I think it’s becoming more and more common for the typical DFS player to look at the Vegas lines, especially in baseball and when considering MLB Tournament Plays. The lines are directly linked to fantasy production. However, it’s important to realize that the daily fantasy market is fluid, with player values shifting throughout the day. The lines move along with this new information, such as team batting order, weather changes, and so on.

Thus, one of the stats I’ve been examining more and more is line movement. When a team’s run projection moves strongly in one direction or the other, it’s a reason to take another look at that game. Sometimes the impetus for the movement is obvious—such as two sluggers not being in the lineup—and other times it’s less obvious. But when the line moves from 3.7 runs down to 3.3 runs—which is what has already happened with the Brewers’ run projection today—that’s important to know.

Historically, line movement is an indication of value; when the lines moves even 0.3 runs upward, for example, batters on that team have historically scored around a half-point more than normal. If you stack such an offense, you’re looking at perhaps three extra points for “free,” which is a pretty sizeable number.

The point is that there are a number of important factors that affect player value as we uncover more and more information throughout the day, and it would be a mistake to act as through “value” is a static concept that’s the same at 9am as it is at 6pm.

 

The Teams

Toronto Blue Jays (vs Dallas Keuchel)

I think one of the ways people try to be contrarian on a stack is to target a team that’s almost always underutilized when they’re in a better-than-normal spot—something like the Rangers at home tonight against lefty Bruce Chen. That’s an option, but another way to be contrarian is to go after a stack that is generally widely used but in a matchup that will drag down their ownership. The Blue Jays against Keuchel is one such example.

I love to target offenses against good-but-not-great pitchers because you generally get dramatically reduced ownership, but only slightly reduced upside for the offense. The key is that asymmetry—that you’re trading in only a small probability of the team going off in exchange for getting a high-upside offense at low ownership. I don’t think Toronto’s ownership will be super-low—especially for a player like Josh Donaldson who everyone knows crushes lefties—but I do think the Jays will be an underrated tournament option tonight.

 

LA Dodgers (vs Eddie Butler)

This is just a combination of anticipated ownership and player prices. I still think the Dodgers are underutilized most nights—perhaps because their lineup usually isn’t posted until near the start of contests. They also have a bunch of moderately priced bats that allow for one of the premiere combinations of offensive upside and pitcher quality. That opportunity cost associated with stacking an offense isn’t something that people focus on enough.

 

 

The Players

2B/3B Luis Valbuena, Houston (vs R.A. Dickey) – $3400

I think it’s clear that Valbuena’s price is too cheap, but there are a number of other options at 2B/3B, including Devon Travis, so I don’t anticipate usage being very high, especially considering Valbuena is facing a decent arm in Dickey. I have him rated as one of my highest players, though, considering he has a running 12-month wOBA of .356 and ISO of .226 versus righties.

 

OF Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay (vs Phil Hughes) – $3500

I almost always play Kiermaier if he’s near the top of the order against a righty. He’s been leading off, which dramatically improves his value as compared to hitting near the bottom of the order. Facing Hughes, I think he’s going to still be pretty unpopular, but Kiermaier has a .363 wOBA and .227 ISO against righties over the past year.

 

1B Lucas Duda, NY Mets (vs Kyle Lohse) – $3900

Duda is in play any time he faces a mediocre right-hander, but his ownership will never really be that high because of all the options at first base. I think Adrian Gonzalez is a superior play in terms of projected points and value, but I’ll have Duda exposure outside of Dodgers stacks.

 

P Bartolo Colon, NY Mets (vs Milwaukee) – $7600

The Brewers can struggle against righties. They’ve struck out 0.24 times per at-bat over the past year, and while Colon’s 7.0 K/9 is mediocre, he has more strikeout upside than that in this matchup. The Brewers’ run projection opened up at 3.7 and has since moved all the way down to 3.3, which is a great sign for Colon.