Sunday-Only SuperDraft Primer
NFL | Divisional Round | 2020
On Friday, Advanced Sports Analytics launched a promotional partnership with SuperDraft in advance of their largest DFS contest to date - a $4,000 buy-in, $1 million guaranteed prize contest, with a $300,000 prize to the contest winner.
We’ve spent the past few months working to build out our SuperDraft capabilities - our NFL, NBA, and PGA projection + optimization tools all feature SuperDraft projections & optimization programs - as it is our opinion that new games and new game formats can be rewarding to (a) those who study data & contest strategy/trends and (b) those who are willing to think independently about how to solve the game. We feel in its current state, the SuperDraft platform offer that.
How does SuperDraft differ from DraftKings, FanDuel?
There are three primary differences in SuperDraft games - in our opinion in descending order.
No salary constraints - While DraftKings & FanDuel ask users to seek the highest maximum score given set salary constraints, SuperDraft allows you to (to quote @blenderhd) “play whoever you want”. Great, so just jam all the best players into a lineup. Lock. Print. Yacht. Right? Wrong. While the SuperDraft is largely unconstrained, the format has limits that are defined by players’ “Multiplier” which is multiplied by players’ raw fantasy total to create their “multiplied” total points. And the name of the game is maximizing total points, not raw fantasy points.
Naturally, the best players have the lowest multipliers (floor of 1x), the worst players have the highest multipliers (ceiling of 3x, for NFL). So while it may be enticing to play all the best plays, this approach has few routes to being a tournament-winning approach. It really only can win if almost all touchdowns come through the premiere players, and few to none of teams’ secondary players generate fantasy points. The multiplier can be seen as a variance lever. Players’ have their distribution of raw/un-multiplied outcomes, when a player with a 1x multiplier hits their ceiling outcome, less leverage is applied to that ceiling outcome, specifically only 1x. However, when a 2.5x player hits their relative ceiling, we obviously have 2.5x leverage on that outcome. The thing about leverage of outlier outcomes is that by gaining leveraging variance on the positive side, we’re also exposed to leverage on the negative side. A 1x player typically has a higher floor, while the 2.5x player has very realistic routes to a true-zero floor, to which we are exposed by rostering them. In our experience so far, a balanced approach (similar to PGA roster construction) is a good one to take. When building PGA rosters, it is beneficial to avoid rostering too many cheap, long shots. If they all make the cut, finish in the top-20 you’re golden. But they are long shots for a reason, and taking too many shots on long shots can get you into trouble as it is so unlikely all succeed. Even if you hit on 1-of-2, or 2-of-3, by missing on one you find yourself in a difficult hole to climb out of (if the goal is taking down a large field tournament). In cash games, in which there is more benefit to reducing variance (but still seeking to access an above average mean), building lineups that are slightly more weighted towards lower-multiplier players is a more reasonable approach.
No D/ST - The eradication of the D/ST position from play on DraftKings & FanDuel has long been championed by DFS players. Well, SuperDraft went ahead and did it. The highest variance position is not a roster consideration for SuperDraft, so you’ll have to find variance elsewhere (if that is what you’re after). If you’re preferred contest type is one in which low-variance is rewarded, you’re in luck.
Different scoring - SuperDraft adopts a scoring scheme that is somewhat of a hybrid between DraftKings & FanDuel. The scheme is half-point-PPR (like FanDuel), but rewards 100+ yard rushing/receiving games, 300+ yard passing games with a bonus (like DraftKings). The half-point PPR component is a noteworthy one for tournament play. Typically, “correlation” is less important in FanDuel contests, as the mutually beneficial play of a pass-catch between a QB & receiver is less rewarding to the pair as a whole. So this is something to keep in mind. However, because of the multiplier effect, we shouldn’t necessarily think of the relevance of correlation conditioned on this “half-point” scoring. Because for receivers that have e.g. a 2x multiplier, that catch is actually worth a full point. For a receiver with a 2.5x multiplier, that catch is worth 1.25 points. It would seem that the importance of correlating QBs & pass-catchers isn’t necessarily a one-size fits all. Rather, the correlative properties of players are conditional on their multiplier.
Sunday-Only Lineup Ideas
Our NFL Quick Slant Projection + Optimization tool will be free to access today for anyone interested in using it to build DraftKings, FanDuel, or SuperDraft lineups. Feel free to check it out if you are so inclined.
New Orleans: Brees + combo of Kamara, Thomas, Cook - While we spent some time talking above about how it is difficult to produce a ceiling score with too many low-multiplier players, they shouldn’t be avoided completely. As also mentioned, they typically have high floors than high-multiplier players. Kamara feels like a low-multiplier player that we want to roster. The absence of Latavius Murray obviously increases Kamara’s role, but the absence of Taysom Hill is of equal importance, as Hill certainly cuts into Kamara’s TD equity each week. With both expected to be out, Kamara is freed from the RB-by-committee, has elite pass-game usage (independent of injury news), and now has a stranglehold on goal line work for a Saints team that has a nice 27.5 implied total. The absence of Taysom Hill also frees up Drew Brees a little bit, as he is less susceptible to losing touchdown opportunities to Taysom Hill gadget plays. Given the small slate (in which QB + RB is more palatable, as is) and Kamara’s significant pass-game role, we should be fine pairing Kamara & Brees. If we’re adding on another New Orleans pass-catcher, Jared Cook would be our preference if we’re starting with Kamara. While Michael Thomas has a strong projection, his 1.15x multiplier makes it difficult to see a true ceiling for the combo of he & Kamara. It’s not that we can’t play Kamara & Thomas together, but simply that we should seek to add a Saint that buoys the combined ceiling of our Saints stack. Cook (with his 1.7x multiplier) is the route that our projections prefer, Emmanuel Sanders (1.6x) is another consideration. That being said, we could go extremely heavy on New Orleans - something like Brees + Kamara + Thomas + Cook, it is just that keeping it to Brees + Kamara + Thomas feels like there is somewhat limited ceiling, even though the floor appears to be quite high.
Kansas City: Mahomes + Hill or Kelce + Robinson or Williams - This accesses a higher-total side, and as such, the multiplicative properties of this stack are slightly lower. Mahomes is the most notable difference, at 1x compared to Brees’ 1.4x. Hill or Kelce feel like fine 1x players to roster. Our projections lean a little towards Hill - the true (1x for both) half-point PPR format feels like there is a little less of a ceiling for Kelce, his ceiling outcome is probably something like 10 catches/150 yards/2 touchdowns compared to Hill’s 6 catches/180 yards/2 touchdowns - and our projections are higher on Hooper or Cook as tight end alternatives. Similar to Thomas/Kamara above, probably even more so for Hill/Kelce because neither has significant rushing equity & their QB is a straight 1x, going Mahomes + Hill + Kelce and calling it a day really limits our ceiling. As such, it seems sensible to pick one or the other, and add either (or both) of Demarcus Robinson (1.9x) and/or Darrel Williams (1.85x). Mecole Hardman (1.65x) and Le’Veon Bell (1.35x) figure to be popular, an are fine plays. But our model prefers taking shots on the higher multipliers in Robinson & Williams.