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 FRIDAY JUNE 26, 2015
At the time of writing this, it doesn’t seem like there will be any significant effects of weather on today’s slate. There are some chances of rain/storms in a few areas, but it’s not looking like it’ll force any long delays. However, it is far out from game time, so be sure to check on the weather as game time approaches. No wind or humidity/air density levels will have a major play either, so it looks like for the most part we will be picking players based on their skills and matchups.
Due to time constraints, I will list just one favorite pitcher, one cheap sleeper pitcher, one not so favorite pitcher, one big boy stack, and one sneaky stack. Then I will jot down some bonus notes. But first a quick word on Max Scherzer.
Max Scherzer comes in priced at $14,000 tonight on DraftKings, which is the highest price of any player this season, and last year there were 11 instances where a player was priced this high — all 11 instances were Clayton Kershaw and he exceeded expectation in 9 of those games. So though a small sample size, there is some historic evidence that a player will meet expectation more often than not at this price. However, the caveat here is that Scherzer is on the road tonight and pitchers priced above $12,000 meet expectation on average, but have shown more upside at home. So I’m not calling Scherzer a favorite today, but I will see if I can squeeze his high priced salary into some lineups because he could go 7 innings allowing 7 hits + walks, 2 earned runs, while striking out 7 and earning the win and he would meet expectation. That seems very feasible against the Phillies.
My favorite pitcher play of the day is the lefty Francisco Liriano hosting the Braves. Compared to Scherzer’s $14,000 price tag, Liriano at $10,000 seems like a bargain in this spot. I’ve been referencing a lot lately that the Braves offense lost Freedie Freeman to the DL and they have been without him for the last 6 games. In those 6 games, the Braves have scored just a total of 11 runs, but 5 of those games had them score 0 or 1 run. So this offense obviously is just not the same without their best hitter. The Braves have been pretty good at avoiding the strikeout this season overall, but that is because they make contact versus righties very well (3rd lowest K% vs. RHP). But it is a horse of a different story against lefties where the Braves strike out 23.3% of the time, which is the 8th highest in the league. Furthermore, the Braves have the 2nd worst ISO and wOBA versus lefties. So this is looking like a great situation for Liriano and his 10.70 K/9 to rack up double digit strikeouts while also keeping the Braves off the scoreboard.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
If you want to use Scherzer tonight on DraftKings, then you surely have to go cheap with your second pitcher. My favorite pitcher priced in the bottom half of the slate tonight is righty Trevor May at $6,300. May is a guy that has been quietly developing into a pretty decent pitcher in his sophomore season, in particular he has been really good in the month of June with a 1.18 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 24 K/6 BB in 24 IP — and this all came against quality offenses in the Red Sox, Royals, Cardinals, and Cubs. His season strikeout rate is solid at 7.94 K/9, but in the Minors he was always a strikeout per inning type of pitcher, and that’s what he’s shown over the last month of the season as well. He squares off against the Brewers tonight who are a right-handed heavy lineup that has the 6th highest strikeout rate versus righties and the 4th worst wOBA. And May gets the added bonus of pitching in an NL park where he should get 1-2 times to try and strikeout Kyle Lohse.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Johnny Cueto is the 2nd highest priced pitcher tonight on the DraftKings board at $10,600, but I am not sure that I will be using him (much). Like Liriano, he gets a nice matchup against an offense that is just in a huge rut. He faces the Mets who have scored just 11 runs in the last 8 games, with 5 of those games having scored 0 or 1 run. Versus righties, the Mets have the 9th worst strikeout rate, 4th worst ISO, and 3rd worst wOBA. However, Cueto missed a start about a month ago with some elbow tightness. Since returning, he has pitched pretty well overall with a 2.84 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 26 K/4 BB, but he was supposed to pitch this past Tuesday and got his start pushed back to today so that he can get extra rest for his elbow. That does sound concerning to me, and I have to wonder if he is at full strength. Also, this start is on the road, where as Liriano’s great matchup comes at home and he is cheaper. Although, Liriano will be probably be higher owned in GPP’s because of this.
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 Detroit Tigers go up against the southpaw Jose Quintana on Friday and this is a guy that they demolished earlier this season when facing him on their own home field. In that game, Yoenis Cespedes hit 2 HR off Quintana (3 HR in the game), and he, as well as other Tigers, have dominant career lines against Quintana. And with Victor Martinez back in the lineup for the Tigers, their lineup is just more balanced and explosive. I would fire up Rajai Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Yoenis Cespedes, and J.D. Martinez.
Matt Shoemaker is a must avoid despite facing a poor Seattle Mariners offense. He could turn in a nice outing but it isn’t worth the risk with his diminished velocity and poor location of his pitches. Because of this, I think the Mariners make for a very low owned sneaky stack. Shoemaker has faced the Mariners twice this season, and though he only allowed 3 ER in each outing, he allowed a total of 5 HR between the two games. He has been extremely homer prone this season, and of course the homers are what bring in the most points. So if the Mariners can get some guys on base and go on a HR binge, then they will be scoring a lot of runs. This means for sure Logan Morrison, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, and Seth Smith. Perhaps Mark Trumbo, and if you dare, Robinson Cano.
- Wei-Yin Chen seems like a decent play against an Indians offense that is left-handed heavy.
- Taijuan Walker has been outstanding over the last month after a rocky beginning to the 2015 season. He appears to be figuring things out and he goes up against an Angels offense that has yet to see him despite playing in the same division. With the roll that he is on and the fact that the Angels haven’t faced him could give him a bit of an advantage.
- Vincent Velasquez of the Astros is the cheapest pitching option on the board tonight. I could see situations to use him and to stack against him with the Yankees. It really could go either way and I’ll probably play both sides tonight.
- Despite having a left-handed heavy lineup against the lefty Mark Buehrle, the Rangers lefties actually have good track records against Buehrle. I wouldn’t be opposed to firing up some Rangers.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates make for sneaky stack here. They face Williams Perez of the Braves and the Pirates handed him his worst start of the season the last time he faced them (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K).
- Anibal Sanchez has been hit or miss all season long, but more hit than miss as of late. But I still would keep away from him because the White Sox torched him for 9 runs earlier this season and some of those Sox players have good career lines versus Sanchez. So actually, the Chicago White Sox offense would probably be another sneaky team.
- Giancarlo Stanton faces lefty Brett Anderson. Stanton eats up lefties.
- I can envision Corey Kluber being decently owned, but he hasn’t been sharp lately, so a Baltimore Orioles stack against him could be in play.
- UPDATE (2:09 PM PST): The Toronto Blue Jays are also a power stack against Nick Martinez even though he’s a righty and the Jays don’t do as well versus righties.
- UPDATE (2:10 PM PST): The Houston Astros against Nathan Eovaldi and his super straight fastball could be able to hit the ball a long ways.