Daily Fantasy Baseball: Where to Spend and Where to Save
Daily fantasy baseball players could have trouble determining where they should allocate salary. After all, here you are expected to fill out an entire baseball lineup to score as many points as possible, but you have to remain under the salary cap.
More often than not, as you construct your lineup, you are going to find yourself running out of salary, or you will be forced into rostering players that you don’t absolutely love. This is perfectly normal. If it was easy to budget for all the studs on the slate, the challenge and the fun of daily fantasy baseball would be gone.
Knowing that we have to make some decisions as we budget our salary cap, let’s explore the positions where we should spend and where we can save salary.
Pitcher – Write a Blank Check
I cannot overstate the importance of nailing your pitcher position in daily fantasy baseball. On FanDuel, you roster one pitcher while on DraftKings you roster two for standard slate contests. For both host sites, pitchers accumulate points for innings pitched, strikeouts, and wins. FanDuel even awards pitchers points for quality starts, while DraftKings will ding pitchers more significantly for allowing baserunners.
On both sites, the pitcher position is going to be the cornerstone of your lineup. Pitchers can be your top scorer, or they can earn negative points if they have a bad outing. While it is reasonable to look for a budget pitcher facing a weak lineup, you should not be afraid to pay up for a pitcher who is a large Vegas favorite. If a pitcher’s team is heavily favored to win the game, then the pitcher is more likely to have a favorable outing and pick up a winning decision.
Aside from focusing on which pitchers can pick up the win, you should also consider pitchers that have high strikeout upside. On both FanDuel and DraftKings, a strikeout is nearly equivalent in points to a full inning pitched. Rostering an ace that can rack up K’s will help your lineup uncap its full potential.
Catcher – The 99 Cent Store
While we paid up for the pitcher position, we should be looking to save money for the other half of the battery. There is a small group of MLB backstops who can also provide great numbers when hitting at the dish. However, even paying up for these elite players is problematic, because it means you will be missing out at positions where hitting value is more important.
This advice may be tough to apply on FanDuel, where they employ a C/1B position. While the site also holds a utility spot, you are not required to play a catcher in your lineup at all. On DraftKings, you do have to roster a backstop, so you can look to save some salary at that position.
Identify Your Studs
Outside of those two positions, the rest of your budget allocation in daily fantasy baseball is going to be extremely dependent on the slate of games. There are elite hitters throughout the MLB at every position. Instead of deciding that you are going to pay up for a position, you should identify the players and team lineups that are in a favorable spot.
I mentioned Vegas odds before, and they will be beneficial for you here as well. Looking into the implied run total for a team is a good way to identify lineups that are in a positive matchup. You can also look at the expected starting pitchers and identify weak pitchers to target.
Once we have keyed in on some lineups to utilize, we can select one or two elite players from the lineup. Players with several factors in their favor are ones on which we can confidently spend some extra salary.
We have a top pitcher or two, we saved some money at catcher, and we have a couple of elite hitters in our lineup. How do we go about filling out the rest of the roster? Well, we double down on the lineups that we already identified in positive matchups.
Assuming that we are targeting Atlanta Braves hitters, we may have paid up for Ronald Acuna Jr. If we expect Acuna to have a good game, then we would also want other Braves hitters to have opportunities to drive him in to score or vise versa. Therefore, we could roster some of the less expensive batters in the Braves lineup like Marcell Ozuna or Ender Inciarte.
Finally, you can shoot for upside with some players that are less expensive. In daily fantasy baseball, players with upside are typically those who possess the power to hit the ball out of the park. Both FanDuel and DraftKings award double-digit points for home runs, and neither site docks any points for strikeouts. Of course, we always like players who have the ability to reach base. However, it is not a bad idea to save some salary on a player who could give your lineup a big boost if he goes yard.
Not all daily fantasy baseball slates are created equal. One strategy will work on some days but come up short on others. There will be times where it is profitable to pay up for an elite catcher, and there will be days where you can go into the bargain bin for your starting pitching. However, these are opportunities that you will be able to identify as you become more comfortable in the world of daily fantasy baseball.
Generally, we want to bank as many points as we can from the pitcher positions. For hitters, we can pair our elite guys with some of the budget options within the same lineup that has a favorable matchup. After employing these concepts, you will find it easier to stay under the salary cap while constructing a lineup that still makes you proud.