Season long fantasy sports leagues have been around for decades now and have really revolutionized the way both casual and hardcore sports fans look at the game. But a more recent adaptation of fantasy sports is the daily fantasy sports (DFS) approach where you are only committed to a single day’s worth of games at a time and can win some serious cash on a daily basis. I personally have become very involved in DFS in addition to all my season long leagues, and so I hope that I can share some of the knowledge that I have gained and provide some helpful tips in that area from time to time as well.
***The primary site that I play on is DraftKings and I am mostly a GPP tournament player (I also play on Fantasy Aces). So for the most part, any recommendations I make are meant to be for GPP tournaments, not cash games, and are specific to DraftKings (though a lot of the same concepts and picks carry over to strategy on other sites).
RECAP FROM MONDAY JUNE 22, 2015
I had some good ideas for Monday’s slate, but it didn’t all come together as a whole for me personally. One thing that I should have trusted more and believed in was my original read on Michael Pineda. I had told myself and a friend about an interesting trend for Pineda where he has not met his expected point value in 2 of the 10 games that he was priced at $8,800 or above on DraftKings since last season. Whereas, in 13 starts when he was priced below $8,800 since last season, he has exceeded his point expectation by a large margin on average. Pineda came in priced at $9,300, so this should have signaled a red flag on Pineda, especially considering that the Phillies are not a team that strikes out a lot. Factor in the fact that I knew that Pineda would be the highest owned pitcher of the night (he ended up at 58.4% ownership in the $250K guaranteed DraftKings GPP), and I should have faded Pineda hard and also submitted a Phillies stacked lineup for a perfect contrarian play as it was the 2% (or less) of people who stacked Phillies that made out with the most money on Monday.
However, there were some other pitchers who I hit it on the head with. Although, Clayton Kershaw ended up being the 2nd highest scoring pitcher of the night, he was not all that dominant and didn’t exactly prove to be worth the exorbitant price that he was listed at. And Felix Hernandez had a very unimpressive game as I predicted since he was up against a Royals squad that puts the ball in play more than any other team in the Majors. I didn’t label Kershaw or Hernandez as “not so fave” plays, but I did list those hunches about them. The two guys that were my “not so fave plays” were Trevor Bauer and Drew Hutchison who I also appeared to be right on. Bauer got dominated by a Tigers offense that I said should be coming to life with the return of Victor Martinez, and Hutchison had a very mediocre game himself despite getting the win.
My favorite pitcher play and my cheap sleeper plays also panned out decently. Hector Santiago pitched very well and even though he got the win taken away from him after his bullpen blew the lead, he still gave a good amount of points for what his price tag was, which is exactly what I expressed would happen. Tommy Milone was a cheap option against a poor White Sox offense, and though he didn’t rack up many strikeouts or an abundance of fantasy points, he still was pretty decent. But my best call of the night was with Joe Blanton who I recommended as the cheapest option of the night. Despite being the cheapest, Blanton ended up scoring the most points of any pitcher on Monday. This was a rare occasion where that happens (if it ever has happened) and it was just a scenario where I felt that Blanton was in a good spot to provide +EV with him showing signs of being better than we last saw him as in 2013.
My “big boy stacks” were the Yankees and Twins who both contributed a lot, and I also mentioned the Tigers as a bonus. My “sneaky stack” was the Rays and they actually could have ended up being the top scoring stack of the day if they were able to get some timely hits. However, they ended up leaving a ton of guys on base. But even still, they scored a good amount of points to make it worth the while.
STRATEGY FOR TUESDAY JUNE 23, 2015
Tuesday has the full 15 game slate and brings just a few weather concerns, but probably nothing too serious to have a huge impact on the games. There’s a storm that’s going to go through the northeast that may touch on the following games: PHI @ NYY, ATL @ WAS, BAL @ BOS. And I may look toward the OAK @ TEX game for some offense with the temperature being around 90 degrees with some humidity that makes it feel more like in the mid to upper 90’s and making the air less dense. It’s not the hitters weather trifecta, but still definitely something to consider. UPDATE (3:00 PM PST): Weather issues have become more severe in the northeast. The PHI/NYY game looks fine to play with little issue, but ATL/WAS and BAL/BOS are more questionable.
All things considered, DraftKings price included, Carlos Martinez is probably my favorite pitcher play of the day. He comes at $8,300, which makes him just the 9th highest priced pitcher of the day despite getting what appears to be a very nice matchup for him. He is priced lower than Stephen Strasburg who is coming off the DL and looked horrible before going on the DL. He is priced lower than C.J. Wilson against an Astros team that strikes out a lot, but also has the 4th highest ISO in the league versus lefties and can hit 3+ HR on any given day. For Martinez to be priced below those guys is baffling to me because he will be up against a Marlins team that is dead last in ISO versus righties, 4th to last in wOBA versus righties, and has the 8th highest strikeout rate versus righties. But the bonus stat here is that the Marlins are also 5th to last in walk rate versus righties — they are just not that patient of a team, and Martinez’ main issue from time to time is his control. So pitching to a team that doesn’t draw a whole lot of walks will be good for him. And then throw in the fact that he is pitching in a good park for pitchers in Miami and he is facing off against Jose Urena, a rookie who isn’t that great, Martinez has a good opportunity to log a win.
I also believe that Chris Archer is coming in a bit underpriced on DraftKings. He’s been at over $10,000 in his last 3 starts, but is just $9,800 tonight. He has been rather mediocre in his last two starts and he is facing a tough Blue Jays offense, but keep in mind that the Blue Jays are much more effective versus left-handed pitching and Archer is a righty. Archer also dominated the Jays earlier this season for 7 shutout innings allowing only 2 hits while striking out 7, and he matches up against R.A. Dickey who is gas can material that the Rays can feast on to help get Archer the W. I do have some concern with the Blue Jays offense despite them not being as potent against tough righties, but other people will probably share the same concern and shy away from him to keep his ownership level down. And the cheaper price tag as the 4th highest priced pitcher may make up for those concerns.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
There are 0 pitchers that are priced in the bottom half of all pitchers on DraftKings that I am a huge fan of using tonight. The one that I would give some thought to is Jesse Chavez but I am not a fan of his matchup or the stadium + weather that he is pitching in today. So instead of a “cheap” option here, I am going to throw out a couple names as low owned mid-priced pitchers that could potentially make big impacts. The first is Mike Fiers of the Brewers going up against the Mets. Fiers has been somewhat of an anomaly this season with an excellent 9.97 K/9, but a sky high hard hit rate of 42.5% that is the tops in the Majors (for reference, league average is around 30-31%). So he’s getting hitters to go down on strikes a lot, but when they do get a piece of his pitches, they drill it hard for hits. But Fiers stumbles into a nice matchup where he is at home against a Mets team that has lost 5 straight games having scored 0 or 1 run in 4 of those games. Many people will probably see his 4.50 ERA and know that he has just been getting lit up lately, and then dismiss him as an option. But this Mets team is really struggling and have struck out more and more as the season has gone on, as they now have the 10th highest strikeout rate versus righties.
The other low owned mid-priced option tonight is Jeff Samardzija. Samardzija will be pitching on the road at Minnesota and the Twins are a team that does much more damage against lefties (like they did to John Danks on Monday) than righties. And the last time that Samardzija faced the Twins (one month ago) he went 8 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 9. The caution here though is that he has not been that good on the road with a 5.71 ERA and the Twins lineup may look a little bit different this time around with the promotion of Byron Buxton and recall of Kennys Vargas.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
As mentioned, Stephen Strasburg is making his way back from the DL today and he gets an interesting matchup against the Braves who just put Freddie Freeman on the DL. The Braves offense is not the same without Freeman in there and he also owns Strasburg to the tune of 12 for 28 with 3 HR liftetime, but I still will probably steer clear of Strasburg versus this Freeman-less lineup. I haven’t trusted him all season long, so I am not going to start here in his first start back. It wouldn’t surprise me if he put up 6 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts or something along those lines, but this gamble is not for me.
Jason Hammel has been very good this season but his last couple of starts have represented two of his poorer starts of the season, so he hasn’t been in top form and that could spell a little bit of trouble for him with the Dodgers and their league leading .347 wOBA and .196 ISO versus right-handed pitching. There are probably better options to use tonight.
A strategy that has worked since the introduction of DFS is stacking multiple players (3-6) from one offense. However, in certain situations it may be more beneficial not to stack as it is becoming more contrarian not to do full stacks since so many people are doing it now. But for the most part, stacking (mini-stack at the very least) seems to be a component of most winning tournament lineups.
BIG BOY STACKS:
I’ll turn back to the New York Yankees for the second day in a row as one my my “big boy stacks.” Mark Teixeira is dealing with a neck issue, so he may not be in the lineup again, but the rest of the boys in pinstripes have the opportunity to do some real damage against Sean O’Sullivan and his career 5.69 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and 1.56 HR/9. O’Sullivan is just not that good and it’s not going to help him that there will be 10-15 MPH winds blowing out to right-center field at Yankee Stadium. For a stack, I will go with Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran, with the possibility of adding Garrett Jones, Didi Gregorius, and/or Stephen Drew.
The next “big boy stack” is the Cincinnati Reds traveling to Pittsburgh to face the southpaw Jeff Locke. Locke has been a much better pitcher at home (3.05 ERA) than on the road (7.28 ERA) this year, but I still like the potential of what this Reds lineup can do to him. Locke is the type of pitcher that both Marlon Byrd and Todd Frazier can feast on, and it shows in their career lines against him with both of them hitting .400 or better with a couple HR each. Billy Hamilton also has shown so good success against him going 5 for 11, and as a switch hitter, he is much more comfortable and productive from the right side of the plate. And even though he is more comfortable as a right-handed hitter, his stolen base rate does not experience a dropoff against left-handed pitchers. So for this stack, I will take the aforementioned Byrd, Frazier, and Hamilton and also look to add in Joey Votto and maybe Brandon Phillips.
It’s no surprise here that the Oakland A’s are one of my sneaky stacks of the day, as they seem to make their way on here quite often. They have a lot of things working in their favor tonight. First, they are playing at Arlington where it’s a hitters stadium and the weather is hot and humid as I mentioned earlier. Second, they are the visiting team which means a guaranteed full 9 innings worth of at-bats. Third, their opposing pitcher, Chi Chi Gonzalez, is due for some major regression. Gonzalez scattered 8 hits and allowed just 1 run in 7 innings of work in his first meeting with the A’s at Oakland and he has mystified the opposition in all his starts this year, but he’s pitching way above his head and with the A’s having seen him once already this season, they should be able to do better against him in their second look. I’ve been wrong on Gonzalez every time this season though, so we’ll see what happens. But give me Billy Burns, Stephen Vogt, Ben Zobrist, and Josh Reddick, and maybe more. But warning: all the A’s hitters have seen a huge inflation in price. UPDATE (2:18 PM PST): Vogt is out for the A’s.
The Milwaukee Brewers will square off against lefty Jon Niese tonight in their home park, which is a decent hitters park. Niese has not been that great this season and he is going to probably be losing his rotation spot soon with the upcoming promotion of Steven Matz. Niese is really struggling against righties this season with a .358 wOBA allowed and 9 of his 10 HR allowed coming off right-handed bats. This opens the door for Jean Segura, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, and Aramis Ramirez to take advantage, and lefty Gerardo Parra could also be added on. This is likely to be a pretty low owned stack and they might hit it big. UPDATE (2:18 PM PST): Carlos Gomez is returning to the starting lineup. He needs to be worked into any Brewers stack.
- I do like both David Price and Madison Bumgarner as the top two priced pitchers of the night. I will look to use both in some form.
- I wrote a while back about how I felt Zack Greinke would regress and not be the true ace that many people felt he was performing like, but that just hasn’t come to fruition yet and he has posted 13 quality starts out of 14 total starts. That one non-quality start coming at Coors Field. However, I think that tonight is a bad spot for him and we might see him struggle a bit. It is a small sample size, but his ERA at Wrigley Field in his career is 11.57 in three starts. He will have the opportunity to get the strikeouts against a strikeout prone Cubs team though, which doesn’t make him a horrible play. I probably won’t be on him tonight though.
- Clearly the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are in play as potential powerhouse stacks in the Coors Field game. But I felt the need to highlight a couple other “big boy stacks” since we all know that teams at Coors Field are (almost) always stackable as “big boy stacks.”
- Collin McHugh of the Astros has really been struggling as of late and has been working with diminished velocity all season long. The poor form that he is in is good news for Los Angeles Angels hitters, so an Angels stack is in play.
- As mentioned earlier, I am not a fan of Jesse Chavez tonight due to the warm, humid weather and hitters stadium, and also the fact that he sees most of his success at home (1.75 ERA this year). I think that the Texas Rangers left-handed stack is in play.
- Another sneaky stack is the Tampa Bay Rays against R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays. Like the A’s, the Rays often make for good sneaky stacks because they are the small market teams without the big boppers and are always lower owned. One thing that I’ve learned from watching the Rays play is that they love to steal bases. They are 4th in the Majors in stolen bases and much of that comes on double steals. I would imagine that they would be able to log a few SB’s off the knuckleballing Dickey, but Dickey has actually been pretty good at limiting stolen bases in his career with his season high being 9. But I’ll still take a chance on them as a cheap stack where I can squeeze in a higher priced pitcher like Price or Bumgarner.