The Standard Deviation Tool: Beginners Guide

Written By PlayPicks Staff on February 16, 2015 - Last Updated on June 20, 2018
Standard Deviation

As daily fantasy players, we are always looking for ways to improve our game, and get that extra step ahead of our competition. At PlayPicks, we do everything we can to cater to the DFS Elite, and help our readers enhance their experience with the wonderful industry of daily fantasy sports. Once regular NBA action resumes after the All Star break, we would like to announce that we are working on a tool that will separate us from many other industry leaders: A Standard Deviation tool.
The idea came from one smart Twitter user (@SamSven_Hoops), who tweeted to me, inquiring if there were any sites that offered this revolutionary stat. I informed him that I did not know of any sites that did such, but then the light in my head flickered: What’s to stop PlayPicks from offering it?
So that’s what we’ve got our sights set on. After the All Star break concludes, we will have an article for each slate, highlighting the best plays based on the concept of standard deviation. Now what is standard deviation, you ask? It’s actually much more simple than it’s fancy math jargon would suggest.


What is Standard Deviation?


Standard Deviation is used with a set of numbers, and the advanced formula calculates how often the numbers deviate, or separate themselves, from the mean of said set. How does this help DFS players? “How doesn’t it help?” would be a better question.
As many of you know, there are two different types of games, GPPs and cash games. In cash games, it is recommended to target players with safe floors, guys that you know won’t let you down and provide consistent points on a daily basis. In GPPs (tournaments), the goal is to target players that can erupt for insane amounts of FPTS (ceiling breaking performances), and blow their value out of the water. Given these two concepts, standard deviation is a perfect tool to use.


Example using Player Stats


Let’s bring in some player stats in order to better illustrate the point. On FanDuel, Steph Curry has scored 46, 40, 30.2, 48.9, and 60.8 FPTs over his past five games, respectively. As you can guess, his standard deviation score (SDS) will be quite high. More specifically, his score is a whopping 11.3. To bring this number into terms, anything higher than a 5 on this scale could be considered highly deviant, and this makes Chef Curry a perfect GPP play. However, this would not translate with each player. For example, if a player had a recent-game line of 20, 21, 23, 13, 12, 25, it would result in a high SDS, but his low and sporadic ceiling would make said player an awful GPP play. In the articles to come, we would nix these players all together.
Let’s switch our sights to an ideal cash game play. One guy that comes to mind is Zach Randolph. Z-Bo rarely will go for a 60-burger, but he consistently hits value and is as reliable as they come. Over his past 5 outings, he generated a SDS of 1.85. That is quite different than Curry’s SDS of 11.3, and the numbers apply well.
As you can see, these standard deviation scores will be a pretty accurate measuring tool of which player to play in a given game type. There will always be variances due to injury or opponent, but these calculations are a perfect way to illustrate consistency vs. explosiveness. Our deviation stats will only be calculated via recent games, so that the most accurate score possible will be computed.
We here at PlayPicks believe that the introduction of this statistical advantage will do big things for the daily fantasy gamers success. Personally, I’m excited for  basketball to resume so that the fun can begin! As always, we are always welcome to feedback, and you can tweet us your opinions @PlayPicks.

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