Acing a Survivor Tournament
Todd discusses his strategy for a 4-day survivor tourney
One of the less talked about formats of DFS baseball is the survivor tourney. The contest usually lasts three or four days and pays out on the final day. The earlier days are used to pare down the field. In short, contests leading up to the final day are more like 50/50s or double ups where a set percentage of the field advances to the next day then the last day is a tournament.
Fantasy Aces is running their biggest contest of the season this week, a survivor tourney starting with 200 entries on Monday and finishing on Thursday with a 20-entry tournament that pays all spots. Over the summer I’ve earned eight of the initial 200 entries via satellite tourneys.
As such, not only am I pondering strategies to take down a survivor tourney where most of the entries were won by talented DFS players but I’m also tying in the fact that not only do I have multiple tickets but so do several others in the field.
By means of a quick review of the rules at Fantasy Aces, you use two starting pitchers, one catcher, two corner infielders, two middle infielders, three outfielders and a utility hitter. The corner can be any combination of 1B and 3B while middle can be any mix of 2B and SS. Here are the questions I’ve been jostling around in my gray matter this week.
The easy decision is to treat the first day of the survivor week akin to a cash game and be conservative as opposed to using boom-or-bust players, especially pitchers. That said, two pitching spots allows for some measure of creative hedging without getting too crazy.
Feeding into this dynamic is Monday’s ledger is devoid of any no-brainer ace. This is going to make for some interesting pitching pairs.
With the note that the Yankees-Royals game is off the board, The two arms closest to standard cash game anchors are Tanner Roark and Chris Tillman. Roark is better at home but the Phillies offense is subpar and they’re a bit loose with the whiffs. The catch is he has a pedestrian K-rate. Tillman is at home versus the Rays, a team that doesn’t score many runs but doesn’t fan much either. Like Roark, Tillman’s basal K-rate is lower than average but he should stay in the game, get points for innings and have a shot at a win.
An intriguing name is Jeff Samardzija as Oakland visits Houston. On one hand, the Astros are near the top of the league in home long balls versus righties. On the other, they whiff more than almost any other squad. If this were the finals, I’d probably have at least one share of Samardzija (assuming I had multiple entries) but I’m wondering if it’s best to fade him since he’ll likely be highly owned on such a sparse slate.
Of the lesser pitchers, Jake Peavy is very compelling. The Colorado Rockies visit AT&T Park and bring with them a pretty hideous August strikeout rate of 30.4 percent. Peavy’s mound opponent is Tyler Matzek so the all-important win is in play, though I tend to worry less about the win in cash games.
The final pitcher I’m considering is J.A. Happ as the Toronto Blue Jays are entertaining the hapless Boston Red Sox. I’ll be straight; if this were a large-entry tourney, I’d be pretty invested in Happ. But it’s not so my inkling is to focus on some mish-mash of the above four and throw Happ into a couple of tourneys elsewhere.
The strategy I’m leaning to is taking Peavy, Tillman and Roark, pairing them as Peavy/Roark, Peavy/Tillman and Roark/Tillman and then doubling each to anchor six of the eight lineups. The last two will have Samardzija and with Tillman and Roark. My (over)thinking is this is a bit of a hedge but not too extreme. I expect Samardzija’s ownership to be high so I like the idea of fading him in six lineups. On the other hand, if the strikeouts trump the homers then I’ll still have a piece of that action as well.
The next question is how much diversification should I use within each pair of lineups with the same arms as well as across all the rosters? The two hitters that stand out as must-starts are Kyle Seager facing Miles Mikolas in Safeco Field and Buster Posey squaring off against Matzek in AT&T. Past that it gets interesting since there’s no obvious pig pile, at least not to the extent of the usual stack.
You’ll have to excuse me now; it’s time to consult the Fantasy Alarm DFS Playbook and enter some preliminary lineups. Once they're official, I’ll come back and post them in the comments.
So long as I have a ticket alive in the tourney, I’ll post my thoughts for the roster(s).