One of the really interesting GPP strategies I’ve been exploring more and more is not fully stacking an offense, utilizing either a “mini” stack or just playing more of a cash-game type of lineup in tournaments. This actually flies in the face of what the data in my books has suggested is optimal.
However, the daily fantasy sports landscape is always changing. What’s optimal one year might not be so the next, particularly in tournaments. One of the fundament components of sound GPP play is forecasting and exploiting public opinion—what’s “optimal” is truly linked to what everyone else believes is optimal—and thus the “best” approach is always changing. The best players are those who are always one step ahead.
There’s no doubt that stacking increases upside. You’re going to consistently score the most points when you stack six guys from one offense. Sometimes that offense will fail, and you won’t score much, but sometimes they’ll go off and you’ll score a ton of points.
The problem is that tournament play isn’t all about maximizing points. You need a lot of points, but the real goal is to win. Those aren’t synonymous. The problem with six-man stacks is that, over the past year, they’ve become incredibly common. And it’s not just the chalk that is getting stacked; people are diversifying more and more in an attempt to be “contrarian.”
Being contrarian doesn’t always mean forgoing value, though—just doing what others aren’t, or zigging when everyone else zags. Now that full stacks have become so popular, I think there’s a lot more merit in using mini stacks or not stacking at all. You can use high-value players—a lot of the same guys who are in your cash lineups—without worrying too much about their ownership since you’ll have a unique lineup anyway if 90+ percent of the field is stacking.
I still use six-man stacks at times, but it’s becoming less and less common, especially if I want to use the chalk. I think a full stack of a contrarian offense is fine, but I really believe the GPP market is shifting such that non-stacked lineups are probably now more +EV than stacking chalk.
EARLY: Colorado Rockies (vs Vincent Velasquez)
The Astros and Red Sox are the two highest-projected offenses in the early slate, by far, and I also think they’ll be in the most lineups (especially Houston—a team people know has a lot of upside and one Vegas currently has projected at 5.0 implied runs in hitter-friendly Houston). I like the idea of combining elements of Houston and Boston—a double-mini-stack of sorts to help distinguish your lineup.
If you want to go against the grain, though, I like Colorado on the road. Even though most of their upside and value comes at Coors, they still have some powerful bats who can go deep at any point. They aren’t projected well by Vegas, but Colorado is sort of like Houston in that Vegas is going to have a more challenging time projecting them since their production is volatile (meaning I don’t care as much about what Vegas thinks).
LATE: NY Yankees (vs David Phelps)
There are a lot of offenses projected quite favorably in the late slate, including Detroit (5.0 runs), Baltimore (5.2 runs), LA Dodgers (4.8 runs), and LA Angels (4.5 runs). Of those offenses, I like the Angels most in terms of projected ownership—they’re often lower than they “should be” playing on the West Coast—but I’m not in love with their upside at home against a righty.
To me, the Yanks are almost always in play because they can steal bases and hit home runs, yet they rarely see very high ownership. They’re in a hitter-friendly park tonight against a weak right-hander.
EARLY BATTER: OF Josh Reddick, Oakland (vs Andrew Cashner) – $3600
Reddick’s matchup isn’t ideal, but he’s still underpriced and probably won’t be that highly owned with so many users rostering the Houston outfielders. Over the past 12 months, Reddick has a .439 wOBA and .283 ISO against right-handers—both of which are elite numbers.
EARLY PITCHER: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco (vs Seattle) – $7800
I think the most popular early-game pitchers are going to be the three top-priced guys in Andrew Cashner, Michael Wacha, and Scott Kazmir. Rostering Lincecum is a risk, but there are a ton of trends working in his favor. First, Seattle can strike out a ton. Second, AT&T Park rocks for pitchers. Third, the Giants are getting 77 percent of public betting money, which has historically translated into value for pitchers. And finally, home plate umpire John Hirschbeck has historically added a ridiculous 4.0 points above expectation to DraftKings’ pitcher scores.
LATE BATTER: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh (vs Jose Quintana) – $4700
Marte has a running 12-month wOBA of .44 and ISO of .289 against southpaws. That equals value city, especially if he continues to hit second in the order, which I believe will be the case with another lefty on the mound against the Pirates tonight.
LATE PITCHER: Garrett Richards, LA Angels (vs Arizona) – $9400
Like Lincecum, Richards also has a pitcher’s ump behind the plate tonight in Doug Eddings. The Diamondbacks are projected for only 3.1 implied runs, and most of their top bats excel versus lefties. With the Angels currently at -199 to win, I like Richards as a “safer” GPP play.