Comfortable and Furious

Advanced Draftkings Baseball Strategy

How do you win on Draftkings? There are a few basic daily fantasy tactics, and some specific DraftKings baseball strategy that are widely known. Because they are widely known, you probably won’t win based on those alone, but you had better know them. They will separate you from the dead money, but not from the other competent players. Here are some ideas for building on the standard stuff to employ more advanced strategies this season.

Basic “stacking” strategy.

The most widely known daily fantasy baseball strategy is called stacking. I recommended something similar in football last year. This strategy is critical for tournaments, where you need a really outstanding performance to make money. Stacking just means that you load up on players who hit near each other in the same lineup. Stacking exploits what sports bettors call correlation. If Stanton hits a three run homer, that means two of his teammates scored runs. And if they score runs, that means they got on base. And if they got on base and scored runs, that means they are part way to having big games. And if they have big games, that will likely mean even more good things for Stanton. Since all of these positive outcomes are correlated, you gain value by betting on them.

Advanced “stacking” strategy.

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Stacking is critical for big tournaments with top heavy payouts.

Now let’s think on a slightly higher level. You will rarely find under priced players named Stanton and Trout. So you should build your stacks from the ground up. Find the value players first. Then invest in the stars who are correlated to the value players and reap the benefits of correlation. Of course, you still want to make sure the star is a good play in terms of matchups and so forth, but your extra value is more likely to be found in the less heralded players who are tied to the star.

Contextual factors and streaks

We often find the value plays in daily fantasy by looking at contextual factors, like lineup quality or split stats: Home/road, lefty/righty, etc. Or by looking for players who have improved beyond their market price. Or by finding prospects who are called up and adjust to the MLB level more quickly than expected.

An advanced approach to contextual factors and streaks

A more advanced angle here is park factors. Draft Kings adjusts prices for park factors, e.g a hitter playing in a hitters park will be more expensive and a pitcher playing in a hitters park will be cheaper. But parks are not so cut and dry. Some favor left or right handed hitters more. So look for hitters who have good handedness matchups in terms of both pitchers and parks. Don’t blindly assume that a park is detrimental to hitters. Figure out how it plays for, say, left handed pull hitters.

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Choose… wisely.

With improved, over performing, or streaky hitters, try to discern some identifiable reason for the performance other than positive variance. Some obvious examples to keep in mind this year are the fact that Chris Davis is back on his adderall and Mike Napoli had surgery to cure his sleep apnea. A less gimmicky example: Lance Lynn has added a changeup. When a player who has made some sort of change is performing at a new level, there’s a better chance that the improvement is long term.

Basic “Aces” Strategy

On Draft Kings pitchers are more valuable than on other sites for the simple reason that you start two of them. Also, the spread between good and bad outings in the scoring system is greater. The general consensus is that you don’t want to skimp on pitching without good reason, i.e. a great bargain on a pitcher you very strongly believe will perform like an ace.

fangraphs daily fantasy scores strategy tactics
Especially in 50/50, cough up the salary for aces.

This is especially true in 50/50 games, in which the top 50% of players equally divide the money taken from the bottom 50%.  As finishing near the top doesn’t get you any more money than finishing just above the cutoff, you want the consistent floor offered by the best pitchers, coupled with just enough hitting to get you in the top half.

Advanced “Aces” Strategy.

With pitchers, you are looking at many of the same contextual factors. Do they have a handedness advantage against a lineup, particularly the best players in that lineup? How does the ballpark suit them in that regard? Does the opposing lineup strike out a lot? Again, don’t pencil in a park as bad or good, just on general reputation. To take a more advanced approach ask the next set of questions. How does this park affect the specific types of pitcher you are considering? How does it affect the particular hitters, or types of hitters who are the meat of the opposing lineup? How do these hitters do against your pitcher’s best pitches? For example, are any prominent players good or bad against the slider? This is more of a tie-breaker than a primary factor, but I will avoid pitchers on teams with recently overused bullpens. You want those wins preserved. In short, the more precision the better.

Basic “Vegas” strategy.

Another thing to consider, which can be a shortcut on some of these matters, is the Vegas lines. There are team run totals and betting favorites. This is valuable information. We want a pitcher who the smart money believes will play on the winning team. We want the opposing team to have a low run total. We want hitters on teams predicted for high totals.

Advanced “Vegas” strategy.

A more advanced way of looking at betting lines is to focus on first five innings bets. Books offer bets that are specific to the first five and these are intended to better reflect the influence of the starting pitcher and mitigate the effect of the bullpen. So obviously, first five innings lines are more useful for evaluating SPs.

vegas lines fantasy baseball odds math win draftkings baseball strategy
Check the lines to learn what the smart guys think.

Also, look at an odds aggregator, like Pregame, Oddsshark or Oddschecker. These sites allow you to look at all the betting lines offered at multiple sports books in one place. Pay the most attention to the most accurate books. Pinnacle is widely considered the sharpest.
You can engage in another sports betting tactic known as “chasing steam.” When you see line movement at one of the top books, like Pinnacle, that means big money is coming in on the game. More often than not, this will be intelligent money. This is a good time to play “follow the leader.” If money is coming in on an SP, you might want to draft him. Same thing if money is coming in on the over or under.

Conclusion

All forms of gambling in which you compete against other players are really the same. Figure out what everybody else is doing and then do a little bit more. If you’re willing to go the extra mile, I think you’ll have a successful year with daily fantasy. Because of the dynamics I described, I think Draftkings is the best site to target this season. That’s what I’ll be doing. Join me by signing up here.


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