Each day of DFS baseball has a personality. There are days with a laundry list of aces to choose and those where dumpster-diving is a near certainty due to the dearth of quality arms available; days that are defined by weather, playing a game of chicken with Mother Nature in hopes that of catching a big-time performance from a low-owned player; and those that are defined by performances, like the time in May that Yasmani Grandal hit two bombs and had eight RBI, as he scored 52 points to throw the hammer down (against yours truly, among others) on the DFS landscape.
Today, for example, has a very thin list of games on the slate. There are only six contests that are starting at 7:00pm EST or later, a commonality for this day of the week during the season (hence the choice to post the Fantasy Rounders journal on Thursdays). It is tough to avoid your own pitchers in this scenario and overlap is unavoidable, so I often choose Thursdays to go light and take a breather from the weekly grind. That said, a fuller batch of games will entice me to play, and August was full of Mondays and Thursdays (the typical travel days) on which ten or more teams were playing ball.
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As with any game, the key is to have fun – but let's face it, winning is fun, and winning money is really fun. Often times the money part distracts from the sheer enjoyment of the game, because the Baseballholic in me just really enjoys constructing lineups. There are days on which I won't play cash games, typically because I don't see a pair of arms that I like, and on those days I often enjoy throwing a handful of lineups into the GPP tournaments that are saturated with intrigue. I might stack the bats against an easy pitcher, just like everyone else, but I'll also have fun by designing a lineup full of rookies (this is a sweet year for that strat), going platoon heavy, ignoring the recency effect and blindly going after bargains, or overemphasizing the recency effect and rostering only players on hot streaks. I also like to mix and match the arms at the top, and though I don't have the bankroll to drop 100 entries into the nightly Moonshot tournaments on DraftKings, I sure don't mind throw $18 on six different lineups, each with its own personality and dynamic.
There are days on which there's a late scratch and an elite pitcher has been replaced by a far inferior starter, something that happens often enough due to the fact that DraftKings sets their prices more than 24 hours in advance of the ballgame. Other times I simply disagree with a team-wide discount that has been based on the opposing pitcher that day, and see a stacking opportunity that allows for the financial flexibility to reach for some of the most expensive players. Even more likely is that I will find value just below that elite tier, as the ownership percentages tend to be higher for players at the top of any given position.
This last point is critical in the GPP tournaments, which are so often won with affordable players that sneak under the radar and have a random performance spike. I don't really focus on likely ownership frequencies for cash games, but it becomes a part of the strategy when looking at the large 50/50 or Double-Up tournaments on DraftKings in addition to the Moonshot GPP with a five-figure list of entrants. This is particularly true of bats, and though I won't pass on good value when I see it regardless of format, the ownership likelihood plays a larger role when attempting to construct a GPP lineup.
For example, the big pitcher among yesterday's batch was none other than Justin Verlander, who took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Angels. It wasn't Chris Sale or David Price, Chris Archer or Johnny Cueto who had the most fantasy points at the pitcher position yesterday – it was Justin Verlander, the same guy that the fantasy community has been clowning for the better part of two years. Now Verlander was a risky play, no doubt about it, and even as a proponent of his context I was unwilling to put too much money on his services. But I did construct a three-dollar lineup around Verlander for the Moonshot tournament, and that roster scored 157 points to triple my money (and pay for the other two lineups, which both fell short despite scores in excess of 113 points). My opponents were using the same top-end (read: expensive) arms that I was using in the cash games, and my main lineup's 119 points were enough to sweep the head-to-head and three-man tournaments, but it fell just short in the doulbe-up, 50/50, and triple-up tournaments due to the overlap factor (the Verlander lineup would have soared against the grain).
The GPP tournaments are like a lottery, and the strategy to coming out on top of one of those is far different than that which is necessary to grind away at cash games. The good news is that a lottery ticket is relatively cheap, and one can try myriad combinations as they try to hit the big one. This is where the fun is, hidden beneath the stacks of virtual sawbacks, and the truth is that some nights I spend more time constructing “fun” lineups that will involve a three-dollar investment than I do researching the main lineup that will have a much larger impact on my bottom line.