I think most of the most effective DFS strategies come when you can find a way to stop thinking like everyone else. That’s a really challenging thing to do. For the most part, we all read the same content, see the same news, watch the same shows. It’s difficult to truly think in an independent way.
I’ve been trying my hardest to consider new and unique ways to predict tournament ownership. There’s clear value in being contrarian, but that value extends only insofar as we can accurately predict tournament ownership. If we don’t know which teams and players will be heavily utilized, it makes no sense to fade the most obvious values.
When trying to predict ownership in baseball, I tend to focus more on batters than pitchers. That’s because I don’t care quite as much about pitcher ownership since they’re far more consistent than batters. I will roster a pitcher who I know will be 40 percent owned if he’s a good enough value, whereas I probably wouldn’t ever do that with a batter.
In ignoring pitcher utilization, however, I think I fell into a bit of a trap—I started thinking in a way very similar to others—and I missed a very obvious way to help predict batter ownership: by predicting pitcher ownership. The idea is that if there’s a high-value pitcher that I know is going to be popular in a given day, then the offense he’s facing might have reduced ownership; since most players know it isn’t smart to start batters against the opposing pitcher, almost every user who rosters Pitcher A is also going to fade all opposing batters.
Now, it could be that the offense will be unpopular because they’re in a really bad spot and the opposing pitcher is high-owned because he’s a stud. But it could also be the case that the pitcher is only okay and is just very underpriced, thus offering a ton of value even though the opposing offense isn’t really projected all that poorly. That latter scenario is the one I’m beginning to target.
Identify high-owned pitchers who are only moderately effective, stack the opposing offense to get reduced ownership, make money.
Baltimore Orioles (vs Corey Kluber)
So I just mentioned finding under-the-radar offenses against a high-value pitcher, but not a stud. Well, Corey Kluber is a stud, but I still think Baltimore is in a decent spot today. Not great, but worth taking a chance, especially in a qualifier or something top-heavy since you aren’t going to run into many ownership problems.
The main thing I’m working with here is the Vegas line, which currently has the Orioles at 3.9 implied runs. That’s not a bad number—about average—as you’re getting an offense loaded with cheap bats; only Manny Machado costs more than $4,000, so you can stack Baltimore and probably fit two aces into your lineup as well. The Indians are even a slight dog to win this game.
NY Yankees (vs Vincent Velasquez)
Velasquez is another clear value at $4100. I’m not sure how high his ownership will be since he’s a huge risk, but I do think the price tag will tempt enough people to draw down the Yankees’ ownership a tad. And even though the Yankees are in hitter-friendly Houston, they always have ownership that I think is too low for an offense that can hit home runs and steal bags. Vegas currently has them at 4.2 implied runs. I love playing A-Rod against righties in my Yanks stacks because he hits them very well and he many others who stack New York use the left-handed Chase Headley, who has the same position eligibility.
1B Victor Martinez, Detroit (vs Jose Quintana) – $3600
Martinez is way too cheap against a lefty. Over the past year, he has a ridiculous .444 wOBA and .255 ISO against southpaws. Vegas really likes Detroit and you can play teammate Miguel Cabrera at third, so I don’t think Martinez is going to have low ownership. I’m still getting exposure because, with all the options at first base, I don’t think it’s a great spot to be contrarian.
1B/2B Jeff Baker, Miami (vs Brett Anderson) – $3100
Jeff Baker is a 34-year old who has just three home runs this season. His career numbers aren’t good, but he’s in an awesome spot tonight against Anderson since he crushes lefties. Over the past year, baker has a .054 ISO against righties and a .231 ISO versus lefties. This is the perfect example of an extreme splits player who is in a deceptively good position, especially with this game in Miami.
OF David Peralta, Arizona (vs Tyson Ross) – $2700
Poor matchup, poor park, but the guy costs $2700 and has an ISO that’s .127 points higher versus righties than lefties. This is one of those guys whose ownership I can’t really predict very well. I don’t know if people will be attracted to the price or scared away by the matchup.
P Matt Shoemaker, LA Angels (vs Seattle) – $7100
Shoemaker is underpriced at only $7100. He doesn’t offer the reliability of some of the more high-priced pitchers, but I think he’s decently safe tonight against the Mariners. Shoemaker has a running 12-month K/9 of 8.2 and Seattle can strike out a bunch. Their team wOBA of .266 is also one of the worst in baseball. Vegas currently has the Mariners at 3.7 implied runs, but they opened at just 3.4.