Soccer is a game of flow that relies heavily on formations and team conditioning, as well as recent form. There are different ways that teams can choose to execute their offense, and each different way can lead to different stats carrying more weight for each individual team. Teams can choose to rely on crosses by midfielders or fullbacks into the 18 yard box. Other teams, depending on personnel, can rely on the talent of their midfield holding players to open up spacing, using their unique skills and ability to open up the playing field by drawing defenders. Some teams rely heavily on ball movement, and this results in moving the ball around various parts of the field. Despite all these different ways that teams run their offenses, there are a few stats that are consistently usable to determine which players are in the best spots.
When I mention touches, I’m referring to the amount of times the ball is at a player’s feet. This counts as a “touch.” Some sites detail the number of touches a player gets in a single game; others break it down even further and break down the number of touches a player gets in the opponents half and the opponents third. It stands to reason that the closer a player touches the ball, the more likely they are to be involved in a goal scoring opportunity for that team.
Looking at a sample table from a specific season, it is easy to see the correlation between the number of touches in the final third for a specific player and the opportunity for that player to produce stats. This ultimately leads to chances for these players to produce points for your DraftKings DFS lineups.
You’ll notice that there are several players in that list, and all of these players are obviously offensive minded. You’ll see the direct correlation of touches in the final third of their opponent and DraftKings fantasy points. Many of these players average double digits in DK points, so looking at touches is a great metric to judge which players are going to have numerous opportunities to produce on a given day.
While this stat appears to be highly dependent on the touches in the final third, it is a highly predictive stat for assists. A Key Pass is defined by Opta as “the final pass or pass-cum-shot leading to the recipient of the ball having an attempt at goal without scoring.” Put in plain English, it’s a pass that leads to a good chance at a goal, but not a goal. When you add that number to the assist total, you get “Chances Created”.
When a player finds himself in a situation where his team is pushing forward and enjoying the majority of possession, then the player is in a good spot to create Key Passes for his teammates; thus, the increased opportunities for goal scoring.
Obviously, you can’t win your soccer matchups or place high in a GPP without having a team chalk full of goal scorers. There are plenty of factors that go into a player being a goal scorer. He relies on his teammates controlling the midfield and delivering the ball into the 18-yard box. He relies on his manager’s tactics and the general flow of play. He relies on a multitude of categories that aren’t in his control. However, when these events happen to coincide, they create a Big Chance for a player. A Big Chance is defined by Opta as “A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.” There is a very high correlation between Big Chances and goals scored for a player (81% correlation for the 2014-15 season) that one can reasonably assume that the more Big Chances a player gets, the more goals he can score.
In conclusion, these three stats are a great starting place to set yourself up for a successful daily fantasy soccer day. While these stats alone won’t give you all the information you need, they (combined with the checking of recent trends in lineup formation and matchups) can lead you to a spot where you pick the players who are the most likely to be in a position to succeed.