One of the important things to remember about daily fantasy baseball—and really daily fantasy sports as a whole—is that the game is one of changing information. I’ve talked about this in the past, but I think it’s really important to remember that player values are far from static. They move up and down throughout the day in the same way that stock prices change.
That’s especially true in baseball—a sport in which we see shifts in value all the time. The weather changes. A manager shakes up the batting order. A huge bet comes in on a team and the line moves by a half-run. These are all pieces of information that have the ability to dramatically affect player value and upside. Prices are static and don’t have the ability to shift to this changing information. The best daily fantasy baseball players are the ones who can quickly react to new intel and capitalize on inefficiencies.
Even though DraftKings pricing doesn’t account for changes throughout the day, the market can still compensate via GPP ownership. When a player who normally hits eighth moves up to the leadoff spot, he’ll frequently jump considerably in tournament usage. However, when there are late changes to player value, I don’t think the market has a chance to fully compensate, and thus the ownership on those players is too low.
Thus, one of the easier ways to find value in tournaments is to identify late-breaking news—which includes lineups that are released only shortly before lineup lock—that can help you gain an edge on the field.
Note that today’s plays are for the early slate only.
Cleveland (vs Colby Lewis)
I think we’re going to be looking at Cleveland and Toronto as the two chalk offenses today. I’d expect Toronto’s usage to perhaps be higher, but if you’re going to side with a favorite, I like the Indians’ lefty-heavy lineup against Lewis. Cleveland is currently projected at 5.1 runs—the highest total in the early games—and they have a lot of things working for them: splits, pricing, and wind blowing out to right field at around 15mph.
NY Yankees (vs Chris Young)
I think the Yankees are perpetually underutilized. I don’t know why exactly because they have pretty good tournament upside, both in terms of home run and steal potential. Some of those steals vanish with the absence of Jacoby Ellsbury, although that does boost Brett Gardner’s value as the leadoff man. This is another lefty-heavy lineup facing a weak right-hander at home, and I’d anticipate lower ownership than what we’ll see on the Indians. One negative is that the wind is blowing from right to left—normally a positive for offenses, but perhaps only for the Yankees’ righty bats.
1B Lucas Duda, NY Mets (vs Sean O’Sullivan) – $4500
In his last 10 games, Duda has exceeded his salary-based expected points by 4.37 points per game, which is massive. You might think Duda is an all-or-nothing play, but he has a high floor to complement his power, too; he has failed to reach half of his expectation in only 23 percent of games this season—compared to 46 percent for the average batter. And of course he crushes righties with a .255 running 12-month ISO.
SS Brad Miller, Seattle (vs Chris Archer) – $3300
Miller won’t be popular against Archer, but I think he’s definitely underpriced and has decent GPP upside. Over the past year, Miller has a .358 wOBA and .203 ISO versus righties. Jose Reyes is probably the chalk shortstop play today, but I like Miller even more for the price. It’s really difficult to find his upside for the cost at the shortstop position.
OF Khris Davis, Milwaukee (vs Ryan Vogelsong) – $4000
Davis is an even splits batter who is very capable of providing power versus a right-hander. I think he might be slightly overpriced at $4000, or at least at a price that won’t attract heavy ownership. Vegas really likes Milwaukee today against Vogelsong, and Davis is probably my favorite batter on their offense.
P Noah Syndergaard, NY Mets (vs Philadelphia) – $7600
Felix Hernandez is the top option for cash games and you can certainly throw him into your GPPs as well. His ownership will be high, but that’s not a reason to fade him in a good spot. I also like Michael Pineda, though his GPP upside might be capped given the matchup against an offense in Kansas City that rarely strikes out. Syndergaard offers upside at a fairly cheap cost, and also has Victor Carapazza behind the plate—an umpire who has historically led to 2.0 points above expectation for DraftKings pitchers.