In my years of playing DFS on DraftKings, I have learned many common strategies one can use to craft winning tournament lineups. I am going to share 10 of these concepts with you here.
#1. Stack, stack, and stack some more
I sometimes feel like a broken record with how much I harp on the importance of stacking in MLB DFS tournaments. It really just can’t be reiterated enough. It helps me to remind myself to stick to this strategy as strictly as possible.
You would think that almost all MLB DFS tournament players are already implementing stacking. Yet, you would be surprised at how many uncorrelated lineups you see, particularly in large-field GPPs.
To gain an edge over your opponents, make sure to value correlation over anything else in MLB DFS. Stick to at least a primary stack of four to five hitters in almost every, if not every, tournament lineup.
#2. Play two expensive pitchers
On DraftKings, we have to play two pitchers. The salaries of these pitchers will significantly affect the rest of our lineups, and considering their price points can be the first step to crafting a unique and leveraged tournament lineup.
The highest-priced pitchers will tend to be the best pitchers with the most upside for tournament-winning DFS scores. Most DFS players will not want to lock up such a large portion of their salary by playing two expensive ace pitchers, but this can pay off when they both have massive games if you can get the bats right.
Pairing an underpriced stack and/or cheap one-offs with two stud pitchers gives you significant upside from both pitchers while making your lineup construction unique.
#3. Play two cheap pitchers
You can also reverse this and play two cheap pitchers, which most of the field will avoid, and afford yourself the most expensive hitter stacks and one-offs.
Of course, this is a risky strategy considering these pitchers generally have a high probability of failure. Still, as I’ve said many times, MLB is highly unpredictable. It is not uncommon for two inexpensive pitchers to have scores that rival the top pitchers on the slate.
Most DFS players will not use this construction, so when the expensive bats go off for big games, this can be the path to the top in large-field GPPs.
#4. Ace/cheap pitcher combo
What is likely the most common strategy for picking pitchers is to go with the “stars/scrubs” approach and pair an expensive ace with a low-priced value option. This gives you the safety and upside of a high-end pitcher with enough money for bats by saving money with your SP2 (second starting pitcher).
Since this is a standard roster construction, it won’t lead to your lineups being as unique. There is still a reason why this is a popular pitcher combo approach.
#5. Play two mid-range pitchers
Another often underused roster construction is to avoid aces and value pitchers entirely and go with two mid-range hurlers. The total salary can be similar to the stars/scrubs construction but make your pitcher combo more unique.
It can also lead to less risk since you are avoiding cheap and often questionable pitching options. The mid-range options are usually far safer than the inexpensive value. They often have real potential to score similarly to the top aces.
#6. Stack against a high-owned pitcher
We are trying to gain leverage against the field in MLB DFS tournaments. An effective way to do this is to intentionally play a hitter stack against a pitcher that you know will be popular.
This way, if the pitcher fails and the batters succeed, you gain points while the rest of the field loses them. This is one of the easiest ways to find yourself at the top of the leaderboards if one thing goes your way, and this is what we are looking for in large field MLB GPPs.
#7. Play the pitcher against a popular stack
We can also do the opposite and play a pitcher against a stack that we know will be popular. A large portion of the field is dead if our pitcher succeeds, while our inherently low-owned pitcher puts up a high score.
I would caution against doing this when the pitcher is on the worse end of the spectrum. Suppose it is actually a decent thrower on the mound and the opposing offense is overly popular. In that case, this is a great leverage strategy in tournaments.
#8. Fade the highest owned stacks
Looking for more indirect leverage can also be beneficial. By simply “fading” AKA not playing the highest owned stack or stacks, we automatically leverage the field if high owned offenses fail.
Many successful MLB GPP players simply cross off the most popular or “chalky” in DFS parlance offenses and go from there as a means of creating leverage. Even if you don’t wholly cross them off if entering multiple lineups, you can choose to go under the field.
#9. Fade the highest owned pitchers
On the reverse side, there tend to always be particular pitchers that the field fixates on. This is due to some combination of their match-up, overall ability, and price point.
As I continue to hammer home, baseball is very unpredictable. Although pitching is more predictable than hitting, it is still highly variant. When pitchers that are 30-40% owned totally fail or even fail to outscore low-owned alternatives, you gain a significant edge by fading the chalk when it comes to pitching. This is particularly true when the lower-owned pitchers are cheaper and enable you to pay up for better bats.
#10. Avoid chalk one-offs
Another common strategy among the best MLB DFS tournament players is avoiding chalk one-offs (players who are not part of your stack). This is assuming you are playing one-offs rather than secondary stacks in your lineups.
Since baseball is very correlative, if one player on a team does well enough to warrant very high ownership, it is likely the whole team does. For this reason, it may not be the best idea to avoid a high-owned stack but play a single player from it. You are banking on that stack failing by not playing it in the first place.
There is also a tendency for certain very underpriced players to become chalky as one-offs to enable expensive stacks. An example would be a $2200 player who usually bats eighth but is bumped up to the leadoff spot. Since a large portion of the field will own these players, and they are likely cheap for a reason, fading them can be a great strategy when they put up a dud.
I believe that these ten strategies for success in MLB DFS can help you to win big in MLB GPPs on DraftKings. Cheers!