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DFS Strategy Analysis: How to Approach Salary Cap Leagues, Part 2

Andrew Friedman

The Three Main Strategies

When playing salary cap leagues, it is important to have a strategy in mind. Depending on the day, it will be better to have a balanced approach rather than a lineup full of studs and scrubs.

On other days, there will be a slew of slumping sluggers available for cheap because of their recent struggles. The question is, should you pick them and hope they bust out of the slump or run for the hills from their cold bat?

Here are the three main strategies the pro daily fantasy players consider when filling out their teams.


1. Studs and Scrubs - A popular approach by many fantasy experts in daily salary cap leagues is called the Studs and Scrubs approach. Basically, you spend the majority of your salary cap on a couple pricey, but reliable, “studs”. The rest is evenly distributed on “scrubs” whose production will just be a bonus. This can be incredibly effective if you know which scrubs to take, but most people don’t. If you decide to play in non double-up leagues, you will want to use this approach because it is your best chance to have a fantasy explosion. Example: All your stars play incredibly well and your scrubs each collect a couple hits. Playing this way at first is reckless and winning is unlikely, so stick with the double-up leagues until you are feeling more comfortable to try the riskier leagues. Read our daily columns to find out who the best valued scrubs are for each day.

2. Balanced Approach - The safest bet for production is using a balanced approach. Whenever I use this approach I finish in the 35-60 range. So while it won’t always help you double-up, you usually will win with the right lineup. You may add one “star” but for the most part you’ll fill out your lineup with the likes of Alex Rios instead of Carlos Gonzales or AJ Pierzynski instead of Buster Posey. But the nice part is that you have players that will pick up the slack for the others. In a stars and scrubs lineup, you need the stars to perform well. If two of your stars struggle, you’ll likely lose. The balanced approach is best for beginners. So start slow and use a balanced approach. We will give you some players that qualify for this approach every day in our articles.

3. Stock Market Approach - My most commonly used strategy I’ve decided to name the "stock market" approach. What do I mean by this? Four words: but low, sell high.  It doesn't make sense to trade for a player when his value is peaking. But it DOES make sense to trade for a slumping star with potential to bust out. Fanduel’s algorithm (what controls player values) is based on recent performances. Player A might have a rough homestand (1-12, 0 HRs, 1 BB, 0 RBI) and watch his stock fall dramatically before the next home game. Player B may have an awesome homestand (6-14, 2 HRs, 7 RBI). Player A is Albert Pujols, Player B is Ike Davis. And because of their recent performances, Davis now costs more than Pujols. But I would much rather have Pujols than Davis, regardless of recent performance. This strategy has worked out incredibly well for me in the past and our daily fantasy articles will include these players who have seen their stock fall.

Last few bonus tips:

  • Pick the players you want before even looking at the salary cap. Once you have filled out your roster, look to see if you are over or under the limit. If over, keep the players you really want and adjust those you aren’t confident playing.
  • Don’t worry about spending the whole salary cap. Just because you can spend so much on players doesn’t mean you have to. I had a buddy who thought he would win because he filled out a “perfect” roster that used every penny of the salary cap. He lost big because his “perfect” lineup had multiple players with awful matchups. Don’t be a salary slave, avoid the obsession with the salary cap. It’s a limit, not a requirement.
  • Make sure you’re lineup doesn’t have injured players. Google search MLB injury report to make sure you don’t lose because you have a virtual empty roster spot.
  • Sometimes players get days off for rest. Usually we will know about it the day before or on the morning of gameday. It’s just another reason to check with us before setting your lineup.

Feel free to send me your daily lineup questions on twitter at @RotoCole.

If you missed Part 1 of's Daily League Analysis: How to Approach Salary Cap Leagues, it's right here.