Daily Fantasy 2021 Recap

It is wise to not hyper-analyze and be obsessed with the previous years' production when playing fantasy football. Sure, there are stats worth monitoring, but situations and competitive landscapes change so frequently that when you think you've found a trend, there really isn't that much you can do with it.

That said, when looking ahead to the upcoming NFL season, one stat in particular that is very helpful when playing daily fantasy football on DraftKings or Fanduel is fantasy points per average dollar. In fact, value on the dollar may be the most important factor to consider, second only to the Vegas betting lines.

Let's start with the basics though. There are different types of daily fantasy contests:


   - Contests played between two players

   - Entry fees range from $1 to $10,000+

   - Winner of the contest earns the other player's entry fee

   - Highest chance of winning (50%)

   - Contests with several players

   - Entry fees and prize pools vary

   - Finish in the top half of the field and win 90% of your entry fee
Tournaments, Satellites & Qualifiers:

   - Small and large contests

   - Huge prize pools, dependent on the number of entry fees

   - Multiple entries usually allowed

   - Lowest chance of winning

DraftKings and FanDuel are largely the same, but with distinct differences. DraftKings incorporates full-point PPR scoring whereas FanDuel uses half-point PPR. The sites also have different salary caps and rules for swapping players. DraftKings allows you to swap players all the way up until the time the game kicks off, for each player, unlike FanDuel where the lineup is locked once the first game begins for any player on your roster. With Fanduel, you also have a kicker in your lineup.

Both DraftKings and FanDuel offer beginners-only contests you can enter as you are leveling-up your daily fantasy skills.

Daily Fantasy Strategy

When constructing a fantasy lineup, the most important factor to consider is value on the dollar. It is also critical to find tasty matchups to exploit, stack quarterbacks with their favorite pass catchers, and hyper-analyze Vegas game lines to cherry pick the teams and games you will draw from. Another factor to consider is, how many other participants are selecting the same player, or start percentage. Even the weather on game day can force you into making last minute adjustments.

The first thing one should do when setting daily fantasy lineups is look to the fortune-tellers in the Las Vegas sports books. Start by checking over/unders.

Games with high over/unders means Vegas expects the game to be high scoring, and this should raise your eyebrows that fantasy points should be easy to come by! Games with lower over/unders typically mean Vegas expects a low scoring game, and it may be a good idea to use the defenses in that matchup.

Next you should look to the game lines. Game lines can provide a tremendous amount of insight into how Vegas sees the game playing out.

For example, if the line is New York Giants +13 vs. Dallas Cowboys -13, Vegas believes the Cowboys will win, likely in a rout. This means that the players to consider for your lineup would be the Giants quarterback and top pass catcher(s), because they’ll be in catchup mode, and the Cowboys running back, because they’ll be trying to kill the clock and come out with an easy win.

Once you've identified choice matchups and the players who are most likely to succeed, fill in the gaps based on value. It’s worth paying a premium for consistent players and guaranteed points, especially in head-to-head matchups and 50/50 contests. In tournaments however, it is better to maximize upside, which usually comes with greater risk. In all contests though, a super helpful stat to determine a player’s value and upside is points per game, per average dollar.

Points per game per average dollar seems easy enough to calculate, but the salary history of players is adjusted weekly and can be incredibly difficult to find once it’s adjusted. Most sites that do offer salary information only have the current week, so the stat can be misleading without the whole picture of salary changes over the course of the season.

We were able to find an awesome site that keeps track of salary history of players, and we used the information to compile top value plays for both DraftKings and FanDuel in 2021 (BIG shoutout to RotoGuru.net for keeping track of weekly salaries!)

Below are the lists of daily fantasy football top value plays of 2021:

Download the free Excel sheets below! 👇

We did a short experiment where we calculated a player's median vs. their average fantasy score, then compared those stats to their actual fantasy production throughout the course of a season. Turns out, a player's median score more closely matched what their actual production was on a weekly basis compared to their averages.

So, the first level of sorting that you'll see by default is median fantasy points, from highest to lowest. The second-level sort is median points per average dollar, or how many points they should score based on every dollar spent. If you're in a bind next year when setting a DFS lineup, you can use pts/game/avg $ as a tie-breaker.

Bringing everything back to our first point in this post though, the stats from last year will not necessarily be indicative of what a player will do this year. Rather you can use the data to find bargain players when most of your salary has been used up, or to find players with large upsides and lower costs for daily fantasy tournaments.

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Tailgate Fantasy Sports is an up-and-coming platform where you can participate in fantasy sports every day, without the gamble that comes along with traditional daily sites.

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Players will not have to pay-per-lineup, and unlike season-long leagues, the time commitment will be minimal, so you can easily add it to your fantasy repertoire.

It's super easy to play fantasy football with Tailgate! All you do is pick your favorite team, set a 3-man lineup using players from your favorite team only, and rotate 2 players each week.

And with Tailgate's Leagues you can create a league of any size. Between the easy style of play for better competitive balance for beginners, and unlimited league sizes, we think it makes for a perfect work fantasy football league.

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