Daily Fantasy: Let’s talk lineups (five quick lessons)by Kevin Cearnal
April 27, 2011
THT's Ben Pritchett approached me this week about facing him in a game of daily fantasy. Of course I accepted, and hence was set a match-up of THT staffers. With Ben's permission I am going to give you a look at the lineups, results and five points of interest stemming from our heated battle that I felt were worthy of discussion. Identifying and discussing these line items may help you understand both good and bad habits that you can form when playing daily fantasy baseball.
Let's start with the general match-up details:
Date: Wednesday April 20
Game Type: Standard Salary Cap, $35,000
Hitters: 1B = 1pt, 2B = 2pts, 3B = 3pts, HR = 4pts, RBI = 1pt, R = 1pt, BB = 1pt, SB = 2pts, Out (calculated as at bats - hits) = -.25pt
Pitchers: W = 7pts, ER = -1pt, SO=1pt, IP = 1pt*
* Fractional scoring per out.
If there are other details you would like please feel free to visit the match-up page here (Ben Pritchett vs. Kevin Cearnal)
Here's how the lineups shook out:
Ben Pritchett (naturalslugger)
(Pos) Player [Salary] *PointTotal*
(P) Zach Britton [3,900] *13*
(C) Carlos Santana [3,300] *3.5*
(1B) Joey Votto [4,100] *3.5*
(2B) Dan Uggla [3,500] *0.5*
(3B) Rich Robertson [3,900] *2.5*
(SS) Hanley Ramirez [3,700] *1.25*
(LF) Matt Holliday [3,900] *4.75*
(CF) Andrew McCutchen [3,600] *0*
(RF) Jason Heyward [3,400] *-1*
TOTAL = 28
Kevin Cearnal (kcearnal)
(P) Jered Weaver [9,900] *23*
(C) J.P. Arencibia [2,500] *6.5*
(1B) Joey Votto [4,100] *3.5*
(2B) Brian Roberts [3,400] *0.25*
(3B) Greg Dobbs [2,600] *1.25*
(SS) Yunel Escobar [3,200] *1.25*
(LF) Alex Gordon [3,200] *4*
(CF) Grady Sizemore [2,500] *0*
(RF) Shin-Soo Choo [3,600] *3*
TOTAL = 42.75
So here are the five things I hope a new player can learn from this match-up:
1. McCutchen was MIA - So we both took big fat zeroes from our center fielders. The only difference was that mine took the field. This was the night that McCutchen had "family matters" to attend to and missed the game. And while something like this is impossible to predict, it is not impossible to find out. I got this news roughly 2 1/2 hours prior to game time via one of my favorite tools, ESPN's fantasy news text alerts. For those of you who don't already utilize this tool I highly recommend it. It is free and can provide helpful insights, such as the aforementioned example, on a nightly basis. If Ben had picked up on this info, he would have certainly replaced his center fielder, giving him a chance to make up some points. Paying premium price for a guy who isn't playing is unacceptable. Period.
2. Pick a solidified starter - Britton vs. Weaver is a very interesting matchup to analyze. Both got the win (7 points), which is the most important thing to consider when picking a pitcher on FanDuel. Pick a guy you think will win. End of story.
But beyond that, I would even go as far as to say that I never settle for anything less than the best pitcher of the day. The pricing is such that you can afford any pitcher, and still create a decent lineup with a little work. And that's where the difference in experience comes into play. I took the premium pitcher. Ben did not. And I don't blame him for going after Britton. He had a good start and was one of the cheapest options of the day. This choice allowed Ben to pick the very best player at every other position on his team. But pitcher is not where you want to short change yourself. You can find low cost options elsewhere (just look at my lineup). Weaver racked up the K's and pitched a CG. He's a stud and he has to be on your roster almost every fifth day.
So lesson two is this: when playing FanDuel, always pick the pitcher you think will score the best, regardless of price. This will prevent you from kicking yourself later.
3. Project points, but also determine value - So let's just say that, theoretically, Ben thought Holliday would put up five points. That's a great total and you'd take that any day of the week. But Holliday is in the top three in terms of cost. Gordon, on the other hand was red hot, $700 cheaper, and I projected him for 3.5. This is where you must consider value for your money. I've discussed this in previous articles, but I can't emphasize the point enough: if your going to pay big money for a guy, make sure not only that he is going to be the highest scoring player, but also that there isn't a guy for less that will be comparable. I'm pretty sure that there is a business term called "cost-benefit analysis." And I'm also pretty sure that that's the point I'm trying to get across here.
Find the bargains that make sense. Use them. And make sure that 99 percent of the time these bargains are position players, not pitchers.
4. Rarely pay the premium for a catcher - For the most part, catchers stink at hitting. Outside of a handful of guys (of which you might consider Santana one) they are atrocious and unreliable. So I think that this is one of your best options for bargain shopping. Especially on a night when Mr. Arencibia is behind home plate. He's cheap and he has big point potential, the ideal combination for my catcher selection. I guess my criticism here is based on my prior experience. It rarely pays off to spend on catching, or so it seems. So, unless you see unbelievable priors or a catcher is riding a hot streak, I would advise you to fork out your dollars elsewhere.
5. Never, ever play against me! - I'm kind of a big deal. People know me. But all kidding aside, the lesson to be learned here is to do your best to match-up with people that have similar daily fantasy baseball skills as you do. You'll get smoked if you start facing the big boys in the beginning. And while you may learn a lot, and really fast, your bankroll will also take a beating. So start off slow and try to find guys, like you, that are just starting out. This way you'll be able to hone your craft and eventually become one of the game's premier players.
Well that's all for this week. Hope that this showed you how little maneuvers can make a huge difference in daily fantasy. Experience is also a key factor in the daily fantasy world, so I invite all of you to start getting some at any of the following sites:
FanDuel -- DraftStreet -- DraftZone -- Fantasy Sports Live -- SportsGeek
See you next time!
Wanna discuss daily fantasy baseball further? Think my jargon is just that? Shoot me a line and I'll debate with you until I'm blue in the face.
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