There’s a world of difference between large-field daily fantasy baseball contests and their smaller cousins. The basic format is the same. Pick a contest, draft players for specific positions, and watch how they perform that evening. But some of the finer details of large and small-field contests vary. It’s important that you take them into account when drafting your lineups.
I’m going to give you several tips below for drafting pitchers and hitters based on whether you’re playing in large-field or small-field tournaments. There’s no way to guarantee that you’ll win, but the tips that follow will improve your odds.
Before we continue, let’s take a moment to define what “large-field” and “small-field” mean in the context of daily fantasy baseball.
Large-Field Vs. Small-Field Daily Fantasy Baseball Leagues
When we refer to large-field tournaments, we’re talking about those that allow several hundreds – and even thousands – of players to compete. For example, as I’m writing this article, I’m looking at the list of baseball contests at FanDuel. One of them, titled “$125K Monday MLB Monster,” allows 694 entrants. Although it’s on the small side of the spectrum, we would still consider that to be a large-field contest.
Large / Big Fantasy MLB Contests
- $125K Monday MLB Monster,” allows 694 entrants.
- $4K Monday MLB Bunt.” The limit on the number of entrants is set at 4,468.
- Hundreds to thousands of entrants with hundreds to thousands of dollars in prizes
Looking further through the list, I see another one titled “$4K Monday MLB Bunt.” The limit on the number of entrants is set at 4,468. That’s definitely in the large-field category.
It’s worth noting that at FanDuel, most of the big MLB tournaments have a guaranteed prize pool (GPP) attached to them. That’s less often the case at DraftKings.
What about small-field tournaments? Here, we’re generally talking about contests with 100 or fewer entrants. Head-to-head (H2H) games, those in which you compete against a single opponent, are definitely in this category. You’ll also find a lot of non-H2H contests, such as private leagues and 50/50s, that allow dozens of people to play.
For example, FanDuel currently has a long list of contests that are generically titled “MLB Salary Cap $35K.” Some of them allow 3 entrants. Others allow 100. Still others set the limit somewhere between those two numbers. They’re all considered small compared to the big GPP tournaments.
Small Sized MLB Fantasy Contests
- MLB Salary Cap $35K.” Some of them allow 3 entrants. Others allow 100.
- MLB Head 2 Head
- MLB 3-10 Man Teams
Now, what about daily fantasy baseball contests that allow a few hundred entrants? Are they considered large or small? Frankly, neither. If you decide to compete in them, you can use many of the same draft strategies you would use in smaller tournaments. Just be aware that doing so is likely to have a less pronounced effect.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about how to select pitchers for large DFS baseball tournaments.
How To Draft Pitchers For Large-Field Daily Fantasy Baseball
The big events are a lot of fun to compete in. The entry fee is usually small – oftentimes, as low as $1 – and there’s often a lot of cash up for grabs (e.g. $40,000). The downside is that you’re competing against a ton of other players. It’s tough to end up in a top-ranked position.
Large-field tournaments tend to attract a ton of DFS beginners. In a lot of cases, those beginners have read articles on how to draft winning MLB lineups. They know that pitchers are the ones who rack up the most points. So, they spend big on guys like Max Scherzer or Jose Fernandez. Of course, that leaves them with very little money left over to build a solid offense.
In big field tournaments it pays to move against the pack.
Rather than spending a big portion of your budget on a pitcher that everyone expects to perform well, draft someone who’s lower in profile and has a much lower salary. That will leave you with a lot more cash to pick up productive hitters.
To be clear, there’s more risk involved with this draft strategy than simply going along with the herd. You’re out on a limb, hoping the high-salary pitchers – the guys that most of your competitors will be drafting – choke on the mound. If they choke, there’s a good chance your offense will outscore your competitors’ offense. Why? Because your competitors will have spent so much money on their pitchers that their hitters won’t be as productive as your own.
What if the high-salary pitchers that your competitors draft perform well? You’ll probably end up losing the contest. But when it comes to large-field daily MLB tournaments, you have to take a risk to win big. Keep in mind that with a $1 entry fee, you don’t have much to lose.
Drafting Pitchers In Smaller-Field Contests and Leagues
Small contests that put a tight limit on the number of people allowed to join – for example, 50/50s – are the playground for DFS players who want to build up their bankroll. But these tournaments require a slightly different draft strategy when it comes to choosing pitchers.
The good news is that the difference in approach is a simple one. It’s essentially the opposite of the approach you use when competing in large-field DFS baseball tournaments. You want to select the best pitcher available, even if you have to pay a ton of money to draft him. You want the guy who is expected to rack up the greatest number of points that evening.
You want to select the best pitcher available, even if you have to pay a ton of money to draft him.
How do you identify which pitcher is expected to be the most productive? The easiest way is to check the Vegas oddsmakers’ picks. They’ve already done the heavy lifting for you.
You should also take a look at the money lines established for that evening’s games. If you see a game with a high line, that means oddsmakers expect the hitters to be productive. That means one or both of the game’s pitchers are expected to take a beating. It’s a good idea to avoid drafting them.
How To Draft Hitters For Large-Field Daily Fantasy Baseball
Now, let’s talk about drafting hitters in large tournaments.
Recall from earlier that part of our large-field draft strategy was to select a pitcher who had a relatively low salary. Here’s where that approach pays off. You have more cash with which to draft hitters. In huge contests, they’re the guys you’re counting to take your roster to a top-scoring position.
Of course, you can’t simply throw caution to the wind. You still need to conserve your budget and look for hitters who offer good value (points earned per dollar spent). Or you need hitters that give you an opportunity to leverage – for example, someone scheduled to square off against a flailing pitcher.
Here are a few ways to find them:
First, take a look at the average number of daily fantasy points scored by each hitter. You’ll notice that there are some guys with high averages over the last several games, yet lower salaries than the big-name hitters. That could indicate value. It may also reveal hitters who are on hot streaks.
Second, take a close look at the match-ups for that evening’s games. DailyBaseballMatchup.com displays the data and is updated nightly.
Third, stack your roster with players from the same team. This tactic is somewhat controversial since it gives you a sneaky way to exploit a weak pitcher. For example, let’s say you notice that a pitcher has been getting killed on the mound lately. Stacking is a strategy in which you fill your lineup with players whom the pitcher is scheduled to face that evening.
The top daily fantasy sports sites have taken steps to prevent people from fully leveraging this tactic. For example, DraftKings requires you to draft players from 3 or more teams. FanDuel allows you to draft no more than 4 players from the same team. The tactic still works, but you’re limited in how far you can take it.
Incidentally, it’s worth asking yourself why DraftKings and FanDuel have limited the use of this gem. It’s probably because it works.
Drafting Hitters In Smaller-Field Contests
Finally, we come to selecting hitters for small tournaments. The approach here isn’t much different than the one you use for large-field tournaments. You want to focus on guys who have a productive track record. The challenge is to draft them with the limited cash you have left over after selecting a high-salary – and hopefully, high-scoring – pitcher.
Think of yourself as Billy Beane, the GM for the Oakland Athletics who was profiled in the movie Moneyball. Like Beane, you’re not looking for high-salary sluggers who can hit the ball out of the park. Not only are you unable to afford them, but they’re the ones who tend to swing at more pitches than they should, striking out in the process.
Instead, you’re looking for guys who consistently get on base. They’re less flashy and likely to have salaries that are lower than those attached to the big-name sluggers. You can usually squeeze more points out of every dollar.
You’re pinning your hopes on the pitcher. That’s who you hope will accumulate the most points, so that’s where a large chunk of your money is going. But you also want to fill your lineup with productive hitters who offer good value.
If you want a broader view on how to draft pitchers for daily fantasy baseball you can read the article linked. If you’d like to learn more about how to draft hitters for daily MLB contests. The draft tips we’ve covered above are specifically tailored toward competing in small and large-field tournaments. Keep them in mind the next time you visit FanDuel, DraftKings, or DraftStreet.
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