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Fantasy 101: How To Win On DraftKings (Basic Strategy)

Michael Rathburn

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. He was also nominated by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association for Best Baseball Series in 2011.

How to Win on DraftKings (Basic Strategy)

The baseball season is underway and there is a lot of excitement about daily fantasy games. The expectation is that DraftKings will be announcing their MLB promotion plans within the next week or so. Speculation is they could end up running a $1 million contest around the All Star Break, with a live event taking place towards the middle of August that offers a $1 million first prize up for grabs, similar to Fanduel. Look for weekly articles on RotoWire focused on how you can get your seat to play for $1 Million dollars throughout the season. This week, I am going to focus on some of the basics with DraftKings to get you started.

DraftKings Daily Fantasy Baseball

Salary Cap - $50,000

Roster Composition – P, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF (ten players)

Position Eligibility – Fixed, Multiple

Avg Per Cost Per Position - $5000

Avg Salary Range per Player – Hitters $1800-$5800; Pitchers $5000-$12500.

Scoring System

Hitters will accumulate points as follows:


  • Single = +3 PTs
  • Double = +5 PTs
  • Triple = +8 PTs
  • Home Run = +10 PTs
  • Run Batted In = +2 PTs
  • Run = +2 PTs
  • Base on Balls = +2 PTs
  • Hit By Pitch = +2 PTs
  • Stolen Base = +5 PTs
  • Caught Stealing = -2 PTs

Pitchers will accumulate points as follows:

  • Inning Pitched = +2.25 PTs
  • Strike Out = +2 PTs
  • Win = +4 PTs
  • Earned Run Allowed = -2 PTs
  • Hit Against = -0.6 PTs
  • Base on Balls Against = -0.6 PTs
  • Hit Batsman = -0.6 PTs
  • Complete Game = +2.5 PTs
  • Complete Game Shut Out = +2.5 PTs
  • No Hitter = +5 PTs


DraftKings has fixed positions on rosters, but players can have more than one position, which opens up the amount of roster flexibility. The salaries are slightly tighter than Fanduel, but they also take into consideration “park factors”, so players in hitting environments like Colorado or Texas will have a premium placed on their salary versus those in Seattle or San Diego. Also, take note of the scoring differences, as there is more emphasis placed on hits versus runs or RBIs. There are also no negative points for outs or strikeouts, so power hitters are placed at a premium.

With two starting pitchers, the need to find a value arm is critical, because if you take two aces, you will have a weak hitting lineup. Taking a look at the scoring system for pitching, you can see there is more of an emphasis on innings pitched (2.25 points per IP) and strikeouts. The other scoring categories are adjusted similarly as Fanduel, with the exception of wins. Wins are only four points on DraftKings, so they are more of a bonus than a necessity. Taking pitchers in very low scoring hitting environments is a good strategy to uphold.

On the hitting side, because there is a more of a gap between the lowest to highest players, it is important to find those minimum-salaried players who can break out on a given night. Having a few of these players will help alleviate salary to take some of the power hitters.

Factors for Outperforming Salary

One of the biggest keys in Daily Fantasy Baseball is knowing how to extract value from players on a given night. Here are some of the things to consider:

Hitters


  1. Opposite handed hitter vs starting pitcher (RHB vs LHP, LHB vs RHP): You gain about a 50 point edge in OPS when taking a RHB vs. LHP or LHB vs RHP instead of a RHB vs RHP, it jumps to almost 100 points when looking at LHB vs LHP.

  2. Batting Order:You want to select players batting in the 1-6 spots in the batting order. There is a significant drop off in OPS when they are in the 789 hole especially in the National League. Especially look for hitters who jump in the order due to favorable platoon splits or an injury to a 12345 hitter.

  3. Facing “Finesse” starting pitcher (defined as in the bottom 1/3 of the league in strikeouts plus walks – low k/high bb rate arm). You gain 90 points on OPS taking a hitter against a finesse pitcher.

  4. Facing “Flyball” starting pitcher (defined as in the bottom 1/3 of the league in ratio of fly ball outs to ground ball outs). You gain 15 points on OPS taking a hitter against a flyball pitcher.

  5. Favorable hitting environment:Look for OPS situations that are at least .720 or higher based on handedness in the ballpark. Notorious hitting parks like Texas, Toronto, Colorado, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New York AL. Vegas total on the game is at least 8.5 runs or higher.


Pitchers

  1. Heavy favorite to win the game according to the Vegas money line: Anything -150 or higher is a good barometer.

  2. Weak opposing lineup with a penchant for striking out at a high clip: Highest K rates versus LHP in 2013 (Astros, Mets, Twins, Braves, Pirates) and highest K rates versus RHP in 2013 (Astros, Twins, Braves, Mariners, Mets)

  3. Opposing lineup in the bottom 5 wOBA:Lowest wOBA versus LHP in 2013 (Marlins, Astros, Padres, Mets, White Sox) and Lowest wOBA versus RHP in 2013 (Mariners, Marlins, White Sox, Mets, Cardinals)

  4. Favorable pitching environment:Look for OPS situations that are at least .720 or less based on the handedness in the ballpark. Notorious pitcher parks are Citi Field (Mets), Miami, SF Giants, Seattle, LA Dodgers, Oakland, Minnesota, San Diego, Tampa Bay. Vegas total on the game is at least 7.5 runs or lower.

  5. Pitcher is at home and has at least 8.0 K/9

Target Scores

In order to win on DraftKings, you need to know what scores are needed when projecting players. Breaking down each position and category gives you the baselines needed to correctly project the players who will outperform their salary.

Tournaments (Guaranteed Prize Pool) – (avg. score to take 1st place in a large field tournament)

Target Score – 150 points; 10 players on roster
Fantasy Points Pitching ($15,000-$20,000 allocation; 30-40% of salary cap)
Fantasy Points Hitting ($30,000-$35,000 allocation)

Head to Head / 50-50 Double Up Target Score (90 Points)

Hitters
Value Salary Range = $1800-$2900
Mid Tier Salary Range = $3000-$3900
Top Tier Salary Range = $4000-$6000

Pitchers
Value Salary Range = $5000-$6900
Mid Tier Salary Range = $7000-$8900
Top Tier Salary Range = $9000-$12500