As a Daily Fantasy Sports professional, I think one of the most underrated skills a DFS pro can have is to be open to learning every day you play. DFS has been around for only a few years, such a short period of time that even the most experienced players have a long way to go. What really separates good and great players is the ability to decipher good knowledge from bad knowledge.
What I mean is this: sometimes we learn things that we actually shouldn’t be learning. At its heart, DFS is really a gambling game, which means it’s subject to the fallacies that go along with probabilities and variance.
One mistake I commonly see: a DFS player observes something for several games, and then assumes that this observation isn’t just due to chance. There have been a few common observations from the first quarter of the MLB season I’ve seen spreading around Twitter that are entirely wrong yet are accepted by the general DFS community.
Beware — don’t fall into a trap by believing these myths:
Myth #1: Elite Pitchers are Not Reliable
This is something I’ve been hearing a lot lately, and it could not be further from the truth. Pitchers have higher than average points per $1,000 than hitters (this is especially true on FanDuel), and on many nights the best values are the low salary hitters, so it’s important to pay up for the best pitcher even when that pitcher seems overpriced. But elite pitchers have been consistently inconsistent to start the MLB season, and it’s caused DFS players to feel like paying up for those elite guys just isn’t worth it.
This myth will be especially relevant tonight. Clayton Kershaw has a solid matchup at home, but is highly priced ($11,000 on FanDuel, $12,200 on DraftKings). Pitchers like Jacob DeGrom and Danny Salazar have been hot and have good matchups, so my guess is they are more highly used than Kershaw. This is totally fine with me — I’ll use Kershaw in every lineup.
He is significantly better than anyone pitching tonight and has the highest upside as well. He may be struggling this season with an ERA hovering around 4.00, but his xFIP of 2.28 is on par with past seasons. And his SO/9 is actually the highest of his career.
Myth #2: Target Hot Hitters
This is something that was very relevant last week as Mike Napoli hit 3 HRs in his first 2 games of a series at home against the Angels, and had a juicy matchup Sunday against lefty Hector Santiago in the series finale. Napoli was heavily targeted on FanDuel and DraftKings, and it paid off big time as he went 2/3 with a 2B and a HR as well as a walk.
But playing Napoli was a massive mistake. Napoli was a good play, yes, but was not as good as other 1B options, and his potentially high usage makes him a terrible GPP play. If you fade Napoli, and he whiffs, you have much more of an edge to win a GPP then if you go with everyone and use Napoli. He could go off (and he did), but you’re still in the same boat as 30% of the field and you’re not much closer to winning.
Tonight, Edwin Encarnacion goes into the game hitting very well (3 HRs in his last 5 games) and has a fantastic matchup against weak lefty John Danks. He will be highly targeted, and although he certainly is one of the best plays tonight, I’d rather go with Anthony Rizzo ($4,900 on DraftKings), who has just as high of a chance of going deep and will be less used.
Myth #3: The Wind Doesn’t Matter at Wrigley Field
If you played DFS on Memorial Day and played the Cubs or Nationals, you we’re certainly burned by online Sportsbooks’ high o/u projection (over 10) for this game. The o/u didn’t make sense given who was pitching (both Wada and Roark are solid pitchers), except for the fact the wind was blowing out.
In the end, only 3 runs were scored and it left many DFS players questioning whether the wind really matters at all.
But sports bettors are very, very good at estimating moneylines and over/unders, and it’s smart to trust their judgement. They’ve been handicapping Cubs games for years, and they know the historical patterns. If you really don’t believe in the wind, come to Vegas and bet the under on these high-wind Wrigley games. I’m sure they’ll happily take your bets.
DraftKings is running a massive tournament today in baseball. The $1,000,000 Payoff Pitch has an only $27 buy-in, but will award $100,000 for first. There’s a big chance this tournament gets some overlay as well, so it’s a great time to try baseball if you haven’t already. Because DraftKings is running this amazing tournament, I’m going to focus on DraftKings picks on the next page. Good luck and tweet me @maxjsteinberg if you have any questions.
Kris Bryant (3B $4,500): With the wind blowing out at Wrigley, the best hitters to target are flyball, home run hitters. Bryant fits this description perfectly, with a 46% FB rate this season and epic power. His price is great as well — a player like Bryant in this scenario should be priced in the $5,000s. Don’t forget about Bryce Harper ($5,300) — his power should play well with the wind roaring out.
Danny Espinosa (2B/SS $3,200): Espinosa will fly way under the radar, batting at the bottom of the order and averaging a paltry 3 fantasy points in his last 5 games. But this is actually a perfect scenario for Espinosa, who has sneaky power (Steamer projects him at 18 HRs over a full season) and will benefit from that Wrigley wind. With HR upside and a great price, Espinosa is a fantastic play for a big field GPP like the Payoff Pitch, and his ownership should be under 5%.
Mike Moustakas (3B $3,900): With Kris Bryant batting 2nd and coming off a big game yesterday (19 fantasy points), he’ll certainly be highly used and for good reason. But Mike Moustakas is not far behind, and has a great price batting 2nd visiting Yankee Stadium. What I love about Moose tonight has to do with how he hits — he’s a lefty power hitter who hits exclusively pull home runs (meaning HRs to right field). This plays perfectly in Yankee Stadium, which is the best lefty power park in baseball (aside from Coors Field). He has a big chance to take one deep tonight.
Joey Butler (OF $2,300): Butler has moved up to 2nd in the order, and is up against a lefty. He’s a great option for lineups with Clayton Kershaw, his low salary counteracts Kershaw’s high price.
“Are you Insane?” Play:
Aaron Hill (2B/3B $3,500): Hill will likely be batting at the bottom of the order, and is going from a friendly hitters park in Chase Field to Busch Stadium, a pretty strong pitchers park. But he has two very favorable signals going for him: he’s a flyball hitter going against a ground ball pitcher in Jaime Garcia, and Hill is also a hitter that loves to pull the baseball, and it’s easy to pull the baseball against a soft thrower in Garcia. In the past, these two signals combined have been very predictive of big games. Busch Stadium is actually a decent doubles park for righties anyway, so don’t be surprised if we see a couple of line drive doubles from Hill.