Put simply, daily fantasy baseball is a grind. And, like most contests that contain an element of chance, it can be prone to swings in the short term. It's not uncommon to hear stories of players who are on top of the world one month, only to find out they're struggling to stay afloat the next. In order to minimize problems like these, it's imperative that we as players understand how to give ourselves the best chance of winning whenever we build a lineup. With that in mind, here are a few tips that I have found useful in managing DFS play.
Don't Feel Compelled to Play Every Set of Games
I think that part of the reason this is overlooked so frequently is because it seems so obvious. If we aren't careful, however, the numerous contest segments offered by FanDuel (sometimes three or four a day) can burn us out. I liken it to walking downstairs from an Atlantic City hotel room at 3 A.M. and seeing that blackjack table. Sure, the prospect of making money is always alluring, and we know how to beat the game, but it's important to never play as a matter of rote or boredom. This means only joining contests when we have the time and energy required to put in the research to construct a proper lineup. If we're having a busy day, or don't feel up to playing, we need to be sure to avoid hastily entering contests, as aside from lacking research, our lineups will be in danger of committing the cardinal sin of containing players that aren't playing that day. Simply put: Sometimes the best decision to make in regard to a contest is to skip it. Baseball is a long season, and there will always be another chance to play. This also applies if we sit down to do research on a given day and find no significant edge to be had in the matchups, as is sometimes the case with shorter schedules.
Use the Most Effective Data
Too often, I stumble across DFS chat rooms or message boards and see people talking about things like batter versus pitcher numbers, or how a certain player performs on the road. While these numbers can be somewhat significant in a large enough sample, it's important to remember that there are more important factors at play in a given contest, namely, the opposition, and the environment in which a game is being played. When we sit down to research, we want to find the biggest samples of the most relevant data, which means platoon numbers. While there are, of course, more nuanced edges to find in the margins, a never-fail starting point remains combining friendly ballparks with good numbers against the platoon.
Manage Money Properly
As players who analyze baseball constantly, it can be easy to get overconfident and play with more money than we should in the expectation that the win is there for the taking due to the edge we posses over the field. The first thing to note here is that edge that we have is getting smaller every day. As daily fantasy leagues become more popular, more players will be studying to learn how to win. As fast as we work to keep up, the overall skill level of the field is improving, meaning that those aforementioned basics that provided such a big boost early on no longer carry the same weight. The second thing to remember is no matter how well we study or how good we are, there's still luck involved. A bad bounce of the ball or a player injury can, through no fault of our own, leave us in the outer realm of our contests. For this reason, it's important to always be responsible with the money we bring to the table, and make sure we allocate our money in such a way that we'll be able to deal with the misfortune that will invariably befall us over the course of the season.
Find the Edge in Contests Wherever Possible
It may seem like the larger field tournaments on FanDuel are the equivalent of a lottery ticket, but some of these tournaments (particularly the cheaper ones) are actually a great value because they contain a significant amount of overlay. An overlay occurs on FanDuel when a guaranteed money tournament doesn't fill to capacity. This works greatly to our advantage because the same amount of money is paid out, regardless of the fact that the tournament doesn't reach the maximum number of occupants. This gives us a great expected value in these tournaments, as they allow for multiple entries where we can plug in lineups to maximize our chance of cashing. Keep an eye out for this particularly in the secondary tournaments (for example: "Friday MLB Squeeze #2").
Some of the information above may seem obvious, but not capitalizing on advantages while failing to properly regiment play can be all too common for players. The bottom line is that knowledge itself can only take us so far. In the end, the player who can navigate the traps while putting information to good use is the one most likely to come out ahead.