Using Vegas to Build DraftKings MLB Lineups

DraftKings MLB Course 103

What does Vegas mean?

Sports betting has been around since long before daily fantasy baseball, and the info available from sports betting can be a great tool to use when building daily fantasy baseball lineups. In daily fantasy advice content, the word Vegas has become synonymous with sportsbooks. For instance, Vegas has the Pirates as -144 favorites at home against the Brewers is simply stating whatever book of choice — perhaps a Vegas book like Wynn, or perhaps an online sportsbook — has the Pirates at -144 favorites (a $144 bet will net a $100 win). For the purpose of clarification in this piece, all reference to Vegas isn’t specifically related to any one sportsbook, but it is referring to the concept of betting lines set by a sportsbook. Betting lines — moneylines and game over/under totals — can be extremely helpful when making informed daily baseball lineup decisions, and you can see a wide variety of the mlb betting lines at various sportsbooks right at Lineups.

mlb vegas lines

Prepping Before Using Vegas

006 creativeA habit I’ve gotten into when beginning research is creating a preliminary list of pitchers and hitters who are on my radar before utilizing Vegas. By doing so, I’m avoiding the trap of blindly leaning on Vegas for player selections. As you incorporate using Vegas on a daily basis, you’ll likely find you have a pretty good idea of what betting lines and totals will be before actually checking in with the Vegas info. When your anticipated moneylines or over/under totals are significantly out of line with the actual moneylines and over/under totals, this is a great opportunity to revisit why this is the case.

Perhaps you’ll find temperatures are warmer and/or the wind is blowing in or out at a stadium, thus, impacting the over/under total. Maybe you didn’t realize a pitcher who previously had a high ground-ball rate is now surrendering fly balls at a higher rate, and because he’s pitching in a homer-friendly ballpark like Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, the opposition’s team over/under total is higher than you initially expected. Though, there are times even after doing a double check on factors you still can’t figure out why the actual Vegas lines are significantly out of line with your anticipated lines. When that’s the case, I tend to lean heavily on my anticipated lines when constructing GPP lineups. I’ll expand upon why I do that further below.

Vegas’ Influence on Ownership

percentageVegas lines have a huge influence on ownership rates for players. Games with high over/under totals are frequently home to some of the highest owned hitters on a slate. Conversely, games with low over/under totals often drive up the ownership rates of the pitchers involved. Additionally, big moneyline favored teams tend to have highly-owned pitchers.

Intuitively, this makes sense. If a game is projected to produce fireworks, you’ll want investment in the hitters if that proves to be the case. For instance, if the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs have a team over/under total of 5.5 runs, that’s a high team over/under total and should be a source of helpful hitting options for your daily teams. Coors Field and its dreamy park factors for hitters is usually home to the highest or one of the highest over/under totals on any slate of games. Daily sites have learned to adjust to the Coors Field impact on offense, and hitters playing there see a bump in their salaries.

I specifically referenced Wrigley Field for a Cubs team over/under total due to the unique nature of that park. Over/under totals at Wrigley Field aren’t set until the day of games due to the impact of wind off of Lake Michigan, but daily sites release the player salaries for players before the game’s over/under total is set. I discussed how this can give gamers an edge when analyzing the impact of park factors and weather here. Gamers should use all of the tools at their disposal, and that means combining variables such as park factors, weather, and Vegas when making player selections.

Using Vegas’ Ownership Influence in GPPs and Cash Games

fishCircling back to a point I made in the preparation section above, gamers will often lean heavily on Vegas when making lineup selections. With that in mind, if your personal analysis is out of line with the actual Vegas lines, it’s a golden opportunity in GPPs to take advantage of potential low ownership rates. Expanding upon that idea, if the Tampa Bay Rays have a team over/under total of only 3.5 runs against a lefty, but you looked at their numbers against southpaws and expected the team over/under total to be around 4.5 runs, this is a potentially profitable situation for you to take advantage of. If the Rays live up to your expectations, they’ll likely do so at a collective low ownership rate due to the actual Vegas line throwing gamers off of the scent.

The same concept can be used for pitching selections. A high team over/under total for a probable pitcher’s opposition is likely to drive gamers off of that pitcher. As is the case with basically everything in life, there are exceptions. If a pitcher with a high strikeout rate is cheap but is facing an opponent with a high team over/under total, gamers might opt to roster this pitcher anyway because of the upside attached to their strikeout ability and low salary.

In cash games, you’re not looking to be contrarian in most cases. If you expect a pitcher, for instance, to be highly owned because they’re a massive moneyline favorite and you, too, believe this pitcher is a strong selection, you should roster them. Using this idea for hitters, a cheap hitter in the top third of his lineup who’s playing for an offense with a big team over/under total is likely to be a chalky selection, and it makes little sense to fade them in cash games. However, it can make a great deal of sense to swerve off of them in GPPs if a similarly priced, high-upside pivot exists. Regardless of your preferred game type, utilizing Vegas should be a staple of your daily baseball lineup building.

Josh is a life-long fan of sports and a nearly 20-year veteran of season-long fantasy leagues. He's fallen head over heels for daily fantasy as well. Josh loves statistics and better understanding the sports he follows, and these passions drive his insatiable desire to immerse himself in reading about, watching and writing about the sports he loves.

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