FanDuel MLB 101
FanDuel Daily Fantasy Strategy
We have tough roster dilemmas daily in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) world. Sometimes you have a tough choice between two players in awesome matchups. Does it seem like we always make the wrong choice? The player you roster gets you 6.2 fantasy points and the other players gets 28. The goal of this article is to give you the knowledge to make the correct choice more often and to make you a better FanDuel DFS player!
FanDuel is my favorite site to play on because it is so different compared to the other sites. In terms of roster construction, we roster 9 players. A pitcher, catcher/first basemen, second basemen, third basemen, shortstop, 3 outfield positions and the wild card position, the utility spot. Utility can be any player from any position.
It is more crucial to hit on your pitcher on FanDuel than the other sites because we only roster one pitcher and scoring for pitchers is much higher compared to the other sites. For this reason, in my process I usually pay up at the pitcher position. The number one thing you want to remember is that on FanDuel strikeouts are king!
Wins are worth 6 points, quality starts are worth 4 points. A quality start is when a pitcher pitches 6 innings and gives up 3 runs or less. Each strike out is worth 3 points, and pitchers get 3 points per inning pitched. It’s not all positive points for pitchers though, as for every earned run is worth negative three points.
FanDuel scoring for offensive players is quite simple, you get 3 points per base. A single and a walk are worth 3, a double is worth 6, a triple is worth 9, and a homerun is worth 12. As I said above for pitchers, strikeouts are king. For our hitters, homeruns are king! Not only do they receive the 12 points for the 4 bases, but the hitter gets 3.5 points for each run batted in, as well as 3.2 points for scoring a run. Meaning if a hitter hits a solo homerun he will receive 18.7 FanDuel points with one swing of a bat. 3 points for each base, 3.5 points for driving himself in, and 3.2 for scoring a run. Like the famous saying “Chicks Dig the Long Ball!”
Baseball is very different than the other DFS sports because there is extremely high variance in baseball. In the DFS world, variance is the consistency of a player scoring in their matchups/games. In baseball, elite players such as Mike Trout or Mookie Betts can come out and give you a zero no matter how great their matchup. Essentially, in the MLB DFS world there is no such thing as a must have player.
I usually pay up at the pitcher position. The reason for that is because of baseball’s ridiculous variance. Your lineups cannot afford for your pitcher to flop. If your pitcher gives up 4 runs in two innings, your lineup is done for the night. The top pitchers are priced that high for a reason. So spend up!Pitchers have less variance than hitters, this is why paying up at pitcher to get those raw points is always ideal.
Just to keep it simple, the front runner for NL MVP Cody Bellinger is currently averaging 18.57 fantasy pointers per game. He hasn’t reached his average in his last 5 games, one of those being a zero. That is an example of the crazy variance. Pitchers are “safer” which is why you should pay up at the position. If we look at Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, he is averaging 43.4 fantasy points per game with only one bad outing where he scored 13 fantasy points.
Strikeouts are king, so when I start my research on pitchers the most important stats I look at is the opposing lineups strikeout percentage. We want to target high strike out rate teams with high strikeout percentage pitchers. We want to be weary of the opposing lineups Isolated Power (ISO) and Weighted On Base Average (WOBA) but these numbers do not scare me off pitchers often. The reason being, if I am paying up for a Max Scherzer he can limit these things with his strikeout rate. If the other team cannot hit the ball, they cannot hit for power! Here is what a lineup roster building screen looks like:
Stacking lineups in MLB DFS is crucial. It is the second most important thing in MLB DFS after rostering a pitcher. Stacking is when you use multiple players from the same lineup on one roster. On FanDuel we can roster up to 5 players from one team, one being a pitcher. So we can roster a maximum of 4 hitters in the same lineup. An example of a stack is rostering Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa all on one lineup.
The reason we want to do this is because of the correlation between these hitters. Meaning if Jose Altuve is on third base with Alex Bregman on second base and Carlos Correa hits a double, when they both score, your lineup will get the points for both runs by Altuve and Bregman. Your lineup will also get Correa’s points for the double and 2 RBI’s. According to FanDuel, lineups who stack two players on average score 119.1, when a lineup has a three player stack it scores 120.2, and if the lineups stacks 4 players it scores 121.8. Yes they are slight increases but every point matters!
Stacking against Poor Pitchers
Stacking against awful starting pitchers is one of the most profitable strategies in DFS. We want to stack against pitchers who have high WOBA, high ISO, low swinging strike rate, low strike out rate, and ideally low walk rate pitchers. Walks are fine as in FanDuel as we receive 3 points for each walk but we want our hitters to put as many balls in play as possible and to drive the ball for extra base hits.
We have to remember that we are not only stacking against starting pitchers, we are also stacking against the bullpen arms that will come in after that pitcher. That is something we have to think about when we are making our lineups. We have to be weary that our stack may face the elite New York Yankees or the Milwaukee Brewers bullpens for 4+ innings.
One of my favorite players to stack against is the Milwaukee’s Brewers starting pitcher Antonio Senzatela who has a low strikeout rate to both sides of the plate. But when he is on the slate I have to limit my exposure against him because he could give up 2 or 3 runs in 3 innings and then my stack will be facing the likes of Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress for the rest of the game.
There are different types of contests we can enter in FanDuel. There are cash games which are Head to Heads and 50/50s. There are also Guaranteed Prize Poll tournaments other known as GPP’s. Your roster construction should vary depending on which type contest you enter.
Cash Game Strategy
When playing in cash games, we want to take the least amount of risk possible. This is when you want to take the most popular players who are in great matchups. The best way to construct your lineups in cash games is by having a lineup with a “high floor.” Essentially, floor is the worst possible outcome for your lineup.
The reason why we want a high floor is because there isn’t a large amount of people you have to beat. In head to heads or in 50/50s, you need to be better than half of the other lineups. Because of this, we do not need to strive for a “high ceiling” lineup. You can save those high ceiling lineups for GPP tournaments.
In cash games we roster Max Scherzer in San Francisco’s awesome pitchers park, in a cold weather game, against the bad Giant’s lineup. We also want to roster the lineup in a good hitters’ park against a bad pitcher that will be highly owned. This lineup construction would give your team a high floor because Max Scherzer has an extremely high floor and will usually score 35+ in that matchup and the lineup would score 4 or 5 runs and hopefully you rostered the correct hitters.
GPP tournaments are the most popular contest in FanDuel. These GPP’s have a large number of entries and the pay structure is usually the top 20-30 percent of lineups cash. In these large field GPP tournaments we want to be contrarian, which means being different than the other lineups by rostering low owned players. Like I said above, there is no such thing as a must have player, and in GPP tournaments is when you pivot off the highly owned players, otherwise known as “chalk.” Differentiating your lineups is key because if Scherzer and that chalky lineup in the good matchup I brought up above end up flopping, you have a huge amount of leverage against the rest of the field.
In GPP’s we want to take more risk and find lower owned players and stacks. We want lineups with high ceilings, which means the ability of our lineup to be high scoring. In order to find some of the lower owned players we have to take players who aren’t in the best matchups, or are not playing in ideal weather situations. An example of this would be taking the best player in the game, Mike Trout, in a matchup against Justin Verlander. Verlander has one of the best K rates in the league but Mike Trout can do great vs anyone and everyone.
If Mike Trout’s ownership was at 5 percent and he was to homer and Bellinger came in at 30 percent ownership and flopped and scored zero, you are way ahead of a large number of lineups. The one negative to these high ceiling lineups is that because some of our players are not in great matchups that it can bottom out and be a bust. But that is fine because we have to be in the top 20 percent of lineups. It doesn’t matter if came in last place or in 21stpercentile, you would still lose.
Weather and Ball Park Factors
Weather and ball park factors are two things that go drastically overlooked by DFS players. Unlike basketball, every baseball stadium is not built the same. All basketball rims are 10 feet high and all basketball courts are 94 feet long and 50 feet wide. No two baseball fields have the same size but it is much more than that. Ball park factors include, elevation, domes, temperature, etc.
Colorado’s Coors Field and Texas’ Globe Life Park are the two top fields in terms of run scored per game. For different reasons, Coors is great because of the high elevation in Denver and the ball flies because the air is thinner. Normal fly outs go over the fence and that is what contributes to their higher runs per game. Globe Life is very different than Coors. The reason Globe Life is great for hitter is because how hot it gets in Texas in the summer months. But most importantly is the jet stream that passes through the field. Globe Life usually goes under owned because the wind usually blows in. When they built the stadium it made it so when the wind blows in it creates a jet stream and fly balls travel further and become homeruns. Just to keep it simple, if the wind is blowing in at Globe Life at 15 MPH don’t worry, because it creates a jet stream and makes the field become an extraordinary park for offenses.
You think we would have an advantage because we know about these park factors but that isn’t the case. FanDuel knows about the Coors Field effect and they also know about the jet stream at Globe Life, so FanDuel prices up players when their teams are playing there. FanDuel knows the teams playing in these conditions will be highly owned so they price them up to prevent extremely high ownership.
I’ll go back to be being contrarian for a minute. When Coors field is on the slate, all players get high ownership no matter how much FanDuel prices up the teams. An easy GPP strategy is to fade both teams at Coors Field. If the game ends up flopping and ends up a 2-1 game, you have leverage on most of the field. An easy way to be contrarian is to fade Coors Field.
Just like there are great hitters’ parks, there are also great pitchers’ parks. The best pitcher’s park in the MLB is unquestionably San Francisco’s Oracle Park. The park represses homeruns to both sides of the plate but especially to left handed hitters. Well, all lefties who aren’t named Barry Bonds. There are many factors to why this is such a great park for pitchers such as it is cooler and windy because the park sits next to a bay.
The baseball doesn’t fly as well in cooler temperature and the winds usually blow in and those balls that normally would go over the fence get pushed back into the field of play and become warning track fly outs. Just like hitters get the salary increase, so do pitchers in these pitcher friendly fields. Again, that doesn’t scare me off these pitchers because my process is to roster higher priced pitchers.
Three other great pitcher parks are the Miami’s Marlins Park, Arizona’s Chase Field and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. But these fields have an added twist to them that effects if the park is a heavy pitchers park or a more neutral park. These stadiums have retractable roofs and in the summer months we all know Miami, Arizona, and Texas get real hot, so the ball flies out of the park. When researching weather we have to check if these parks have their roofs open or closed because this has an effect on how the park plays.
You want to be able to change your lineups up until the slate locks because you want to make sure the players you select are in their team’s lineup. We want to get hitters who hit high in the lineup as they will get more at bats. More at bats equals more points. This is crucial, but we will go more into depth with that in a future article.
In baseball, FanDuel allows us to change our lineups even after the slate starts, that is known as late swap. This is something we want to take advantage of. Late swap allows us to be contrarian just by rostering players whose lineups haven’t been released because they are playing on the west coast. Teams who are playing on the west coast usually have lower ownership because people do not want to risk that their players will not be in their team’s lineup. Having these guys in your lineups already gives you leverage on the field.
Another thing that most people do not take advantage of with late swap is that it allows us to change most of our lineups if some of our players flop. Let’s say we stacked two popular teams. One team’s game starts at 7 and the other team’s game starts at 10. If our first team doesn’t light it up how we expected, we can go and change our chalky second stack and change it for another less owned stack in a desperate act to differentiate our lineups in an attempt to cash.
There is a lot of stuff to digest in this article. The two most important things you want to remember is that paying up for your pitchers is a great strategy because of how volatile baseball is and how elite pitchers are relatively “safe.” Second, stacking lineups helps you climb the leaderboards!