DFS & Betting Things to Remember (Fantasy Football)

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The boys are back in town…

The DFS & Betting Podcast made a return this week after a brief off-season hiatus working on a number of other projects.

On Friday’s podcast, Betz and myself shared five things to remember from 2022 to hopefully envision you for the upcoming year.

1. Hope for the Best, Plan for the Worst, Forecast for the Schedule

As I recently detailed in NFL Win Totals & Schedule-Adjusted Forecasting, there is a lot more involved in looking at a team’s win total than just giving a gut reaction of “Oh, they’re much better than that“. You have to factor in the schedule from a couple of different viewpoints taking win probabilities as a serious endeavor. Simply walking through a schedule and saying “That’s a win. That’s a loss” fails to see how competitive and cruel the NFL can be year-to-year.

Let’s jog your memory from just a small sampling of the most unlikely wins in 2022:

  • The 49ers started the year 3-4 with three of those losses to… drumroll… CHI, DEN & ATL. Chicago was in a monsoon. Denver was early on before Russell Wilson imploded. But they were pummeled by Atlanta 28-14.
  • The Super Bowl runner-up Eagles were beaten in Week 10 by the Commanders… in Philly.
  • The Super Bowl Champion Chiefs lost in Week 3… to the lowly Colts! Yep, remind yourself that happened.

This is the NFL and the competition is much closer than people realize. Vegas knows this well and makes a ton of money off of the overconfidence of casual bettors wagering money solely on what they think their eyes tell them.

Walk through a team’s actual schedule based on divisional matchups. Each team has three home and three away games in their division but the win probabilities are much closer than you might realize. Take the AFC North for example. The Bengals seemed like the class of that division from afar but they were quite fortunate to win that division despite going 12-4. They didn’t clinch until Week 18 against a Ravens team that started third-stringer Anthony Brown. Upon closer review, everyone (CIN, BAL, PIT, & CLE) all went 3-3 in the AFC North. The only exception to divisional matchup is Patrick Mahomes

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Apart from divisional matchups, a team’s “seeded” matchup is usually not taken into account but it adds three games to the schedule that are solely based on where that team finished in their respective division the year before. For example, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers technically finished 1st in the NFC South despite a losing record (8-9). They were awarded a “1st place” schedule for their seeded games. The NFC South matches up with the NFC East, AFC East, and NFC West for those games in 2023. The Tom Brady-less Bucs will draw the Eagles at home and games on the road against the Bills and 49ers thanks to their finish. Woof.

Beyond the matchups, assigning win probabilities is the best way to get a Using my schedule-adjusted projections, I have the Carolina Panthers at 6.9 wins for this next year factoring in their divisional opponents and 2nd place schedule which draws the Cowboys at home and games on the road against the Dolphins and Seahawks. All three of those teams were in the playoffs last year, a far cry from where the 7-10 Panthers finished. When you factor in a likely rookie QB with one of the worst pass-catching groups in the NFL, it’s easy to be bearish on the Panthers’ 7.5 win total this year.

2. Find YOUR Edge

Betz mentioned on the podcast that he used to play everything and grind every slate – 50/50s, H2Hs, small field GPPs, large field GPPs, Showdown, Primetime only slates, etc. Going back and reviewing results (and the process) to find what works best in life, current job setup, family time, etc.  We talked last summer about what your goals are for DFS & betting. Being able to answer that question honestly is crucial to being a successful DFS player

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Betz’s edge: H2Hs, cash games + small field tournaments. Being a strong cash player, he has a better understanding of what the field is going to do (i.e. who are the best plays) & identifying fades/pivots that still project well. Long term, he’s shared that he’s been a losing player in large-field lotto-style contests, so I’ve adjusted my contest selection.

3. Roster Percentages Get Condensed

‘Safety’ is a flawed way of looking at DFS in tournaments. Every player has a downside.

Take for example, Justin Jefferson. He was the Offensive Player of the Year and the WR1 in fantasy. But he scored under 15 points even times on the season which would’ve been a week-killer in DFS if you paid up for the stud at his premium salary on DraftKings.

Every week we give the Roster Percentage Report for DraftKings and FanDuel in the DFS Pass estimating where we think players will come in for tournaments. But as we discussed on the podcast, we are far too confident in projecting without taking into account a range of outcomes for players in similarly priced tiers.

Here’s an example from November 13th of the 2022 season looking at RB roster percentages.

The main takeaway was that the field was overconfident in a few RBs all pushing 20+ percent in tournaments. In cash game formats (50/50s, Double-Ups), those top-4 RBs shot up to nearly 50 percent of the field. But in GPPs, we are willing to embrace the weekly volatility and shoot for the moon with players in similar tiers that might be projected for low roster percentages but similar median projections.

For example, Aaron Jones and Dalvin Cook were both projected under 4 percent in our Roster Percentage Report but they came in even lower. James Conner recently came back from injury and we’d yet to see a full workload from him. DFS players wanted to see it before believing it but Conner was a massive value in the same tier as the nearly 20x as popular Dameon Pierce.

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We can use this information ahead of time to make informed decisions knowing roster percentages condense more than you might realize.

4. Team Ecosystems

We can use transactions, salary cap situation, free agency transactions available NFL Draft picks, and injuries to diagnose the outlook for a team. In our Dynasty Pass, the combination of the Team Opportunity page + the Free Agency Tracker + the Injury Tracker gives us an excellent triple-teamed approach for a franchise’s outlook.

We can use that info to help us make decisions not only in early best ball, dynasty trade targets, etc for fantasy but also in the betting markets.

Betz liked Seattle to win the NFC West at +425 a couple of weeks ago for a number of reasons when looking at the NFC West ecosystem. These were his quick notes

  • SF: Major QB issues (injuries + uncertainty) and they lose their DC DeMeco Ryans. Their 11.5-win total seems fragile.
  • LAR: No legit WR2 option, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp coming off major injury; On defense, they lost Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, and Taylor Rapp. They made almost zero moves in FA because they have no money.
  • SEA: Geno played winning-caliber football last year & resigned on a very team-friendly deal, they hit on their rookie picks last year, they hold pick #5, #20, #37, and #52 overall.
  • ARI: Yeah right!

The lines moved in Seattle’s favor in the NFC West market on DraftKings Sportsbook in just over a month

Team DK Odds- March 1 DK Odds- April 6
San Francisco 49ers -180 -140
Seattle Seahawks +475 +240
Los Angeles Rams +400 +475
Arizona Cardinals +2000 +2000

5. Prop It Even When You’re Not Hot

To be transparent, the beginning of the year was tough for us in the prop streets. Call it variance. Call it poor projections. Heck, you can point at simply picking the wrong prop markets.

Regardless of where you want to point the blame, the temptation was to change up the approach.  Look for giant parlays? Only do kicker props? Spend more money more DFS?

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But staying the course and carrying a long-term mindset is something we preach all the time on the podcast. Following your own good advice is sometimes hard. Props (especially over/unders) are about projections and we do this in fantasy football every single week.

  • Weeks 1-5: 17-25 (40%)
  • Week 6 on: 81-57 (59%)

Our official weekly props (in the DFS Pass) ended at a very Fantasy Footballers’ 55 percent for the year and our official season-long props were a robust 80 percent.

In other words, if you stayed with us throughout the season, your ROI would’ve been 6.8%. Not all ROIs in sports betting are the same based on bankroll and which markets you play in. 3-5 % is generally seen as standard in the industry. But a profitable season as a whole is something to be proud of for the FootClan.

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