DraftKings’ late swap feature is extremely valuable because it allows us to limit day-to-day variance. When there’s a late scratch—which happens quite a bit in baseball and all the time in basketball—it’s nice to have the ability to remove that player from our lineups.
The late swap feature’s main purpose might be to provide the ability to avoid those zeroes from players who are out of the lineup, but it also allows for all sorts of strategic decision-making. A lot of the best players use the late swap feature even if all of their original players are in the game.
I’m not going to get into all of the different late swap strategies here, but one that I haven’t discussed much is rostering players in late games and using the late-swap feature once you have more information about the weather. There have been so many games this year—many of them in Colorado—in which thunderstorms have been a major factor. There are times when we don’t really know what’s going to happen with a storm system until maybe an hour before a game starts.
If you’re using the late swap feature in this strategic way to give yourself options, it’s all about having a contingency plan. I recommend figuring out an exact plan of attack before lineup lock, maybe something like: “I’m going to swap to these players in the Rockies’ game if the rain looks like it will clear, but otherwise I’ll stick with what I have.”
There are dozens of strategic ways to implement the late swap feature to improve safety or upside, but one of the more overlooked is to roster late players to buy yourself time on making a decision on a game with potential weather concerns.
Pittsburgh Pirates (vs Taylor Jungmann)
I think PNC Park is one of the most underrated hitter’s parks in baseball. Vegas likes the Pirates to take advantage of their matchup against Jungmann in his first start, projecting them at 4.5 runs. Gregory Polanco, Neil Walker, Andrew McCutchen, and Pedro Alvarez are my four favorite bats on this offense, and I think you could make an argument that a mini four-man stack is the best play here.
Houston Astros (vs Carlos Rodon)
I play the Astros every time they face a lefty because I’m a glutton for punishment. There’s a good chance the Astros strike out 27 times in this game, but they might also hit 27 home runs. One or the other, for sure. In all seriousness, I like a lot of elements of this offense (similar to that with Pittsburgh), including George Springer, Jose Altuve, Evan Gattis, and Chris Carter.
Detroit Tigers (vs Jon Lester)
One thing I’ve been trying to do more is find ways to get exposure to high-upside offenses without running into heavy ownership, or at least in a way that allows me to field a semi-unique lineup. One way to do that is to combine mini-stacks of two chalk offenses. Another is to target a potent offense in a matchup that is better than it looks. I don’t think the Tigers are going to be super low-owned tonight by any means, but I do think the name ‘Lester’ will at least keep ownership below where it should be given that Detroit mashes lefties.
Another thing to keep in mind is that right-handed batters and offenses arguably maintain more upside throughout the course of a game than a lefty-dominant offense. The reason is that most right-handed bats are closer to even splits than lefties, who tend to really struggle against southpaws. If the Tigers hammer Lester early and he comes out of the game, they’ll arguably be in a better spot than a lefty-dominant lineup, such as the Indians, who are forced to face a bunch of lefty relievers.
OF Rajai Davis, Detroit (vs Jon Lester) – $3400
Davis is simply way too cheap in this situation. Over the past 12 months, he has a ridiculous .416 wOBA against lefties and power to boot (.212 ISO). The only downside is the poor hitter’s park, but I’ll be all over Davis at this cost, even if I expect ownership to be pretty high.
OF George Springer, Houston (vs Carlos Rodon) – $4700
I already mentioned I like Springer, but he’s really the part of Houston’s offense I’ll have the most exposure to tonight. His .378 wOBA and .247 ISO against lefties are outstanding. I love right-handed bats who crush lefties because, since they face righties more often, their overall numbers are more a reflection of those matchups than the matchups against southpaws, and thus when they face lefties, they tend to be underpriced.
1B Eric Hosmer, Kansas City (vs Trevor May) – $4200
I love to be contrarian at first base because there’s usually a player or two who finds himself in a lot of lineups, but there are a ton of guys with massive upside. Hosmer is in a good spot tonight, but I’d expect a ton of daily fantasy players to be on Edwin Encarnacion. I also really like Pedro Alvarez, although he gets a bit of a downgrade if he’s hitting sixth in the order.
P Carlos Frias, LA Dodgers (vs Arizona Diamondbacks) – $4300
I’m struggling so much with this pick because Frias does not have much upside. His K/9 is horrendous at 6.9 and he has only two games with more than three strikeouts all season (and none with more than six).
But he costs $4300 freakin’ dollars. At that cost, you can fit almost anyone else you want into your lineup, including Corey Kluber and a high-priced stack. That has to be factored into Frias’ upside calculation; he has no personal upside, but there’s hidden benefits in how he’ll affect your lineup construction.
Further, Vegas likes Frias to halt Arizona, who is projected at only 3.4 runs. Only three pitchers have a more favorable projection tonight, which is pretty crazy.