Last year, I wrote a Playbook article called “11 Rules for Winning at Daily Fantasy Sports.” I thought it would win a bunch of awards and vault me to stardom, but sadly I’m still here in Philly eating Lunchables on a daily basis. Although I think you could argue that’s a sign I’ve made it, too.
The rules in that article were adapted from a James Altucher article, and this was one of them:
5) Luck favors the prepared.
“Whenever you feel like saying, ‘I was just unlucky,’ trust me when I say, ‘you’re probably an idiot.’ Analyze the reality. Don’t just try to make yourself feel better.
In chess there’s a saying, ‘Only the good players get lucky.’ This applies to every area of life. As Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) said to me, ‘if you know you’re only going to succeed at 10% of the things you try, make sure you try 100 things.’
I really like this passage because I think sometimes we can get so consumed with ‘process’ that we forget that, eventually, the results do matter. Being results-oriented is labeled a bad thing in this industry, but it should only be bad in the short-term. If you aren’t results-oriented after months of playing DFS, you probably won’t be able to properly adjust your process to become truly profitable.
I think one of the interesting parts of that excerpt is the quote from Scott Adams: “If you know you’re only going to succeed at 10% of the things you try, make sure you try 100 things.” I think this is very valuable advice for DFS players, especially in MLB. There’s a ton of variance in this game. Weird stuff happens all the time. In a random environment, it makes sense to maximize opportunities.
If you’re a small bankroll player trying to quickly build up some cash, I think it makes sense to play a bunch of low buy-in tournaments; maximize the number of shots you take to 1) decrease your risk of ruin and 2) increase the probability of just getting lucky, giving you more time to learn the game and become a profitable player.
NY Yankees (vs Carlos Carrasco)
The Yanks are currently (-147) to win, projected at 4.2 implied runs, getting 86 percent of public betting money (historically linked to fantasy production), and are seeing 64 percent of bets come in on the “over” in this game. I think they’re going to be relatively low-owned against Carrasco. Without a single batter priced above $4,200, you can stack New York and still get at least one ace into your lineup.
Kansas City Royals (vs Henry Owens)
The Royals don’t typically provide a lot of upside, but they should have more than normal tonight in Boston, facing a weak lefty at Fenway with a bunch of righty bats. There’s a chance of thunderstorms in this game—which you should monitor—but it could also drag down ownership even more to the point that you could potentially be contrarian on a team projected at 4.7 implied runs.
C Yasmani Grandal, LA Dodgers (vs Mike Fiers) – $3000
Even if he hits in the bottom half of the lineup, Grandal is underpriced at $3000. With everyone likely on Hundley tonight, you can probably get Grandal at much lower ownership with a .244 ISO split, in a park that’s much more hitter-friendly than his own. Grandal’s ISO versus righties is 216 points higher than against southpaws.
3B Derek Dietrich, Miami (vs Jerad Eickhoff) – $3700
Third base can be a decent spot to be contrarian given the ownership we see on guys like Arenado and Donaldson. You also have Machado versus a lefty tonight, so very few players will be on Dietrich, who has a .411 wOBA and .274 ISO versus righties. He’s also doubled his salary-based expectation on DraftKings in 29 percent of games this year, which is a bananas number.
OF Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City (vs Henry Owens) – $5200
One thing I find pretty interesting is how the perceived upside of a stack affects the ownership of individuals on that team in other lineups. That is, because the Royals are rarely stacked, I think we subsequently see lower ownership on their value bats than we should. Cain should be in a ton of lineups tonight, and although he isn’t really contrarian, he also will be under-owned, I think.
I play Cain pretty much every time he faces a lefty, but grabbing him at Fenway tonight is a dream. His .445 wOBA and .236 ISO splits are boss, and the fact that he’s $5,200 will drive down his usage as DraftKings users will much prefer Bryce Harper and Adam Jones at the same price, or Jose Bautista for $100 cheaper. Cain has doubled his salary-based expectation in 24 percent of games this season, which is insane given his cost.
P Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco (vs Pittsburgh) – $12200
I don’t typically care all that much about recent performance for batters, but I have been emphasizing it more for pitchers as I’ve found it to be more predictive than I originally considered. In Bumgarner’s last three starts, he hasn’t registered fewer than 32.3 DraftKings points, including an average of 50.3 over the past two. He’s in a great spot again tonight and you could make a case he’s barely worse than a coin flip for double-digit Ks.