One of the daily fantasy sports tenants we hear repeated often is to “trust your process.” There’s a lot of variance in sports, which means there are lots of times you can make smart decisions and not make money, or times you make poor decisions and still get paid. The idea is that by not being results-oriented in your thinking—by emphasizing the process of quality decision-making over short-term results—you can make better decisions.

Less talked about is how we actually reach a process-oriented way of thinking that will actually be profitable. Yes, you shouldn’t get carried away analyzing results over a short period of time—they’ll be almost all noise—but you also shouldn’t blindly believe your process is a profitable one. Your bankroll will tell you a lot over long periods of time, but how can you improve your process to even become a long-term profitable player?

This is where understanding long-term data comes into play. One of the reasons I focus so much on broad, philosophical type of topics is because I think they have everlasting value. The plays I give you today might have some value in the next 24 hours (or they might not), but using blindly using someone else’s picks won’t help your process; it won’t actually make you a better player. Instead of just looking at which players/teams I like and using them, look at my reasoning and decide for yourself if it’s smart or not. There might be times I provide a stat you didn’t know that you think is extremely useful, but other times I propose a play with which you don’t necessarily agree.

In short, focus on the why rather than the what. Figure out which processes or stats have the most long-term value to you.

NOTE: Today’s picks are for the late slate of games.

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The Teams

Houston Astros (vs Garrett Richards)

The Astros came through yesterday and I like them again today. Despite yesterday’s breakout, I don’t think their usage will jump very much, if at all. One reason is they’re facing a quality pitcher in Garrett Richards. Vegas has Houston at a decent projection of 4.0 implied runs, but Richards is good enough to probably scare some people away.

Second, if you start to run through all the stackable teams tonight, you see a lot of really favorable situations. Toronto is again projected over 6.0 runs, Baltimore at 5.1, Boston at 4.4, and the red-hot Yankees at 4.8. I think the Blue Jays and Yankees, in particular, are going to be very heavily utilized. I think that makes Houston the optimal combination of ownership and upside tonight.

 

LA Dodgers (vs Jesse Chavez)

I like the Dodgers for a lot of the same reasons I like Houston; I think you can act in a semi-contrarian manner but still have access to a high ceiling. I also really like that the Dodgers play late, which always decreases ownership since their lineup likely won’t be released until later in the day—often only an hour or so before the first pitch of the night.

 

The Players

C Yasmani Grandal, LA Dodgers (vs Jesse Chavez) – $3400

I think Russell Martin and Brian McCann are the chalk plays tonight at catcher, with perhaps Matt Wieters thrown in there as well. Grandal has struggled of late, but his price is now down $900 in the past 10 days. Those price drops have historically led to value on DraftKings. He has a .249 ISO versus right-handers.

 

1B Evan Gattis, Houston (vs Garrett Richards) – $3400

We all know Gattis has big upside, and his price has dropped $1,500 over the past month. One of the things I’ve noticed is that batters facing the same handedness of pitcher tend to be low-owned, even if they don’t struggle against that handedness. Gattis is facing a righty tonight, and I expect him to be quite low-owned given that and all the options at first base. His wOBA and ISO splits over the past 12 months are actually higher versus righties than southpaws, though.

 

3B Alex Rodriguez, NY Yankees (vs Colby Lewis) – $5000

I think A-Rod’s usage has been too low basically all year. He’s another batter who can crush the same handedness of pitcher (.237 ISO versus righties) and he’s in a very home-run-friendly environment tonight in Arlington. Given a price that’s $200 cheaper than Josh Donaldson and $300 more expensive than Manny Machado, I expect A-Rod to again be underutilized in tournaments. The one negative is that home plate umpire Jordan Baker has historically been a pitcher’s ump.

 

P Lance McCullers, Houston (vs LA Angels) – $8800

There’s a lot to like about McCullers tonight. The Angels are projected at only 3.7 runs. McCullers has a 9.6 K/9, which is nearing the elite range, and Los Angeles has a slightly above-average strikeout rate. Houston is currently -125 to win this game, and home plate ump Greg Gibson has historically aided pitchers on DraftKings. The only downside is McCullers’ price has risen $1,600 over the past month (and $3,100 since the start of the season), but I still think there’s plenty of meat left on the bone at $8,800.