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Grinding For Gold: A Daily Fantasy Column

Introducing a new Monday column at Fake Teams. Grinding for Gold will cover the ins and outs of Daily Fantasy Sports (aka DFS).

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, Daily Fantasy Sports is a lot like gambling. There, I aired it out.

But according to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, DFS is as legal as using a crosswalk or smoking salvia (legal in most states?). A number of sites have begun to provide DFS content, and from the comments I've seen on both twitter and said affiliate sites (Fake Teams is not involved in any affiliate marketing program), some see DFS as a game that requires less skill and patience than traditional fantasy. I understand the arguments, but disagree. While there is certainly more variance, DFS does require skill and persistence. It requires we take what we think we know about fantasy and turn it on its head.

For those of you unfamiliar, it's pretty simple: you go to a site that offers the game (FanDuel, DraftStreet, and DraftKings are a few of the biggies), enter a league (with varying teams and prize-pools), and set a lineup within the salary parameters. If you score the most points in a given day, you win big. I prefer guaranteed prize pools (GPP's) where you go up against thousands of other players, supplementing those with 50/50's where a top half finish allows you to double up.

The Basics:

Get to Know Your Platoon Splits

Unless you're in leagues with deep benches, most of us don't get the chance to use platoons in our fantasy lineups. In DFS, knowing platoon splits is crucial. For example, a split most are aware of is Shin Soo Choo's against lefties. For his career, he's 8% below league average when facing them. Putting a high priced Choo in against a lefty is in essence raising a white flag for your DFS squad. Conversely, a pair of lowly Marlins crush southpaws. Journeyman Jeff Baker and Marcell Ozuna are 42% and 51% better than league with a lefty on the mound. Baker and Ozuna essentially morph themselves into Edwin Encarnacion and David Ortiz. This kind of knowledge is crucial to DFS success.

The Salary Trap

To piggyback on the last point, don't be a slave to your salary cap. If you create a lineup that's 1,000 $ under salary, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad one. Most of my high scoring lineups have left salary on the table. As noted above, just because a player is more expensive and generally more talented doesn't mean they're a better play on a given day.

No Strings Attached

In DFS you have to ride hot streaks. One thing that has held me from DFS glory has been my attachment to large samples and talent level. Don't be afraid to roll a player out there, even a crappy player, if they're putting up stats. It's true that nothing gold can stay, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't ride the wave all the way to its filthy end.

Bankroll Management

The odds of winning GPP's are pretty low. Every player of yours has to hit on that day, and a few of them have to hit big. Therefore, to stay out of the red, it's crucial you a. don't play beyond your means, and b. consistently double up in 50/50's. While GPP's are more fun, playing 50/50's is what will keep your bankroll in the black.


One of the best ways to get a leg up on the competition is to make sure that you're always playing players who are in the lineup. This seems like a basic idea, but I see it all the time: a guy who plays a catcher getting an off day or starts a pitcher who's getting rained out. Also, I'm an avid user of SI's home run weather app, which allows you pick out match-ups that will be amenable to run scoring on a given day.

Tuesday/Wednesday Match-ups

Tuesday: Two young flame-throwers, James Paxton and Yordano Ventura are interesting plays. Ventura takes on the Rays at home for his season debut against Chris Archer (who may also be a good play). Paxton takes on the Angels at Safeco. The Angels have been slow out the gate; Paxton dominated them in Anaheim last week. Two ripe games for hitters are Jose Quintana v. Franklin Morales at Coors and the Astros' have LHP Brett Oberholtzer slated to the face the Blue Jays in Toronto. I'll be throwing out a number of JOSE-JOSE lineups (Bautista & Abreu).

Wednesday: Danny Salazar v. the Padres in CLE is the matchup I'll have multiple shares of. Salazar doesn't have an inflated price tag yet and the combination of facing a very poor offense in his friendly home park is drool worthy. For hitters, I'd stick to Toronto and Coors again, mixed with some Fenway as well. As always, check weather conditions and lineups prior to take off.

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