DFS Lessons Learned From 2018 – Quarterbacks
Achieving consistent success in the Daily Fantasy Sports landscape is hard. With the vast library of DFS information available at everyone’s disposal nowadays, the edge continues to get smaller and smaller with each passing NFL season. But just because the gap is getting smaller, it does not mean one can not be obtained. In fact, a nice way to get ahead of the competition is to not look forward but instead by taking a look back.
While the rest of the industry spends the off-season looking at free agency moves and the NFL Draft, it is good practice to always review the previous season’s results. This process will help DFS players get ahead of the curve as they discover new trends that may put them on a certain player in the future before the masses can discover it.
By examining the top scoring quarterback from each of the first 16 weeks on the 2018 NFL season some interesting nuggets appear that hopefully will help us better understand how to pick the position for our DFS lineups in 2019.
|Week 1||Ryan Fitzpatrick||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Week 2||Ben Roethlisberger||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Week 3||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|Week 4||Mitch Trubisky||Chicago Bears|
|Week 5||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers|
|Week 6||Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Week 7||Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Week 8||Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans|
|Week 9||Drew Brees||New Orleans Saints|
|Week 10||Mitch Trubisky||Chicago Bears|
|Week 11||Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Week 12||Deshaun Watson||Houston Texans|
|Week 13||Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Week 14||Tom Brady||New England Patriots|
|Week 15||Matt Ryan||Atlanta Falcons|
|Week 16||Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay Packers|
Using Over/Under Totals to Predict Quarterback Success
The first trend that appears when examining the top quarterback scores from each of the first 16 weeks of NFL action is that 15 of the 16 quarterbacks played in games that exceeded the over/under total set by Las Vegas. Intuitively this should make sense.
The more points scored in a game, the more likely the quarterbacks will score more fantasy points. But how do we use this information to select a quarterback for our DFS lineups? Well, we want to target teams that have historically played in games that hit the over. This thought process has some stickiness to it as well.
|Team||Over %||Points Allowed to the Position Rank|
|Kansas City Chiefs||64.7%||8th|
|New York Jets||62.5%||5th|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||56.2%||3rd|
|San Francisco 49ers||56.2%||10th|
|New York Giants||56.2%||14th|
Of the eight teams in 2018 that played in games that resulted in the over in more than 50% of their games, six of them also happened to finish in the top-10 in FanDuel points allowed to quarterbacks, including the top 3 such teams.
In addition to targeting specific teams, we also can target specific over/under totals.
|Total||Game Count||Over %|
Also, consider that 10 of the 16 quarterbacks played in games with at least a 49.5 total. When choosing your next DFS quarterback you will want to be sure to check out the over/under totals.
Using Defensive QB Rate Allowed to Predict Quarterback Success
Another trend that shows itself when looking back at the 2018 campaign is the use of quarterback rating allowed stat as a predictor of successful DFS quarterback selection. The higher the QB rate allowed by the defense, the higher the probability of a high scoring quarterback performance. Again this seems pretty straightforward.
While volume is king at positions like running back and wide receiver, efficiency is the key to an upside fantasy performance for quarterbacks. Higher efficiency means fewer incompletes, which leads to higher yards per attempt as well as more passing touchdowns. The quarterback rating allowed stat is an efficiency measure we can use to predict DFS success as it is supported by the performances from last season.
Looking again at the top quarterback scorer for each of the first 16 weeks of the 2018 season, 13 of them faced a defense that was below league average in terms of the quarterback rate allowed stat. And nine of the 16 performances occurred when facing a defense that ranked in the bottom 10 of quarterback rate allowed. When selecting your DFS quarterback, look to target a team allowing a high QB rating.
Stop Using Fantasy Points Allowed Per Game
It is common practice in the DFS industry to reference fantasy points allowed per game. Don’t do this. Not only is it just lazy, but it also doesn’t give the whole picture. Of the 16 weekly top scoring quarterbacks of the 2018 season, just eight of them faced a defensive unit that finished the season in the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Does that mean those other eight quarterbacks just were lucky? No.
If you used fantasy points allowed per attempt instead of just fantasy points allowed, it would have been much more clear that these were good plays. 13 of the 16 quarterbacks faced a defense that finished in the top-12 of fantasy points allowed per pass attempt in 2018.
|Team||Fantasy Points Allowed Rank||Fantasy Points Allowed Per Attempt Rank|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3rd||2nd|
|New Orleans Saints||4th||6th|
|New York Jets||5th||10th|
|San Francisco 49ers||10th||8th|
By using the per attempt measure, it may allow you to get somewhat contrarian. For example, in Week 10 the Chicago Bears’ Mitch Trubisky finished with the most fantasy points among quarterbacks. His opponent that week was the Detroit Lions. The Lions finished 2018 allowing just the 18th most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. But their fantasy points per attempt was .553, which was ninth most in the NFL. Be sure to consult the per attempt measure before selecting a quarterback for your next DFS entry.
Hopefully, these three trends from the 2018 season will be able to help you better identify strong quarterback plays in the future for your weekly DFS contests.