There are all kinds of different daily fantasy players. There are those who only play one sport or a couple, and those who will play anything. There are those who only play their friends, for nothing but bragging rights, and high-stakes players who like to take on huge fields of strangers. Those who only play now and then, and… you get it. And there are as many different strategies out there as there are types of players. And with so many players who are looking to get different things out of their DFS experience, that makes sense – you should be employing strategies that fit the games you play and the way you play them.
Many of the most discussed and highest-level strategy that exists in DFS, for example, really is only applicable to those players who are playing multiple contents and multiple lineups every day. These strategies talk about when to spend your bankroll, and exactly how many different lineups to employ, and how widely to diversify your lineup choices, and for a certain brand of player, these are all the strategies that matter. Picking the actual players becomes almost secondary.
But my strategy columns this season are going to be directed more towards those players who are constructing one lineup at a time, maybe two. Playing in a few contests, max. In other words, NOT playing enough that picking players is secondary. There isn’t enough bankroll to even attempt to simply diversify yourself into profits. From here, there is still lots of strategy to discuss, and we can get into all of it as the baseball season rolls along.
For example, whether you are playing 100 lineups or 1, you still might make different decisions based on whether you are entering a large GPP tourney, versus a 50/50 or something similarly small. Players come by their prices differently – one guy might be as a consistent as they come without the upside and another guy might be nothing BUT upside, with plenty of risk. One guy might be the type no one else is likely to choose, giving your lineup some differentiation (which is great if you chose correctly).
But let’s face it, when you are only playing one lineup, the most important strategies you are going to use are the ones that you rely on to help you actually choose your players. When it comes right down to it, of course, the only thing that matters is being right, so any strategy can work – stars and scrubs, a more balanced attack, playing multiple players from the same teams, etc. Are you going to concentrate on simple Slugging, OPS, or OPS+? Do you spend your time looking at split stats? All of it can help, so you just need to choose what makes you feel comfortable, and that comfort level will inevitably help you choose better players.
For today, as you prepare for the start of the season – both the real season and the DFS season – if I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this: concentrate on pitching, and not just because they’re the most expensive and score the most points (although that’s obviously important). When you can spread your lineup choices out over multiple lineups, you can start to control for the variance of baseball on a day-to-day basis, but with a single lineup, it’s just not possible.
Sure, you can make educated decisions, but 100+ years of baseball history tells us that, on any given night, you simply cannot predict hitting. The averages play out over the long haul, but you play in roto leagues for that. DFS is anything but “the long haul,” and the best hitters in the world go 0-5 sometimes. But pitching is more predictable – just look at the range of prices. There might be a $4,000 difference between the best hitter in the majors and the 5th outfielder on the Phillies, but the best pitchers command a serious premium.
So concentrate on pitching for pitching’s sake – it will help you score points, and also help you maintain your sanity, as predictions you make actually come true. But you can also concentrate on it for hitting’s sake. If good pitchers are consistently good, bad pitchers are consistently good… for hitters. Knowing a guy who kills lefties might be a good value in that situation (since his price will be based on facing mostly righties, like everyone else), and knowing which parks provide an advantage to hitters, or which guy is on an absolute tear right now – all of it can help you make an informed final decision, but understanding your match-ups is where you start, and starting off right will set the tone for your entire night. Good luck.