If you're been playing daily fantasy sports for more than a week, chances are you know the name Saahil Sud, formerly known as "maxdalury" on FanDuel and DraftKings. Taking it a step further, if you've been playing DFS more than a week, chances are you've lost money to Sud.
Sud is a fantasy sports legend, arguably the most successful player in the history of DFS. The guy has piled up millions in winnings, and now, he's giving back to the community from which he has lifted so much cash. His help comes in the form of his strategy site, RotoQL, which offers tools and resources for DFS players. For the NFL season, Sud has produced a series of strategy videos, and we'll go over them here in the next few weeks.
Sud opens up by first saying that WR is probably the most important position in DFS, which isn't a big surprise considering you get at least three of them in a lineup under most formats. The top priority by far is to look for players who get a heavy share of targets. Targets means consistent opportunities to score points, and that is the biggest key for cash games. It's also important to examine how a defense approaches opposing WR1s. If they frequently double-team or possess an elite cover corner, it will create big opportunities for other WRs on the team.
Similar to the process of selecting QBs and RBs, it's important to target players in games with high betting totals. Beyond that, we want to get WRs from games with relatively competitive betting lines. The upside is capped on WRs playing for big favorites because their teams will run the ball. Surprisingly, WRs for big underdogs perform even worse than that relative to expected production. This is probably due to a scarcity of TDs available.
When hunting for TDs, it's obviously important to look at what a team tends to do in the red zone. Certain players are consistent targets for their QBs on fade routes that present good opportunities to score. These are mostly going to be bigger WRs, and indeed Sud's research shows that there's a direct correlation between WR height and touchdown production.
If you're looking at the slate that includes Thursday games and considering taking a WR from said games — don't. Just like with QBs, WR production drops off big in those games due to conservative game plans from coaches and lack of prep time for offenses.
For GPPs, the calculus is a little bit different compared so cash games and even approaching other positions. Many of the same concepts as cash games apply. For example, targets per game has one of the highest correlations with WR success in DFS. However, touchdowns are now much more important, since we're looking for a massive score, and that's usually not possible without one or more TDs. Thus, red zone targets per game is a critical stat to look at.
This potential for high-scoring games by WRs can be illustrated with Sud's research on the top-performing players. Nine of the 10 top flex-eligible performances he looked at from a given season were by WRs. So, it's important to target a WR with your flex spot in most instances as WRs generally outperform RBs when it comes to high-ceiling opportunity.
Stacking is a common strategy in DFS, and Sud outlines that more than 40 percent of top-10 lineups in the big DraftKings and FanDuel contests included a stack of a QB and a WR from the same team. Using an RB and WR from the same isn't advised by Sud as they generally have a negative correlation, and using a TE and a WR should also be avoided unless the team's QB is also on the roster. For every point a QB scores, a WR on the team sees his expected production to up by 0.35 points.
Unlike evaluating QBs and RBs, Sud isn't too concerned with ownership when look at WR. The sheer size of the field of options flattens out the ownership percentages, meaning even popular WRs are still going to be somewhere around 10-15 percent most weeks. In the example Sud gives, Antonio Brown is massively owned at 25 percent, so there are certain instances where we need to be a bit careful of very chalky options, but it's usually not a major concern.
Messing up your WR selection is doom in DFS, since nearly half of your roster will be WRs if you flex one.
It's all about the targets for WRs, first and foremost. It's most important to look for guys who consistently get opportunities to score points by getting the ball thrown their way, particularly in cash games. When examining which games to target, we want high-scoring but close games, so blowouts should most be avoided.
Touchdowns are critical in GPPs, so it's important to get guys who will have the ball thrown their way in the red zone, mostly taller WRs. Ownership, while a crucial thing to think about in most cases when evaluating players for GPPs, is a secondary concern for WRs because the size of the pool renders even fairly popular plays relatively low-owned compared with the field.
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