Finally, today marks the first action of the season for daily fantasy sports at Fanduel.com. Although there are a limited slate of games Thursday and Friday, there are two important contests going on at Fanduel.com. First, FanDuel is running a $500 free roll today beginning at 1PM EST using all of the games from Thursday's action. On Friday, Fanduel will be running the first of 15 weekly contests for the Daily Fantasy Baseball Championship (DFBC), which could win you a trip to Vegas for a small $10 entry fee. I'd encourage everyone to check out both events as the baseball season gets underway.
With live action finally here, let's review a few points from last week. First, the “Golden Rule” of daily fantasy sports: never take a zero at any position. You never know when a player with a low salary could break out and it's always better to put a below-average player in your lineup than collect an automatic zero. Make sure your players aren't in jeopardy of getting rained out or getting a late scratch due to injury. Keep in mind that managers give their studs an occasional day off during the long 162-game season, so check the status of every player, even the elite guys who are healthy. Hitters may also have a bad track record against a team's opposing pitcher, which could land them on the pine as well. Keep a close eye on our new Daily Lineups tool to track your players' availability for that day's games.
Last week I discussed some good potential bargains I found right away – Adam Dunn ($2800), Zack Cozart ($2600), Mat Gamel ($2800), Lorenzo Cain ($2300), Matt Moore ($6100). Not all of these players will be playing each day and this appears to be a good opportunity to look at my process of making a lineup. Let's start by looking at pitching, the most important position on your team.
Picking A Pitcher
Since pitchers typically score the most points in daily games, selecting a quality hurler is the most crucial piece to your team. To illustrate how important the position is, let's look at a hypothetical situation. Let's say Justin Verlander throws a complete game shutout vs. the Red Sox tomorrow, striking out nine. His final score would be 23, since he gets a point per inning pitched, a point per strikeout and five points for a win. To put that in contrast, if Player B only goes five innings for a no-decision, gets two strikeouts but allows three runs, his final score would be four (five points for five innings plus two points for two strikeouts, and minus three points for the three runs allowed). In this case, the difference of 19 points will likely be enough to give the overall win to the squad with Verlander, even if that team's hitters under perform. This shows why your pitcher is your most important player.
FanDuel hosts a variety of tournaments that can be entered with as few as three people up to over a thousand everyday. These tournaments consist of different payouts. The tournaments with fewer participants might pay out only one winner while a 10-man tournament will pay out the top three. Most of the tournaments pay out a small portion of the entrants, roughly around 10-20 percent with the money being rewarded top-heavy to those who finish the highest. Tournaments can be a great way to risk little money in order to get a big payout.
Here's what my lineup will be Thursday (provided they're all in the starting lineup and I don't have to go to Plan B), and I've included some analysis as to why I took each player:
P - Stephen Strasburg $6900
According to Las Vegas, the Phillies and the Nationals are both -170 suggesting they have the best odds to win Thursday. Compare Strasburg's $6900 price tag vs. Halladay's at $9000 and I've left myself a lot of extra salary cap space to address the other positions. Verlander and Kershaw are both $9500 and could provide a higher point total, but given the discount, I'll take my chances with Strasburg.
C- Carlos Santana $3600
I think he's in for a special season and while his batting average doesn't jump out at you his OBP should; the guy can take a walk. Ricky Romero won't be a walk in the park but you won't find any hitter with an easy matchup on Opening Day.
1B – Ike Davis $3100
Love the price here. While he's coming back from a tough injury, not to mention his bout of Valley Fever this spring, Davis has a ton of potential. The walls have been moved in at Citi Field and he should hit in the heart of the Mets lineup.
2B – Dan Uggla $3400
I was tempted to go with Danny Espinosa ($3600) here, but I would've had to find a cheaper alternative somewhere else. Uggla has pretty even splits against lefties and righties, and I can't see Johan Santana working too far into this game given the amount of time that has passed since his last start.
3B – Hanley Ramirez $3900
I struggled between Ramirez and Brett Lawrie at the hot corner. Despite the quick turnaround from Wednesday night's game, I decided to go with Hanley. The Marlins new ballpark should play better for hitters than Sun Life Stadium and the improved lineup could be the best since the team last won the World Series.
SS – Zack Cozart $2600
This is one of the better value picks available. At $2600, almost any position player who's promised at-bats is worth that price tag. Cozart has some power and speed potential an his low price allows me to take studs elsewhere.
OF – Matt Kemp $4700
I struggled between him and Jose Bautista here, but Kemp got the edge due to a favorable pitching matchup (Edinson Volquez). Kemp should have an opportunity to do some damage in the first inning where Edinson has historically struggled. It'll be tough for Kemp to clear the fence at Petco, but he could get find the gap for extra bases and/or swipe a bag.
OF – Shin-Soo Choo $3400
This is another good value in my book. Choo's ability to run and hit for power make him an attractive option. After last season's struggles, people will initially shy away from Choo, but he could easily return to the level of production shown in 2010. That's the player I expect to see this year.
OF – John Mayberry $3400
Mayberry will be up against Erik Bedard, who is a lefty. How good was Mayberry against lefties last season? He hit .306 with eight home runs in only 111 at-bats. Mayberry can also run a little. He'll need to produce to keep a starting outfield job for the Phillies, so the extra incentive is there for Mayberry to rake in the stats.
This will be the lineup I submit to the Rotowire free roll. While I like Clayton Kershaw's matchup a little more at San Diego, the $2600 I'm saving allows me to bolster my hitting. This is the type of decision making that should go into the thought process for making your daily lineup.
We'll continue to offer free rolls on FanDuel throughout the season, but if you're itching to get in some of the early-season action before then, CLICK HERE to register.
Here's how FanDuel is different from your regular fantasy baseball league:
-- These are salary cap leagues that last only one day
-- You get instant cash payouts every day
-- You don't have to rely on your buddies – you can pick new opponents every day
-- You can play for free, but playing for real money – for up to $10,000 in prizes per game – takes the fantasy baseball excitement off the charts!
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