Daily Fantasy Baseball: How to Transition from Season-Long Leagues

Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper

If you're new to DFS or just jumping on the train, it is a simple concept that involves very complex minutiae. The object of any DFS contest is to simply score more points than the other teams in your contests, and you do that in Daily Fantasy Baseball by accruing hits, runs, RBI, steals, HRs, and for your pitcher (two SP on DraftKings) — strikeouts, wins, and IP.

There are negative points for getting caught stealing, giving up H, BB, and ER as a SP, or making outs (on FanDuel and other "efficiency" sites), but overall it's about choosing the right players who will thrive in the right matchups on a given slate. For experienced seasonal fantasy baseball players, that selection should come relatively naturally.

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Drafting

The biggest difference between seasonal and daily leagues is obviously the user's ability to select a new team each and every day. In DFS you're not stuck with Dustin Pedroia as he battles a thumb injury that has sapped his power. You're not committed to starting an exhausted SP at Toronto's Rogers Centre against the best lineup in the Majors because you need a few strikeouts.You can peruse every player that has a game that night and consider which ones will score the most FPs for your lineups.

The pricing system is the biggest thing to consider when drafting. You don't want to spend all of your money on star sluggers such as Giancarlo Stanton and Paul Goldschmidt if that means compromising the strength of your SP. Pitchers account for a very high % of total FPs in most DFS lineups.

Especially on DraftKings, where there are two slots for a SP, two good selections can produce around 50 FPs, which is almost an impossible total for a batter to reach on their own. For this reason, it often makes sense to punt a couple of positions, a strategy that we will explain below.

Punt Plays

When you hear about "punting" a position in DFS, it means using a player that is near the minimum price tag because of what that player allows you to do elsewhere in your lineup. Even if that player produces 0 FPs, they can still help you by allowing you to fit a slugger or an ace that produces lofty FP totals in a fantastic matchup.

You can often punt an outfield position in Daily Fantasy Baseball when lineups are announced in the afternoon. Later in the season, you see a lot of batters towards the top of the order getting days off. When a leadoff hitter is a replacement player that might be extremely cheap, they are essentially must plays on DraftKings because of the added opportunities that they will receive.

At the same time, a minimum player that lacks the talent to get on base can hurt you on FanDuel or other efficiency sites. It's important to consider how each DFS site scores and consider that when building your lineup, but regardless of the situation, it makes sense to find values where values can be found.

Analyzing Matchups

As a seasonal fantasy player, you've probably made a couple moves that are similar to the strategy involved in DFS. If you drop a player on Saturday and add someone with a great matchup on Sunday, than you've done the research and understand what makes that batter more likely to succeed.

If you've picked up players that head to Coors Field later that week well in advance, than you also understand the importance of park factors when choosing lineups.

The matchup between and individual batter and pitcher is probably the most important factor to consider in DFS. Since you can't exactly predict who will come out of the bullpen for an opponent, it makes sense to break down the matchup of a SP versus a batter that you're interested in deploying.

Check their career splits against each other. Check that batters' splits at the stadium (home or away). Check the batters' splits against RHP or LHP. Consider whether the batter is hot over the past couple weeks- which makes them a safer play for "Cash Game" lineups- or whether they're due to break out of a slump and surprise the field in larger tournaments.

When you find a good matchup, it makes sense to exploit it relentlessly, which is often called "stacking" in GPP formats. Stacking a number of batters on the same team creates more upside because they can all succeed together, and that is how you hit the mother load when playing MLB DFS.

Choosing Contests

While you may play seasonal fantasy baseball in a H2H, points, or Rotisserie scoring format that you stick with all year, you get to choose what kinds of contests you want to play in MLB DFS.

There are different strategies involved depending on which contests you choose, which we cover in depth more in the Cash Game vs. GPP strategy article.

Essentially, the safest plays belong in your "Cash Games" which categorize H2H matchups against other DFS players, or the 50/50 (or Double Up) contests where half the field wins and half the field loses.

Cash Games are recommended for beginner players that don't begin with a large bankroll and want to build towards something greater. That doesn't mean that you should neglect to put those lineups in any tournaments, but try to limit the exposure you have with any given lineup.

In MLB DFS, a lineup can die in the first 15 minutes of the night if one of you're pitchers gives up 6 runs over the first two innings and takes a seat early. It's a volatile game, which is why diverse exposure to different contests with different lineups is the safest way to approach this version of DFS.

Real-Time Adjustments

While you simply hope that you don't see a "PPD" sign next to one of your better players in seasonal fantasy baseball leagues, any postponements for players in your DFS lineups might as well read "$0" because that is what you'll make.

Weather is a real concern for MLB DFS players, and it should be considered every single day even if there is no real threat of rain.

Rain delays and rain outs are the biggest concern when choosing a SP, which is why a solid pitcher might be avoided if there is a serious threat of storms at their ballpark later than night. By analyzing weather patterns (or simply following DFS weather man @KevinRothWx), you can make an educated guess as to whether the game in question will be delayed, postponed, or avoid any serious weather. If you guess right, you might be one of the few DFSers in a large tournament with exposure to a great SP or the best bats in that game.

There are also factors such as wind, temperature and air density that can seriously effect offenses at a given venue. It pays to be contrarian at time, but you don't necessarily want to stack a lineup when winds are blowing in from CF at 15 MPH at Wrigley Field or the temperature is only 45 degrees in Boston.

Warm weather stadiums (such as Arlington's Globe Life Park) and stadiums with low air density (such as famous Coors Field) are almost always worth targeting when choosing between batters in MLB DFS. It's dangerous to use a SP at those venues, but there are two sides to every coin, and DFS is all about exploiting the failures of certain athletes by targeting their opponents.

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Nathaniel Weitzer

Nathaniel Weitzer

Nate Weitzer is a successful DFS player that specializes in Daily NBA and MLB advice. He's currently working as a sports journalist in Boston, but writing about fantasy sports is way better than doing "human interest" pieces on local athletes, so he contributes to multiple fantasy sites on a daily basis. Follow him @nweitzer7 for year-round fantasy sports advice.

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