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DFS Baseball 101: Starter Kit Part 3

Michael Rathburn

Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

OK, so my initial plan for writing in the 2017 baseball season was a starter kit article the first week and then move on to the "deeper dive" stuff I have done in the past. But I have received a lot of positive feedback on the series so far, so last week I did part 2. Again, I thought that would be the end of it, but more and more people are asking me to develop more of these tips each week, so let’s keep it going. Here are six more tips for beginners that veteran players can also learn from.

1. Salaries are softer at the beginning of the season, so do not worry about using 100 percent of your cap.

New players often feel they need to "MAX" out their salary cap to have the best lineup. That is not the case, especially early in the season. This rule is subjective in nature, but I typically try to have less than $1,000 leftover in a DFS baseball lineup. The worst thing you can do is constantly tinker with a lineup that you already were comfortable with. You will watch the player you took out all night to see if you should have left them in.

In cash games, I like to try to get under $500 left over, and in tournaments I’m more liberal to leave up to $900. In cash games, you are trying to construct the safest lineup possible, and the higher the salary usually the better player. In tournaments, you might have money leftover because you took four players from the same team in a cheap stack or used some minimum salary players in good spots. Stick with those plays because the lineup construction is more important overall. In other words, don’t blow up the stack just because you have $900 leftover.

2. Be careful of listening to "too many" experts.

I talked about this last week on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with RotoWire's Chris Liss and Jeff Erickson. I do my own research and do look at some DFS content sites for statistics, but for the most part I stay away from letting others sway me off my own research.

Now this might sound egotistical, but if you spend an hour or two each day researching and building a lineup, would you then blow it up after reading an article or listening to someone else’s take on why you should jump off that player?

Part of your research process could be that you follow a few writers’ content and use that in your daily research, which is perfectly fine, and I would encourage you do that. But my point is, stick with the process/people you trust and have helped you win. Do not jump off or on a player because someone else said "I like that guy today." Everyone wants to be a "DFS Tout" these days, and often I hear advice being given without any context, and that is the most dangerous.

An example of this would be Chase Anderson. I’ve been seeing a lot of DFS content sites regurgitating the same data on Anderson being a reverse splits guy and how the numbers are bad. Well, if you look at what Anderson did his last 15 starts in 2016 (ERA around 3.00) and his first two starts in 2017, you can see that he has been a different pitcher. If you have continued to stack against Anderson this year, you have probably lost on all three nights.

3. Play in Beginner contests.

I did not cover this in the previous two weeks, but both DraftKings and FanDuel offer Beginner contests. Make sure you are only playing in those until you have reached your limit.

4. Enter contests the night before or early in the day.

The reason you want to enter contests early is two-fold. One, if you wait until an hour before the games start, there won’t be much left and you are stuck playing suboptimal contests. The good smaller-field GPPs and large-field single entry 50/50-double ups fill quickly. The second part is you can sometimes avoid a lot of the sharks in those day-before contests. Most "pros" or sharks are entering contests the morning of that day’s slate.

You can always enter a dummy lineup on any site and if you are not able to do enough research you can cancel your entries. Now, cancelling entries is a little tricky. On DraftKings, you can only cancel an entry if the contest is not full. On FanDuel, you can cancel an entry but you have to go through the Desktop site. I have not been able to figure out how to cancel through the app. If anyone knows how to, please post in the comments section.

5. Use your site rewards (FDP/FPP) to enter GPPs.

GPPs can kill your bankroll quickly, so I try to save up my FanDuel Points or Frequent Player Points (DraftKings). This way you don’t have to dip into your cash game bankroll on a given day, play in a $1 or $2 100-man on FanDuel or the $1-$5 58-man on DraftKings.

Again, you want to avoid the 10,000 mass entry tournaments, because your one single bullet is not going to have much of a shot anyway. It is all about building the bankroll, so how about taking first place out of 100 and winning 20x your money?

6. Play Triple Up Contests before Tournaments.

If you are getting comfortable in the double up/50-50 contests, the next step should be to start playing in the triple ups. These are a nice bridge between cash games and GPPs because they pay out three times your entry fee with about 30 percent of the field cashing. The reason triple ups can be a good bankroll is that you get 3x your money no matter where you finish. The lowest pay line in a GPP usually is 2x your money and pays out 12-25 percent of the field depending on the site. Yes, there is upside of 20x or more if you finish in the very top percent, but we are all about building the bankroll in the beginning of the season.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.