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Umpire Analysis: FanDuel Strategy

Patrick Kaiser

Patrick Kaiser has been competing in Daily Fantasy Sports since it originated in 2007, under the username Kaiseroll13. He is one of the pioneering players in the industry and reached top overall player status as well.

A week ago you all received an e-mail outlining that FanDuel is guaranteeing an incredible $5,000,000 in MLB prize money this year in their World Fantasy Baseball Championships. For some, Daily Fantasy MLB is daunting and unfamiliar, and for good reason: nobody has shown you the tools of the trade! It is normal to assimilate from what we know, and for many of you it's the NFL. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not your fault...and it doesn't have to be your downfall during the dog days of summer. Baseball is its own beast, and as such, it demands a unique approach in both strategies and the tools behind them. In the upcoming weeks, I will walk you through the ins and outs of Daily Fantasy MLB while pointing you toward your piece of the FanDuel $5 million pie.

With each different contest format, a new strategy is preferred (and necessary) to take you to the top of the standings. And, depending on the number of total entries that you are up against, deploying the wrong strategy can keep you from having a chance at those juicy top prizes. Here is a breakdown of the different tournaments FanDuel is running, with some additional strategy application to get us started:

$3,000,000 DFBC Final- The tournament that helped put FanDuel on the map a few years ago continues to scale upward in prize money. This year the 1st place overall winner will take home a cool million for their efforts. The DFBC runs qualifiers throughout the season ranging from $10 to $535+. By far the most popular option is the weekly $10 qualifier that runs each Friday (including today). You could be up against as many as 5,270 other teams, and everyone is vying for the coveted top slot that earns a DFBC Finals Ticket & trip to Las Vegas where the finals are held in August for the 70 qualifier winners.

This contest structure represents one end of the spectrum; where an extreme emphasis is placed on finishing first. There are 330 payouts, but you aren't entering these $10 qualifiers to have a chance at finishing 100th for $40. This means a few different things:

1. You must select high-ceiling players across the board- a few singles from each hitter will not bring you to victory.
2. Picking unpopular players can be highly advantageous- finding a diamond in the rough can help you leapfrog the field.
3. Increased emphasis on stacking- we'll cover this more in upcoming weeks but the idea is that you want to select teammates hitting close to each other in the order. One run scored in an actual game produces both the run and RBI in the fantasy game. When a team blows up for a high run total we want all angles of the production for our Daily Fantasy lineups.

$1,000,000 King of the Diamond- This tournament is purely online, with satellites running all season offering users the chance to claim “seats” in the Finals on August 15th. What's great about the King of the Diamond satellites is that they cater to the widest variety of bankrolls. Today, for example, you can enter satellites of $2, $5, $10, $25 or $50 to compete for Finals seats. Each Finals seat is valued at $200, so the different satellite contests necessitate varying amounts of the three tournament factors listed above in the DFBC strategy.

If you enter the $2 satellite today, then you are competing against 222 other teams for a prize pool of just 2 Finals seats. Finishing 3rd out of 223 entries is the same as finishing last. In this scenario, users will want to utilize a high degree of the 3 tournament factors in order to create even the opportunity to place in the top 1% of the field and claim a seat.

On the other end of the spectrum is the $50 satellite, which is capped at 18 entries and offers 4 Finals seats. You can imagine that putting together a team to place in the top 22% can be different than needing to finish in the top 1%. In this format, there is much more flexibility to simply select players that you feel will score well on a given day. Beating out 14 other teams (with 4 prizes/seats) can be as much about avoiding duds as it is about having players score a huge game. This is because you can expect that the top scores out of 18 teams will be much lower than the $2 satellite with 223 teams. The lesson here is that you can de-emphasize those tournament factors as the field entries into a tournament become smaller, or as the percentage of payouts/prizes increases.

Other King of the Diamond buy-ins for today:
$5 Satellite- 2 of 89 win Finals seats
$10 Satellite- 2 of 44 win Finals seats
$25 Satellite- 18 of 160 win Finals seats

$200,000 & $100,000 Survivor- This is a new contest structure that is really exciting from a strategy perspective. Users can buy-in for $200 to the $200k or $25 to the $100k with the same goal: Outlast the competition through a series of Rounds and be one of the 5 left standing after July 9th. These 5 in each tournament will receive a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the Survivor Final on August 16th.

The $25 buy-in will start with 5,288 entries with a “Round” held every Monday, Wednesday & Friday from May 14-July 9. In each Round, about 75% of the field will advance to the next day. The $200 buy-in works exactly the same but starts on May 26th with 1,236 entries (5 less rounds to fight through to get into the final 5).

What's great about this format is that users do not have to put together traditional high-ceiling lineups. You are not trying to finish in the top 1%, 10% or even 22% like the previous tournaments listed. For the Survivor all you need to do is not finish in the bottom 25%. Essentially, you could finish middle of the pack for 20 Rounds straight and reach the Finals. This means that player selection strategy can be much different than the tournament-style approach. Instead of locking in on players that need a high ceiling to win for you, the Survivor is all about finding players that offer consistency. A player that lacks power but frequently gets on-base and scores runs is the perfect example of a guy that should not be targeted for King of the Diamond or DFBC but is ripe to help you in the Survivor. Lucky for us we have another month together to prepare you with additional tools before the Survivor launches.

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.