You’ve seen the ads. You probably have signed up for the games. As you read this, you likely are considering daily fantasy lineup changes of your own (because that $4,400 Davante Adams just looks too good to pass up at DraftKings).
But on Tuesday, when the games are over and you have several cold, lonely football-less days staring you down, you may be tempted to return to the sites and try your hand at daily fantasy baseball. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it makes mid-September Padres-Diamondbacks and White Sox-A’s games infinitely more interesting.
Still, you can’t just jump into the deep end without some swimmies on. Before you join up and set that baseball lineup, here are a few tips:
1. You can’t just put a lineup of great players in and expect to win.
Mike Trout is going to have 0-for-4 days, and even his 2-for-4-with-a-run-scored days don’t make for a huge point total. There are serious, deep factors involved — lefty-righty matchups, park effects, expected run totals, weighted on-base average (get ready to hear a lot of the acronym “wOBA”), weather, late scratches, and a host of other elements that just scratch the surface of the fun involved.
2. Chase strikeouts.
Though wins are nice, they’re tough to pinpoint. But strikeouts are far easier to predict — plus, they carry a good amount of point value. Predictable point value is key. And strikeouts are one of the few ways to do this. A cheap pitcher with strikeout potential going unnoticed right now is J.A. Happ. Since joining the Pirates at the trade deadline, Happ has been on fire, with four games of 20-plus points on DraftKings and three of 12-plus points on FanDuel.
Carrying a 1.79 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over his seven games with the Pirates has helped with the fantasy numbers, but the hidden gem here is that Happ has upped his K/9 total to 9.4 — which is almost two strikeouts higher than his career total.
3. Know the difference between the “cash” games and the “GPPs” — guaranteed prize pool leagues — and adjust your strategy accordingly.
I don’t follow the rule of playing 80 percent cash games and 20 percent GPPs in football because the “cash” games, or 50/50s — which pay out the top half of the finishers — are a slow road to success and, frankly, boring. I love the big swing I can take with GPPs (generally the larger tournaments with big cash prizes). And if you’re jumping into baseball to have some fun, I will be the last person to stop you from entering a $2 contest that can win you $10,000. But if you want to pad your bankroll to have some money in your account, the 50/50s are the way to go, especially in baseball. A $2 game may net you just $1.80, but if you play, and win, five a night, the money adds up.
4. Lineup order matters.
Mike Leone, the managing editor of DailyRoto.com, says that paying attention to lineups is key to success. Aim for players with higher spots in the order — as hitters batting, say, eighth carry the risk of missing out on important plate appearances. Instead of using a player with upside batting eighth at Coors, Leone says, “take the similar priced player hitting third on the road, even if there may be a drop-off in skills or matchup.”
5. Root around for the fun games.
On Friday, DraftKings ran a $3 baseball contest that awarded the winner (and three friends) a chance to slide down Bernie’s Slide at Miller Park, and another contest that included a batting practice experience at a Rangers game. FanDuel runs regular “Happy Hour” contests with fun twists on prizes (losers in 50/50s still get a ticket to a future fantasy game, for instance).
Daily fantasy baseball is a fun experience, and it makes the viewing experience eons more interesting this late in the season. But having a little insider help when you crossover from football this time of year could turn a fun experience into a money-making one, as well.
For more from the Fantasy Sports Network, watch FNTSY on RCN Cable in HD on Ch. 583 and SD on Ch. 367, on Cablevision Ch. 238 and as an app on Xbox One and Xbox 360.