Thursday, Sep 10th

Why Showdown?


In this lesson :: We’ll take a deeper look at how to approach Showdowns in order to maximize profitability. The edge in Showdowns is unbelievably tangible at the moment; but the only way to take full advantage of this edge is to first understand why the edge exists, and to understand what mistakes others are making so we can avoid those ourselves.


When Showdown was first introduced, my initial reaction was, “Build a roster from one game? That’s nuts! The variance will be insane; there’s no edge!” And I was half right: the variance is insane. But that doesn’t mean there’s no edge!

So, why Showdown? Because it’s soft.

If you go look at some Showdown slates and see how people construct rosters for them, you’ll quickly realize that people are just throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. People are fielding rosters that have literally zero chance of winning. Scoring in football is so highly correlated that there are some basic rules we can think through and follow to find success in Showdown, but a lot of people just don’t do that. You’ll find things like rosters with three receivers from one team (and one of them in the captain spot!), but not using that team’s QB; or defense captain with five players from the other team; and even more ridiculous rosters than that. There is just a lot of dead money in Showdown slates from players who don’t understand how correlation impacts scoring in football, because you just don’t have to think about it with this level of depth and nuance in a full slate. 

So, why Showdown? Because it’s soft. It’s the newest format on Draftkings, and that means there isn’t a lot of content or data for it, so people are just firing blind. I was able to cash double-ups at a rate of just over 70% last year, which is absolutely insane. There’s no way that’s possible on the main slate. 

Is the variance frustrating sometimes? Absolutely. It hurts when you go all-in on a guy and he gets hurt early or just has a bad game out of nowhere. But you also get three major Showdown slates per week, plus some smaller ones during the day on Sunday; so while any one slate has enormous variance, if you play every Showdown slate, the variance evens out. I’d encourage you to think of all of the Showdown slates for the entire season as one giant slate: sometimes variance will blow you up, but if you stay disciplined with your bankroll management and play every one of them, it will even out over time.

I’m also going to hypothesize that the edge in Showdown is going to decrease each season, much as it has on the main slate over the past few years. I’m not one of those who believes the edge in DFS is gone (far from it, in fact), but I do believe the easy money days of 2014 to 2016 are behind us and the majority of the DFS player base is at least relatively sharp….on the main slate, at least. The same learning curve will happen with Showdown, both as players adapt and as more sites start to produce good content for the format. I think it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to win 70% of double-ups for the next five years, but I think it’s equally likely that Showdown will continue to be the softest game type available (at least until something else comes out and becomes as big and successful; if that ever happens).