A lot of terminology gets tossed around in DFS, and if you’re new to the game it can be hard to understand. In fact, even if you’ve been playing DFS for a while, you might not have a good grasp on leverage and ownership projections. Truth be told, these two factors positively correlate with success in GPP tournaments on DraftKings and FanDuel. This article will break down all the terminology and help you understand why these factors are important.
No other DFS metric can be reasonably calculated without a base player projection. This is just a prediction of how many fantasy points a player is expected to score. Projections are usually calculated by recent performances, usage rates, matchup data, or running game simulations.
As to be expected, fantasy point projections have a huge impact on ownership projections. If a player projects really well, they’re likely to be higher owned in contests. Conversely, a player that projects terribly will likely garner lower ownership.
No player projections are 100% accurate, but they provide us with the information necessary to determine what the field is doing, thus allowing us to find leverage. This is particularly important in large GPPs because you can quickly beat a large percentage of the entrants by pivoting off a high-owned player who ends up underperforming.
It’s worth comparing projections from different platforms if you have the funds and time to do so. If not, you should do everything in your power to come up with your own projections based on the information available to you. Projections are founded on the ability to accurately process data and information, and you don’t always need software to do this.
Ownership projections are extremely important in large DFS contests. This metric is pretty simple to understand – it’s the expected percentage a player will be owned by the field. Generally speaking, a player garnering high ownership will be seen as one of the best plays on the slate. A player getting excessive ownership is often seen as a “chalk” play because everyone’s taking the same approach. Players garnering a single digit ownership percentage (generally <3%) are viewed as contrarian.
To emphasize the importance of ownership in large contests, we’ll consider the following scenario. Let’s say Davante Adams is playing this week and projects for 28 fantasy points. By all accounts, he’s expected to be the top scorer on the slate, and therefore his ownership projection comes in around 30%.
If you don’t draft Davante Adams and he ends up being the top play on the slate, 30% of the field will be leagues ahead of you. On the other hand, if you don’t play Davante Adams and he busts, you’ll be beating 30% of the field just by avoiding one piece. This is the risk you face when deciding for or against the highest owned players on a slate. Ultimately, this decision is subjective and will depend on your criteria for good vs. bad chalk.
Laying the groundwork for player projections and ownership projections is important prior to discussing leverage. These two factors are what allow us to determine whether a player is positively or negatively leveraged.
In DFS, leverage is determined by comparing a player’s chance of being in the optimal lineup to their ownership projection. A player’s chance of being optimal boils down to their expected value relative to their salary on DraftKings or FanDuel. Leverage comes into play when there’s a noticeable imbalance between optimal percentage and ownership percentage.
Negatively leveraged: when a player’s ownership percentage is substantially greater than their chance of being in the optimal lineup. In simple terms, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage by drafting this player.
Positively leveraged: when a player’s chance of being in the optimal lineup is higher than their projected ownership. To put it simply, you’re giving yourself a potential edge by taking a chance on low-owned plays that project well.
It might be difficult to accurately determine leverage without having access to optimal percentages. Despite this, you can still reasonably assume where a player will end up based on salaries and fantasy point projections. A higher projection usually results in more ownership which can quickly lead to a negative leverage score. Note, however, that this is not always the case.
When It Matters Most
You might be thinking to yourself, do I always have to consider leverage and projections? The answer is no, but the usefulness of them will mostly depend on the contests you’re entering and how many lineups you’re building. Plenty of DFS players are successful without using optimizers and relevant data because their general approach to DFS doesn’t require them.
- Fantasy point projections, ownership projections, and leverage matter more in larger contests.
- You don’t need to focus as much attention on ownership and leverage in smaller contests because there’s less competition and therefore less of a requirement to gain an edge on the field.
- Opting for a couple positively leveraged plays in single entry GPPs can help you beat a majority of the field if the chalk plays underperform.
- These factors tend to matter a lot in NFL and NBA showdown contests because player pools are smaller, and ownership is concentrated on the clear top plays.
- Having leverage in high-stakes DFS contests is advantageous, primarily because you’re more familiar with your competition and how they build their lineups.
Overall, your play style will determine how relevant these metrics are to you. If you’re the type of person to enter one lineup into the milly maker every week, you definitely want to avoid playing all the obvious plays together. In this situation, being contrarian is your best shot at beating the massive field. If you’re max-entering contests, especially large-field GPPs, considering leverage and ownership projections will have you better off in the long run.
DFS is constantly evolving and there’s certainly a learning curve if you want to consistently do well in contests. Throughout this article, we’ve given a brief overview of fantasy point projections, ownership, and leverage. A player’s point projection relative to their salary is the foundation for the other metrics. Base projections, therefore, are arguably the most important data points to understand.
Most of the DFS industry fails to educate but yet still expect compensation for their work. All of our content at DFS City will forever be free, and we’re rapidly working on a free projection tool for our readers. We encourage you to stick with us for all of your fantasy sport needs.