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Daily Fantasy Baseball on DraftKings: Algorithmic Projections for Your Lineup

Opening Day is upon us! The Daily Fantasy Baseball season is just beginning and DraftKings is offering a generous $15,000 freeroll for new and beginning players. You could win up to $1,000 for 1st place! Just sign up through this link to enter, there’s nothing to lose!

 

Last year, Danny and I created an algorithmic daily fantasy baseball projection system. This projection system has been incredibly fruitful for us, winning $100,000s for us over our first season playing Daily Fantasy Baseball. After much debate, we decided not to post the projection system on DFW this year, but in order to encourage new players to join DraftKings, we’re publishing some of the best picks from the algoritmic projection system to help you get a head start in your first day of DFS baseball.

Each player below will have a number followed by PPD. PPD stands for, “points per $1,000,” it’s the algorithms way of assessing the best values of the day in daily fantasy baseball. I include explanations on why a player likely has that PPD, so you can better understand what you should be looking for when making your own lineups without the help of our projections.

Best Values

OF

Bryce Harper ($4,200) 2.1 PPD
You’re going to see a theme here, a lot of Nationals are great value tomorrow going against a mediocre-at-best pitcher in Colon. Harper had a disappointing sub .800 ops season, but Steamer (you can learn more about Steamer here http://steamerprojections.com/blog/) and other projection systems are optimistic this year, projecting Harper at around .850 ops. In the heart of the Nationals order, it’s hard not to love Harper at this price.

Grady Sizemore ($3,300) 1.94 PPD
Opening day doesn’t bring a lot of value, since many players are facing the Ace of each teams pitching staff. The Phillies, however, face Clay Bucholz, who’s a solid pitcher but not a #1 by any means. Sizemore is actually one of the best value OFs of the day, and is not a bad option to pair with two high salary pitchers if you decide to go that route. Keep an eye on the Phillies lineup however, Sizemore should be in the lineup opening day but there’s a non-zero chance he sits.

Nori Aoki ($3,700) 1.93 PPD
Like Sizemore, Aoki gets the privilege of facing a mediocre #1 in Josh Collmenter. He bats lead off for the Giants and goes to a hitters park in Arizona, and his price is low enough.

Ryan Braun ($4,800) 1.90 PPD
The Brewers have the best pitching matchup tomorrow against Kyle Kendricks of the Rockies, so it makes sense that Braun would be on of the best ppd players of the night. His salary will balloon to $5,500+ as the season wears on, so it’s a good idea to use him now while it’s still low.

SS

Yunel Escobar ($3,200) 2.177 PPD
This is my top pick for opening day. SS is absolutely barren and Escobar bats second in the Nats order. While Colon throws a lot of two seam fastballs and therefore is a tough matchup for righties, Colon is also a flyball pitcher, which benefits Escobar who hits mostly GBs. He’s not going to produce as well as some other guys, but he certainly is your best bet to produce over any other SS.

Asdrubal Cabrera ($3,800) 1.75 PPD
As I said, SS is barren tomorrow. Cabrera is batting 3rd for the Rays at home and has a fine PPD and price.

2B

Joe Panik ($3,400) 2.02 PPD
The Giants lineup lost a lot of pop due to injuries and free agency, which has caused Joe Panik to move to the 2nd spot in the order for the Giants. His value is outstanding going against Collmenter in Arizona.

Dustin Pedroia ($3,700) 1.84 PPD
Pedroia appears to have a tough matchup against Cole Hamels, but it is a righty on lefty and Hamels is not the pitcher he once was, he’s projected to have a 3.46 ERA this year by Steamer. Most importantly, Pedroia has a fantastic price, and has the benefit of hitting in front of David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, and Pablo Sandoval.

C
Jonathan Lucroy ($4,300) 2.0 PPD
Lucroy has the benefit tomorrow of having both a high price but also a high ppd. He benefits greatly going against the worst opening day pitcher in Kyle Kendrick of the Rockies and bats 2nd in a potent Brewers lineup.

Carlos Ruiz ($3,400) 1.92 PPD
Ruiz is the 2nd best value at catcher tomorrow, going against Clay Bucholz and batting 5th in the Phillies order. This play has everything to do with price, Ruiz is a solid hitter in a solid matchup, but he’s only $3,400.

John Jaso ($3,900) 1.866 PPD
Jaso is probably the only catcher who will bat leadoff this year, and that’s perfectly ok with us. His value is solid and he goes against righty Chris Tillman, who’s a good pitcher but certainly not an Ace.

1B

Adam Lind ($4,100) 1.98 PPD
Like Lucroy and the rest of the Brewers lineup, Lind benefits from batting against the worst opening day pitcher in baseball this year in Kyle Kendrick. He’s also much too cheap for a hitter who’s projected to have a close to .800 OPS.
Miguel Cabrera ($5,000) 1.74 PPD
DraftKings decided to keep all the salaries of the best hitters low for opening day, to allow more roster flexibility. Because of this, you should absolutely make sure to roster some Miguel Cabrera. He’s fantastic value at his price and while Phil Hughes is a fine pitcher, he matches up horribly with the free swinging Cabrera as a pitcher who’s always in the zone.

3B

Casey McGehee ($3,500) 1.86 PPD
3rd base is even worse than SS tomorrow, and our algorithm showing Casey Mcgehee as the top 3rd baseman. He bats 6th in the Giants order, but that matters less on the road where the Giants are assured 9th inning Abs. His price is what makes him a viable play, he’s only $3,500.

Manny Machado ($3,900) 1.72 PPD
Machado has a tough matchup on the road against Chris Archer, but he’s a young player who could be in for a breakout season. He also benefits as a low walk player, DraftKings scoring system is bias toward singles.

Evan Longoria ($4,300) 1.68 PPD
Again, not a great ppd here. But Longoria is facing a 4-seam, changeup, and curveball dominant thrower in Tillman. Players who throw a combo of those pitchers usually are neutral when it comes to handedness, so a righty like Longoria should have a fine time hitting against him. And if this means anything to you, Longoria does have a career 1.354 OPS against Tillman.

Best Stacks

For those unfamiliar with Daily Fantasy Baseball strategy, “stacking” is a lineup building strategy of using several players from the same team, in order to take advantage of run and rbi correlations between hitters in a given lineup. What I mean by this is, when a hitter scores a run, it means another hitter on the same team had an RBI, teammates work together in a way when it comes to fantasy scoring in baseball. So, it’s smart to find the best teams to stack in order to make the most profitable DraftKings tournament lineups.

Washington Nationals: 1.966 Stack Factor
This one makes sense to me, the Nationals have one of the highest projected run totals of the day and also have some of the best values of the day. I included Wilson Ramos in the stack, because he’s an extreme GB hitter going up against a fly ball pitcher in Colon.

Best lineup
Escobar, Harper, Zimmerman, Ramos

Milwaukee Brewers: 1.82 Stack Factor

The Brewers have a lot of high salary plays, which lowers their stack factor. But if you want to go cheap on pitcher, they are the best stack option by far ignoring price.

Best lineup
Gomez, Lucroy, Braun, Lind, Ramirez

San Francisco Giants: 1.78 Stack Factor

The Giants will have one of the worst lineups in baseball this year, but that doesn’t matter as much for Daily Fantasy. We’re looking at players from a pure value standpoint, and the Giants are a fantastic value stack.

Best lineup
Aoki, Panik, Pagan, Posey, Belt

Best High Salary Plays

You can’t fill up your lineup with all value plays. Below are the best high salary options on DraftKings tomorrow.

Miguel Cabrera (5000) 1.75 ppd

Ryan Braun (4800) 1.79 ppd

Carlos Gomez (5000) 1.71 ppd

Carlos Beltran (4100) 1.86 ppd

Victor Martinez ($4,400) 1.81 ppd

Buster Posey ($4,600) 1.75 ppd

 

Best Pitchers

Clayton Kershaw ($12,400) The Padres lineup is improved, but Kershaw is ridiculously good. He’s at home and his price is actually low compared to its $14,000+ peak from last year.

Max Scherzer ($11,500) Moving to the NL, the former Cy Young winner Scherzer should be even more dominant than he was as a Tiger. He should perform especially well at home against a poor Mets lineup.

David Price ($10,400) Price always goes 7+ innings, and is one of the most consistent pitchers in fantasy. He benefits from facing a Twins lineup that strikes out a lot.

Chris Archer ($7,600) Baltimore is without Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, and Archer’s price seems much too low at home against a high SO team like the Os.

Henderson Alvarez ($6,200) Alvarez is going against an incredibly weak, high strike out Braves lineup, which should help make up for his low SO rate. He’s a mediocre pitcher, his ERA is projected at 3.5, but he did average 6+ innings a start last year and he’s half the price of Clayton Kershaw. He does not have to have an Ace like start in order to be a great play tomorrow.

View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

4 thoughts on “Daily Fantasy Baseball on DraftKings: Algorithmic Projections for Your Lineup

  1. Jeremy Davis

    Thanks Max – this was really interesting, even for someone who doesn’t follow MLB. I think you guys are wise to keep your algorithm machine to yourself now; you do enough here on the site for folks.

    A question, and I mean this in a completely inquisitive way, not at all a knock to your picks. I did a free contest and picked from your list in this article and of the 4 batters whose games have completed today, I have a cumulative 0 points between them. Is that fairly common in MLB DFS? I know it’s typical for batters to go 0-for, so I guess I’m wondering if there’s a large percentage of batters who we’d expect to see a zero for on any given day. That seems like a tough pill to stomach 🙂

    Thanks again!

  2. Max J SteinbergMax J Steinberg Post author

    It’s common for a couple players to throw up 0s. 4 is a little much, although some of my picks did hit hard like Pedroia and Pagan. What’s great about baseball is even if some of your hitters throw up zeroes, or one gets injured, you can still win, unlike NBA where one injury destroys your entire lineup.

    1. Jeremy Davis

      Oh yeah? I have certainly experienced the 1-player killer in NBA. What’s the redemption in MLB?

      To your point, my remaining 4 batters were pretty good; 3/4 put up points. And actually 1 of the blanks I had in the first four I think was not your pick; think it was a flier I took on Ryan Braun since I recognized the name. Pedroia and Pagan were 2 of the others, yep. Think the last one was Sandoval.

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