DFS MLB Strategy: Leaving Money on the Table
In his latest look at MLB DFS strategy, Steve Pimental looks at the wisdom of leaving money on the table in MLB DFS games.
How much money are you comfortable leaving on the table in MLB DFS games? I get that question quite a bit. Every DFS player has to answer it at some point, whether they make a conscious decision or not.
In real life I, like a lot of people, want to get the most out of every dollar. I had a 2003 Dodge Neon I drove into the ground until finally it cost more money to fix than to buy a new car. I still wear t-shirts—mostly for bed—I wore in high school. I don’t like to let anything to go waste, and it is natural to feel like you are wasting money if $500 of your salary cap goes unspent.
I don’t know exactly how much money I am comfortable leaving on the table, but I know I don’t worry about it a whole lot. One thing I have never had much of a problem with is trusting my own judgement—sometimes to my own detriment. If I like my lineup and I still have money left over, I won’t force myself to spend the rest of it.
If you pay up for one or more players you don’t actually like just so you spend all of your money, you are basically substituting that site’s judgement for your own. If I believe Seth Smith is a better fantasy play on a given day than Brett Gardner, I do not particularly care that Smith costs $700 less. I would love to find some place to spend that extra $700, but if I cannot, I won’t lose any sleep over it.
In preparing for this article I went back and looked at the last 30 lineups I entered on DraftKings. I spent all of the $50,000 available on 16 of those lineups. Of the others, I had $100 left over in eight lineups, $200 left in five and $400 left in one. I was actually a bit surprised to learn I hit $50,000 on the nose so often, but the rest of the numbers were about what I would have expected.
If I have $200 left once my lineup is set, I probably won’t even give it a second thought. I usually fill out my outfielders last, so I usually have a lot of options for my last couple of lineup spots. If there is no one I like who costs $200 more than any of my outfielders, it probably isn’t worth it for me to look too hard for another place to spend that money. I’m obviously okay with leaving $400 unspent, and I bet I would go—or have gone—even higher, but at that point I would definitely try to find some position where I could upgrade.
I feel like I am more likely to leave money on the table in my DFS NBA and PGA games than in MLB games. I haven’t done a great job of keeping track of my lineups for non-MLB games, so I do not have much evidence to support that assertion, but that is the sense I get having played DFS over the last few years. It makes sense, if you think about it.
In DFS PGA games, it is often very difficult to find guys who are playing well going in and/or guys who have played well on the particular course in play that week. If I find someone who fits in that sweet spot, I am going to be very reluctant to replace him with a more expensive player who might not have the same track record.
In NBA games I usually try to combine underpriced players with a new opportunity—injury replacements or newly-named starters—with proven studs. If I really like Dennis Schroder filling in for Jeff Teague, the odds are I won’t find anybody who costs $300 more who I like better. In that case I am likely to just leave the $300 on the table. In MLB games $300 may be the difference between a guy with a proven track record and a replacement-level player on a hot streak.
As I said at the top, every DFS player has to figure out for himself how much money to leave on the table. Maybe if I worried more about spending the entire available salary cap, I would get more out of my lineups. I haven’t kept track of how many points my lineups have scored when I spend it all versus not, but I will probably start doing so now. For now, though, I feel comfortable leaving some money on the table and that is what is important.