Fantasy baseball: What to know when playing in daily leagues

Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder’s injury has season-long fantasy players kicking themselves.
Credit: Getty Images

When word broke last week that Prince Fielder would undergo neck surgery, owners in yearly fantasy leagues cried themselves to sleep. Daily leaguers shrugged and went about their business.

The emerging scene known as daily fantasy continues to attract more and more players because of situations like this. The epic nature of traditional season-long leagues is rewarding at the end of the rainbow, but can crush souls along the way. Meanwhile, daily salary-cap leagues that pay out after one day of action let players get a fresh start every day. We give you tips to get the money.

Spend on starters

Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera have the potential to go 0-for-4 on any given day no matter what the matchup is. That’s just not the case with pitchers, who are far more consistent on a start-to-start basis.

So when deciding what positions to extract value from, getting cheap at the starting pitcher spot is brutal mistake. Evaluate each day’s pitching on projected raw points, not projected points-per-dollar model. Plug in your best starter and then build from there.

Small sample size

When selecting your nightly lineup of batters, there is a plethora of statistics to digest. The simplest stat many people put a ton of weight in is historical batter vs. pitcher (BvP) numbers. Don’t do it. These numbers often contain a small sample size, much of which is irrelevant to that night’s game. For example, Justin Morneau is 6-of-36 with no homers and one RBI against Zack Greinke in his career. But how many of those were in Coors Field, or when Grienke was pitching closer to a Cy Young level? Batter splits (how Morneau fares against a lefty or righty) have a far bigger sample size and are more predictive numbers.

All the little things

Everyone knows to start batters at Coors Field and pitchers at Petco Park. That’s not going to yield a ton of profit. Other ballpark tendencies such as the right-field porches in Boston and San Francisco provide sneakier value. We can also squeeze extra at-bats out of guys who hit near the top of the order, and road batters because they are guaranteed a full nine innings of at-bats.

MLB pickups …

1. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals – St. Louis’ top prospect will make an instant impact as soon as he’s called up — likely June 4.

2. Tim Stauffer, SP, Padres – No one knows how long Andrew Cashner will be sidelined, allowing Stauffer to get stretched out.

3. Phil Hughes, SP, Twins – Hughes joins a long list of pitchers whose home run rate sharply declines once out of the AL East.

NFL dynasty …

Target these players in offseason dynasty trades:

1. Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks – Marshawn Lynch is a good bet to be released following this season. Michael has dominant running ability.

2. Ryan Mallett, QB, Patriots – He finally escapes from Tom Brady’s shadow in 2015 and will sign somewhere he can compete to start.

3. Bryce Brown, RB, Bills – Both C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson will be free agents after this year. The Bills have plans for Brown.

Follow Metro fantasy writer Adam Levitan on Twitter @adamlevitan.


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