Each Sunday we are going to bring you our SLUMP BUSTER article, where we will be outlining what it took to win some of the tournaments we see around the industry. We will go over what type of pitchers we see on the winning rosters to give you an idea of who you should look to target. We will also take a look at the hitters and roster construction technique’s our winners have used to take down the big prizes. Far too often player’s neglect to put the same amount of time in analyzing their lineup choices after the fact as they do in selecting players before lineup lock.
This week I wanted to outline a point I have received a few questions about. When Playing in GPPs or trying to bed super models, SIZE MATTERS. The way you go about playing in tournaments should be a direct correlation to the number of entrants. Let’s take a look at how this plays out.
In order to illustrate the point, I am going to look at a few different tournament fields and try to show you what I mean by SIZE MATTERS when you build your tournament rosters. To do so, we will look at a 10 man 50/50, a 200 man mini moonshot, and the biggest moonshot from Sunday’s action as well.
10 man 50/50 – For those who play the $5 and $10 50/50s on DK, you know it is more of a cash game lineup that many use to attack them. In the pool I looked at today ($5 10 man), 70% of the field had Johnny Cueto. Another 50% of the field had Wacha, and then we had various other guys with 10-30% ownership as well. This is why I said it’s more of a cash game approach as Johnny Cueto was the most probable high upside play today on DK. Obviously it did not work out, but that does not change the fact he was the right start. If Cueto does what is expected of him, he would be fine. He projected as a 20-30 DK point scorer today, which was obviously way off, but still made sense to use him. Even if he did blow up like today, there’s still a few people guaranteed to make the money with him. Same goes for a guy like Wacha and to a lesser extent for guys like Gray (20%) and Shields (30%). Of the twenty pitchers rostered on these ten teams, 17 of them were one of the top five priced guys today. 2 of the three guys who were not in the top five that were used returned a single digit. As bad as Cueto was today, not using him was not killer when others had a similair score from their guy. In these smaller fields, you want to play it more like a cash game. This also translates well to something like a 34 man $33 satellite or an 80 man Q on DK. You do not need to get too cute with your lineup. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s obviously a little different for a tournament (20% payout) and a cash games like these 50/50s, so let’s look at the small and large tourney’s for some comparisons.
200 man Mini Moonshot – Cueto having a bad day made this easy, but you did not need the top pitcher to make the top 10. Despite the Gem put up by Sonny Gray, we still only saw a few rosters with him in the top 10 here. He was 27% owned and on only three top 10 rosters. The one constant was no Cueto who was over 40% owned in this one. The combo’s of Shields/Wacha dominated top 10s, despite neither really going off. There was some Karns, some Happ, and some Hammels mixed around, but despite Gray doubling their scores, Wacha and Shields both represented a good deal of top 10s. This shows me that you do not need to be looking for crazy pitching punts to win smaller fields, but it does pay to find another way besides going CHALK.
23,000 man tournament ($60K Moonshot) – Now here is when you needed the big stud of the day to make the top spots. * of the top 10 rosters here had Sonny Gray on them. At only 28% ownership, that’s a strong correlation between having Gray and winning big money. Gray put up 33 on the day in a big 10 strikeout, seven inning, no run performance. He was paired with a number of guys from Karnes to Sanchez to Teheran on the day, but the noticeable absence was Johnny Cueto. It’s only a one game sample size as are all of these so far, but it looks like there’s merit in fading the expensive chalk and going for another of the top 5 guys to pair with a mid ranged price pitcher. That fits with what we have seen in recent weeks as well here with a guy other than the big stud and a solid contribution from a cheaper pitcher being the combos that won.
In order to look for patterns and prove any kind of validity here, we need to look back at the rest of the week and see if any of these assumptions hold water. I play 50/50s and the large moonshot daily. I also play in various other tournaments ranging from Satellites to small GPPs that have a few hundred entries or less. So here’s what we found:
Chris Archer was the top performer last Sunday with 31 fantasy points and he made 7 of the top 10 rosters in the moonshot with ownership rates in the high 20-low 30s across different price points. Like Gray today, he was in the top 5 of potential starters, yet was not the highest priced or highest owned guy. He was linked with everyone from Arrieta to Vloquez to Liriano on those winners. All three guys were solid on the day. Arrieta was a little pricey, yet came up with 21 DK points. Liriano had the best start outside of Archer with 27, and Edinson Volquez only had 18, but that was enough with his $6K price tag to pay it off and be a plus play in tournaments.
This same theory held on April 29th with Gerritt Cole as well. He was not the top priced or top owned guy, yet made most of the top 10 rosters in the moonshot that day. The same held on April 27ths early slate as well, with guys like Shields and Hammels being towards the top of the price range, yet well below the top priced and owned David Price. Shields and Hammels were paired on all the top 5 rosters that day and one of the two was on every top 10. It held again on the 28th with Cueto being on 6 of the top 10 rosters, yet being lesser owned than Kershaw who was the top priced and top used guy. Kershaw dd not pitch badly, but Cueto was the top dog on the day and carried a lot of the big scoring rosters. Liriano was another guy on 5/2 who was in the same boat. He was cheaper and less used than guys like Kluber and Arrieta, yet found himself the top scorer of the studs and on over half of the top 10 rosters in larger (1000+ entry pools).
As for the smaller pools, Kershaw was real represented on his days and we saw a lot of cashes yesterday with Arrieta and even some with Kluber who was blown up. If you were in a 10 or 20 man 50/50, you saw Kluber over 50% and some still cashed with him. Kershaw was near 70% in his last outing in the smaller pools while both guys were in the 30% range for large field tournaments that day. It helped to have some of the other guys, but none were over 30% owned and you either hit or missed, which is tough to do in a cash game.
Again, in the middle tiered tournaments like the 34 man satellite and some of the 100 man tournaments and Qs, we still saw a lot more of the guys below Kershaw, although he did make 3 of the top ten in both 100 mans on his day. Fading the top priced guy for a secondary guy, Like CUETO, in this case led to 7 winning rosters in one and 8 in the other. Same was true of Sale during his last start. Fading him or not cashing were your two options.
So here’s the summary of what we saw.
For smaller field cash games, 1-50 entrants, it pays to play it safe with more of a cash game lineup. This goes for pitching especially. The top priced and top owned guy are likely the same here. Trying to pick an SP2 that is cheap can really hurt you. For cash games, the numbers and recommendation is to play and PAY UP for two studs. Even if one gets blown up, his high ownership still allows you to cash based off the looks of recent winners.
For smaller field tournaments 75-200 People, it seems to make sense to fade the chalk but again stick to high probability combo. Taking two guys in the top 10 for price was the most seen victorious pairing on winning rosters. Fading Cueto for guys like Gray and Wacha worked on Sunday. Fading Kershaw the other night for $2K savings on Cueto and pairing him with the guys mention above worked. When thinking about roster construction for a tournament like the FBWC Qualifier, it makes sense to pay up for a good pairing of pitchers. These tournaments are not large enough where you need to go super risky and try to catch lightning in a bottle with a $6K SP2 who throws a gem. Stick to what you know, look for value and just fading the highest owned guy seems to be enough to differentiate you and help you get a winner.
For Larger Fields, you really need to nail the top pitcher on the day regardless of price. It would be nice to be the top priced guy, but so far this season I think only 3 of those guys really were worth it. You are better off looking for a secondary stud in the 2-6 position on the price chart and than going down and pairing your SP1 stud with a mid range value play. These guys usually range between $6000-$8000. They have the potential to return 3 or 4 points per $1000 of cost and make excellent bookends with your ttop performing high priced stud. In order to get this top scoring guy, we noticed a high strikeout number is basically an essential. If you do not think a guy can K a batter per inning or more, then he probably should not be the higher priced SP1 on your roster if you really like your money and want to keep it.
So in summation, we want to be more cash game oriented in our lineups in the smaller fields. The smaller the field, the more chalk we should be playing. Does not always work, but the downside to missing on a highly owned chalk play is not major for you. To win a GPP you really need to have the perfect combination, or the guys who are highly owned to all fall flat. The larger the field the more we need to take chances. A pairing of guys 2-8 on the list makes sense in a 80 man Q or 100 man tourney if you want to fade the chalk to get an edge. In a pool of 1,000 entries or more though, the best combination of winners seems to be one high priced stud (top 5, but not the most expensive) with one value play in the $6K-$7500 range. Pairing one of the top options who winds up with the top score and linking him to a solid value guy who will not hurt you seems to be how to attack these. If gives you the differentiation you need to get there, and also allows you added money to spend up on bats. Again, spending up on bats is risky, but without doing so you lack the offensive firepower to get things done. Occasionally a Felix or a Kershaw will go nuts and get you 40, but on those days there’s ⅓ to ⅕ of the field on them as well and it does not really move the needle. These studs still fail to reach value in more than 7 of 10 recent games, so they are twice as likely to fail as succeed for the price. Not that 20 DK points is not good, but if I pay $11,000 I need 33 or more and many of them fall short on that metric.
As we said, size matters and is directly correlated with how much risk you should take on your starting pitcher on DK. On a one pitcher site like FanDuel or a two pitcher sit with tight pricing like Aces, these analysis doesn’t hold up. It’s DraftKings specific and backed up by recent data.