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Daily Fantasy Football: Should You Target Wide Receivers on Underdog Teams?

As you select wide receivers in daily fantasy football, it's hard to choose between volume and efficiency. How do we balance these two pursuits?

Being an adult is easy. It's when you're a kid that all of life's most difficult choices occur.

I was lucky enough to get an allowance of seven dollars per month. Even though this made me feel like quite the high roller, I still had to be frugal with how I spent that money. This meant limiting myself when it came time to buy a new action figure, and that was no easy task.

The decision almost always boiled down between Spiderman and Batman. Spiderman had a bunch of different variations and accessories, but I dropped out of preschool early to watch Batman. Because each had their obvious advantages, choosing just one was a painful endeavor. How can you possibly expect a child to make choices as difficult as this?

I had never experienced a decision as difficult as this until I started playing daily fantasy football, specifically when choosing between wide receivers on teams that are favored versus those that are underdogs. The receivers are likely to be more efficient when their teams are favored, but they should see additional volume when the team trails. I want both efficiency and volume. Forcing me to choose is cruel.

Fret not, comrades. Even though I didn't have metrics to help settle the debate between Spiderman and Batman, we do have those when choosing our wide receivers. Let's take a deeper look to see if we can make this decision any easier.

The Sample

In order to figure try to gain some clarity, I looked at the 20 receivers who had scored the most half-point-per-reception fantasy points from 2012 to 2014. This way, the sample wouldn't be as skewed by one player who had drastic splits one way or another.

For each player, I took down their splits when their teams were favored and when they were underdogs. If the spread was even, that was lumped in with the games in which they were favored.

Each individual game over that spread was put into either one of these groups, leaving 582 games in which the teams were favored and 315 in which they were underdogs. This would logically make sense. Good quarterbacks are more likely to produce high-scoring fantasy wide receivers, and good quarterbacks are more likely to be on teams that are favored.

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