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

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.

How to Win on Fanduel (Basic Strategy)

The baseball season is underway and there is a lot of excitement about daily fantasy baseball especially on Fanduel. The big announcement of the $5,000,000 World Fantasy Baseball Championships shows how much the 1-day fantasy sports community has grown in just a few short years. The one week event will take place online and in Las Vegas with the Main Event taking place on Saturday August 16th where first place is going to walk away with $1 Million dollars in CASH!!! Look for weekly articles on RotoWire focused on the WFBC and how to potentially 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 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-$10000.

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 of this is that their salaries are not that tight so finding value is easier, 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. 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 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 1 OF spot. There are no extra penalties for strikeouts on the hitter side, so taking power hitters 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:


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 1-6 spots in the batting order. There is a significant drop off in OPS when they are in the 7-9 position in the batting order, especially in the National League. Especially 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.

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.


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 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 salary.

Tournaments (Guaranteed Prize Pool) – 60 (avg. score to take 1st place in a large field tournament)

Target Score – 60 points; 9 players on roster
14-18 Fantasy Points Pitcher
40-50 Fantasy Points Hitting (5.00 – 6.00 average points per player)

Value Salary Range = $2200-$2900
Mid Tier Salary Range = $3000-$3900
Top Tier Salary Range = $4000-$6000

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)
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.