DFS Baseball 101: DFS Starter Kit

DFS Baseball 101: DFS Starter Kit

This article is part of our DFS Baseball 101 series.

Baseball is back, and while we spend the offseason researching for our season-long leagues, the focus now shifts to daily fantasy baseball. For me, I spent my offseason crafting a book called Daily Fantasy Baseball Almanac, which consists of more than 600 player profiles filled with relevant statistics for DraftKings.

Last year, I wrote an article titled "Beginners' Guide to Daily Fantasy Baseball" that you can check out in the archives. The archives are also good for referencing all of my past DFS articles. The articles focus on strategy, statistics and game theory, so they are still relevant today.

When thinking about my first article for this baseball season, I wanted to give a "starter" kit to players who are new to DFS baseball. But I think even newer or smaller-stakes players can learn from some of these tips.

1. Start with a monthly bankroll amount.

Determine how much you are willing to lose in one month. It might only be $25, but you have to start somewhere.

2. Play 5-10 percent each day.

If you start with $100, play $5-$10 each night. If you win and your bankroll grows, the $10 per day will increase over time, but the percentage always stays the same.

Here is an example - $100 on Day 1, play $10, win $25. Bankroll now $125. Day Two you play $13. Your percentage in play will adjust based on your bankroll. Let's say you win a tournament and your bankroll jumps to $300. DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING. You still play the same 10 percent, but now it might be $40 versus $10.

Is this exciting? No. Is it sexy? No. But go ask all of the top players how they started out. Most will tell you the same thing.

3. Play one lineup.

You have enough to worry about building one lineup, don't complicate things by thinking you need to research for multiple lineups. If you are playing with a smaller bankroll, spending an hour on a $1 entry lineup can be better spent on other things.

4. Play on one site.

I would recommend FanDuel only because it is much easier to build a lineup as the salaries tend to be a bit softer. One of the biggest mistakes new players make is playing on multiple sites. Remember every site has a different scoring system, roster setup and pricing, not to mention salary, which means even more time spent on research that you probably don't have.

5. Do not play in tournaments with more than 100 entries.

This is important because you are going to play your cash lineup in these tournaments. My general rule of thumb is that I run my cash lineup in any contest up to 500 entries. Once it gets past 500, I start to look at general tournament strategies like finding a value pitcher or stacking. A good rule of thumb on FanDuel is to stick with the 100-man contests that pay out the top 12. Also, FanDuel runs "Mini" versions of their larger GPPs, and I look to play in those that have 100-500 players.

6. Play in single entry or three-max entry tournaments only.

This is all about avoiding the sharks. If you are only playing against an opponents' single lineup or their top three, you are putting yourself in a better winning possibility. There are tournaments in which 100-200 are permitted by user. You would be surprised how many new players' actually think that any contest they enter is a single entry and not multi-entry.

7. Play 50/50s with at least 100 entries (single entry only).

I advise new players against playing double-ups because they only pay out 45 percent, whereas a 50/50 pays out at 50 percent, albeit a slightly lower amount. You want the contest with the better percentage payout even if it is a little less.

8. Play 90 percent in cash contests and 10 percent in tournaments (GPP).

Cash contests are any DFS contest that pays out 50 percent of the field. GPPs typically pay out anywhere from 12 percent of the field to 25 percent. By playing the majority of your bankroll in cash contests, you protect your bankroll and give yourself the best chance to win. The 10 percent in a GPP gives you a shot at really growing the bankroll without going broke.

9. Start with the smaller slates (four games or more) for tournaments.

Yes, the prize pools are smaller and it is not life-changing money, but that can actually be a positive. Most of the "sharks" or "professional players" only focus on the full slates where there are a huge number of games that allow them to play multiple lineups.

In the smaller slates, multiple lineups do not happen nearly as much and you can cut your research time considerably, which is important early on in your daily fantasy baseball career.

There are usually more attractive smaller entry tournaments in these slates, too.

10. Take days off

Last May, I wrote an article called "Dealing with a Fantasy Slump" and in that I wrote about how important it is to take days off. The daily grind of playing DFS along with your season-long teams can take its toll. Think of it as your "off" day or "day of rest" like real major league baseball players.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.
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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. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.
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