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 MONDAY JULY 6, 2015
There are several games with some chances of storms, but it’s hard to say what may or may not happen at the time of writing this post. So I am going to deliver the post mostly with no regard for the weather, but as always, just be sure to check on the weather in these games before the slate begins.
I’m going to preface the pitchers section by saying that lefty Chris Sale is the top priced option across the board tonight, but if there ever was a time to fade him then this would be it. He’s up against a Blue Jays team who is the hands down toughest teams against lefties in the Majors. The Blue Jays against lefties are 1st in ISO, 1st in wOBA, and have the 2nd lowest strikeout rate. Sale is still usable and I will have some exposure to him, but it’s far from favorable, especially as the top priced guy.
Carlos Carrasco has a few things going for him for his start against the Astros on Monday. He finally might be rounding into form as he had had a near no-hitter against the Rays in his last start. Before his near no-hitter, his best start of the season came again the Houston Astros in his very first start of the year when he went 6.1 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. And even though the Astros lineup that Carrasco will face tonight will be a bit different than that first start with guys like Carlos Correa, Preston Tucker, and maybe Jon Singleton in the lineup, it’s a team that still strikes out a lot (25.9% against righties) and can be dominated by high strikeout pitchers. So if Car-Car can give us 6-7 innings with double digit strikeouts, then that will probably be good enough to hit value.
There are some other usable pitchers in the higher price tier, but I am going to shy away from labeling any of them as favorites for various reasons that I will label in the bonus notes section at the bottom.
SLEEPERS FOR CHEAPER:
The cheapest I am going tonight is Chris Heston, and Heston actually might be my 2nd favorite overall play next to Carrasco. Heston hasn’t been too sharp overall since he pitched a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts against the Mets on June 9, but he once again gets that same Mets team at home tonight and hopefully he can repeat the magic. For the last couple of weeks, outside of any game that Steven Matz has started, the Mets offense has been lost and with Heston’s prior success against them, this can be something that he can exploit. Overall against righties, the Mets have the 4th worst ISO, 2nd worst wOBA, and 7th worst strikeout rate. I’ll be looking to pair up Carrasco with Heston a lot.
THE NOT SO FAVES:
Hisashi Iwakuma has been on the shelf for a while with a strained lat, but he is making his return tonight versus the Tigers. Luckily, Iwakuma gets to face a lineup without Miguel Cabrera. But the last couple of days, the Tigers have shown that they can still produce without Cabrera and just coming back from the injury, and a few of the other Tigers have good track records against Iwakuma (Ian Kinsler, Yoenis Cespedes, Victor Martinez). So despite the Tigers currently being the lowest projected scoring team of the day by Vegas implied odds at 3.0 runs, this just doesn’t seem like a good spot to take a chance on Iwakuma.
Wei-Yin Chen has been very solid this season, but any time the Twins face a lefty, it could spell trouble for that pitcher. Statistically, the Twins are middle of the pack against left-handed pitchers this season, but most of their biggest offensive games this season have been games against left-handed starting pitchers. And with some of these Twins hitters having some good track records against Chen, he’s not someone that I would use for tonight’s slate.
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:
It’s always nice to pick on Sean O’Sullivan of the Phillies, so that’s what we’ll try to do here with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers versus righties are 1st in wOBA, 2nd in ISO, and 1st in walk rate and O’Sullivan is a gas can with a 5.76 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He’s had two starts this season where he’s given up 4 HR and there’s a good chance that his third one might come tonight. The Dodgers may be without Adrian Gonzalez tonight because he suffered a hand contusion yesterday, but that might just make a Dodgers stack look more attractive because Gonzalez is the highest priced Dodger (on DraftKings). So if Gonzalez isn’t playing, then a stack of Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal would still look good, and Andre Ethier, Jimmy Rollins, or Howie Kendrick could be added to the mix.
I will call the Toronto Blue Jays a big boy stack because that’s what they usually are, but this could be considered more of a sneaky stack play with ownership of the Jays hitters going to be lower than usual since they are up against Chris Sale. For GPP’s, I think that you have to take at least one shot with a Blue Jays stack because they can do some serious damage against left-handed pitching. Yes, Sale could still rack up double digit strikeouts for the 9th time in a row, but the Jays can get to him just like the Twins did a couple weeks ago. I’ve already stated the Blue Jays credentials against left-handed pitching, so for a bit of a contrarian play, go with the Jays for at least one lineup. For the full stack, Jose Reyes, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and two out of Chris Colabello/Danny Valencia/Kevin Pillar.
I mentioned how the Minnesota Twins can get to left-handed pitching, and against Wei-Yin Chen I would use a stack of Brian Dozier, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe/Miguel Sano and possibly Kurt Suzuki
Maybe not so sneaky, but definitely under appreciated, is a Milwaukee Brewers stack. They just dominated a weekend series against the Reds and now they come home and get a matchup against the Braves rookie Matt Wisler. Wisler is a nice prospect and perhaps the unfamiliarity with him will provide the Brewers with some problems, but the hotness of their offense cannot be ignored, especially against a finesse right-handed pitcher — the same type of pitcher that they crushed all weekend long in Josh Smith, Michael Lorenzen, and Mike Leake. Give me Gerardo Parra, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Braun, Adam Lind, Carlos Gomez, and one of Aramis Ramirez/Jean Segura/Scooter Gennett. UPDATE (1:30 PM PST): Lucroy is OUT.
I have to mention this super sneaky Philadelphia Phillies stack because they have been able to put up some crooked numbers lately, and they get a matchup against the Dodgers Eric Surkamp. Surkamp is a soft-tossing lefty making his 2015 debut. He has pitched 53.2 Major League innings with the Giants and White Sox, but he has a career 6.20 ERA and 1.73 WHIP to show for it. Overall as a team, the Phillies do better against left-handed pitching, so this could be a great time for them to light up a terrible pitcher. We’ll have to see what the Phillies lineup ends up looking like, but Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco are definite plays for this stack. UPDATE (2:42 PM PST): Surkamp is longer starting for the Dodgers. Yimi Garcia will be starting, but will probably only go an inning or two before giving way to Surkamp. Phillies stack should still be in play as a sneaky stack, but does lose a little bit of shine with Surkamp not starting out of the gate.
- Dallas Keuchel can definitely shut down any offense on any day, and the Indians aren’t particularly strong against left-handed pitching. But the Indians do have the second lowest strikeout rate against lefties, so the upside here may be limited. He’s still usable for tonight’s slate though.
- A.J. Burnett would appear to be in a nice matchup against a struggling Padres offense that does not hit righties well. However, the Padres did hand him one of his worst starts of the season earlier this year and a couple of players, Justin Upton and Will Venable, have strong track records against him. Burnett is still a play because of the great matchup on paper, but there could be some letdown here.
- James Shields DraftKings price has actually come down a lot, so he could be a bit of a bargain play against the Pirates tonight.
- Edinson Volquez is also a possible “sleeper for cheaper” pitcher play against the Rays.
- Washington Nationals stack against Anthony Desclafani is in play.