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MLB DFS STRATEGY: 5 Steps To Building a Winning MLB Cash Game Lineup on DraftKings

Win More DFS Cash: 5 Steps To Building a Winning MLB DFS Cash Game Lineup on DraftKings

My wife is dreading Sunday night. For the next seven months, any 30-second window I have, I will be on my phone checking MLB starting lineups, gathering weather reports, keeping on an eye on minor league roster call ups, and of course constantly checking my DFS lineups once they lock. A glorious seven months! (Needless to say, some of my winnings will be spent on flowers, Ann Taylor Loft gift cards, and extra bottles of wine to keep the boss happy!)

All jokes aside, creating winning lineups in MLB DFS is a serious commitment. MLB, unlike any other sport, requires continuous monitoring throughout the day/week to ensure you factor in all the components of a winning lineup.

This week’s article is going to be focusing on some daily steps to help you create consistent winning lineups for cash games (50/50s and Double Ups) on DraftKings. For first-timers, you may want to check out Zach’s article which gives a lot of great MLB DFS 101 information for getting started.

My daily goal is 125-130 fantasy points when creating an MLB cash lineup on DK. 130 points will cash about 90-95% of the time and is a pretty safe bet to be in the top 60%-70% of contest entries. So let’s talk about some ways to consistently hit 130 points!

In DraftKings you have a $50,000 lineup salary. If our goal is 130 points, we are looking at a 2.6x return on investment (ROI). Essentially that means for every $1000 of your salary you spend, you want to accrue 2.6 points. If a player costs $5000, they will need to net you 13 points on average (more for pitchers and less for position players, explained below).

Step #1) Spend 35-40% of your salary on pitching – You have heard the old adage, “pitching and defense win championships”, well in DFS cash games it is more like “pitching and pitching wins you money”. In DK, you roster TWO pitchers! Your pitchers will make or break your lineup. I can’t remember more than a handful of times when my pitchers combined for under 40 points and I still cashed in 50/50’s last year. It rarely happens. As such, I spend the majority of my research on selecting pitchers. My advice is to spend between 35%-40% of your roster salary on your pitchers. That equates to about $17,500 – $20,000 on pitching. That may seem like a lot, but trust me it will pay off.

In order to get my 13 average points per player, I rely on my pitchers to actually have a higher ROI, about 3.0x, putting it roughly around 55-60 points total from my pitchers. This allows me to have a more conservative approach when selecting position players so I can expect a 2.2 ROI average per position player (or about 9 points per a $4000 position player).

NOTE: I am not trying to insult anyone, but want to point this out — don’t roster position players on the opposing team of your chosen pitchers. Similar to the idea of not rostering a Defense in NFL DFS that is playing your QB or RB, it limits your point potential.

Step #2) Home “Run” Field Advantage – After I do my pitcher research, I check out where games are being played. The five top run producing baseball parks last year were (courtesy of ESPN):

5. Globe Life Park (Texas Rangers)

4. Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

3. Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)

2. Progressive Field (Cleveland Indians)

1. Coors Field (Colorado Rockies)

Also of note, the top three parks for HR’s allowed were:

  1. Wrigley Field (Chicago Cubs)
  2. Camden Yards (Baltimore Orioles)
  3. Miller Park (Milwaukee Brewers)

I check what offensive teams are playing at these stadiums and if they facing sub-par pitching. I check the weather reports for these stadiums, especially the wind direction at Wrigley Field. Once I have the answers to these questions, I begin to select my positions players.

Step #3) Take Advantage of the Talent Gap – A cash game strategy (it works in GPP too) that I deploy is to pay up for players at positions in which there are an elite few followed by a major gap in talent/stat production. These positions are C, 2B, and SS. Yes, that’s right, I pay up for C, 2B, and SS. The same positions that many players usually punt (punt = to roster a low-cost players with little hope of hitting ROI).

Think about it, there are quite a few power hitting, run producing 1B, 3B, and Outfielders; whereas you can probably only name a few catchers (Posey, McCann, Martin), 2B (Dozier, Altuve), and SS (Tulo, Correa) that were consistently, day-in and day-out solid plays last season.

More than likely if you ask someone to name the three top hitters on any given slate they will all be either 1B, 3B, or OF thus making it easier to find value at these positions! The difference in salary between Chris Davies (1B/OF) and Jay Bruce (OF) on opening day is $1000. I would much rather spend that $1000 on pitching and bet that Bruce has a similar ROI to Davies given the pitching matchup.

Now, I am not saying you can’t find value at C, 2B, and SS (Caesar Hernandez was one of my favorite plays last year), but I am saying that paying an extra $1200 for Bryce Harper over Ryan Braun may seem like a safe bet, it doesn’t always work out that way. While Harper had 17 more HRs, he only had 15 more RBIs than Braun all last year. When Harper gets up to the $6000 salary range, you really need to double think rostering him.

Step #4) Avoiding the DUD – A zero from any of your players in any type of contest is almost certain doomsday. Baseball is one of those sports were even a Mike Trout can go 0-4 and potentially kill your lineup. However, there are several ways to limit the possibility of a DUD:

  • Target players with high OBP (on-base percentage) – Even a few points increases your chances of cashing exponentially and this can be done by getting hit by the pitch, walked, or having a run scored. Players with high OBP (or high wOBA and OPS, some advanced stats we will dive into in the future) limit your risk of having a player with zero points.
  • Limit exposure to high risk/reward players – There are quite a few power hitters that can easily have a 3 for 4 day with a double dong, but some of those hitters are also big time strikeout risks – limit your exposure to players with high K/9 rates in cash games.
  • Check starting lineups often – Get a twitter account and follow MLB Daily Lineups (@MLB Daily Lineups) and Baseball Press (@BaseballPress). Check lineups at least 30 minutes before game times and have an idea of whom you will sub into your DK lineup if a last-minute or late game switch is needed.

Step #5) Check the Vegas Over/Under Lines – I do this just to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Usually the line will be about 7.5-8.0 for your average game. If it is below 7, I tend to stay away from the hitters and possibly target the pitchers. If the O/U line is over 9 and parallels my stadium research, you can be sure one or two hitters will make my lineup.

NOTE: I prefer to use advanced stats (wOBA, wOBA/Diff, ISO, ISO/Diff, K/9, etc) over Vegas lines when making final rostering decisions, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. More on advanced stats as we get into this season.

Here is one of my initial cash game lineups for the opening day slate (subject to starting lineups and weather, of course) using the steps described in this article. I think each of these players has a decent chance of getting the 3x (pitchers) and 2.2x (positions) ROI needed. Best of luck this season!

PositionPlayerSalaryPoints Needed to hit Target ROI
PDallas Keuchel$9,00027
PMadison Bumgarner$9,20027.6
CBuster Posey$4,70010.34
1BRyan Zimmerman$3,4007.48
2BJose Altuve$4,0008.8
3BDaniel Murphy$3,4007.48
SSJ.J. Hardy$3,6007.92
OFDenard Span$4,60010.12
OFCarlos Gomez$4,0008.8
OFJay Bruce$4,1009.02

Follow me on twitter @DFSchaser for more MLB lineup advice or challenge me to a head to head contest on DraftKings or FanDuel (DFSchaser) to see my daily lineup!

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