How To Use Prop Bets And Betting Lines In MLB DFS


Vegas sportsbooks didn’t make well over 200 million dollars in 2020 for no reason. 

The complex algorithms they use to calculate betting lines are the bread and butter of their business. If they are off by even a hair, that means millions of dollars of loss for the casinos. 

When you consider this, what better source to use for predictive analysis of sporting events than Vegas lines? 

They are set efficiently to begin with. Then line movement occurs based on big money put down by sharp bettors, and the closing line is about as accurate as it gets. 

Highly advanced projection models may consider specific additional analytical data to give us insights that a line might not. Still, Vegas is a great place to start in our MLB DFS process.

Using Betting Lines And Totals In MLB DFS

The simplest way to use Vegas Sportsbooks to improve our MLB DFS process is to look at a team’s “implied total.” This will help you get an idea of who is likely to score the most runs. You can figure out the implied total by looking at the over-under total for the entire game, then looking at the run-line, and see what Vegas expects each team to score. Most DFS projection models for individual players use this base-level data for distributing projected production among individual players.

This is step one and is something that many DFS players do and understand. You can take this to another level and gain leverage against your opponents. 

Objectively look at Vegas data and see where the field is overvaluing one team or pitcher over another. You might notice that one team has a 5 run implied team total. Another club has a 4.7 run implied total. Going by the DFS content you are consuming for that day’s slate and the ownership projections you are looking at, the first team will be very high owned. The other is getting overlooked. 

This can be because of public perception of a particular team as being better than another. Or that specific markets are more recognizable (people tend to always overvalue the Yankees). Sometimes people’s perhaps incorrect perception of a particular pitcher as worse or better than he is can be a factor. Any number of common assumptions can sway objective thinking in regards to MLB DFS.

Looking at team implied totals and comparing them can give you a sense of objectivity. It can help you realize that the team that most of the field is landing on may be in no better position than multiple other teams on the slate, according to Vegas.

You might also see that a team with a somewhat low total is being overvalued by the field. This can be due to a common misperception of their value and/or DFS content swaying public opinion. 

DFS is a world of groupthink. With so many DFS players consuming so much of the same content, it can become a bit of a hive mind. It can be very beneficial to take a step back and look at the reality of the analysis that Vegas is putting its money behind.

Let’s use this same process in DFS for pitcher selection. Let’s say a team has a meager implied total compared to other clubs on the slate. Yet, the pitcher facing them appears to be a pitcher that no one is playing, or you recognize that his salary is lower than it should be considering the total. 

Or let’s say that based on seeing the implied total for the opposing team, a pitcher appears to be overvalued by the field according to where you see ownership going. The implied run total is actually pretty high compared to other clubs on the slate. Yet the pitcher facing that team is projected to be highly owned. This may lead you to avoid that pitcher and watch the rest of the field fail while you win.

Using Prop Bets To Your Advantage In MLB DFS

DFS involves individual player production and not just the success or lack thereof of an entire team. Player props are one of our best friends in gaining insight as DFS players. Once again, Vegas has a lot to lose if these props aren’t close to accurate, so it makes sense to take them as entirely legitimate.

Take for example, hitter home run props. In MLB DFS, home runs are our best friend as they account for so much of the fantasy point production we get from our hitters. 

Seeing who is more or less likely to hit a home run according to Vegas can be an excellent way for us to decide on the hitters we use. Not just individually but on a team-by-team basis if we see that a particular team has many players with high odds to knock one out of the park. This is particularly beneficial on FanDuel, where home runs are even more critical due to the scoring system.

Another beneficial way to use Vegas props to our advantage is with pitcher strikeout props. In MLB DFS, strikeouts are far more valuable when it comes to pitching than any other metric. 

Yes, a pitcher can score decently on sheer innings alone if he doesn’t give up very many hits, walks, or runs. They will still lack upside even if this is the case. Plus, their fantasy performance will be entirely dependent on them having an immaculate game.

On the other hand, a high strikeout pitcher can give up some base runners and even runs and still outscore a low strikeout pitcher, even in fewer innings. Suppose they actually go deep into the game unscathed or close to it and rack up the strikeouts. In that case, you have a ceiling performance from your pitcher that can win you a tournament. 

Assessing the number of strikeouts that Vegas projects for a pitcher is one of our best assets. We are trying to get as much strikeout upside out of our pitchers as we can.

On top of that, just as we can use implied run totals as a means of leveraging against our opponents, we can do the same thing with strikeout props. They can help us ascertain which pitchers may be overvalued by the field based on Vegas data.

Overall, I would suggest using various information to help you craft your MLB DFS lineups. Still, one of the most beneficial can be Vegas lines and props. Using Vegas is also an excellent way for those coming from a betting background to relate that experience to another medium and get into the exciting world of DFS. Good luck in your MLB DFS endeavors!

Sports Analyst at | + posts

I'm a DFS player (JackG1111), DFS content provider, and musician.