Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Stacking

As I mentioned in the previous post, stacking is possibly the most common strategy used in MLB DFS Tournament contests. Perhaps a more accurate statement is that it is very common in winning Tournament lineups. If you want to win a large Tournament, your best bet is to employ this strategy.

It works.

At this point, you’re probably asking the first question most of us asked in our lives: why? Good question, let’s talk about it. There are several reasons why stacking can give you an advantage, but two main reasons carry more weight than the others.

Take Advantage of Bad Pitching

One thing stacking allows you to do is select multiple batters that are going to be facing off against a bad pitcher. Bad pitchers give up more hits and runs, which results in more fantasy points. It should be obvious why this is a good reason to consider stacking. But it goes even further than that.

If you consider yourself a baseball fan and watch games often, think about what happens when a pitcher performs poorly. If a pitcher starts the game by giving up a lot of hits and runs in the first few innings, his pitch count gets too high early in the game. This usually leads to that team going to the bullpen to use relief pitchers a couple innings before they intended. On top of that, if they are already down by several runs, they probably won’t be using their best relievers.

Why is this important?

If you stacked 4 players in your lineup going against the starting pitcher that performed poorly, gave up a lot of runs, and got replaced early, your lineup is likely to see two main benefits.

  1. The players in your lineup were likely a part of the fun against that starting pitcher. This means that they likely racked up a few hits, RBI, runs, or stolen bases just in their first 2 – 3 plate appearances. So, you already have a good chunk of fantasy points with a lot of game left to be played.
  2. When a team is down by several runs early and has to replace their starter in the 3rd or 4th inning, they usually don’t put in their best bullpen pitchers. If this is the case, your players that you stacked go from seeing a bad starting pitcher to bad relieving pitchers. Bad relievers are typically even worse than bad starters. So, you get even more opportunity for high fantasy scores in the late innings. It really snowballs in your favor.

What’s Next?

In the next post, we’ll talk about the other big reason why stacking is a good strategy. Then we’ll touch on some of the other reasons as well.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: Common Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy
Click here for next post:
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Common Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy

Now that we have discussed the basics about how FanDuel, DraftKings, and daily fantasy baseball works, we can start talking about the strategies we will want to use to build lineups. A quick Google search for “MLB DFS Strategy” yields tons of common strategies used by players across the inter-webs. These strategies can range from beginner to advanced. Let’s start with a general overview of some of the most common strategies in this article. I’ll come back and link to more detailed breakdowns as we deep dive into some of these in future posts.

Stacking

This is possibly the most common DSF strategy in baseball contests. Stacking just means that you select multiple players from the same team, usually 3 or 4. There are a few reasons why this strategy makes sense. I found many articles that prove these ideas mathematically. If you want to read more about that, you can check out some of them here and here. I’ll summarize the main takeaways, but since others have already done the math to prove it, I won’t bother with that here. I just want to talk about general strategy for now.

  • If you choose several players from the same team, it allows you to have several players going against a specific bad pitcher. Bad pitchers give up more fantasy points to batters, so we can capitalize on this more by picking 4 players against that bad pitcher instead of just 1.
  • There is a correlation between fantasy performances of players on the same team. Usually players on the same team will do better than average together or worse than average together. This goes back to the “boom or bust” strategy we talked about earlier.
  • Stacking allows you to choose multiple players in other advantageous positions. This can allow you to capitalize more on things like hitter’s parks, or good weather.

Batting Order

A good general rule of thumb: pick players closer to the top of the batting order. You can read more about the math behind this here, but the logic is simple. Players batting at the top of the order get more at bats. Extra at bats equals extra opportunities to score fantasy points, which may lead to actually scoring more fantasy points.

Weather

Most importantly, it’s probably a good idea to avoid players in games with a chance of rain. If you have a player in a game that gets postponed due to rain, that player gets 0 points. It’s nearly impossible to win a large tournament with any zeros in your lineup.

On top of that, players playing in warm or hot games are more likely to score more points than players in cold games. The ball flies a little bit farther in higher temperatures, meaning home runs and extra base hits are going to be a little bit more likely. This translates to more runs scored in MLB games, and more fantasy points for players in that game.

What’s Next?

In the next several posts, we’ll start talking about these strategies in a bit more detail. More importantly, we’ll start talking about how we can set up experiments to test which variations of these strategies produce better results and win more DFS contests.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: High Variance or Low Variance in Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here for next post: Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: Stacking
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

High Variance or Low Variance in Tournaments vs 50/50s

We now know how to calculate variance of fantasy performances of a given player, but now you’re probably thinking: why is this important?  You are asking the right questions.  It is a good one.  It all goes back to the differences between the payout structure and the number of lineups entered in the two types of contests.

Payout structure differences have a more significant impact, so let us start with that.

Impact of Payout Structure on Desired Variance

As a reminder, there are 2 main differences between the payout structure of a Tournament and a 50/50 contest.

Percentage of lineups entered that win

  • In a paid 50/50 contest, half of all entries win money giving an entry a 50% chance to win.
  • On the other hand, roughly 25% of all lineups entered in a Tournament end up winning.

Payout received for winning

  • In a paid 50/50 contest, all winning entries win the same amount of money.  Whether you are in 1st place or 50th place out of 100 entries, you receive the same payout.  As a result, if you can consistently be slightly better than the median lineup, you would have a profitable strategy for 50/50 contests.
  • Tournament contests have a very top-heavy payout structure.  As a result, you can still have a profitable strategy even if you win a lot less often than you would need to in a 50/50 contest.  In fact, the lineup that ends in 1st place can receive 300-500 times their entry fee.  This means that if you can manage to create a better lineup than everyone else in the contest, you may be able to enter 299 losing lineups and still break even.

Key Takeaways

The significance of these differences can be summarized quite simply. 

If you are entering Tournaments, you want players in your lineup with high variance in fantasy points scored per game.  This would give you a higher chance of finishing in the top-heavy winning portion of entries.  It will also make you more likely to finish at the bottom, but since you win $0.00 for finishing above 70% of lineups or for finishing in last place, that won’t make much difference. 

However, if you want to enter 50/50 contests, you should select players with low variance that give you high chance of doing just a little bit better than half of the other entries.

In other words, if you want to enter Tournaments, the “boom or bust” strategy is likely going to work better for you in the long run.  Keep in mind though that this approach requires a large sample size created by entering many Tournaments.  Even if we know we have a profitable system, since a 1st place finish may require hundreds of entries before it actually hits.  If this is the approach you want to take, you should choose an entry fee you can afford to pay 1000 times, not one that you can afford to pay once. 

You would effectively be playing the lottery at that point.  That is not my goal with these posts.  Plan to achieve a large sample size when using math to create a profitable betting system. Again, nothing in these posts should be thought of as fanatical or gambling advise. However, if you want to implement any of the strategies discussed, it’s important to test their statistical significance.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: Lineup Strategy Differences in Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here for next post: Common Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Lineup Strategy Differences in Tournaments vs 50/50s

As you might expect, the payout structure differences between Tournaments and 50/50 contests will impact our strategy. Number of lineups in the contest will likely impact our choices as well. However, the payout structure should be considered more significant. The players we choose to create a lineup will be different depending on what type of contest we are entering.

Both factors will impact our strategy for a similar reason. It all comes down to one main thing: variance.

What is Variance?

If you have taken any statistics courses, you should be familiar with the concept of variance. If not, it can be thought of most simply, as how spread out a set of numbers are. A set of numbers that are generally close to each other will have a lower variance than a set of numbers that are more spread out. This is a bit of a vague oversimplification, but it should be enough to understand why it is important here.

The concept of variance materializes in fantasy points and sports in general as consistency. Consistent players would have a low variance in their fantasy production, and inconsistent players would have a high variance.

You need to be careful here though. Just because you have noticed a player getting 2 hits per game for the last week, or always coming through late in the game, does not mean he is consistent. We need to measure the variance of all his performances to get a ligament measure of how consistent he is.

How to Measure Variance

First, you will need to find a list of fantasy points a player scored in games. This could be any sample of games you want to measure: last week, this season, career, etc. Once you have a list of fantasy points scored over the period you want to consider, you can simply use the variance formula.

Sample variance, often denoted as S^2, can be found by:

$$S^2 = \frac{\Sigma (x_i \ – \ \bar{x})^2}{n-1}$$

Where,
S^2 = sample variance
x_i = the value of one fantasy performance
\bar{x} = the mean of fantasy points scored per game
n = the number of game performances in sample

If this type of formula is intimidating to you, do not worry about calculating this with the formula. If you want to try calculating this for a specific player, it can be calculated easily using Microsoft Excel using the VAR.S function.

My main point here is that consistency of a fantasy player can be quantified. In the next post, we will discuss how we can use this measure to decide which players we want in a Tournament lineup vs a 50/50 lineup.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: DFS Contest Types: Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here for next post: High Variance or Low Variance in Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

DFS Contest Types: Tournaments vs 50/50s

Now that we have talked about the differences between FanDuel vs DraftKings scoring, we need to discuss the different type of contests. Tournaments and 50/50s are the two most common contest types if you want to enter a full roster MLB contest. FanDuel does also offer other contest types, like Head to Heads, Multipliers, and 3-100 Players, but those are less available and less popular than Tournaments and 50/50s. Plus, the payout structure for Head to Heads and Multipliers are very similar to 50/50s. As a result, I’m only going to go into detail on the main two contest types.

There are two main differences between these contest types we will discuss: the number of lineups in the contest, and the payout structure.

Number of lineups in Tournaments vs 50/50s

Generally, Tournaments are going to contain a lot more lineup entries than a 50/50 contest. There are small tournaments with fewer than 20 lineups, but they are usually going to be much larger. There are typically going to be tournaments with several hundred or thousand entries for the main slate of games each day throughout the MLB season.

It does depend on what the cost to enter the tournament is with lower entry fee Tournaments usually allowing more lineups than those that cost more to play.

However, 50/50s are much smaller. 50/50 contest range anywhere from 10-100 total entries typically. You don’t really see any larger than 100, like you do with Tournaments. I will touch on how we might expect the different sizes of contests to impact our optimizer in the next post.

Payout Structure in Tournaments vs 50/50s

50/50 contests have a simple payout structure in FanDuel. 50% of entries win, and 50% do not. The amount you win is 180% of whatever the entry fee is. So, if you enter a 50/50 contest with a $1 entry fee and finish in the top 50% of entries, you get back $1.80. In a 50/50 contest, FanDuel is paying out 90% of total entries paid, and keeping 10% for themselves.

The payout structure for a Tournament is a bit more complex. It’s more top heavy, so the winner gets a lot more than they paid to enter. And a lot more entries finish “out of the money” and receive nothing. The exact payout structure can vary depending on the entry fee and number of lineups allowed, but they all payout a larger amount of money to a smaller number of players than 50/50s. Here is an example of the payout structure for a FanDuel Tournament with a $2.22 entry fee in the 2022 MLB season. There was a total of 5,362 entries in this Tournament.

Place FinishedPayout per Entry
1st$1,000
2nd$500
3rd$250
4th$150
5th$100
6th – 7th$75
8th – 10th$50
11th – 15th$40
16th – 20th$30
21st – 30th$25
31st – 50th$20
51st – 75th$15
76th – 100th$10
101st – 200th$8
201st – 400th$6
401st – 675th$5
676th – 1,350th$4

In this case, there would have been $11,903.64 paid in entry fees by the players, and about 84.01% of that was paid out to winning lineups. The other 15.99% was kept by FanDuel. The top 25.18% of lineups entered in this contest won something.

What’s Next?

In the next post we will start discussing how these differences will impact the strategy for entering different types of contests. We will need to keep this in mind as we set up the rules for our optimizer so it picks players that give us the best shot of winning in the specific contest we enter.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: How Scoring Differences in FanDuel vs DraftKings Impact Our Optimizer
Click here for next post: Lineup Strategy Differences in Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

How Scoring Differences in FanDuel vs DraftKings Impact Our Optimizer

Now that we have talked about the differences between FanDuel vs DraftKings scoring, we need to touch on how this will actually impact our strategy. Since we will be creating a mathematical model eventually, this can be easily adjusted. We will be able to account for these differences in our projected points automatically.

However, it will be helpful to take a moment to think about what we expect to change before jumping into it. I generally recommend this for any math problem or application of math concepts. It is very helpful to think about what result you expect ahead of time so you will have some idea at the end if something went horribly wrong and your answer is not even reasonable.

Unfortunately, this happens sometimes. But if you recognize it, you have the chance to fix the error instead of submitting several paid DFS lineups based on a flawed system. This would not end well (as you might expect), so it’s best to avoid it.

For reference, here is a breakdown of everything that gets points for an MLB contest on both sites.

FanDuel vs DraftKings Scoring

Differences For Hitters Between FanDuel and DraftKings

Both sites give you +3 points if your player hits a single. However, on FanDuel all extra base hits are worth more than they are on DraftKings. Also, getting a Walk or Hit by Pitch is worth the same as a single in FanDuel, while DraftKings only gives +2 points for those. DraftKings also values an RBI and a Run at +2 points, while they are worth +3.5 and +3.2 points respectively on FanDuel.

This means that relatively speaking, a player getting extra base hits and creating runs for their team through RBI, Runs, Stolen Bases, and getting on base without hits is more valuable on FanDuel than it is on DraftKings. Instead, a player with a lot of singles would have relatively higher value on DraftKings. So, we might expect stats like OBP (On Base Percentage) or SLG (Slugging Percentage) to be more correlated to fantasy points on FanDuel, and a stat like AVE (Batting Average) to be more correlated to fantasy points on DraftKings.

Differences For Pitchers Between FanDuel and DraftKings

The main difference between the two scoring systems here, is what pitchers actually receive points for. In DraftKings, things like walks and hits allowed matter. They directly take fantasy points away from the pitcher. This is not the case in FanDuel. FanDuel really only looks at ER (Earned Runs Allowed), Strike Outs, and IP (Innings Pitched).

Because of these differences, we might expect pitchers with a low ERA (Earned Run Average), who pitch more innings, or who throw a lot of Strike Outs to be more valuable in FanDuel. Similarly, we might expect players with a low WHIP (Walks and Hits allowed per Inning Pitched) to be more valuable in DraftKings.

Final Thoughts on Scoring Differences

I do not want to go into too much detail on why these differences matter yet. I just wanted to get you thinking about them a bit now so you can keep that in mind as we build up to more detail on the topic.

Next, we are going to discuss the different game modes offered by FanDuel and DraftKings. Similar to the scoring differences, we will dive into how the differences in rules between game modes will impact our lineup creating strategy. If you want to be notified via email when these posts go up, just put your information in the form below and I’ll let you know as I post them.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: FanDuel vs DraftKings Scoring for MLB
Click here for next post: DFS Contest Types: Tournaments vs 50/50s
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

FanDuel vs DraftKings Scoring for MLB

We should start by discussing the difference between the scoring systems used for FanDuel vs DraftKings. Their scoring for MLB (baseball) contests are similar, but not exactly the same. We will need to keep these differences in mind as we build our FanDuel lineup optimizer. And you will need to keep them in mind if you plan to adapt the methods I discuss to use them in DraftKings.

FanDuel vs DraftKings Scoring for MLB

FanDuel Scoring for MLB

As of the time of this writing, the table below shows the fantasy points received for each stat a player records.

HittersPitchers
1B (Single) = +3 pointsW (Win) = +6 points
2B (Double) = +6 pointsQuality Start = +4 points
3B (Triple) = +9 pointsER (Earned Run) = -3 points
HR (Home Run) = +12 pointsSO (Strikeout) = +3 points
RBI (Run Batted In)= +3.5 pointsIP (Innings Pitched) = +3 points*
R (Run) = +3.2 points
BB (Walk) = +3 points
SB (Stolen Base) = +6 points
HBP (Hit by Pitch) = +3 points
Source: https://www.fanduel.com/rules

* Fractional scoring per out.
Notes: Quality Start is awarded to a starting pitcher who completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs.

DraftKings Scoring for MLB

HittersPitchers
1B (Single) = +3 pointsW (Win) = +4 points
2B (Double) = +5 pointsER (Earned Run) = -2 points
3B (Triple) = +8 pointsSO (Strikeout) = +2 points
HR (Home Run) = +10 pointsIP (Innings Pitched) = +2.25 points (+0.75 Pts / Out)
RBI (Run Batted In)= +2 pointsHit Against = -0.6 points
R (Run) = +2 pointsBase on Balls Against (Walk) = -0.6 points
BB (Walk) = +2 pointsHit Batsman (HBP Allowed) = -0.6
SB (Stolen Base) = +5 pointsComplete Game = +2.5 points
HBP (Hit by Pitch) = +2 pointsComplete Game Shutout = +2.5 points
No Hitter = +5 points
Source: https://www.draftkings.com/help/rules/mlb

Notes: Hitting statistics for Pitchers will not be counted, and Pitching statistics for Hitters will not be counted.

Which will we use?

For the posts that will follow, we will be using FanDuel scoring. However, feel free to consider how the methods described in these posts can be adapted to the DraftKings scoring. If you are a DraftKings player, or prefer that scoring system, I will do my best to present the topics we use in a way that you can use them yourself.

It is my goal for this series of posts that you will be able to take the methods I use and write about to do your own experiments. This means it should be simple for you to change the points received for each stat category and create your own system for DraftKings or any other Daily Fantasy Sports site.

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here for previous post: Introduction to DFS Picks with Math
Click here for next post: How Scoring Differences in FanDuel vs DrafKings Impact Our Optimizer
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.

Introduction to DFS Picks With Math

As a math tutor, people have always asked me: how is calculus used in real life? There are many examples of calculus in the real world, and statistics in the real world too. These applications appear in all kinds of industries, and overlapping with other sciences. However, there is one field that has always interested me most: sports.

I have always been fascinated by people using statistics and math to predict the outcome of sporting events. Or even to evaluate the performance of players, their impact on the outcome of the game, and their value to their team. However, I do not work in the sports world. I do not need to inform decisions about what players Billy Bean wanted to sign. I have no input on how big of a contract the Atlanta Braves should offer their 1st baseman with a career .859 OPS and a .234 strike out rate.

But what I can do is play fantasy sports. I can investigate how to construct the best possible lineup in a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) slate on FanDuel, and actually use the knowledge I gain from that investigation. So that’s what I have decided to do.

Mission Statement

We will build the best FanDuel MLB lineup optimizer. Since we will be building it from scratch, we should have the best free DFS lineup optimizer on the internet by the time we’re done with this. I invite you to join me on this journey, and we’ll see what we can learn together. Let’s get started!

Keep in mind, I will be showing you investigative techniques that you could apply to DraftKings as well. Due to slight scoring or lineup differences between FanDuel and DraftKings, you may need to adjust our model a bit. However, the overall ideas should be the same.

My goal with this series of posts is simple. These posts will inspire college algebra and calculus students to learn the basics taught in their required coursework, so that they can build on it with interesting, real-world applications like the ones discussed in this series.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article, or any other content on this site or my YouTube channel should be interpreted as financial or gambling advise. This content is all created for educational and entertainment purposes. We will be investigating how to evaluate DFS MLB lineups mathematically in order to maximize the chances of winning a large tournament on FanDuel. If you decide to use these methods to create your own lineups and enter them in paid contests, please be smart, be safe, and only play with money you can afford to lose. There are no guarantees here.

Want to Play Along?

If you want to play along and enter some FanDuel lineups of your own as we conduct this investigation, you can use my FanDuel referral link here to get a deposit bonus. You should just need to deposit at least $15 within 30 days of signing up, and you’ll get a $15 bonus added to your account if you use that link.

Click here to view next post: FanDuel vs DraftKings Scoring for MLB
Click here to view the Table of Contents for other DFS Picks With Math posts.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links or referral links, meaning I would get a small commission for your purchase at no additional cost to you.