Daily Fantasy Strategy — June 16 — For Draftstreet

On Friday Dave Cameron had an excellent piece detailing how good rest-of-season projections are at, you know, projecting what will happen in the rest of the season. In the piece, Dave cited the work of Mitchel Lichtman at length. Go read the piece and you’ll see convincing evidence that if you want to know how a player is going to perform from here on out, you should just go look at his rest-of-season projections. Throw out what the player has done so far this year. Just look at the projection.

This topic is one of the utmost importance to daily fantasy players. This research tells us that, on the aggregate, the projection systems can tell us with virtual precision what’s going to happen the rest of the way. How is that not valuable to a daily fantasy player? The problem is, of course, that little qualifier I used: on the aggregate. The projection systems can take a group of players and tell us what they’re going to do on the whole. They can’t tell us which players are going to over-perform and which are going to under-perform so that the group reaches the expected average. And they certainly can’t tell us what each player will do on each specific day along the way. But the good news is that if you trust the system throughout, you’ll receive the positive results along with the negative results to bring you to the expected result, which is what you wanted all along.

I’ve mentioned several times that I use rest-of-season projections as the basis of my DFS system. I use the knowledge I have that the projection system doesn’t from time to time, but for the most part I just go with what the numbers tell me. And the evidence tells me that’s a good idea.

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The Daily Five

Justin Verlander ($15,225) – Verlander is a pretty perfect example of what was discussed above. He’s been bad, plain and simple. He has a 4.61 ERA and a 3.96 FIP. But the projection systems like him to bounce back. ZiPS has him with a 3.36 ERA and 3.25 FIP the rest of the way and Steamer has him with a 3.76 ERA and 4.00 FIP. Based on what was discussed above, I’m inclined to just go with projection systems. If I trust the projection systems, I have to be all over Verlander today as only the 8th most expensive starter of the day.

But what if you were going to make the case that the projection system is wrong on Verlander? I guess you’d look at his velocity loss and point to that as the main reason for his struggles. But his velocity is trending upward (as shown on the left below), and his velocity rose as the 2013 season went on as well (as shown on the right below). And at this point, his velocity is only about half a tick where it ended last year (although it’s only fair to point out it’s nowhere near where it was in 2012).

Brooksbaseball-Chart (2)Brooksbaseball-Chart (3)

You could also point out things like his first pitch strike percentage that aren’t the same as they’ve always been, but on the whole I don’t see anything that suggests that Verlander is a completely different pitcher. There are just some things that suggest he isn’t quite as good as he used to be but better than he has been so far. And the projections say the same thing. Because Verlander has not performed well so far, his price is deflated. And if he’s going to prove the projection systems right and the pricing model wrong, he’s going to have to take advantage of matchups like the one he has today against the Royals and their 86 wRC+ against right-handed pitching.

Wei-Yin Chen ($12,464) – I like Julio Teheran today, but it’s hard to go with Teheran over Chen given Teheran is about $6,000 more expensive than Chen and given their similarity, which you can see below.

Julio Teheran Braves 20.5 % 5.5 % 15.0 % 0.235 80.7 % 0.93 2.41 3.71
Wei-Yin Chen Orioles 18.0 % 3.5 % 14.5 % 0.319 76.1 % 1.06 3.76 3.59

Padres Stack – This is nothing but a value play. The Padres offense has been well below average this year, but they have quite a few players who have been comfortably above average over the last three years. And they’re facing right-hander Chris Young. He of the 6.00 SIERA. The Padres make for a nice cheap stack in contests where you want or need to spend more on pitching. Specifically, I’d look at Will Venable ($3,718), Seth Smith ($5,566), Carlos Quentin ($4,964) and Yonder Alonso ($4,966).

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You can find more of Brett's work on TheFantasyFix.com or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.

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I might be misunderstanding but I thought that one of the best ways to project ROS for pitchers was K%-BB%, which makes Verlander look pretty bad.