DraftKings Rule Changes For 2016 And Their Impact On DFS Strategy

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This past offseason, DraftKings announced four different changes to their rules for Daily Fantasy Baseball. Although nothing too drastic, like getting rid of the second pitcher or adding relievers, each rule change stands on its own and needs a bit of scrutiny as we set our daily DFS lineups. The 10 positions that are filled during a daily draft are as follows:

P, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF

Let's take a look at these changes and how each now impacts the strategy of picking players and setting your lineups.

DraftKings Rule Changes

1) Limit of 5 players stacked per team (changed from 6) 

This definitely adds another layer of competition. There will now be a ton of overlap because of this rule change, as multiple users will go for the safest plays, more so earlier in the season. The first five batters of a stacked lineup that are facing a shaky pitcher will likely be highly owned. We're all creatures of habit, and enjoy perceived security a lot more than chance, especially when money is involved.

The Toronto Blue Jays are a perfect example. When healthy, the 1-5 looks like this: Kevin Pillar, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki. Scary. Just plain scary. And if the Jays are visiting Yankee Stadium with CC Sabathia on the mound, we can only imagine how many Daily Fantasy lineups will consist of the five aforementioned names.

According to FantasyLabs, there is a huge drop-off in production from picking 6-9 hitters instead of those penciled in as 1-5. Which means versatility is key here since the majority of owners will be targeting lineups like the one above. This doesn't mean that 6-9 hitters can't produce. It's just a matter of picking the right ones, as goes for the rest of your lineup.

Owners will also likely face some difficulty affording 1-5, which will force fading to 6-9 in the case of a stack. It was obviously easier to mix things up and be different from everybody else when the stack limit was six last season. Now, a potential scenario can emerge where you risk a ton of fantasy points by leaving out a guy batting in one of the first five spots in an order.

Like I said, more competitive.

2) Lineup must have players from 2 separate teams (down from 3)

This rule change targets days with shorter, two, three or four game slates, more than a day where every team is scheduled to play. If a game is being played somewhere like Yankees Stadium or Coors Field, both very generous hitting ballparks, then owners will likely draft the 1-3 or 1-4 from both teams. Lineups will now be a lot more similar on days with not that many games, once again encouraging individuality.

Possibly the most important part of this rule change is that you now won't be forced to draft a hitter that's facing one of your pitchers. Last season, you had no choice.

3) No lost points for caught stealing

There is now no category that can deduct points for any hitter position. Four separate scoring categories for pitchers, earned run allowed (-2), hit against (-0.6), walk against (-0.6), hit batsman (-0.6), can deduct points from a lineup. So what's the smarter move here? To focus heavier on hitting or pitching?

There's no right or wrong answer, but since any given batter can provide your lineup with points on any given night, without the risk of losing points, it could be wise to spend down a bit on hitters and spend up on pitchers. Of course there are other factors involved, heavy or light slate, who's playing, matchups, etc., but in general, this is likely your safest bet.

Drafting an unproven or shaky pitcher just to free up cap space for Mike Trout might come back to haunt the rest of your lineup. A busted start resulting in six earned runs, eight hits, and two walks can really leave an unfixable dent in your score.

A lot of leadoff hitters will be drafted regularly. According to FantasyLabs, 70% of stolen bases came from the leadoff spot last season. So in order to stick out, look for players, in any part of a batting order, that have proven the capability to steal bases on the regular.

The Bottom Line

DraftKings has listened to its users, as most people requested these changes. It will be interesting to see how much they affect consistency and cashing in general. Baseball is one of, if not, the most intricate sports, consisting of a ton of Daily Fantasy options at every position each night. It's always best follow trends and study matchups. These rule changes have simply shaken things up a bit, but the game theory is mostly the same.

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