DFS like a Poker Player: Implied Odds and Ownership

Written By PlayPicks Staff on October 29, 2014 - Last Updated on June 1, 2020

Many people tweet or email me about the ownership article I post each week. Some are happy they used a few plays that paid off for them and others are mad that they faded all the high owned guys and it cost them.  What I want to do today is help you guys better understand the reasoning behind why I write the article and how to use those numbers. There seems to be some confusion about Why it even matters. I ran across quite possibly the best explanation of the strategy on a forum column at rotogrinders this week.


2013 DS Big Score I Champion, 2013 DFFC Finalist

As simple as I can put it…

If a guy is 30% owned at $5000 on DK, you have to ask youself if you think he could get 20 points (4x value for GPP) at least 30% of the time…if the answer is ‘yes,’ then you roster him and forget about the % owned.

The value in rostering lesser-owned guys occurs when a guy like Roethlisberger this week was rostered a 1% at $5800, meaning that he needed ~ 23 points to reach value. In that case, Roethlisberger is a GREAT play because, over the course of 100 games, he would assuredly score 23 points more than once (1%).

It’s kind of like poker in that way…you keep making calls/bets based on the pot/implied odds. If you push chips in the middle and end up on the wrong side of variance this time, it doesn’t matter because you’ll win over the long haul, as long as your calculations are correct.

With football, you’re looking to find those low-owned gems with upside because they will separate you from the pack at a rate higher than their ownership.



Tipandpick is a well known DFS player with a lot of success in daily fantasy football on his resume. If you are playing pick up basketball with him, good luck guarding that hook shot too. This guy has had 5 and 6 digit paydays in the game, so you might want to listen to him. He brings up some very important rules to follow when using the numbers we provide here at PlayPicks. Let’s break them down one by one.


Value Computations and Projections


There’s a lot of different thoughts on how to calculate value out there. Some people use a multiplier, others use a small multiplier plus a number like 4/6 depending on how you weight it. To me they are all basically the same, but the point is you need to have a target you want to reach to win a tourney. That target on DraftKings had been in the 240 range for the Milly Maker and about 180 for the FanDuel Millions. Last week’s monster scores were an outlier, so we will stick with the pregame averages. On DraftKings you get $50,000 salary cap so divide that by the average points needed and you get roughly 5. That means you need five points per $1000 of cost on your players to reach that total.


Projections are usually done in ranges because there is a lot of variability to fantasy football scores that can not be easily quantified in a single number. That sentence alone might be scary to some new players, but all it basically means is how many points do you think this player will score and what is the high/low range you think his score will be in? Think of it as Tipandpick suggested. If this guy played this game 100 times, how often would he have a performance that exceeds that projection? For tournaments, besides the projection, you want to know how often he could reasonably be expected to hit that 5 times value mark. If you think his chance of hitting that mark is 20% and he is owned at 5% then you are getting good value for using him.




In Friday’s ownership article I mentioned that Big Ben and Antonio Brown were worth a shot this weekend if you wanted to win a GPP. Some laughed at me (including the guys I pool entries with for the Milly Maker) and I can see why. Indy has been good, the match up numbers were not positive and Steelers are hot and cold. I never thought he would throw for 400 yards and 6 TDs, but that was a possible outcome. The reason I liked him was his price was cheap. If you take his price times the multiplier ($5700 by 5) then you get a number of 28.5. Ben would need 28.5 to reach his value. Let’s break that down into a stat line for ease of understanding. 28.5 points is what you would get for a 337 yard passing 3 TD game on DraftKings. That is not a ho hum everyday stat line, but it is something Ben has done and does do a few times a season. Let’s be conservative and say twice a year. In that case he had a 1 in 8 chance of going 5 times value and was only being given a 1 in 100 chance according to his ownership percentage.  Neither I nor anybody else who took Big Ben this weekend was envisioning this kind of performance, but that is not the point. The point was he was more than 12 times more likely than his odds said he was of reaching his value proposition. The reason this matters can best be seen by looking at the numbers. Big Ben wound up having that outlier day this past weekend and hitting the ceiling he had. Actually he probably even exceeded his ceiling as this was a crazy good performance. Now at 1% ownership and 10 more points then anyone else at his position, rostering Big Ben gave you a +10 lead on each roster you used him on with more money to spend since his price was lower then other QBs. In a tourney with 100,000 people if you take QB rosters in a vacuum, he now has you playing the other positions vs. your peers while having your roster in the top 1,000 (1%) of people who used him.




This word gets thrown around a lot, but let’s discuss what it means and why it is relevant. Fantasy scores are not a linear and highly accurately predicted thing. Sure you can guesstimate them based on averages and player usage and Defense v. Position, but there’s no way you can know exactly. Actual live sporting events have unpredictability and game flow issues that no one can prechart with absolute certainty. The difference between a 14 Draftkings point game and a 24.1 DraftKings point game could be as simple as a 1 yard TD catch by a guy with 4 catches for 99 yards. In one game WR A catches the fade and in the other it’s incomplete. RB A has 200 yards rushing but fails to find paydirt because of it. RB B gets the TD after the missed fade attempt by his WR to give him 16 DK points on the back of two one yard scores. Overall he had a trash day, but salvaged it. All these things together are an example of variance. If a guy gets 4 red zone looks a week and converts at an average of one in three, then he should score a TD every week right? Lock it up, give me my points? While those may be the averages, it does not mean it is a constant. The player in question may have caught 2 of his 3 red zone looks in one game and then went 0 for 3 in game two. He may have come back in game 3 and 5 with 1 TD catch in 4 tries both games and then had no catches on 2 targets in week 4 and 2 TDs on 6 targets in week 6. There is no such thing as a sure thing and no such thing as a guarantee. Injuries, Game Flow, Defense scheme’s and a million other variables can effect outcomes and sometimes they work in your favor and other times they do not. That is what variance is all about. While a guy should get 15 or 20 points given the match up and conditions, it doesn’t mean he will get 15-20 every time. Sometimes he will get 40, other times he gets 10. When you hear the term “On the right side of Variance” this is what they mean. If you have guys who outperform their averages on that day then you benefitted from that upside and are on the right side of variance.




I hope this gives you a little better understanding of the reasoning behind the Ownership percentage article and how to use those numbers to your advantage. I know it has worked for me and I can understand why some guys are hesitant given some of the match ups, but remember the reason you are getting that player so low owned is because you can see past the warts others cannot. Good luck this weekend, the pools keep growing again, so get that money.

PlayPicks Staff Avatar
Written by
PlayPicks Staff

PlayPicks staff has years of sports betting and DFS knowledge and we share all of that with you for free daily.

View all posts by PlayPicks Staff
Privacy Policy