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).
STRATEGY FOR WEDNESDAY JUNE 24, 2015 (EARLY SLATE)
Wednesday’s 5 game early slate should be smooth sailing as far as weather goes. At the time of this post, there are clear skies in the forecast at every location and the wind and humidity should be non-factors as well. So this is just going to be some pure picking based on matchups and gut feel. Keep in mind though that during these day games we often see some unusual lineups to give some regulars a day off for rest. So while these are the plays (or non-plays) that I’m listing here, there may be some unexpected lineup decisions that alter my viewpoints.
With Chris Sale on a 5-game streak of 12 or more K’s and a 6-game streak of 10 or more K’s, he is on a ridiculous run right now and he is rightfully the top priced pitcher on the slate and has to be the top option as well. The problem though is that he is facing a Twins team that hits lefties much better than they hit righties and he struggled very much the last time he pitched at Minnesota (3 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 4 K). However, that was back when he wasn’t utilizing his slider in the fashion that he should have been to maximize his potential success. If you want to save a little money then Cole Hamels is a fine choice as well.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
For this short slate, I prefer Marco Estrada out of all the pitchers who are priced in the bottom half, though I am not crazy about him. Estrada pitched very well in his last start against the Orioles where he was no-hitting them through 7 innings until he gave up a hit and a run in the 8th. On Wednesday he faces the Rays who tend to be more dangerous versus left-handed pitching due to their lineup being right-handed heavy, and they do have the 7th highest strikeout rate in the league against righties. If he can prevent the walks and the long ball then he should be in good shape.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Matt Shoemaker definitely tops the “not so faves” list despite a matchup against an Astros team that is very strikeout prone. Shoemaker just doesn’t have the velocity nor the command of his pitches this season to enjoy any type of consistent success and I don’t expect this game to go over very well for the sophomore righty. Shoemaker has given up 15 HR in 13 starts for a 1.86 HR/9, which is the 2nd highest in the Majors, and it just so happens that the Astros have hit the most HR (by a lot) in the Majors this season. This spells a potential disaster for Shoemaker, especially in a day game at Angel Stadium where the ball travels better during the day. UPDATE (9:39 AM PST): Shoemaker has been scratched. LHP Andrew Heaney will start in his place. It’s his first start of the season and it is not a great spot for him. I think Shoemaker starting would have been worse still, but Heaney is not a good play either.
As long as the Tigers roll out their regular sluggers, I don’t particularly like Carlos Carrasco in this game against them. I’ve been saying for a few days now that the Tigers are a whole different lineup with a healthy Victor Martinez sandwiched in between Miguel Cabrera and Yoenis Cespedes/J.D. Martinez. Against righties, Martinez is able to provide that left-handed bat that the Tigers need in the middle of their lineup and he makes things happen by putting the ball in play and rarely striking out. Carrasco did decently against the Tigers a couple weeks ago, but that was when V-Mart was still on the DL. Earlier in the season when the Tigers had their regular lineup against Carrasco, he suffered quite a beat down. And in the post “Sometimes A Pitcher Is Only As Good As His Defense,” I outlined why Carrasco may continue to have an underwhelming, difficult time this season. Although he may miss a lot of bats, he has been allowing hard contact all season. Carrasco also has a lifetime 5.26 ERA in day games. UPDATE (8:28 AM PST): Miguel Cabrera is NOT in the starting lineup. This makes things look a lot better for Carrasco.
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:
The “big boy stacks” for this slate are the two teams that I mentioned above — the Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers — for the reasons listed above as well. And both of these teams get the added bonus of being the visiting team for a full 9 innings of at-bats.
Shoemaker has been giving it up equally to both righties and lefties this season, so for the Astros it doesn’t really matter the handedness of the batters here. I would look to roll out some combination of George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Chris Carter (over Evan Gattis for 1B in DraftKings because Carter is 3 for 6 with 2 HR versus Shoemaker), Luis Valbuena, Preston Tucker, Colby Rasmus, and Jason Castro. UPDATE (9:39 AM PST): Shoemaker has been scratched, but the Astros stack is still in play. However, some of the Astros lefties may not start or get downgraded. Righty Domingo Santana could get the start and can be plugged into the stack if so.
For the Tigers, Carrasco has been worse against righties this year as well as last year, which bodes well for them since the majority of their good hitters are right-handed. If they are starting, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, and J.D. Martinez are musts for a Tigers stack. Anthony Gose/Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler may also be options. UPDATE (8:28 AM PST): Miguel Cabrera is NOT in the starting lineup. This makes stacking the Tigers much less attractive.
This is going to be a little weird to say since they are up against Chris Sale and I just recommended Sale as the top pitching option, but this slate’s sneaky stack is the Minnesota Twins against Sale. In a 5 game slate, everyone is going to be on Sale even though his price is so high. I would expect Sale’s ownership in large GPP fields to be at least 50%, but probably even 60% or higher. So if Sale happens to finally falter (like he did earlier in the season versus this same Twins team at this same Minnesota stadium), then that’s more than half the field that spent top dollar for a mediocre or poor performance. So this could be a nice contrarian play opportunity with the Twins having documented success against Sale and their team’s ability to do much better against left-handed pitching. For a Twins stack, we would want to focus on the right-handed bats of Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter, Trevor Plouffe, Kennys Vargas (switch hitter), and possibly Kurt Suzuki.
- Having recommended both Sale and the Twins offense, I would also venture to say that putting Sale and some Twins hitters in the same lineup could turn out to be a good play as well. With the way that Sale has been striking guys out, he could conceivably strikeout out 12 guys while also giving up a couple HR and 4 or 5 runs. Having all those strikeouts would help to offset some earned runs and could still make him the highest scoring pitcher of the day. It would be a very unconventional and contrarian thing to do, but I will be trying it out.
- I’m not sure where to stand on Lance McCullers for this start on the road against the Angels. Most of the damage done against him so far this season has been on the road, which is not unexpected for a 21-year old rookie pitcher. But with such a short slate, he possesses some of the higher upside. I will use him cautiously, but not confidently.
- The Cleveland Indians lefties are a nice stack against the rookie Buck Farmer who was obliterated in his first and only start of the season a while back against the Angels.
- Nathan Karns could be in play as a cheaper pitcher play. But I do like Estrada slightly more since the Rays offense is less dangerous than the Jays.
- I could see Cole Hamels‘ start at Yankee Stadium going either way, but I would lean toward him being able to keep them in check.
- Ivan Nova will be making his first start of the season for the Yankees, but he was not too sharp in his rehab outings and he still may have some more rust to shake off. The Philadelphia Phillies offense has been on fire the first two games of this series, but I am skeptical that they can make it three in a row. However, against a pitcher who is just coming off the DL, this could be a nice spot for them to put up another good chunk of runs.