If you’ve never played a daily fantasy contest, you may be unsure what type of game to play. You have to make a few decisions to find the right game for you.
The first decision is salary cap or pick ‘em. Salary cap is exactly what it sounds like. You have a salary cap ($100,000) to pick your lineup which consists of three pitchers, one player at each infield position, three outfielders and a utility slot. In a pick ‘em contest, everyone picks one player from each tier. Tiers are just small groupings of players.
I prefer salary cap because it requires a little more effort. You have to sift through all the players in a cap contest as opposed to a small number of players in a pick ‘em. If you’re willing to put in the time required to find the value in a cap contest, you may have an advantage. Everyone in the contest may not be willing to take the time to find value.
The next decision is whether you want to play against 19 people or 109 people. I prefer the larger group because it increases the margin for error.
And finally you have to decide what kind of payout structure you want your contest to have. The main two payouts structures are double up and standard. In a 110 entrant double up, the top 50 teams “win” and get double their entry fee back. If you join a 20 entrant double up, the top ten teams “win” and get their entry fee plus 80% of their entry fee back. With the standard payout structure, payouts are more like they are in a golf tournament. First wins the most money, second wins a little bit less, third a little bit less than that and so on. But only 9% of the entrants will cash out.
I don’t care for the standard payout structure because you have to gamble a little more. You have to try and find the hitter that’s going to have a ridiculous day that no one else is going to pick. That element makes the standard payout contests a bit of a crapshoot. I don’t like the luck factor. If you make smart decisions in a double up, the odds are good that you’ll cash.
The Daily Five
R.A. Dickey, $11,963
Those of you who play in an eliminator contest during football season know that the team you pick is often less important than the opponent of the team you pick. You can try and get through an entire season just picking teams that are playing the three or four worst teams in the league. You can employ a similar strategy in daily contests by picking pitchers playing the worst offenses in the league. The White Sox are one of those teams. Against right-handed pitchers like Dickey, the White Sox are 29th in wRC+.
Doug Fister, $14,836
The Royals and Astros are 28th and 27th in wRC+ against RHP, so I’m also picking Fister against Kansas City and Hisashi Iwakuma against Houston.
Brian McCann, $7,776
There aren’t many options at catcher tomorrow. When picking hitters you’re looking for someone who doesn’t suck facing a pitcher of the opposite handedness who isn’t very good. Kelly Shoppach, Alex Avila, and Geovany Soto have the right platoon matchup against bad pitchers, but they all kind of suck. They all have a K% over 30% and all have been well below average according to wRC+. The switch hitters, Matt Wieters and Carlos Santana, are both better against lefties but are facing righties today. McCann is the second most expensive option behind the plate today, but there’s not a satisfactory economical option.
Michael Morse, $5,577
Morse hits home runs, and his opponent, Dallas Keuchel gives up home runs. Morse’s HR/FB has been over 20% in each of the last two seasons and is again this year. Keuchel has a HR/9 of 1.36 in his first 139 major league innings. And that rate is slightly higher (1.44) against RHH like Morse.
Juan Francisco, $3,579
Francisco has been awful. He’s striking out 36.6% of the time. But the guy does have some pop. His ISO against RHP in 430 career PA is .201. I needed a cheap option somewhere after spending big on pitching and at catcher, so maybe Fat Juan will run into one today.
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