We all have different tolerances for risk, and that can have a powerful effect on how you would play daily fantasy games. Say you’re over on Draftstreet, and you’re looking to play a game with a small buy-in, but a huge pot of winnings and several hundred competitors. Perhaps in that instance you’d be looking for players who have “boom-or-bust” potential — the guys like Carlos Gomez who are as likely to put up two homers and a steal in a night as they are to go 0-4 with four ugly strikeouts. Or if you’re playing a low-stakes game against only a few other players, maybe you’d look to choose a solid, more consistent player — someone like the (normally) reliable Denard Span who is a little more likely to put up a 2-for-4 line with two singles.
So how do we find which hitters are the most or least volatile?
Bill Petti has done research in the past about which hitters were the most and least volatile, and his findings can be found here where he introduces his VOL metric — a clever measure of hitter volatility. While the hitter data is only available here for the 2012 season, you can still find the top names from the past season. Almost as importantly for fantasy mavens, Bill has some educated opinions on what traits make a hitter less volatile: the abilities to get on base, not strike out, and make contact. Hitters with these skills are, presumably, more likely to be more consistent from day-to-day, rather than putting up huge days at the expense of those kinds of days that wipe out your fantasy budget.
In daily fantasy, there’s a whole host of considerations to keep in mind, from park factors and pitching matchups to weather and minor injuries. Volatility is just another mixer in the cocktail, and it’s best used sparingly. But if you’re someone who wants to hedge their choices, or go all out picking players who could either put up big points or goose eggs, it’s a factor that might help you build your daily roster.
The Daily Five
Chris Davis – $12,631
Today is tailor-made for a huge performance from the Orioles’ masher. Today, Nathan Karns of the Nationals makes his first MLB start against the O’s, and the scouting report says that Karns lives off a zippy fastball without much help from a developing changeup. Though Karns has strikeout stuff, the lefty-hitting Davis has the platoon advantage, and has destroyed fastballs over the last two years. If Karns misses with his heat, Davis will take it yard.
Chase Headley – $7,007
Headley’s been a bit cold recently, but opposing starter Brandon Maurer‘s been covered in a thick layer of frost. Headley’s .382 against righties this season, in addition to his low valuation, but him in prime position to produce at value today against a struggling starter.
Jed Lowrie – $6,427
Jed Lowrie’s been hitting well against pitchers of both handedness…es this season, but I like his career wOBA of .369 against southpaws. Mike Kickham of the Giants is making his major league debut today, and while he is a bit of a wildcard, I’m not keen on backing a “non-prospect” lefty even in run-suppressing Oakland.
[Note: This was originally a push for Seth Smith, before the author realized that Kickham is a lefty. I’d still give just about any low-cost member of the Athletics’ offense a try today.]
Matt Harvey – $14,643
I know it sounds strange to say, but the Yankee offense isn’t particularly good this year, so they make a decent matchup against the Metropolitans’ phenom. Of all the pitchers throwing today, no one has provided more fantasy points per game according to DraftStreet’s scoring than Mr. Harvey — and on a day with fairly few premium options, I like to bet on talent. Harvey hasn’t been as good in May (24.6 K%, 2.67 FIP) as he was before that (30.7 K%, 2.33 FIP), but he’s still one of 2013’s most dangerous hurlers.
Edwin Jackson – $10,016
Let it ride. Brett Talley was very, very smart in his recommendation of Jeff Samardzija during yesterday’s Daily Fantasy Update, and I’m going to shamelessly ride his coattails today. Edwin Jackson isn’t a pitcher who’s as good as The Shark, but the White Sox are still awful against right-handed pitching, and Jackson has been a better pitcher than his 6.11 ERA lets on. He’s bound for more than a few Ks against the strikeout-prone Pale Hose, and he could be a nice mid-range SP investment on a day without many appealing pitching matchups.
One Day FREE Fantasy Contest – $300 in cash prizes
Daily Fantasy is easy — you pick a lineup that’s good for one night only, and then you’re eligible to win cash. FanGraphs readers are hereby invited to enter a FREE one-day fantasy league with $300 in prizes.
This free contest will be Pick ‘em style drafting. The way Pick ‘Em leagues work is you have eight tiers of players and each tier will have players to choose from. You select one player from each tier. Nothing to lose and it takes five minutes to build a team. You can adjust your roster up until the contest starts on this Friday, at which time your rosters will lock and the Live Scoreboard will be available.
This post, covering one of the leading sites for daily fantasy, is sponsored and made possible by the generous support of Draftstreet. FanGraphs maintains complete editorial control of the postings, and brings you these posts in a continued desire to provide the best analytical information on the latest in baseball.
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