Optimizing DFS Lineups with Ownership Percentages in Mind

Learn how to use ownership percentages in DFS to your advantage, with insightful strategies for selecting unique lineups for bigger wins.
Optimizing DFS Lineups with Ownership Percentages in Mind

DFS players are always on the lookout for strategies that can give them an edge over the competition. One aspect often overlooked by casual players is the concept of ownership percentages and how they can be leveraged to optimize lineups.

However, experts and pros understand and use ownership percentages to their advantage, as it can significantly increase your chances of winning. Let’s dive into some unique strategies that can help you stand out.

Understanding Ownership Percentages

Before we get into a few of our best strategies, let’s clarify what ownership percentages are.

In DFS, ownership percentage refers to the proportion of lineups that include a particular player. High ownership means a player is popular among fantasy managers, while low ownership indicates the opposite.

While it may seem simple, you might be wondering why this matters.

Because in tournaments, picking players who perform well but are less popular can catapult you ahead of the competition, leading to bigger wins.

Diversity is a way to separate your team from the rest of the pack; however, diversity on its own is not a winning formula. You still need to have solid players that are going to perform well.

Unfortunately, every DFS platform we’ve played on orders the players by salary, and those at the top tend to get picked up by everyone, including the casual players.

How much can you really win in a tournament if the first-place spot is tied 30 ways?

Go Beyond the Obvious in Player Selection

The most straightforward approach is to simply not always go for the obvious picks.

This doesn’t mean you should avoid star players altogether; instead, it’s about finding a balance. Look for situations where a less popular player has the potential for a breakout game.

Factors such as matchups, recent performance trends, and even weather conditions can influence a player’s performance. This, of course, does require in-depth research and analysis and scouring the field for potential sleepers and gems.

You can differentiate your lineup from the masses by identifying under-the-radar players who might have a big game. If played right, this diversity can propel your DFS team past the rest.

Analyze Matchup and Contextual Factors

So, you found a few players that are not the top stars, like the Patrick Mahomes and Connor McDavids of the leagues. Now, it’s time to analyze.

Digging deeper into matchups and contextual factors is key.

For instance, a running back facing a team that struggles against the run could be a goldmine, especially if he’s not one of the top names. Take this a step further: imagine an RB2 stepping up where an RB1 is injured and they’re playing a poor run defense. 

Do you see how this can require a bit more than just looking at the salary and how many owners picked the player up? 

Similarly, consider wide receivers or tight ends who might get more targets due to injuries in their teams’ receiving corps. These situations can lead to lower-owned players becoming valuable assets in your lineup.

These gems will most likely have a low ownership percentage and, therefore, be more difficult to find — but they can really pay off!

Leverage Advanced Metrics and Tools

Taking advantage of advanced metrics and analytics tools can provide insights that the average player might miss.

Metrics like target share, air yards, and opportunity share for football players, or usage rate and PER (Player Efficiency Rating) for basketball players, can uncover potential high performers who aren’t on everyone’s radar.

On top of that, numerous online tools and platforms offer predictive analytics based on complex algorithms to suggest undervalued players who might have low ownership percentages.

Here are a few key stats and metrics we look at for finding undervalued players. Some of these may be more difficult to find compared to the traditional metrics like goals or yards.

NFL

  • Red Zone Opportunities. Focus on players who consistently receive opportunities inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. Red zone targets and carries often lead to scoring opportunities, making this stat crucial for identifying potential touchdown scorers.
  • Snap Counts and Touch Shares. Analyze how much playing time and offensive involvement a player gets relative to their teammates. Players with high snap counts and touch shares are more likely to accumulate fantasy points consistently.
  • Target Share. Look at the percentage of targets a player receives compared to the total targets of their team. High target share indicates a player is heavily involved in the passing game and has more opportunities to accumulate fantasy points, especially in PPR formats.
  • Matchup-Based Metrics. Consider advanced metrics such as Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) or Football Outsiders’ Defense vs. Position (DVOA vs. WR1/WR2/TE/RB) to identify favorable matchups. Undervalued players may excel against weaker opponents despite not having high name recognition.
  • Efficiency Metrics. Look beyond traditional stats like yards and touchdowns to evaluate efficiency. Metrics like yards per route run (for receivers), yards per carry (for running backs), and quarterback rating under pressure can uncover undervalued players who perform well on a per-play basis.

NBA

  • Usage Rate. This stat measures the percentage of team plays a player uses while on the court. Players with high usage rates typically have more opportunities to score fantasy points as they are heavily involved in their team’s offense.
  • Fantasy Points per Minute (FPPM). FPPM calculates the average fantasy points a player scores per minute played. It helps assess a player’s fantasy production efficiency, allowing you to identify undervalued players who might not play as many minutes but are highly productive when on the court.
  • Rebound Rate. Rebounding is a critical aspect of fantasy basketball, especially for positions like power forwards and centers. Analyzing rebound rates helps identify players who excel in this category and can contribute valuable fantasy points through rebounds.
  • Assist Percentage. This metric indicates the percentage of teammate field goals a player assists on while he’s on the court. Players with high assist percentages are valuable in fantasy as they contribute points and assists, which can significantly boost their fantasy production.
  • Defensive Metrics. While fantasy basketball primarily focuses on offensive stats, considering defensive metrics like steals and blocks can provide an edge. Players who contribute in multiple categories, including defense, can offer value beyond traditional scoring stats and are often undervalued in DFS contests.

NHL

  • Time on Ice (TOI). Time on ice measures the total amount of time a player spends on the ice during a game. Players with high TOI generally have more opportunities to accumulate fantasy points, especially those involved in power-play and penalty-killing situations.
  • Shots on Goal (SOG). Shots on goal represent the number of times a player attempts to score on the opposing team’s net. Players who consistently generate shots on goal have a higher chance of scoring and contributing to fantasy point totals, making SOG an important stat to consider.
  • Power Play Opportunities (PPO). Power play opportunities track the number of times a player’s team has a man advantage due to penalties against the opposing team. Players who receive significant power play time have increased scoring opportunities and are more likely to contribute to fantasy points during these advantageous situations.
  • Blocked Shots (BLK). Blocked shots indicate a player’s defensive contribution by preventing the opposing team’s shots from reaching the net. While not as glamorous as offensive stats, blocked shots can still earn fantasy points and contribute to a player’s overall value, especially for defensemen.
  • Faceoff Win Percentage (FO%). Faceoff win percentage measures the percentage of faceoffs a player wins compared to the total faceoffs taken. Centers with high faceoff win percentages not only gain possession for their team but also have the opportunity to earn additional fantasy points through assists and goals resulting from controlled puck possession.

Embrace Contrarian Thinking in GPPs

In Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournaments (some of our favorite contests), where the goal is to finish at the very top out of a large field, embracing a contrarian approach can be particularly effective.

This means deliberately choosing players who you believe will perform well but will be overlooked by the majority.

It’s a riskier strategy, as it can lead to boom-or-bust outcomes, but the rewards for hitting on these contrarian picks can be substantial.

Balance Risk with Reliable Performers

We touched on this lightly before; however, while seeking low-ownership players is crucial, balancing your lineup with reliable performers is equally important.

This doesn’t necessarily mean picking the highest-owned stars but instead finding those consistent players who might not have the highest ceiling but offer a solid floor.

This strategy ensures that if your contrarian picks don’t pan out, you still have a stable base of points to keep you competitive.

Monitor Late-Breaking News

One of the most overlooked strategies is staying on top of late-breaking news and adjusting your lineups accordingly. Our DFS experts always dig up countless hidden gems and sleepers this way.

Player injuries, lineup changes, and weather conditions can all impact ownership percentages close to game time.

Being one of the first to act on this news can allow you to adjust your lineup to include players whose value has suddenly increased but whose ownership percentages haven’t yet caught up.

Take Your DFS to the Next Level

Leveraging ownership percentages in DFS requires a blend of research, intuition, and, sometimes, a bit of courage to go against the grain. With a bit of practice and patience, you’ll get there.

By employing these strategies, you’re not just playing the game; you’re playing the players.

The goal isn’t just to pick the best players but to pick the best lineup that will set you apart from your competition. Keep these tips in mind, and you may find yourself climbing the ranks and securing those top spots more frequently.

 

Matt Brown


Head of Sports Betting and DFS

Matt’s love for sports betting and daily fantasy sports, coupled with a deep understanding of football, hockey, and baseball, shapes his innovative thoughts on Hello Rookie. He has a B.S. in Aeronautical Computer Science and a M.S. in Project Management.