,700||$6,525||-2.68%|
|8-Jan||M. Gasol||v. UTA||$7,000||$7,925||11.67%|
|7-Jan||Z. Lavine||v. UTA||$6,100||$6,475||5.79%|
|7-Jan||A. Wiggins||v. UTA||$6,000||$6,825||12.09%|
|7-Jan||K. Towns||v. UTA||$8,700||$9,450||7.94%|
|6-Jan||S. Curry||v. MEM||$8,500||$8,350||-1.80%|
|6-Jan||K. Durant||v. MEM||$9,400||$9,800||4.08%|
|6-Jan||D. Green||v. MEM||$7,500||$7,550||0.66%|
|6-Jan||K. Thompson||v. MEM||$6,400||$6,525||1.92%|
|5-Jan||K. Lowry||v. UTA||$7,800||$8,475||7.96%|
|5-Jan||D. Derozan||v. UTA||$7,200||$8,175||11.93%|
|4-Jan||D. Jordan||v. MEM||$7,000||$7,175||2.44%|
|3-Jan||I. Thomas||v. UTA||$7,400||$7,850||5.73%|
|3-Jan||A. Horford||v. UTA||$6,200||$6,700||7.46%|
|3-Jan||J. Randle||v. MEM||$6,400||$6,150||-4.07%|
The average discount amongst the 17 players analyzed came out to 5.46%. Roughly half of these players (8 of 17) experienced a discount greater than 7.5%. Surprisingly, three players (Mike Conley , Stephen Curry, and Julius Randle) experienced a price increase relative to their previous four games.
How These Players Fared
Now that we have seen a clear decline in their prices, we must analyze whether the discounts warrant rostering such players. Let's look at how they fared against their difficult matchups.
|Date||Player||Opponent||Salary||Actual DK Points||Value|
|8-Jan||G. Hayward||@ MEM||$7,100||35.25||4.96|
|8-Jan||R. Gobert||@ MEM||$6,600||30.25||4.58|
|8-Jan||M. Conley||v. UTA||$6,700||36.5||5.45|
|8-Jan||M. Gasol||v. UTA||$7,000||28.5||4.07|
|7-Jan||Z. Lavine||v. UTA||$6,100||43.75||7.17|
|7-Jan||A. Wiggins||v. UTA||$6,000||28.25||4.71|
|7-Jan||K. Towns||v. UTA||$8,700||39.25||4.51|
|6-Jan||S. Curry||v. MEM||$8,500||58.5||6.88|
|6-Jan||K. Durant||v. MEM||$9,400||54.75||5.82|
|6-Jan||D. Green||v. MEM||$7,500||31.5||4.20|
|6-Jan||K. Thompson||v. MEM||$6,400||28.5||4.45|
|5-Jan||K. Lowry||v. UTA||$7,800||55||7.05|
|5-Jan||D. Derozan||v. UTA||$7,200||40.25||5.59|
|4-Jan||D. Jordan||v. MEM||$7,000||47.5||6.79|
|3-Jan||I. Thomas||v. UTA||$7,400||62||8.38|
|3-Jan||A. Horford||v. UTA||$6,200||36.25||5.85|
|3-Jan||J. Randle||v. MEM||$6,400||58.5||9.14|
The results are fascinating, as these 17 players averaged a value return 5.86 times salary. No player scored less than 28 fantasy points in a game. Five players managed to score more than 50 fantasy points, and four of those players exceeded their value by at least six times.
Let's take a look at the number of occurrences for each level of value returned by these players.
|Value||# of Occurrences||% of Sample|
|4x or Lower||0||0.0%|
|4x - 5x||7||41.2%|
|5x - 6x||4||23.5%|
Not a single player completely busted (4x or Lower) in these situations. Nine of the 17 returned value greater than five times their salary, and five considerably exceeded expectations.
The numbers show we should not be fearful of targeting these opponents. If DraftKings continues to discount high-priced players by more than 5% against Memphis and Utah, there is opportunity to capitalize on the situations.
These players will likely come with lower ownership percentages due to those who simply avoid these matchups. Until recently, I was guilty of following this pattern.
The price discounts seemed to be somewhat sporadic. Players were someetimes priced at a 10% or greater discount, most fell between 5% and 10%, a few occurrences of no discounts and even price hikes.
We must analyze each player independently, but it's also important to note that of the 17 players in this sample, 15 of these performances came when a player was at home against the Jazz or Grizzlies. Therefore, we should not blindly roster heavily discounted players against these foes.
The venue, spread, implied total, and game projections are important to consider when making these decisions. These details are available daily within the numberFire Matchup Heat Map.
It's evident that now is a good time to roster discounted players in favorable spots against Memphis and Utah despite it being a difficult matchup on paper. These players are ideal tournament plays, as they may provide low ownership and offer tremendous upside, while also being safe enough to roster in cash games.