Pitching In GPP Tournaments: Gaming The Market With A Contrarian Ace
The good news is the DFS industry has ballooned exponentially which has led to the influx of a bevy of analysts focusing on DFS and providing a treasure trove of information.
The bad news is the DFS industry has ballooned exponentially which has led to the influx of a bevy of analysts focusing on DFS and providing a treasure trove of information.
There are two reasons this is bad.
First, it levels the playing field for those that have been around to see DFS grow from fledgling to the talk-of-the-town. A strategy or a nuance that you discovered on your own is now conventional wisdom. Regardless of the platform, a strategy works best when using it puts you in the minority. It’s nothing more than Economics 101 – supply and demand.
Second, unfortunately, more analysis leads to lazy analysis. There’s less striving to produce something unique and cutting edge and instead more regurgitation.
On the other hand, that opens the door for those that take pride in being cutting edge and being innovative. Or, at the very least, original.
Humbly, I have always attempted to be ahead of the curve. I may not always have succeeded but the only way to find out is to ask (an attitude I wish I had back in high school with respect to dating, but I digress).
I’m setting myself for a big, fat egg-in-the-face scenario. To begin with, the notion I’m about to present is hardly worth this grandiose lede. Plus, I may be doing exactly what I just called lazy as admittedly, someone else may have already had the same epiphany I’m about to share. But I promise, it’s original thinking; I’m just not sure if I’m the first to notice and discuss this.
The party line in DFS baseball is to ignore cost and use an elite starting pitcher to anchor your cash teams while leaning to a cheaper, high-risk, high reward option for tourneys. On paper it makes sense and I don’t disagree.
But here’s the deal. At the root of success in DFS (or anything, for that matter) is exploiting market inefficiencies. Heck, this is really what Moneyball is all about. It’s not about OBP being good and bunting being bad. But again, I digress.
Right now, I see a gigantic market inefficiency with how hitters are priced. I’m not privy to how any of the sites concoct their pricing algorithm, but I suspect many are overlooking a very important issue; value is relative. It’s no secret that offense is down. The problem is, my sense is sites are setting prices based on each player’s performance in a vacuum and not incorporating some measure of being relative to the rest of the players.
By means of example, home runs are down 11 percent from last season. This means a 30 HR hitter last season is equivalent, in relative terms, to a 27 HR hitter this year. It may not seem like much, but extend an 11 percent difference across the board and a player averaging 4 FanDuel points last season would average about 3.6 points this season. If my hypothesis is correct, the cost of the 3.6 player is less than it would be for the same player averaging 4 points last year – BUT IT SHOULD BE THE SAME.
YES, I AM YELLING. MY CAPS LOCK DID NOT GET STUCK.
What I just described is a huge market inefficiency, especially with hitters. Pitchers are likely seeing their salaries increase commensurate with improved numbers but since there’s only one or two pitching spots and many more hitting, the pitching inequity does not counter that with hitting.
Bringing this back to the construction of a large scale GPP lineup, I’m not so sure trolling the bowels of the pitching inventory is now necessary. I’m not saying to use Clayton Kershaw or Felix Hernandez, though it can actually be justified in the present landscape. In a weird way, using Kershaw or The King in a tourney may indeed be a contrarian move which is beneficial.
The main point is you can still build a heckuva lineup of bats to support your upper tier arm based on the present pricing inefficiencies. Constructing a lineup for a large-scale tourney is no longer about rolling the dice on a subpar pitcher with a perceived favorable matchup then filling in with boom-or-bust hitters.
The current market pricing lends itself to a lot more bang-for-the-buck filtering, much like what is done in cash games. Sure, in order to take down a GPP you’ll need some contrarian spots too. Just not as many.
So while others are basing their advice on yesterday’s news, I’m going to suggest using a more established pitcher in tournaments and to work extra hard finding the hitters than are unjustly priced below their production – relative to the field. And not for nothing, this is a philosophy shared by the Fantasy Alarm DFS Playbook, though it may be for different reasons.
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Affectionately known as Lord Zola, Todd was the 2013 Fantasy Sports Writers Association recipient of the Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year, Web. He's been with Mastersball since its inception in 1997 and presently Todd writes for the ESPN Insider and Baseball HQ. Todd is a frequent guest on SiriusXM and is a regular on HQ Radio. He's a veteran of Tout Wars and LABR as well as a multi-time NFBC champion. Follow Todd on Twitter @ToddZola
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So who else has the #DFS shakes -- with that "I feel like there's something I should be doing" feeling?
@SultanofStat you know the answer to that, can't mess with Karma -- I'm more like the Toaster Streudel commercial: Flaky and more doughy