As a GPP player, you’re always looking for the best plays, but you really want to find the best plays that are being overlooked by others. It’s okay—optimal, even—to give up a bit of value in exchange for much lower ownership.
I’ve talked about a bunch of different ways to find reduced player popularity—emphasizing late games, buying low on “cold” players, stacking against an obviously underpriced pitcher—but one thing I’ve been doing more lately is trying to exploit how people view splits.
Everyone knows that lefty/righty splits matter a bunch and that, for the most part, batters perform better against the opposite handedness of pitcher. But that’s just a general rule, and different players have a different range of splits. Luis Valbuena, for example, has much more power versus right-handed pitchers, whereas someone like Alex Rodriguez is more even in his splits. I love to play A-Rod against right-handed pitching because he can crush it, but he sees much lower ownership than when he faces a southpaw.
Think about how to you can leverage these even-splits players in GPPs. The idea extends to the team level; the right-handed dominant Tigers are always popular versus southpaws, but I love to stack them against mid-tier righties to get reduced ownership on a high-upside offense.
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Houston Astros (vs Rubby De La Rosa)
I’m back on an Astros kick. Houston is coming off a six-hit performance, and there’s a pretty strong correlation between recent performance and tournament ownership. It’s going to be very hot in Houston today, so the only concern is whether or not the Astros close their roof. With no threat of rain, my guess is it will be open and the ball will be carrying like crazy at Minute Maid Park. It’s worth noting the Astros have gotten 76 percent of early public betting money—something that’s actually linked to team performance, and ultimately fantasy production.
Tampa Bay Rays (vs Eduardo Rodriguez)
The Rays are seeing a nice park boost tonight, traveling from Tampa to hitter-friendly Boston. Their righty-dominant lineup matches up well with Rodriguez, so it’s just a matter of if they’re going to be able to get the ball into the air. I really like the idea of stacking this game, utilizing Souza, Longoria, Forysthe, and Cabrera from Tampa and Holt, Ramirez, and Ortiz from Boston. People sometimes forget that opponent production is strongly correlated—due to factors like the weather, park, and umpire—and a game stack can often times be as potent as a full team stack, but you get it at reduced ownership.
1B/C Buster Posey, San Francisco (vs Nick Martinez) – $5400
The Giants might see decent usage as a team, playing in hitter-friendly Arlington with one of the highest projected totals of the day at 4.8 implied runs. Outside of those stacks, though, Posey ownership could be suppressed due to his price; at $5400, he’s $1700 more than Kyle Schwarber, who I expect will be the top-owned catcher tonight. Posey comes into this game with a 12-month running wOBA split of .408 and everything lines up for him to have a big game, though, so I’m willing to “overpay” a bit here because I think his price will be prohibitive for most.
1B/3B Todd Frazier, Cincinnati (vs Jeff Locke) – $5000
Like Posey, Frazier is another example of how you can pay up to be contrarian. He’s not the top value at first or third base, exceeded by players like Manny Machado and Chris Davis, both $600 cheaper. However, Frazier is ridiculous power against southpaws, having posted an insane .315 ISO against lefties over the past year. Only A-Rod tops that mark at third base. If we’re being price-sensitive, Frazier isn’t the play here, but tournaments are less about shopping for the best price at all times and more about balancing that value with ownership; I like Frazier is a top combination.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Toronto (vs Johnny Cueto) – $3900
Just like Posey and Frazier, Tulo is an elite player who I expect will be underutilized. Unlike those two, though, Tulo is in a difficult matchup. The difference is Tulo’s price reflects that matchup (and perhaps more). This is a case where you might be able to get a good price and low ownership on a top player. The catch is, due to facing Cueto, Tulowitzki probably has a wide range of outcomes and a ton of downside exposure. I’m not going to be using him in 80 percent of my GPP lineups, but I do like him as an interesting contrarian option given the price, Vegas line (4.0 implied runs), and park.
P Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers (vs LA Angels) – $14500
You clearly can’t play the bats I listed alongside Kershaw because you will have roughly $3 left per player. There are times when I’m willing to go low-priced at pitcher in GPPs—I think Drew Hutchison is one player I’ll be doing that with tonight—but Kershaw is a truly elite play. The Angels are projected at 2.4 implied runs, which is about as low as it gets. The Dodgers are (-205) to get the win, and there are pitcher-friendly conditions tonight in LA.
And finally, here’s the most ridiculous stat I’ve seen on Kershaw this year, courtesy of Bryan Mears: Kershaw has been priced at $14000 or more 12 times on DraftKings, and he’s exceeded his salary-based expected points by 9.05 points per game in those contests. That’s bananas. Already expected to score a ton of points at that cost, Kershaw has somehow exceeded those expectations by nearly double-digit points.