FanDuel MLB: How to Win Daily Fantasy Baseball on FanDuel (Basic Strategy)

FanDuel MLB: How to Win Daily Fantasy Baseball on FanDuel (Basic Strategy)

This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.

The 2015 baseball season is underway and there is a lot of excitement about daily fantasy baseball, especially on FanDuel. They already have two big live event qualifiers running in the $750,000 Playboy Baseball Championship and $200,000 Dallas Fantasy Baseball Championship. This week, I am going to focus on some of the basics for FanDuel to get you started.

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball

Salary Cap - $35,000

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

Position Eligibility – Fixed, Single

Avg. Per Cost Per Position - $3888

Avg. Salary Range per Player – Hitters $2200-$6000; Pitchers $4000-$13000.

Scoring System

Hitters: 1B = 1pt, 2B = 2pts, 3B = 3pts, HR = 4pts, RBI = 1pt, R = 1pt, BB = 1pt, SB = 2pts,
HBP = 1, Out (calculated as at bats - hits) = -.25pt
Pitchers: W = 4pts, ER = -1pt, SO = 1pt, IP = 1pt*

Because FanDuel has fixed positions on rosters and players are limited to just one position, this limits the amount of roster flexibility. The other side is that salaries are not that tight, so finding value is easier, as most of the time the salary algorithm is three to five days behind. With only one starting pitcher and with 4 points going towards a win (equivalent to either 4 IP or 4 K's), getting it right is crucial to your success. The good part about pitching is that you are not penalized for walks and hits,

The 2015 baseball season is underway and there is a lot of excitement about daily fantasy baseball, especially on FanDuel. They already have two big live event qualifiers running in the $750,000 Playboy Baseball Championship and $200,000 Dallas Fantasy Baseball Championship. This week, I am going to focus on some of the basics for FanDuel to get you started.

FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball

Salary Cap - $35,000

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

Position Eligibility – Fixed, Single

Avg. Per Cost Per Position - $3888

Avg. Salary Range per Player – Hitters $2200-$6000; Pitchers $4000-$13000.

Scoring System

Hitters: 1B = 1pt, 2B = 2pts, 3B = 3pts, HR = 4pts, RBI = 1pt, R = 1pt, BB = 1pt, SB = 2pts,
HBP = 1, Out (calculated as at bats - hits) = -.25pt
Pitchers: W = 4pts, ER = -1pt, SO = 1pt, IP = 1pt*

Because FanDuel has fixed positions on rosters and players are limited to just one position, this limits the amount of roster flexibility. The other side is that salaries are not that tight, so finding value is easier, as most of the time the salary algorithm is three to five days behind. With only one starting pitcher and with 4 points going towards a win (equivalent to either 4 IP or 4 K's), getting it right is crucial to your success. The good part about pitching is that you are not penalized for walks and hits, so bombing out is also near impossible unless your name is Mat Latos.

It is all about the Win, Strikeouts, and Innings Pitched. And because there are roster limitations (no UTIL) and single position eligibility, certain positions become your value plays. Positions like catcher, second base, and shortstop have a lot more emphasis placed on them for you to find value because you really want to load up most nights at 1B, 3B, and at least one OF spot. There are no extra penalties for strikeouts on the hitter side, so getting some power hitters in your lineup along with guys who can get on base and steal some bases is also key.

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, and it jumps to almost 100 points when looking at LHB vs LHP.

2. Batting Order: You want to select players batting in the 1-5 spots in the batting order. There is a significant drop off in OPS when they are in the 6-9 position in the batting order, especially in the National League. Look for hitters who jump in the order due to favorable platoon splits or an injury to a 1-5 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. Target pitchers with a 7.5 K/9 or less.

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. Target pitchers with a 1.00 GB/FB ratio or less. Finding homeruns is critical in daily fantasy baseball.

5. Favorable hitting environment: Look for OPS situations that are at least .720 or higher based on handedness in the ballpark. Notorious hitting parks include Texas, Toronto, Colorado, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and New York (AL). Also, look for Vegas totals of at least eight runs.

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 2014 (Cubs, Mets, Braves, Astros, Phillies) and highest K rates versus RHP in 2014 (Astros, Cubs, Marlins, White Sox, Braves). Note that team lineups will change from year to year, so keep an eye on this.

3. Opposing lineup in the bottom 5 for wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average): Lowest wOBA versus LHP in 2014 (Mariners, Mets, Reds, Phillies, Indians) and Lowest wOBA versus RHP in 2014 (Braves, Reds, Phillies, Rangers, Cubs). Note: I excluded the Diamondbacks and Padres due to significant lineup upgrades.

4. Favorable pitching environment: Look for OPS situations that are .720 or lower based on the handedness in the ballpark. The notorious pitcher parks are New York (NL), Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles (NL), Oakland, Minnesota, San Diego and Tampa Bay. Look for Vegas totals of seven runs or lower.

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

Target Scores

In order to win on FanDuel, 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 salaries.

Tournaments (Guaranteed Prize Pool) – 60 (avg. score to take first place in a large-field tournament)

Target Score – 60 points; nine players on roster
14-18 Fantasy Points Pitcher
40-50 Fantasy Points Hitting (5.00 – 6.00 average points per player)

Sample Breakdown by Scoring Category for Target Score (60 Points)

Starting Pitcher – 7 IP, 7 K, 2 ER, 1 W (16 Points)

Hitters – 8 R (8), 10 RBI (10), 4 BB (4), 4 1B (4) , 4 2B (8), 2 HR (8), 2 SB (4), 10 Outs (-2.50)

Head to Head / 50-50 Double Up Target Score (35-40 Points)

Breakdown by Scoring Category for Target Score (35-40 Points)

Starting Pitcher – 6 IP, 5 K, 3 ER, 1 W (12 Points)

Hitters – 5 R (5), 6 RBI (6), 3 BB (3), 3 1B (3) , 3 2B (6), 1 HR (4), 1 SB (2), 15 Outs (-3.75)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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