MLB DFS: Cash Game And 50/50 Strategies For Draftkings And FanDuel

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This is a free article from our MLB premium DFS strategy series. See the rest of our premium DFS strategy articles here.

Hey RotoBallers! Hopefully by this point you're loving your investment in our premium content, and why wouldn't you be?! This is some of the best DFS advice on the web. However, all of this research and preparation is for nothing if you can't make a DFS profit. As you may have found out already, "cash games" (contests in which close to or exactly 50% of entries get paid) are the easiest way to do that. However, just because cash games give you a better chance to make some money doesn't mean it's going to be a walk in the park. Let me lay down the law in terms of what you'll need in order to profit playing cash games in MLB DFS this season.

 

Pay Up For Pitching

While high risk/high reward lineups bring home the dough in GPPs (Guaranteed Prize Pools), you don't need to beat everyone to be successful in a cash game. Therefore, you want a safe play whenever possible in hopes that you can stay with the pack. The key here is that landing the right pitcher(s) in cash games is almost necessary. While it won't guarantee you money, having your pitcher(s) get shelled will nearly guarantee a loss.

So, if landing the right pitcher(s) is necessary, then just pick on the worst offense every night, right? Well, not always. Most of the time I will take the proven ace in an average matchup over the pitcher who is third or fourth in his rotation with a seemingly easy matchup. The baseball season is very, very long. Outliers happen more often than in other sports. The Phillies, while potentially holding the worst offense in baseball, can still score eight runs on any given night. It happens, so pay up for the ace.

Most times that choice will be obvious, but it will be tempting to go with a lesser-skilled pitcher against a seemingly worse team in order to spend more money on hitters. While that will work some of the time, the odds say you're better off finding value in hitters and paying up for the sure thing at the pitching spot.

The game changes a bit on sites like DraftKings that require two pitchers (notice I was typing "pitcher(s)" above). It's not always sensible to roll out two aces in cash games. One of them may under perform, and that would likely leave you on the outside looking in. On these sites, you need to have one ace, but you should probably pair that ace with the safest value pitcher possible. Scott Kazmir at home against the Brewers seems like an example of one that would make sense.

In summation, you want safety at the pitching spot. Whether it's occupied by one player or two, good pitching is not going to guarantee you a cash game win. A bad pitching performance, however, will lead to a bad DFS night 90% of the time.

 

Choose Your Hitters Like Billy Beane Would

The reason why paying up for the elite pitchers rather than the elite hitters is because the elite pitchers have a higher presumed floor. Even in a rough outing they're probably going to go five or six innings and get their share of strikeouts.

Elite hitters go 0-for-4 and 0-for-5 all the time. It happens. It happens even more often when you're a Pedro Alvarez-type player who is only good for that one home run each game. So, if you want to follow the trend of being safe like we did with pitchers, you are probably never rostering a player like Alvarez in your cash games

Instead, focus on players who are capable of getting on base often. No hitter has a guaranteed floor. Everyone is going to go hit-less and walk-less once in a while. But the key is to find the players who will rarely kill your team like that. Sure, the potential for home runs is intriguing and should play a small role, but you need security whenever possible in cash games.

On base percentage becomes very important in this process. Batters at the top of the order are likely OBP guys in the eyes of their managers, so use that to your advantage. If my outfielder goes 0-for-2 with two walks and a run, that's perfectly fine by me. If Chris Davis and Jose Altuve are the same price, I'm going to pay up for Altuve and find a cheaper first baseman who is more likely to not finish the game in the negatives (maybe an Eric Hosmer). Get it? OK cool.

 

Be Careful of Stacking

Our last emphasis for today will be on a strategy that kills cash game beginners all too often. In the game of MLB DFS, you'll hear the word "stacking" (using multiple players from the same team) thrown around in almost every piece of analysis available. Be aware of the fact that stacking is a tournament strategy only. Stacking in cash games is going to hurt you more often than not.

While it may seem logical to use all four batters at the top of the Cubs lineup when they are playing at Coors Field against a poor pitcher, this is not a safe cash game strategy. As I mentioned earlier, baseball is a fickle sport. It's still possible that Jordan Lyles has an OK game and only let's up one home run. In that case, three of your four hitters probably didn't meet your expectations. Even if Lyles gets shelled, it doesn't mean your particular players were a part of the run parade. Stacking is a very difficult strategy to nail down, which is why doing it successfully can win you thousands of dollars in big tournaments.

If your research leads you to believe that both Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are the best players at their positions on a given day, then fine. Use those two. I would stop there. You're better off finding a safe option elsewhere. That way, a surprise stellar outing from Lyles won't completely derail your cash game lineups. Find the best values at each position, and if the same team keeps popping up, pick your two favorite. That golden rule won't always be the best approach, but it keeps you from getting burned when the Rockies somehow beat the Cubs 2-1. It's baseball; it happens.

 

Don't Test Mother Nature

OK so I lied. I have to emphasize this point too. MLB DFS is unique in the sense that weather matters. If there is a possibility for severe thunderstorms in a certain game, stay away. In tournaments it may be worth the risk, as ownership will likely be low, but in cash games you can't afford a postponed game leaving you with a zero, or a pitcher not coming out after a two hour rain delay that started in the third inning. There are countless ways to monitor weather these days, so don't ignore Mother Nature.

 

 

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