Friday, August 6, 2010

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy Guide

I have been playing a little daily fantasy baseball at a competing site, and I have picked up a few more strategy tips for success at selecting a fantasy baseball team that might help you earn a little extra cash. Rather than focus on these few new tips I thought I would go the whole nine yards and offer a complete strategy guide that includes everything you should be thinking about before you go out to play some daily fantasy baseball. Let’s go through them one by one.

Site Selection

If you want to win money playing fantasy sports, site selection is a HUGE factor. The rake and structures vary from site to site. Some sites are friendlier to new players while others are friendlier to sharks. No matter how good you are at daily fantasy sports, site selection can have a huge impact on your ROI. Now I am going to go ahead and recommend our site, FantasySportsLive.com over all of the others. I will give you several reasons why, but please go out and look around if you don’t want to take my word for it.

1) Rake: Fantasy Sports Live has the best rake, with rake free leagues everyday, and 9% and lower rake for all leagues $5.5 and above. Rake is taken directly out of your winnings, so keeping this low can only increase your winnings and ROI. Typical rake is 10-20% in the daily fantasy sports industry.

2) League Structures: Fantasy Sports Live has the widest variety of league structures in the industry by far. If you have an edge in picking scrubs, or picking stars we have the cap structure that will let you take advantage. We also have the fastest and easiest automated draft for those of you who don’t like to share your players for the day. Also, our individual player cap values are the most transparent in the industry. For performance based caps they are exactly proportional to the average fantasy points a player earns per game. For salary based caps they are the player’s actual salary per game. Other sites use complicated formulas that you would need a PhD to understand. The last thing you want to do playing daily fantasy sports is to try to adjust for bad player cap values. Bad player cap values also tend to take the skill out of the game, and make it more of a luck fest.

3) Overlays and Guarantees: Fantasy Sports Live league prizes are all guaranteed, and all multi-player leagues can pay an overlay. Overlays are when the site is paying out more than they are taking in for a league. This is money in the bank for the profitable daily fantasy sports player, and those in the know are all over them. Nearly all sites with the exception of Fantasy Sports Live prohibit overlays in their rules. This means that the prizes are not really guaranteed, because they will not run a league unless they (the site) are guaranteed to make money. At FSL we value our customers and do not want them wasting valuable time entering a league that may or may not run. So anytime 2+ players can compete to make the fantasy baseball league skill based, the prizes are paid out as advertised. When this happens enjoy some extra free cash from FSL for your efforts.

4) New player or shark friendly: Fantasy Sports Live is new player friendly which tends to lower the quality of competition. Most competing sites are shark friendly which tends to raise the level of competition. I will not go into detail as to why, but I will say that it is easier to win money in daily fantasy sports from a new player than a shark.

5) League Traffic: Fantasy Sports Live has a large traffic base from over three years in operation, the longest in the industry. Most competing sites are pretty light on traffic lowering your chance for the match-up you are interested in.

These are the most important site selection factors for profiting at fantasy sports and FSL is the best or nearly the best at every single one of them. OK, enough about fantasy sports live. Now for the good stuff.

League Selection (aka Table Selection)

I can’t over emphasize the importance of this. Daily fantasy sports in most cases are played head to head against another opponent. There is no set score to beat, you just need to beat your opponent's score. You could literally be the second worst daily fantasy baseball player in the world and still earn a profit if you were matching yourself against the worst player in the world. Also, the second best fantasy sports player in the world would have a losing record if they were constantly matched up against the best. As you can see, opponent selection can be even more important than your own daily fantasy sports skill set. Luckily for everyone, there is the new site called RotoGrinders where you can look up info on your opponent. You can’t see their complete win/loss record, but you can see how much they have won which is a decent indication of how good they are. Choose your matches wisely and try to get matched up with unknown players or players with a limited track record in daily fantasy sports and you are bound to increase your cash winnings and ROI.

Team Selection – Salary Cap Drafts

Before I go into fantasy baseball specifically, I want to cover a general concept in Salary Cap drafts that is sometimes overlooked. You want to try to figure out how many fantasy points players are likely to score (projected to score), but you do not necessarily want to pick the players with the highest projections. What I like to do is look at cost per projected fantasy point that day. For example a player with a cost of 50 pts and a projection of 4 fantasy points is a worse choice than a player with a cost of 30 pts and a projection of 3 fantasy points. The 50 pt player will likely score more fantasy points, but is overpriced relative to the 30 pt player. You want to try to draft the team with the highest projected total fantasy score, and the only way to do this is to minimize the cost per fantasy point that you are paying, while spending the entire cap if possible. So be careful before selecting that obvious choice that may actually be not quite the best.

Player Projections – Fantasy Baseball Hitters

Player projection can be found on other websites, you can develop your own mathematical models, or you may just intuitively understand player projections from your high level of baseball knowledge. No matter how you do it, this is where to start. I like to use a players average fantasy points per game as a base, and try to determine all of the factors in today’s game that would cause them to tend to score higher or lower than their season average score. Factors to consider are listed below.

1) Opponent's starting pitcher’s strength: You want your hitter against a poor pitcher and not an ace.

2) Opponent team's relief pitching: The starter will not likely complete the whole game, so you will probably get a few innings with relievers. Are your opponent's relievers better or worse than average?

3) Opponent starting pitcher's throwing hand: How does your hitter do against left and right handed pitchers? Are they going to do better or worse than average based on the opposing starter?

4) Home or Away game: Is the game at home or away, and does the hitter perform better at home or away? Also keep in mind that home batters may get fewer at bats at home vs. away, as the home team may not play the bottom of the ninth.

5) Heat Factor: How has your hitter been playing lately? Baseball players are pretty streaky. Hot players tend to stay hot and cold players tend to stay cold in the short-term. Try to select players that have been playing very well lately.

Player Projections – Fantasy Pitchers

Below are the factors to consider for fantasy pitcher projections.

1) Opponent hitter strength: What teams are easiest for fantasy pitchers to score highly against and are more likely to get the win against, and what teams tend to shell starting pitchers and chase them out of games? Give your pitcher a good match-up and he will score higher than normal over the long-term.

2) Opposing pitcher strength: Are you pitching against an ace or a scrub? This matters if you want to get the win because of it's high fantasy score. A good pitcher will still likely lose if they are up against a better pitcher. So not only do you want a good pitcher, you want to make sure that the opposing pitcher is bad.

3) Home or away game: How does your pitcher do at home vs. away? Some ballparks work very well with starting pitchers and others do not. Also, pitchers in general tend to score higher at home because home teams are more likely to get the win.

4) What are the odds?: I always like to check an online sports book to see who the highest favored teams are that day to win. The highest favored teams are the most likely to get the win according to the public's consensus. A highly favored starting pitcher is simply more likely to win than they are to lose. It is good, if not required, that the pitcher you select is also on a highly favored team that day.

Is your selected player going to play?

Picking the best possible daily fantasy baseball team will not get you too far if the manager decides to rest your player or the game gets rained out. This is what makes daily fantasy baseball much more complicated than other fantasy sports where rain outs are not possible, and players tend to play every game during the regular season. Below are two things you can do here.

1) Verify that your player is in the starting line-up: This can get a bit tough, but in general starting line-ups are announced about 1 hour before game time. If you are on twitter you can use MLBStarting9 which tweets out the starting line-ups as they are announced, or find another source. So you should be able to get the lineups for the games starting with-in an hour of the league's start time. Try to favor confirmed players if you can. Many starting-line-ups will not be confirmed in time for the league's start. If you select a player from one of those games you are taking a decent risk. If you have to do it anyway, try to make sure that your player is not injured and tends to start all games, and then cross your fingers and hope your player actually plays. I tend to select players that are confirmed over players that are not when it is a close choice.

2) Verify the weather: You should check out the game time weather for the games your fantasy baseball players are playing in. The Sports Network has a pretty nice summary of the weather and chances of rain, so I would use that rather than trying to look up the weather forecasts for each stadium yourself.

Final Thoughts

I tried to cover the most important factors to consider when trying to profit from daily fantasy baseball. You don’t necessarily need to cover them all to be successful (covering them all is a lot of work). Also, you may find some other factors that are pretty important that I did not list. Keep those ones to yourself and exploit them all day long. Another thing to keep in mind is that Daily Fantasy Baseball is pretty high variance. It is possibly the highest variance daily fantasy sport that there is. You can select a great fantasy baseball team and still lose, and you can select a very poor team and still win. You need to take a long-term view if you want to see if your system really works. So don’t get discouraged if your results are not stellar from the beginning. Overtime you will be able to see if you are a winning daily fantasy baseball player or not, but that can’t be decided in one day or one week.

5 comments:

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