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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy 101

If you are looking for some strategy tips for daily fantasy sports…look no further!  New Moxyball writer, Byron of Baseball breaks down his tips on DFS!

Before I get into more daily pick columns I wanted to share some basic daily fantasy draft strategy. While the strategy here is going to be geared towards the Draft Kings format which does vary a bit for those familiar with the FanDuel format the core concepts remain applicable to any daily strategy format.
This is the first in a series of articles about daily fantasy strategy which will involve quite a bit of game theory but for now I wanted to stick to the points below as they can act as a good foundation for the beginner or a quick refresher for the veteran trying to keep up to date.
1) Know Your Contest’s Format – The most common mistake I see among daily fantasy players is that they draft the same team (or apply the same strategy as it were) no matter what the goal of the contest they’ve entered is. While, yes, the overarching goal is to accumulate the most amount of points on a single day everyone can benefit from taking different approaches to achieve this goal. These approaches need to be in line with the format you’ve selected. For example, if you’ve entered a 30 man 50/50 split contest your goal is to come in the top half so your team should incur less risk than if you’re entering a top end weighted guaranteed jackpot contest where you are gunning for a top 10 finish of hundreds to potentially thousands of entrants. So while an all or nothing power player like Adam Dunn might not be someone I’d ever really recommend starting in a 50/50 game there is a lot of upside in running him if you’re trying to win a jackpot especially with a 10 pts per home run clip at Draft Kings. The opposite goes for slow and steady top of the order hitters like Denard Span and Adam Eaton whom are more likely to land you a decent point total but rarely if ever rack up large totals.
2) Don’t Get Cute with Your Starting Pitchers – In season long formats you can stream pitchers to success, punt pitching until the middle rounds and stack your roster with premium bats to achieve success. There are well documented proven strategies (Like Ron Shandler’s famous LIMA strategy) that discuss this. However the general thought process behind these strategies is over the course of 162 games hitters tend to be more consistent, less variable and less risky commodities than starting pitchers so load up on hitters. So the biggest problem with trying to apply this so a Daily format is that well….it’s a daily format! There’s a reason why the average daily value of an ace is 12-14k and a top-tier bat (think Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera) is between 5 and 6. It’s because pitchers can and will accumulate points more easily than hitters. A good start for a hitter can be in the 15 point range (think a few hits with a few runs or RBI) whereas a decent winning start for a pitcher should net you around 30 points. Don’t put your team in the hole right out of the gate and draft your pitcher/pitchers wisely as you cannot afford to miss on them. While the Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer‘s of the world will cost you a pretty penny you simply cannot afford to cut costs at pitcher. When in doubt on the day – go with the ace.
3) Focus on at bats – The easiest way to ensure you get points from your hitters is to ensure they’re getting the opportunity. If it sounds like common sense – that’s because it is. Unlike season long formats there is no punishment for striking out or hitting for a bad average in daily leagues. While manager’s might get a lot of grief for hitting horrible OBP players atop their lineups as a fantasy player you can take advantage of that! Think of it this way if a player hits .200 batting 2nd is going to average 5 at bats and a player hitting 8th is going to hit .250 and get 4 at bats they’re going to get the same amount of hits as each other even over the long haul. While that example is a little exaggerated for the purposes of making a point the principal can be applied to a lot of key scenarios that happen every day. Platoons, lineup shuffles, and injuries can all present daily fantasy players with a great source of getting cheap at bats which gives your baseball players more chances to help your team. While the Brock Holt and Ender Inciarte‘s of the world
4) Do Your Research & Use Common Sense – A cornerstone of success in any game, contest or business venture is doing your homework, fantasy baseball is no different. Making the best decision with the information you have is key. The more information you have about the players you’re drafting, the more opinions of value for the day the better prepared you will be. Keep your eyes peeled for last-minute lineup changes, injuries, or call ups that might affect players you drafted or are thinking about drafting. Don’t set your lineup the day before without checking lineup updates, don’t spend all of your budget on your favorite players (even though it’s fun) and don’t enter a contest if you haven’t been able to give it some thought…or if you do any of these things don’t expect success. Finally, fantasy baseball is a game of skill but there’s also an element of luck, so if you are on a bad run or are experiencing some bad luck do not get frustrated. In the short-term, the approach is more important than the result and in the long-term, making the right decision generally pays off.
While some of the points above are common sense and this article is geared towards more general daily strategy if anyone has feedback or comments they are welcome and encouraged.

About Brads.Got.Moxy

Brad is the co-founder of moxyball.com and is an avid fantasy sports enthusiast and blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @bradsgotmoxy for additional fantasy sports insights.