I thought I was going to win all the money on DraftKings last night. At one point, I had three of the top five lineups in the Slugfest. We’re going to just overlook the fact that I had the same two crappy pitchers in all of those lineups and, because I didn’t look at them until too late in the day, I didn’t swap anyone out as a hedge. Minor details.
I ended up finishing 9th in the Slugfest and first/second in the High Heat. That’s a great start to the season, but as is typical, my mind immediately began to wonder to what could have been. What if Justin Morneau and Charlie Blackmon didn’t combine for three points? What if Yordano Ventura didn’t get pulled after six innings? What if I actually liked baseball and watched the games? Just kidding.
This is, of course, a horrible way to look at things and I think a major obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to become a successful GPP player. For every tournament you win, there will be dozens that were this close. Mathematically, you’re going to have way more heartbreaking moments than tournament victories. If you’re always focusing on those near-wins and the little things that could have gone differently, you’re going to be in for a long year.
So that’s my first GPP tip of the year: do as I say, not as I do.
Every day—or at least each day I post my tournament plays—I’m going to start with a piece of advice that I believe will help you find more tournament success. I’ll also dive into some tournament options on both the individual and team levels. So much of tournament success in baseball is about first identifying quality situations on the macro level, so we’ll start there.
Brewers (vs. Jordan Lyles)
People love to ride a winner. When players/teams succeed, their ownership jumps. From my newest book Fantasy Baseball for Smart People:
Similarly, ownership drops when players/teams are coming off of down performances. Yes, even just one. So much of GPP success is about not only gaining access to value, but also about differentiating yourself from the crowd; you need to balance value with ownership.
Even though it’s just one down game, the Brewers’ Opening Day meltdown could be an advantage for rostering them in daily fantasy baseball tournaments tonight. They cost a pretty penny, but any time you can get the day’s top offense in a possibly low-to-medium usage situation, that’s a win.
Vegas loves the Brewers tonight, by the way, projecting them as -155 favorites in a game with a total of 8.5 runs.
Marlins (vs. Alex Wood)
One popular strategy for DraftKings players is to look at which pitchers cost the least amount of money, i.e. those who suck, and then stack the offense they’re facing. Well, Alex Wood isn’t a sucky pitcher—he’s the third-priciest on DraftKings tonight—so those who implement that approach won’t be on the Marlins.
Miami is admittedly a volatile offense tonight because Wood could just be dealing, in which case they might repeat last night’s one-run outing. But the Marlins also crush left-handed pitching. Stanton in particular is a monster against lefties, even relative to his overall numbers.
This is a spot in which you can get an offense in a better-than-it-looks situation with what I predict will be fairly low ownership, Stanton aside.
Mariners (vs. C.J. Wilson)
It’s not ideal to stack teams in pitcher-friendly Seattle, but Vegas has the Mariners projected as one of the top four offenses tonight. More important, they all of a sudden have a whole lot more upside than what they displayed last season. With Austin Jackson, Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Zunino, you’re looking at a potentially deadly five-man stack against the southpaw Wilson.
1B/3B Chris Davis, Baltimore (vs. Nate Karns) – $4400
Guess who crushes right-handed pitching? Chris Davis. Guess who faces an inexperienced pitcher who, in limited time in the Majors, has a WHIP that resembles an ERA? Chris Davis. Guess who both Baseball Monster and numberFire have projected as the top home run threat tonight? Chris Davis. Guess who has multi-position eligibility? Chris Davis?
Guess who I’m going to be playing at third base in tonight’s GPPs? Chris Davis.
1B Ike Davis, Oakland (vs. Colby Lewis) – $3600
Davis is the type of player I often target in tournaments: power at a cheap cost. He doesn’t hit for average, but Davis is a poor man’s Chris Carter in that he gives you access to long-balls at a cost that’s reduced due to not getting on base at an elite rate.
And then there’s this…
Players on teams in late games are underutilized relative to expectation. Whenever in doubt, side with players in games on the West Coast if you’re looking for lower GPP ownership.
C Mike Zunino, Seattle (vs. C.J. Wilson) – $3600
Zunino has a wOBA that’s 0.034 points higher against lefties than versus righties. I really like looking not only at splits, but also split differentials like that. The reason is that, while we know a stat like wOBA is predictive, it’s also at least partially factored into player salaries; the best players have the highest wOBA figures, but also cost the most money.
When you find extreme splits players, you’re looking at guys whose salaries often fall in the middle of what they truly are: awesome values versus one handedness and poor values versus the other. I love to target those types of players when they’re in the situations in which they excel.
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado (vs. Matt Garza) – $4800
Speaking of split differences, Cargo is one of the more extreme examples in baseball. Against right-handed pitching, Gonzalez has an ISO that’s 0.086 points higher than against southpaws. ISO is a measure of raw power and an excellent tool to judge tournament upside. Gonzalez is almost a must-play against righties, and I love him in hitter-friendly Milwaukee tonight.
OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami (vs. Alex Wood) – $5000
I think Stanton is going to be highly owned tonight, but I don’t care. He’s in such a good spot against a southpaw at home—even a quality one in Wood—that I’m not going to fade him. Plus, the fact that Wood is a talented pitcher should keep Stanton’s ownership down at least a bit. Even when I don’t stack the Marlins, I will have Stanton in the majority of my tournament lineups.