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DFS: Running Backs Are Flexy

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Thanks to Fanduel coming to their senses and adding the FLEX position, we no longer have to watch NFL football hoping that a team’s drive will stall to give our DFS kicker an opportunity at a 53-yard field goal. Goodbye to the days of deciding whether or not we spend up at the kicker position with the last $100 dollars we have left in our bankroll.

Now we have to look at how to approach the flex position on a weekly basis. Of course, there will always be value plays that will make this decision easier, but due to the number of players in the FLEX player pool, we will really have to dive in and make the best decision possible for our last position on our DFS rosters. Every player in the running back, wide receiver, and tight end position will be available to fill that roster spot.

In this article, I will be looking into some 2017 statistical performances from each position and use that research to determine what that means for our DFS roster construction.

SAFE FLOOR

The RB position tends to be the easiest position for people to predict as far as touches and goal line action is concerned. I decided to dive into how safe the floor is at each position by looking at the percentage of players at each position to exceed five Fanduel Points (FDP).

Players in the RB player pools scored greater than 5 FDP 81.5% of the time last season. That means relevant RB’s scored less than five FDP in a game just 18.5% of the time. That is an extremely safe number. It feels even safer when compared to 66% for wide receivers and just 56.4% for Tight Ends in the same category, respectively. This safe floor makes the RB position the best position to start your individual research for cash games on a weekly basis.

HIGH CEILINGS

While a player’s safe floor is important when considering cash game roster construction, a player’s ceiling needs to be high to be considered for tournament lineups. The interesting thing about the RB position is that while it provided us with the safest floor last season, it also provided us with the most upside in 2017.

Last season, the percentage of players in the RB player pool that scored greater than 25 points was an impressive 7.6%. That same player pool exceeded 30 points 2.1% of the time in 2017. The WR player pool only exceeded 25 points 3.2% of the time and put up 30+ points only 1.3% of the time. The Tight End position is simply a footnote in this discussion because there wasn’t a single player that scored greater than 25 points last season from this position. This information suggests it is vital to DFS success to roster a RB/WR in the flex spot 99.5% of the time. The Tight End position just does not have enough target distribution, which limits upside and has too much risk for a safe floor. There is always the chance for talented players like Gronk or Kelce to go off for a big game, but it is important to make sound and consistent decisions and placing money in the TE position has been proven to be unsuccessful.

VALUE PER DOLLAR

The last bit of 2017 statistical information that I dove into is how often players hit the value we are looking for. In DFS cash games, it is a goal to have a player at least hit 1.5 FDP/Dollar to give you a chance in cash games. It is pivotal for a player to hit 2 FDP/Dollar to be competitive in tournaments. In other words, if a player costs $5,000 we want them to ideally hit $7,500 for cash games, and $10,000 would be where we want that player to be scoring for successful tournament lineups.

It’s important to note that seven running backs had an average greater than 2 FDP/Dollar in 2017, and 27 running backs had a 1.5 FDP/Dollar last season. The WR position only had 2 players average greater than 2 FDP/Dollar (Davante Adams and Antonio Brown). Only 33 Wide Receivers averaged 1.5 FDP/Dollar last season. Considering there are far more players in the WR player pool compared to the RB player pool, these numbers were quite shocking, to say the least. If you need any more convincing that you need to stay away from the TE position in the FLEX position, there was NOT a single TE in the NFL who averaged 2 FDP/Dollar, and only 4 Tight Ends averaged 1.5 FDP/Dollar.

If 2017 is any indicator of performances moving forward, I will be looking for value at the Running Back position weekly to fit into both my cash and tournament DFS rosters.

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