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Daily Fantasy Strategy – First Half Reflections

The mid-way point of the MLB season is a good time for fantasy players to sit back and take stock of their lot in life. For seasonal players, that means identifying areas of improvement and deciding whether to buy or sell in dynasty leagues.

For those who play in daily leagues, though, there’s a lot less to do. If you’re a DraftStreet or Fangraphs The Game addict, the last four days have probably been excruciating. But just because there aren’t set rosters and waiver wires to scourge during the four-day off-period doesn’t mean daily players can’t do some reflecting and improve for the second half.

Take a look at your bankroll compared to the start of the season and evaluate how you’ve done. If you’re meticulous and keep notes on your selections, see if you’ve been playing better in double-up formats or win-it-all formats. Have days with thin schedules hurt your payouts? It’s never too late to alter a gaming and/or investment strategy.

Personally, I’ve used the time off to reflect on some lessons I’ve learned and also try and identify potentially undervalued players for the tail end of the year.

One such lesson: I hate talking about the weather, but it has a real impact on performance. You want to seek warm temperatures and outward blowing winds for hitters for the most part, and even if 15 weather forecasts all blend together at times, they have utility.

Another, although one that we should all know already: daily fantasy can be a lot more frustrating than seasonal fantasy. With a season-long endeavor, bad games or bad beats can even out. The same might be true for daily players, but because your rosters and prices change daily, there’s an element of BABIP for fantasy players as well.

If you’re first half wasn’t as strong as you’d like or if you’ve built a big stack to play with in the second half, the table below shows some potential undervalued players for the second half. Because there are so many bad players expected to improve, I am only displaying players expected to be at least 85 percent of league average down the stretch (players you’re far more likely to invest in).

My methodology was fairly simple – for all players with at least 100 plate appearances, I calculated their total DraftStreet points to date and created a “Pts/PA+,” a quick gauge to show how a player does relative to his peers in terms of gaining fantasy points by the plate appearance. I then did the same using ZIPS rest-of-season projections and compared the two – a player expected to have a higher Pts/PA+ moving forward may be underpriced based on previous performance and vice versa.

Potentially Undervalued 2nd Half Players
Name To Date Pts/PA+ ROS Pts/PA+ Diff PA ROS
Luis Cruz 0.45 0.89 1.99 189
B.J. Upton 0.56 1.02 1.82 255
Danny Espinosa 0.48 0.87 1.80 225
Ike Davis 0.54 0.94 1.72 204
Carlos Ruiz 0.66 1.08 1.63 149
Tyler Moore 0.55 0.90 1.63 162
Kevin Youkilis 0.68 1.08 1.58 162
Alex Gonzalez 0.58 0.90 1.56 129
Brett Lawrie 0.74 1.13 1.53 204
Matt Kemp 0.89 1.35 1.52 223

That’s basically a who’s who of first half laggards and shows that, at least in the eyes of ZIPS, one bad half does not mean expectations should be lowered a great deal.

The table below shows basically the flip side, all players expected to perform worse in the second half, using an expectation of league average as the cut off (because you’ll still be investing in above-average players, even if they regress toward a lower true performance level).

Potentially Overvalued 2nd Half Players
Name To Date Pts/PA+ ROS Pts/PA+ Diff PA ROS
Matt Tuiasosopo 1.61 0.88 0.55 159
Cody Ransom 1.26 0.81 0.64 136
Jordan Schafer 1.30 0.91 0.70 150
Ryan Raburn 1.33 0.93 0.71 141
Yan Gomes 1.22 0.87 0.71 143
Jose Lobaton 1.08 0.81 0.75 116
Ramiro Pena 1.10 0.83 0.76 121
Jose Iglesias 1.13 0.86 0.76 182
Nick Franklin 1.09 0.84 0.77 193
Ryan Sweeney 1.24 0.96 0.77 123
Kevin Frandsen 1.24 0.99 0.80 172

Again, the list probably isn’t all too surprising, except for perhaps Nick Franklin, who some remain high on. These are mostly part-time players who have done well in spot duty but aren’t expected to maintain that level of performance moving forward.