Week 1 DraftKings Pricing: Value and Deficiency vs. 2016 Average

By Jen Ryan
Jen Ryan The daily fantasy football community collectively erupts when the major sites release player salaries for Week 1 of the 2017 season. It is an exciting time and we all can’t run to our lap tops fast enough to download that salary .csv so that we can start the initial process of looking at our Week 1 line ups. There are a ton of factors that go into this process. Analyzing match ups, Vegas odds, historical performances, and a hundred other factors are all a part of the decision making of roster construction(s). There is an abundance of content and analysis out there and from now until Week 1 lock there will be even more.

Salary is the bare bones of this game and it is important to track and follow salary changes. Here at FootballDiehards.com, we provide salary, projections, and value-factor scores each week for both of the major sites. You can find all of our daily fantasy content, optimizers, and salary pages here: http://www.footballdiehards.com/fantasyfootball/dailygames/

The salary setters at daily fantasy sites are very good at their jobs and bake aspects into their pricing that we can only guess at. We can, however, look for areas to exploit and as the weeks pile up, the actionable data piles up. For Week 1, we do not have anything to analyze in terms of salary except for historical cost. If we dig into the 2016 season and calculate average salary for each player, we can compare those numbers to 2017’s Week 1 pricing. The results are interesting and worth considering when creating your lineups for Week 1 this year on DraftKings.

Taking a look at 2016 average versus 2017 actual, it makes the most sense to look at the ends of each spectrum:

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This table excludes irrelevant players, specifically DeAngelo Williams, Rashad Jennings, Quincy Enunwa, and Christine Michael. All four of those players are priced far below their 2016 average salary for obvious reasons. There are some observations to be made regarding both sides of the spectrum reflected above.

Players Above 2016 Average Salary

On this side of the average scale we have players that will cost you far beyond their 2016 average salary. Ryan Griffin seems like an odd candidate to have the highest price above median, especially considering C.J. Fiedorowicz was the superior tight end for the Houston Texans last season. We probably don’t care nearly as much about this possibly-but-not-likely Week 1 GPP play as we do Ty Montgomery. Of all the relevant players in the pool, Montgomery’s +$1,500 above 2016 average at $5,800 represents the highest increase. This makes sense with Eddie Lacy leaving town for the Seattle Seahawks and no real competition behind him aside from a pack of rookies. Montgomery is the truest dual-threat back in the league on one of the top offenses in football. He was priced above $5,800 just twice last season, so you are paying for him near his premium if you choose to roster him in Week 1.

David Johnson at $9,400 may be over $1,400 more than his average last year but if he performs the way he did in 2016 this is what his average salary will look like this year. Johnson will be a top-priced back each week and he will be worth paying up for each week. LeSean McCoy is essentially a one-man show in Buffalo (at the moment – trade speculation is abound), and might be worth waiting on to see if his price dips back down depending on how the first few weeks play out. Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake are both buried behind starters which makes their cost increases a bit interesting and both players I will probably fade come Week 1, although you could consider Henry over Drake as a GPP play as he is capable of breaking one off with a minority share of the backfield carries. Jack Doyle can be added to this fade list unless we receive more clarity on Andrew Luck’s situation.

Pierre Garcon and Isaiah Crowell are both players who represent a great value for Week 1. They may be a part of the group of players that are priced well above their 2016 average salary, but both are still a very reasonable $5,300. The San Francisco 49ers are six point home underdogs against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. Garcon could very easily see double-digit targets and will be the focal point of this offense that is projected to be playing from behind. He is one of the top values of the slate, even with the premium you will be paying compared to last season. This could be the cheapest we will see 2017’s hottest sleeper priced this season.

Players Below 2016 Average Salary

This side of the chart is where we are really looking to exploit salary and roster some of these players early on before their cost increases. We can start with the guy right at the top of the list. There is not a player in the pool that you can get at a larger discount compared to their 2016 average salary than Brandon Marshall. This one is puzzling, to say the least. Marshall has eight 1,000 yard seasons over the past decade. He is two season removed from a league and career-high 15 touchdowns, as well as ten 100 yard games. He is an elite receiver who is now playing with arguably the best quarterback who has ever thrown the ball in his direction. Coming off of a down year on an abysmal offense, Marshall’s $5,100 price tag is laughable. He has a Week 1 matchup against a Dallas secondary full of question marks and there is a chance Odell Beckham could miss this game. Enjoy Marshall in Week 1 before his price jumps.

Marshall’s former teammate, Eric Decker, is also massively discounted compared to his 2016 average salary. An injury will do that but it is surprising that Decker’s relocation to Tennessee appears to be forgotten with his price tag. Decker, the most efficient red zone receiver in football, has been paired with Marcus Mariota, who has thrown 30 red zone touchdowns to zero red zone interceptions. All it takes is a touchdown from Decker and he is really, really good at scoring touchdowns.

The rest of the players who fall within the top 10 salary discount compared to their 2016 average all present a Week 1 value, but outside of former New York Jets Marshall and Decker, I have my eye on Matt Forte. He presents what could potentially be a fantastic value in Week 1. I understand the Jets are bad and they will be playing against an equally as bad Buffalo Bills team. I’m googly-eyed over Forte because he is dirt cheap and we can expect the field to pay for Bilal Powell, who’s ownership will likely be exponentially larger than Forte’s. He is an ideal GPP play, and will be on at least one of my Millionaire Maker line ups.

Salary tracking is something you can expect from us each week at FootballDiehards.com throughout the season. We have a handful of writers who contribute daily fantasy content, as well as our salary tools and lineup optimizers. As data accrues we will be able to apply analysis to salary, but for the first few weeks of the season we can use historical pricing to look for value and deficiency. We looked at the extremes today with the top ten players on both sides of the salary spectrum, but each player in the pool (with the exception of rookies) has an average from 2016 that we can compare their current salary to. If there is a player who’s price difference you are interested in knowing, don’t be shy – feel free to reach out to me on twitter @FFdeJENerate.