Daily Fantasy: A Whole New World

Every new fantasy baseball season is filled with promise, intrigue and possibility for the player. Some of us may be coming off a dreadful 2010 and looking to rebound this year. Other’s fantasy skills may have flourished last season and the prospects for 2011 look bright. Regardless of your past performance, the 2011 Fantasy Season can be one unlike any season-long league you’ve ever competed in. I’m talking about the world of Daily Fantasy Baseball.

This game type is very different from the traditional season—which begins with the draft, after which any and all decisions revolve around the roster you created for yourself. No my friends, in this world you will be drafting a new team every single day. That’s right, you will never have to experience the long-term frustrations of being bitten by the injury bug, plagued by platoons or infuriated with off-days in the world of daily fantasy.

For intense gamers this is the ultimate in competition. The ability to play in head-to-head, multi-player and even huge tournaments on a daily basis is something that may be difficult for the season-long player to even comprehend. And the best part is you can win cash every single day if you so choose. Daily Fantasy sites feature games ranging from FREE all the way up to stakes in the hundreds of dollars. It is a cut-throat world where mistakes are punished and good decisions can be highly profitable.

In this article I will provide you with the three basic principles of this game that can and will get you started on the path to success.

Preparation
You know the countless number of hours that are spent preparing for one’s draft day in the season long format? Imagine doing that, on a slightly smaller scale, every single day of the 2011 season. It is a time-consuming, and unrelenting process that consumes as much time as the player’s life can allow him. Whereas a season-long player may have to choose between Neil Walker and Chone Figgins once a week when games are plentiful, a daily player is allotted the opportunity to pick ANY second baseman that’s playing EVERY day of the week, among 10-15 realistic options.

So where does one begin to figure out who to select? For a ‘newbie,’ as we like to call rookies in the industry, the first step should be identifying statistical websites that you can use to your advantage. THT has many resources on its pages that a daily player would most certainly find very useful. Things such as generic split stats, right/lefty matchup ratings and home field batting improvement are all things that the daily fantasy player delves into for minutes to hours a day.

Your knowledge of statistical significance as it relates to individual performance is going to have to be refined and sharpened as you progress through the daily fantasy world and I hate to tell you that there is no perfect formula. But what I can tell you is that the names of daily players at the top of the earnings leaderboards across the industry are the same, and appear consistently month after month. The initial step for monetary success for these and all other profitable players in the industry is preparing long and hard on a daily basis. Every position must be scrutinized and this is where the next step begins…

Selection
The most popular game format for daily fantasy, and the one that these principles highlight, is the Salary Cap. This is a fairly straight forward competition type in which each player is presented with a set amount of money from which they select the day’s players. There are two main methods of thinking when it comes to selection, which I like to call ‘The Balanced Approach’ and the ‘Studs and Duds’ Methodology.

The Balanced Approach sounds exactly like what it is. It involves putting together a lineup of players that have consistently performed well as regular starters for their prospective teams. In the salary cap format, players such as these will carry moderate-to-high price tags and should (if selected properly) put up a fairly high total point score for the day. There is very little risk in this type of lineup selection and keeps the blood pressure at a moderate level.

On the other hand, the risk takers in the industry primarily deploy the Studs and Duds Methodology. This is for the daily fantasy players with stones, as they say. This selection process involves more dedication, but can also reap bigger rewards. First, the player utilizing this process must identify two or three bench players that are getting a spot start on that day. They plug these players into their lineup, who carry very low price tags because they do not play regularly. By doing so, the player can also afford to play the cream of the crop. Albert Pujols, Carlos Gonzalez and Evan Longoria are examples of guys that come to mind who carry such high price tags that you need to make space for them by saving money somewhere.

Both methods of selection have merit, and I will debate which implementation carries with it a better long-term outlook in a later article, but for now it is just important that you all realize that these are the decisions that must be made for a fantasy player’s lineup day in and day out.

So now that you’ve chosen your team and the games have begun you may think that all the work is left to the MLB players themselves. Not so fast…

Reflection
This is the final, and most often overlooked, portion to daily fantasy baseball success. Watch the games, people! By this I mean, both your matchups for the day, and the competition itself so that you can see things progress. You wouldn’t make an investment and then just trust that it is growing over time would you? It’s the same concept here. In order to learn and grow as a player you need to identify both the good and bad decisions you made and how to correct them.

Let’s say for example that Ryan Howard may have gone 0-4 with a strikeout. And you may be very upset with him. But if you realize that two of his outs were line drives right at the 2B playing short right field and his strikeout was off of a devastating left-handed reliever. Knowing these things can make a big difference when it comes to your future selection of Mr. Howard.

Its things like this that make the long term difference in our game. Daily fantasy owners would agree when I say that the game reflects on every other aspect of life. Those who put in the work reap the benefits. If you outwork the others you will get ahead. And if you slack off you will get left behind.

It’s a fun endeavor to undertake, but I implore you not to do so with a lack of knowledge. The established players, including myself, will be more than happy to wipe the floor with you.

In the coming weeks and months I will do my best to enlighten you to this new and evolving world. It is an ever-changing and expanding segment of the fantasy baseball industry and I myself am learning new things everyday. I’ll do my best to keep you informed of happenings in this world and how you can use certain strategies to your advantage. I’ll also do my best to help you exploit the weaknesses of others who are not so informed.

For now please take a look at some of the sites that will be offering Daily Fantasy Baseball in the near future:

FanDuel

DraftStreet

SportsGeek

Fantasy Sports Live

See you soon!

Kevin ‘KC’ Cearnal

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