It is often more important to establish what not to do than what to do in MLB DFS.
Big money is being left on the table every day by players who aren’t giving themselves a decent chance to win. Sticking to optimal strategies that will pay out over the long run is of great importance if you are looking to be a profitable MLB DFS player. Too many of us are making the same mistakes repeatedly and paying the price in US dollars.
I’m going to outline five of the biggest mistakes I’ve noticed that are common among MLB DFS players on DraftKings.
1. Not Stacking Enough
Stacking has long been established as the optimal strategy for winning in MLB DFS tournaments.
Though the need to stack seems like a foregone conclusion, a quick perusal of the lineups being entered in large field GPPs reveals that people still don’t stack as much as they should.
Some people simply aren’t privy to optimal strategies and even those that are stray from them far too often. This is particularly prevalent for stacking; human nature causes most people to weigh their perception of individual player value higher than lineup correlation.
Say you are stacking the Brewers and Luis Urias is more expensive than Manny Machado. The logical baseball fan in you will break up the stack and play Manny Machado instead. This isn’t necessarily an unwise roster decision depending on the exact lineup. Perhaps we should play Manny Machado and find an alternate lineup construction that is still correlated. It just serves to illustrate why even those that know that stacking is optimal still don’t do it enough.
Stick to five-man stacking as the core of your lineup construction process on DraftKings. Your bankroll will thank you.
2. Not Considering Ownership
In large-field tournaments, the best plays are going to be heavily owned. They don’t exist independently and have to be considered in the context of each slate and our ultimate goal to win.
Take a five-man stack on DraftKings that is 15-25% owned on average on a 10-game slate. It may be less than ideal to play that combination as you gain little ground on the field if it does well. If you choose to play that combination, look to avoid pairing it with two highly-owned pitchers or highly-owned one-offs/secondary stacks.
It is not that you can’t play high-owned players or stacks; they are generally high owned for a reason. You have to look at the entirety of your lineup and make sure that it affords you enough differentiation from the field to give you a real chance at winning.
3. Undervaluing Pitching
In baseball, home runs and high-powered offenses are sexy. As DFS players, our natural inclination will have us trying to jam the best and most potent hitters into our lineups.
On DraftKings, pricing can be pretty tight, and we need to roster two pitchers. If we focus on making sure our pitching is on-point, sacrificing some offense may be necessary.
Although none of us want to click on less-than-ideal names in our hitter spots, we need to keep in mind that pitching is at the core of our lineups. If our pitchers fail, it will be all but impossible for us to win tournaments. The pitchers can ruin our lineups completely by scoring few or even negative points. It’s hard to win big GPPs without high scores from our pitchers.
There is a lot of variance in hitting in baseball, and less-than-average to average hitters can put up huge scores any day of the week. This can happen with pitchers as well but is less common.
Sure, you can sacrifice quality pitching for expensive bats, but most likely cheaper hitters will put up similar scores. It is not a blanket rule to prioritize pitching over hitting, and there are times that you can find value with low-priced hurlers.
We want to value our pitchers as the core of our DFS tournament lineups on DraftKings.
4. Overvaluing Pricing
As DFS players, particularly those coming from an NFL or NBA DFS background, we are trained to look for underpriced, high point-per-dollar players. In MLB DFS, we need to veer away a bit from that way of thinking.
Recognizing underpriced players and getting the most value out of our roster spots is crucial in MLB DFS, as it is in any other sport. There is still a difference in strategy that we can use to our advantage in MLB DFS.
Hitter and (to a lesser extent) pitcher performance is quite variant. Correlation between batters is more crucial in MLB lineups than individual players. We shouldn’t be locked into using inefficient pricing as the main criteria for picking our players.
We can use this tendency in other players to our advantage by intentionally rostering overpriced hitters that the field will avoid. Underpriced value plays that will be heavily owned can also be avoided as a means to gain an advantage if they fail.
5. Being Afraid To Be Different
I’ve said it a lot, but I can’t stress enough that baseball is far more unpredictable than most of us give it credit for.
The worst teams can put up ten or more runs on a slate. The best teams can lay goose eggs. Any pitcher can have a bad outing, and any pitcher can break the slate. We’ve seen multiple no-hitters this season from average pitchers. We’ve seen aces look terrible on a given start.
Since DFS tournaments are a game of attempting to score fantasy points that our opponents don’t, we can use this to our great advantage. Just because a particular team or pitcher looks to be in an invincible spot on a given slate does not mean that they will succeed, and vice versa.
Such a large portion of the field will land on the same stacks/players/pitchers. By simply playing other options that others are not, we gain an immense amount of relative value in the instances where the chalk fails, and our off-the-board plays succeed.
In MLB DFS on DraftKings, we are not playing against the house. It is a peer-to-peer game, and we are attempting to defeat our opponents. When such a large portion of the field is making big mistakes, we gain a sizeable advantage by avoiding common pitfalls and using good fundamental strategies. Best of luck in your DraftKings MLB tournaments!