For those who aren’t familiar with them, daily fantasy contests (such as those offered at Draftbug) allow you to pick a team and win (or lose) based on the results of that day’s games. They’re perfect for those who like fantasy sports, but don’t have the time to maintain their team throughout the season. They’re also a great (legal) alternative to sports betting. The most common format for daily fantasy contests are ‘salary cap’ contests, although some site also offer a ‘live draft’ format for those who like the feel of a traditional draft. This article will cover some of the basis strategies needed to succeed in these contests. Future articles in the series will look at some more advanced topics.
Look for bargains – This is kind of obvious, but the salary cap limitations in these contests means that you’re not usually going to be able to use an all-star type lineup. You’re going to need to search out some undervalued players and use them. One common source of these is players who will have an expanded role today due to an injury to another player.
Check the news – Check the news to make sure that you’re not using anybody in your lineup who won’t be playing today. Lineups in these contests typically lock in after starting lineups are announced, so ideally you should make sure that your players are actually in the lineup.
Understand the rules – This goes for any format of fantasy baseball – you should always know the rules thoroughly. In particularly, the scoring system vary in different daily contest formats, and you should make sure you’re selecting players who fare well in the scoring system your contest uses. A player like Jason Giambi is a pretty valuable if your system uses walks, but not so much otherwise.
Larger contests require more risks – In a two person contest you should just go with the best possible lineup. In a larger contest (say 100 people), where the prize payouts are typically very top heavy, you’re going to need to take some chances to have a shot at the top spot. Play for 1st place…not 10th.
Take opponents into account – When you evaluate players for your team, consider who their opponent is today. For pitchers, how strong is the opposing lineup? How strong is the opposing starting pitcher? For hitters, how strong are the opposing starting pitcher and bullpen?
Take park factors into account – Where is the game being played? Ideally you want pitchers to be in favorable pitchers’ parks and hitters in favorable hitters’ parks, although there are plenty of cases when other factors may override this.
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