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The FanDuel Daily Grind 3-29-14

Today’s Episode
1. A word from our sponsor
2. What is this?
3. FanDuel scoring
4. FanDuel league types

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2. In Case You Were Concerned

You’ve probably noticed that the Daily Grind comes with some branding this year. Rest assured, you’ll receive the same quality of analysis as seasons past (hopefully better!). I’ve already created a very official, color coded document to help all fantasy owners pick out the games with the best offensive conditions based on park factors and weather. If you need a pitcher, just pick out the red games.

If you’re new to the Grind, it’s a daily column designed to help fantasy owners tinker with their rosters. There is an emphasis on stream-worthy pitching and hitting. This year, I’ll be more focused on FanDuel values, but I’ll provide the tools and advice necessary to stream in traditional fantasy leagues too. Much of the DFS-directed information (like the table linked above) should be applicable on any platform, so I hope to make this a one stop shop for everybody.

3. FanDuel Scoring

I’m glad I drew the FanDuel beat because it’s my favorite DFS platform (seriously). FanDuel is one of the simplest daily fantasy games out there – pick your starting eight, a pitcher, and you’re good to go. The scoring system injects a little more luck than some other platforms for several reasons. That evens out over time. With only nine players per rosters, success is more dependent on individual player success. Wins are worth four points, which can be the difference between placing and missing the money. On the offensive side, a couple multi-run home runs can put you out in a big lead. Let’s take a look at the hitter scoring.

Outcome Points linear weights
1B 1 0.888
2B 2 1.271
3B 3 1.616
HR 4 2.101
R 1
BB 1 0.69
SB 2 0.2
HBP 1 0.722
Out -0.25 -0.11

I included the linear weights column so you can get a sense of where FanDuel values differ from FanGraphs’ perception of value. These are the 2012 weights, taken straight from FanGraphs Guts! FanDuel values a home run six times a single (HR+R+RBI = 6). Linear weights generally value a home run about 2.4 to three times more than a single. FanDuel also considers walks and HBP to be the same as singles whereas linear weights likes them less. You might think you could leverage that wrinkle, but you’ll find yourself with a decent but unspectacular lineup if you target walks.

Really, it’s pretty obvious. You want home runs. You want home runs with multiple men on base. And that means hiring middle of the order power hitters. If only there wasn’t a salary cap. Let’s move on to pitchers.

Outcome Points
W 4
ER -1
SO 1
IP 1

Ahh, our old friend wins. You’ll quickly learn that they’re the difference between a great day and a disappointment. Picking an ideal pitcher is very easy – anyone who projects to about a strikeout per inning and can throw deep into the game is a great pick. Perhaps the best indicator for a win is lasting seven or more innings, and that has additional value here. The runs are often incidental when a single strikeout can wipe one off the board. Like with the hitters, the challenge is balancing talent  and price.

4. Types of Leagues

In FanDuel, you can wager any amount of money between free and $10,000 on a single contest. I live in the $1-2 range. I’m a writer AND I’m risk adverse, what did you expect?

There are five classifications you can join.

H2H: Your standard head-to-head experience against a single opponent. There is a rake involved with all FanDuel games (that’s how they make their money), so be aware. If you played a $2 H2H game, the winner takes $3.60. The expected value of your entry is $1.80. That implies that you need to win 55-56 percent of the time just to break even. To grind out a nice return over a season, you’ll want to be a 60 percent favorite on average. Play a lot of leagues on days that your comfortable with your lineup(s) to realize a return.

Tournament: This is the polar opposite of H2H, pitting you against 200 to 10,000+ opponents. There are prizes that decline from first to Xth place depending on the size of the tournament. Generally speaking, the top 10 percent get paid. A $2, 10,055 participant tournament coming up on Monday has a $1.79 expected value per entry. It’s easier to see a positive ROI in this format as you have to expect that there are a lot more dud entries. Personally, I prefer the tournaments, but you do need to take a lot of risk if you want to win. This can swing both ways since many players might go way too risky.

League: These are basically tiny tournaments, ranging from five to 100 players. The expected value of a $2 entry is the same $1.80. The 50/50 modifier can apply (see below).

50/50: Some types of leagues are 50/50’s. With a $2 league, all owners in the top 50 percent of the standings will make $3.60. The rest lose. This is a better game for someone who prefers to play it a little safe. Just don’t go too safe.

Matrix: This one is new to me. As best I can tell, it’s like a league except you play 20 individual H2H games with one lineup. There seems to be two “advantages” to this format. The overall league winner gets less money, but 10th place essentially gets money back (if I’m understanding this correctly). The other advantage is that you’re guaranteed a match against 20 unique opponents. Some DFS players will enter hundreds of H2H lineups a day. Sometimes you’ll face the same guy across 20 different entries. If they’re very good – as they usually are – that’s bad news for you.

Well, that’s it for today. Tomorrow we’ll discuss something to be named later and then it’ll be game time.