3 months ago

Understanding Ownership in Daily Fantasy Sports

We are often told that, to succeed, we have to have our own identity and be unique. I guess that is true for the most part, and it definitely applies to DFS. To navigate large fields, you have to think outside the box and try to find stacks and players that many of your opponents are going to ignore. Why? Because this is what separates winning players from the rest of the pack.

I am going to start with hockey, just because this is my sport of choice, but we’ll get to football, don’t you fret.

You might have heard about my fellow author here at DraftGym — Khan. Over the span of 20,000+ tournaments, he has recorded  €29,137 in profit and ROI of 20,71% on the day of writing.

To be honest, I am envious of these figures and, probably, so are you. What makes him so good? Well, plenty of things, like relying on advanced stats, deep knowledge of hockey, and sixth sense, but there is another important thing – his decision-making when it comes to selecting picks for his teams.



This is the screenshot of khan’s winning team in the €22 tourney that took place on October 24, 2019. Yes, he did have popular picks like Draisaitl and McDavid (although they were not very popular in this particular tournament), but he threw in a curveball and picked Claude Giroux (4% ownership) and James van Riemsdyk (3% ownership) to complement the Oilers duo. An interesting pick in Adam Fox (2% ownership) added some much-needed fantasy points, especially given how both Klefbom and Gostisbehere essentially came up empty.

That night, there were plenty of interesting games in terms of expected goals, like Calgary vs. Florida, but khan decided differently. As you might have guessed, it paid handsomely (1st place worth almost €668).

Let’s switch to another example. Below is the runner-up of the €11 tourney that took place late on October 25, 2019.

While many picked someone like Alex Ovechkin (31% of ownership), this guy decided to play contrarian and picked a stack of three Vancouver players. Add that to unorthodox picks like Nick Schmaltz (3% ownership) or Jake Muzzin (6% ownership) – and you got yourself a second-place finish.

The most illustrative picks here are Schmaltz and Muzzin – they alone obtained 20 points, which is one-third of the usual amount of points needed to finish high (60+ points usually allows you to do that in most daily fantasy hockey tournaments on FanTeam).

The same tournament, and a fourth-place finish. This is quirrel77, the name that strikes fears into the hearts of anyone who has ever played on FanTeam.

Yes, he might have gotten a stroke of luck here by picking Nick Leddy (1% ownership) who came up with two goals against the Sens in one period, but there is a point to that. He must have believed that the more popular pick among the Isles D-men would be somebody else (like Devon Toews or Ryan Pulock) and decided to go with Leddy (the same logic goes for Kuznetsov, by the way – in the end, Kuzy got more points than the other three forwards combined, a nice return for a bargain price).

Despite mediocre fantasy return from other players (we will explain later why their point returns didn't matter much after a monster-haul from his differential pick), these two picks alone have vaulted him into the top 5, and had quirrel77 been pickier, he might have finished higher.

The final example, and another shark (see a pattern developing here?). Ironically, it’s Philly again. This one is Stammer’s winning team from the Saturday’s €11 tournament. While most of the field gravitated towards the best line in hockey right now, Stammer decided to go against the grain (even though he added a little bit of Pasta to his bowl – see what it did there?). The result, you ask? €44 worth of buy-ins, €300 in profit. Yes, these guys are that good.



The example just above is a great illustration of how ownership in DFS works.

Let’s assume that 60 fantasy points is enough to claim a victory in any given DFS hockey tournament (it varies depending on the day and the number of goals scored; in this very case, it was a little bit more than 60 points).

As you can see, the Flyers’ trio got themselves a grand total of 32.25 points. So, to get the win, Stammer needs the other five players to accumulate about 27 fantasy points, or a little bit more than 5 points per player, which they successfully did.

Basically, if you nail your differential, low-owned players, the rest of your line-up may consist of chalky (highly-owned players) picks with a good floor since you do not rely on them for monster hauls. You just need their point returns to be average, no more. 



Now, just as promised, we are switching things up. DFS football is even tougher in this regard. Since there are fewer players on a particular roster than in hockey, there is less room for creativity. Thus, the ability to go against the grain is even more valuable.

This is the winning team from the €20 Weekly Monster that took place during game week 9, assembled by tigana. Although there are many safe picks, what jumps right at you is two players from Sheffield United owned by just 1% of the field.

So, the math is simple – it is often enough to accumulate about 90 points to place in the top-20 of DFS football tourneys. These two alone gave tigana 15 points and allowed to spend money elsewhere.

Notice how chalky (Chelsea and Manchester City players with 30%+ownership) the rest of his lineup is.

The money he invested in pricey players delivered mediocre point returns (just like for the 30%= players who picked them as well), but that was enough since it was the low-owned players that lifted him above the pack. 

An even more striking example is this one – the runner-up of the €20 Weekly Monster during GW10, one of the entries submitted by ILYAN1.

As you see, the differentials here are Tim Krul (3% owned) of Norwich City and Christian Pulisic (0,6%) of Chelsea. Those two guys gained a whopping total of 32 fantasy points (Krul saved not one, but two penalties against Manchester United – you don’t see that a lot).

I’m going to do the math for you – the remainder of the team, nine players, had to put together 58 points, or a little more than 5.5 points per player (not a tall task – just play the entire match, try not to get penalized, and be on the pitch when your team scores).



So, what did we learn, Palmer? (sorry, could not resist with that one) We’ve learned that it’s often okay to step outside the comfort zone and make creative decisions that will result in bigger paydays (this is especially true for DFS football). So, go out there and start experimenting, but remember – gamble responsibly! 

In our next article, we will shed light on how to predict ownership percentages and pick the right differentials. I bid you farewell till then.




DFS enthusiast and rather frequent player. Spreading DFS word within the sound of my voice. Love all things hockey.