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Basic Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) strategy for FanDuel baseball

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: SB Nation is hosting a $6,000 one-day Fantasy Baseball league for MLB Opening Day on FanDuel. It's $5 to join and first place wins $1,000 and four tickets to a game. Enter now!

Here are some basic April DFS tips that can be helpful for fantasy owners new to Daily Fantasy Sports:

Know the scoring criteria

It's really important to know FanDuel's specific scoring system, because their scoring criteria varies from other daily outlets and season long fantasy sites. Base your evaluations of players on the scoring criteria for FanDuel:


1B = 1pt
2B = 2pts
3B = 3pts
HR = 4pts
RBI = 1pt
R = 1pt
BB = 1pt
SB = 2pts
HBP = 1pt
Out (calculated as at bats - hits) = -.25pt


W = 4pts

ER = -1pt

SO = 1pt

IP = 1pt*

It's best to target hitters with power and/or speed in high run scoring environments (more on that below) who are facing bad pitchers that don't miss bats. Facing pitchers who don't miss bats is a good thing because it allows more good fortune to happen on balls in play. If you're facing a high strikeout guy, the odds of a well placed single or double go down because less balls are put into play.

It's best to target pitchers who 1. miss bats; 2. are on a high run scoring team to give them plenty of run support; and 3. go deep into games. Pitchers who miss bats are more likely to have high strikeout totals. FanDuel pitcher wins are worth 4 points, so put a priority on rostering a pitcher who is more likely to win a decision against the opposing team. And since innings pitched are worth 1 point each, try to find an efficient strikeout pitcher that won't be at 100 pitches in the 6th inning. This is where it's better to use strikeout rate (K%) over strikeouts per 9 (K/9) in trying to determine a good strikeout pitcher to go after.

Not missing on the pitcher you pick is especially important because you only get one of them. Don't pick a lousy pitcher who has low odds of turning in a good performance just to save a few bucks.

Park factors

Park factors can help give an important edge that can be the difference between cashing and not cashing, and April's weather changes park factors a bit. The ball does not carry outdoors in the colder, wetter month of April like it will during the summer, so I like to target hitters indoors in April. Specifically, these indoor parks: 1. Chase Field, 2. Rogers Centre, 3. Miller Park.

All three of these indoor parks promote high run scoring environments to various degrees. Chase Field is the most extreme park effect wise of these three. It has similar park effects to Coors Field, although not as extreme. The high altitude of Chase Field decreases air pressure, which gives fly balls less wind resistance and therefore causes them to travel further than a normal ballpark near sea level. The low humidity also causes dry air, which makes gripping the baseball more difficult, leading to more erratic command. There is also less movement on pitches, making them easier to square up. It's a hitter's haven, and a good hitter can turn into a great hitter playing a series here. Road hitters, I think, benefit more from this effect because they're used to pitches breaking normally at sea level, and when pitches suddenly don't move as much on a road trip to Arizona, it comes in like a beach ball.

As an example, I have made it a point to roster Brandon Belt against Josh Collmenter in all of my DFS lineups on opening day. I have also put Buster Posey into a bunch of them as well. They both check all the boxes; power, high run scoring environment, facing a below average pitcher who doesn't miss bats.

Targeting hitters indoors in the parks listed above will also help avoid rainouts and delays.

For pitchers, I like to target players who are facing high strikeout/weak offenses, preferably in low run scoring environments in the National League. Starting pitchers in National League games face the weak hitting pitcher 2-3 times per start, drastically improving chances at gaining an extra strikeout or two. Avoid Coors Field and Chase Field starts like the plague.

Most parks on the west coast are good to target, because batted balls don't carry as well on the west coast as they do elsewhere, supposedly due to the marine layer that settles in at game time for night games. Parks like AT&T, PetCo, and Dodger Stadium fit this bill in the NL, and Angel Stadium, SafeCo, and the O.Co Coliseum fit this bill in the AL.

Use platoon splits to your advantage

For extra value at the margins, focus on matching a hitter with extreme platoon splits against a pitcher who also has extreme platoon splits that favor the hitter in the matchup. Desmond Jennings becomes almost a must start against lefties. Another example is Adam Lind, who crushes righties but cannot hit lefties. Starting him against a right handed pitcher who has poor platoon splits against lefties is a fantastic way to squeeze out value at a discount. On the contrary, a slugger like Lucas Duda put up great overall numbers last year, but his stats against LHP were pretty bad. Don't get stuck using a platoon hitter against his bad side.

Opposing lineup construction can also dramatically change the prognosis of DFS scoring of a starting pitcher with platoon splits. For example, Dallas Keuchel's K% was 24.4% against lefties last year and 16% against righties, so using him against a LHB heavy lineup makes him a much more valuable pitcher in FanDuel than against a RHB heavy lineup.

Lineups are tweeted out by beat writers a few hours before lineups lock, so it's a good idea to double check the lineup card before finalizing your lineup to make sure that you aren't rostering anyone who isn't playing.

Big tournament strategies

In big tournaments I like to use productive players who are less likely to be chosen by most of the other competitors in the tournament. Tons of rosters will be filled with guys like Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, ect. Finding productive, under the radar guys will set you apart, and you can use platoon splits to achieve this.

Process vs. Results

Before I end the article, I have to mention this: there's a difference between bad process and bad results. In baseball, the best hitters fail to produce a hit 70% of the time. Don't get too hung up on the results. Keep a laser focus on good process and the results will come.