Look for more than just upside when creating your GPP Lineups

Many daily fantasy sports players prefer looking for players with a high upside or a high-variance approach when playing in tournaments, for a number of reasons.  For starters, only elite lineups win GPP games, so finding players with a high ceiling is a smart move. GPP winners on FanDuel and DraftKings never have a bad player in the lineup, so stacking your lineup with guys that go off is essential.

But at what costs should you seek upside?

How much risk are we willing to take in order to get this high upside?

Should you look to draft players with a safe, high-floor, even if his ceiling isn’t as high?

These are questions that need to be considered when selecting your football team because it could really impact how we construct GPP tournament lineups.


Knowing a Players Ceiling and Floor

We all know how important it is to find that top-scorer each  week. You want those guys on your roster who makes his way into the end zone three times or maybe one that puts up 200 yards and a TD. Players like these can easily turn your lineup into an elite one.

NFL as a whole is a highly-variant sport because unlike other sports, scoring a touchdown greatly changes how a player is perceived to have played.

A player could have a great day catching 8 passes for 100 yards, but no touchdowns, but in DFS, we would rather have the guy that catches 4 passes for 40 yards, but gets into the endzone 3 times instead.

That is only one part of constructing your lineup.  The other is making sure you don’t miss on any of your players.  After all, nothing will kill your lineup quicker than have a player get you 3 points or worse a zero.

If you look at the lineup of GPP winners, you will almost never see a player that didn’t do well and return some kind of value.

When I look back at FanDuel or DraftKings lineups of GPP winners compared to head to head or 50/50 winners, most of the time the GPP will have a much higher top scoring in the lineup.

If fact even the lowest scoring player on a winner GPP lineup is generally higher than that of a winning H2H or 50/50 lineup.

This shows that not only do you need high variant players in GPP lineups, but you need consistency across every position.

The Probability of Hitting on Every Pick

Though its very difficult to “hit” on every pick, many GPP rosters do hit on a lot of player.  If you target solely players

with a super high-variance with really high ceilings, but also a very high probability of giving you next-to-nothing, you will greatly reduce the odds of putting together a winning lineup.

For example,  suppose you are deciding between players and you estimate the odds of each of them reaching a certain level of production as follows:

Player A 30 pts – 50% probability

Player B 35 pts – 40% probability

Player C 40 pts – 15% probability

Player D 25 pts – 70% probability

Which one is the better option? Well, considering the odds, player D is clearly better in terms of probability, despite not being the top scorers. Because of the high probability of players A and D, chances are they are more consistent and have a higher floor as well.

In this example if you can see working a few truly high-variance players with really low floors such as player C could potentially be detrimental in a GPP if he doesn’t “hit”.

As you can see predicting a players ceiling is much harder than calculating their floor production.

No one really knows when Jordy Nelson will light it up with a few 60+ yard TD scores.  The only thing we can go by is the matchup, but its still difficult to predict those truly elite games.  On the flip side, you can calculate with a good level of accuracy based on match up that Jordy Nelson will get at least a certain number of points in a given game.

This combination of high floor and potential upside would make Jordy Nelson a great selection when constructing you FanDuel or DraftKings GPP lineup and even your cash game lineups line head to head or 50/50.  Consistancy is even more crucial in those cames as they can be won without having an outstanding lineup.

I still think we should be seeking volatility in tournaments, but not at the expense of missing on a few of your picks.  Make sure your players have a decent floor. If you can manage to increase your lineup’s ceiling without getting burned on those players that can hurt your GPP scores, you should greatly increase your chances of winning more tournament games.

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