Daily Fantasy Football Range-of-Outcome Projections: Week 15
Fantasy football is a volatile game.
Sometimes, a shoelace tackle is the difference between a 10-yard catch and a 70-yard touchdown, and sometimes goal-line carries go to backup players.
It happens. A lot.
And, don't get me wrong -- median projections are quite valuable and capture the most-likely scenario. Setting your lineups based on 90th-percentile projections isn't the right way to handle things for a head-to-head lineup, but if you want to figure out which players can bust a slate open, then you'll have to embrace some risk.
That's why I've started simulating NFL weeks and seeing what happens when the slate is played out 1,000 times. Here are some things that popped at each position this week, based on my simulations, which factor in numberFire's projections and my own tweaks.
FanDuel Salary: A player's main slate salary on FanDuel.
Median FDP: A player's median FanDuel projection across the 1,000 slate simulations.
Value: Projected median FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary. All quarterbacks generally have a 2.00 FanDuel-point-per-$1,000 rate at the low end, which implies 2-times value, or 2x value. On a full slate of 13 games, roughly 13 running backs tend to have a 2x value projection. On a full slate of 13 games, a small handful of receivers may get to a 2x median projection, and just more than 30 will be at 1.5x. On a full slate of 13 games, few tight ends will get to a 2x median value, and anything above 1.5x is generally a top-six projection. It's important to understand the different value expectations across positions.
25th Pct: The player's 25th-percentile FanDuel point projection, meant to show a low-end (or floor) outcome. Every player's true floor is zero.
75th Pct: The player's 75th-percentile FanDuel point projection, meant to show a somewhat attainable/projectable high-end (or ceiling) outcome without simply looking at true outlier performances.
FDP%: The frequency with which a player surpassed a certain raw projection threshold, meant to show a raw ceiling outcome. This doesn't adjust for salary and is a different value for each position.
Boom/Bust Ratio: The frequency with which a player had a "boom" game compared to a "bust" game based on historical, position-based value outcomes. For quarterbacks, this measures games with 2.75x value versus games with worse than 2x value. For running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, it's 2x versus less than 1.5x. Think of it as a simple floor-versus-ceiling rating. Higher is better, and they should be compared only within the same position.
We've got numerous quarterbacks with paths to big ceilings this week, and four in particular came out with 50th-percentile projections of at least 20.0 FanDuel points.
A little surprisingly (because of a massive point spread), Lamar Jackson sits at the top there, followed by Patrick Mahomes in a tough on-paper matchup, Kyler Murray, and Deshaun Watson. It's also Jackson, Murray, and Watson ranking top-three in boom/bust ratio with Tua Tagovailoa sneaking in at fourth over Mahomes. If I'm bumping below $7,000 for a quarterback, though, I'm looking to Jalen Hurts, fresh off an 18-carry, 106-yard performance.
Anyway, despite that, Mahomes is probably my pick for a single-entry tournament, given his matchup with the New Orleans Saints. In six games against top-12 adjusted pass defenses (New Orleans is 4th, per numberFire's metrics), Mahomes is averaging 24.4 FanDuel points per game with 332.3 yards and 2.2 touchdowns. He's been matchup-proof, and we could get lower popularity rates on him as a result of the opponent.
It's hard to model running backs projected for 23.3 FanDuel points as a median outcome. There's a lot of room to underperform that if we bake in injury risk, but that's where Derrick Henry is this week, and we have enough historical data to know what happens when a running back is projected in that range. He's roughly three times more likely to have a boom game than a bust game, based on hitting value thresholds foregrounded in the intro. The Detroit Lions are 30th in Rushing Success Rate allowed to running backs.
Next in line from the floor/ceiling perspective is actually now Leonard Fournette, given news that Ronald Jones (on the reserve/COVID-19 list and dealing with a finger injury) may not play. In that event, Fournette -- a healthy scratch a week ago -- would start, per head coach Bruce Arians.
Dalvin Cook, James Robinson (in a dreadful matchup as an 11.5-point underdog), and Cam Akers round out the top five in floor/ceiling rating. Cook rates as an elite pivot away from Henry in tournaments (occasionally, not in every lineup).
Akers is a building block this week at his salary. Overall, the arbitrary mid-range running backs have a lot of viability this week, as Jim Sannes and I discussed on this week's Heat Check podcast that previews the main slate.
|Michael Pittman Jr.||$5,500||9.3||1.70||4.7||14.3||7.3%||0.94|
Two things jump out at receiver this week. First, there are some big names but not that many big salaries. Second, the $6,000 range is quite barren (and if you remove Brandon Aiyuk and Terry McLaurin at the very top of that range [$6,900], there may be just one receiver I'd want to roster [Brandin Cooks at $6,600]).
|Irv Smith Jr.||$5,400||6.7||1.24||2.8||9.8||4.1%||0.32|
There are two big dogs on the slate at tight end with Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews both projected for at least 12.2 FanDuel points as a median outcome. The salary gap is quite massive, though, with Kelce at $8,500 and Andrews at $6,800. The algorithm views Andrews as the better floor/ceiling play when considering salary.
Behind them, things get gross in a hurry. Andrews' boom/bust ratio is 1.05, and Kelce's is 0.88. Next up is Dallas Goedert at 0.56. There is a ton of bust potential at every turn, basically, with tight end this week.
Of the lower-salaried options, my preference is some combination of Logan Thomas, who leads the position in route rate over the past five weeks, Cole Kmet, who has 14 targets over the past two games, and Irv Smith Jr., who should be freed up without Kyle Rudolph again (Rudolph missed Thursday's practice).