Possibly the most overused statement in life right now is declaring something to be +/-EV. For Example: “Eating that spicy fish sauce was -EV for my ass,” meaning said ass is not doing so well because of the spicy fish sauce. But in reality, the term only loosely fits the situation. Let’s break down what is being said here. EV means Expected Value, which is the value you would expect to receive on a certain situation. So let's assume that said individual’s baseline ass value is a 5. So on a normal day with no unforeseen variables his expected ass value is a 5. Now let's apply the spicy fish sauce to the “assquation” ( ass-equation): as stated earlier it was -EV for said ass' value. So after eating the spicy sauce this individual’s ass loses some value from 5, let’s just say his ass goes to a value of 2. So this value loss (-3) could be described as -EV since the Expected Value decreased on this poor man’s ass. So as you can see while the term is fine and we all understand what this person would mean by saying, “that was -EV for my ass” it only loosely relates in actual terms. The main reason the application of the term does not work well with assholes is we don’t have a baseline valuation on the expected value of an ass on a given day. Fortunately, valuing MLB games is much easier than setting a value on an asshole, and a much cleaner job I would assume.
I think one of the single biggest misunderstandings that the DFS community and the general public has is where betting odds come from and how they are shaped. To be clear: THEY DO NOT COME FROM VEGAS! To understand betting odds it is important to understand the life cycle of a line.
Life Cycle of an MLB Money Line
- BetOnline (BOL) is almost always the 1st to open MLB numbers. They generally do this by 3PM the day before. Don’t be fooled though. These lines are as soft as they come and only low limit action is allowed on them. They do this mostly for PR reasons and the openers at BOL have 0 reliability for understanding a team's implied odds. As soon as 1 of the 2 big boys open up numbers (Pinny or CRIS), BOL moves numbers to match. If your market is small enough you can find nice value on these lines since the limits are too small for the sharps to hit they generally remain soft until the real numbers open. You should never use BOL numbers for anything DFS related.
Last Week in Review
At a high-level, GPP pay lines can give us a general idea of what kind of score needed for minimum cash as well as the average score needed to win triple your entry fee, quintuple your entry fee, or land in first place.
Every Sunday night I open up FanGraphs and look for outliers in terms of teams doing really well or really bad against a certain handedness of pitcher. It is rather simple and yet brilliant at the same time. I just sort 2017 team stats, active rosters tab highlighted, and open up two separate windows. One I sort v. LHP and one I Sort v. RHP. I then proceed to click the advanced stats tab and just sort the columns. What I want to do is sort by wRC+. This is a stat that basically tries to normalize all teams against a league average opponent in a league average ball park. I don’t care about the 80% of teams in the middle closest to the mean, I want to know who is way at the top ad way at the bottom. The teams way at the top are the ones we want to stack as they have shown the ability to create way more than league average amount of runs. The teams at the bottom are the situations we want to targets pitchers in, because those are the worst teams at creating runs. We also want to look at the strikeout rate of those bottom teams. A team that strikes out at a well above average clip and also does not create many runs is exactly the type of team we want to target against. Here are how the numbers shape up through the first few weeks of the season.
One of the first questions anyone new to DFS will ask is what contests should I play? Play mostly cash but put a little bit into GPPs is what you’ll most likely hear. As a rule, it’s sound advice. However, what I wanted to know is which double-ups should I play? Am I better playing five $1 double-ups or one $5 double up? Does the pay line go up as the buy in goes up? Same question applied to GPPs.
The problem was, the data isn’t there. DraftKings and FanDuel don’t provide historical contest data outside of your own entries. Besides, we all know how the pay lines can vary from night to night, sometimes significantly. That’s why I started tracking contest data. I wanted to make sure I was making the most of my lineups, at my skill level, and how much I play each night.
About the Data
When talking about pay lines, probably the first (and most important) thing we need to talk about is the data, what it is, and what it isn’t. For starters, this data is manually collected from DraftKings and FanDuel every night. I’m not joking. Each night, I sit and catch the end of a late game and grab details on contests that completed the night before, noting the minimum score to cash, the top score, and for GPPs, the score required to triple and quintuple your entry fees. On average, it’s about 100 contests per site, per night.
I always think it is a good idea to be the first one to hop on a trend. Sometimes you can ride them out and bank a lot of money before other people catch on. One such example was using the big right-handed strikeout pitchers of the Indians this weekend. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both threw up gems and were much lower owned than they should have been. The question is why?
The reason why they were such a good play is because of how bad their opponent has been early this season. The White Sox are the best matchup in the league for a right-handed strikeout pitcher. They have the combination of stats I like to look for when searching for teams to target against. I want a team that is in the top half of the league for strikeouts. I also want them to be at least 10% below the median for wOBA and wRC+ against the handedness of pitcher they face. What we are trying to do here is find the teams who are bad at hitting the baseball, so we can limit the damage they can potentially do. We also get the most upside due to the high strikeout rate. It seems so simple, but you would be surprised how often it leads to positive upside performances from under owned pitchers.
You likely know most if not all of the below measures. They may not speak directly to the fantasy game, but they will allow you to understand player performances in a more complete way. Nothing fancy here, just quick hitting breakdowns of some of the main measures,
Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence focusing specifically on statistical information. The term itself is derived from the acronym SABR (Society for American Baseball Research), which comes from the group of baseball historians who were the originators of most of these “fancy math” equations (the term was coined by the most famous sabermetrician, of them all, Bill James).
BASE OUT PERCENTAGE (created by Barry F. Codell)
The wacky world of DFS baseball can be overwhelming, tilting and extremely volatile – especially if you’re playing for the first time or have only just dabbled. Between all of our tools, articles, the daily livestream video, cheat sheet, and of course the optimizer, Guru Elite has all of the resources you need to become a better MLB DFS player.
Figuring out the right combination of players to roster can feel daunting, but being able to navigate around the site and establishing your own process is absolutely crucial to success and formulating some semblance of consistency. Having a process with lineup building will organize your thoughts, help you focus and set you on the right track towards cashing on a more consistent basis.
This article will review my research process for cash games, but first, it’s important to overview bankroll management and types of games. For those of you who have been at this for a while, consider it a “back-to-basics” refresher.
This is an article I wrote two years ago while I was working at Rotocurve. It is about game theory in MLB DFS. I made some adjustments to it and also wrote a follow-up piece about how different levels of players can use game theory to their advantage. That article really does not make much sense unless you read the original piece, so here is that piece...
The words “game theory” are mentioned so frequently in Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) that the average new player must think everyone in the industry has a PhD in economics. You do not need a higher level degree in order to understand it. You do not even need to understand it in order to apply it. It does help to know what Game Theory is if you want to apply it correctly though. That is what I am going to do teach you here.
Game Theory is a rather complex idea. It studies the science behind how people make strategic decisions. In plain English, Game Theory dictates what actions each player should take to produce the best possible results for themselves. In DFS terms, this means Game Theory is what we should be using to decide who to roster (actions we take) in order to win the most money (best possible result). If that sounds like something you would be interesting in learning, feel free to read on.
I’ve been buried in baseball prep since December. I’ll be managing eight teams this season including NFBC’s Main Event (live Vegas draft; 1.6k entry 125k prize), partnering with Main Event winner Rob Silver in Jonah Keri’s League of Leagues, and I am honored to be invited to participate in one of fantasy baseball’s oldest and most prominent experts’ leagues, Tout Wars (the auction format). Needless to say, I’ll be knee-deep in season-long management, but over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that being so in tune with the season-long game has been very helpful for my DFS prep. Luckily, we’ve got some of the most successful players in the industry as owners and on staff. Not to mention the souped-up optimizer, powered by FantasyCruncher and layered by the algorithmic wizardry of Rob Penn’s (@MLBModel) algorithm.
Simply put, you guys will be in good hands this season. MLB DFS is a slow burn. You won’t win every day, but if you keep up with MLB lineups, pitching matchups, splits, Vegas lines/totals, employ bankroll management and stick to correct game selection and your process, you may be surprised at your end-of-season ROI (not to mention some GPP sweats, or perhaps, big hits). If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Ryan Hodge’s (@RyanHodge) Daily Fantasy Baseball 101 article which cuts out all the B.S. and tells you what is important to pay attention to in MLB DFS.
As I get ready for my big drafts over the next 10 days, I wanted to get some thoughts out before the season starts as well as bring your attention to some cheap Week 1 value guys you can take advantage of.