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Going All In: High Priced DFS Pitching Not Working, But Why?

Going All In: High Priced DFS Pitching Not Working, But Why?
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Going All In: High Priced DFS Pitching Not Working, But Why?

We’re a month into the study on high priced DFS pitching, and it’s fairly clear that it’s not the clear-cut winning formula. In fact, using high priced DFS pitching is producing worse results and less payouts. That’s right, not only is it not the best practice, it’s actually a method to avoid… so far. I say “so far” because I understand that we still have five more months to study the high priced DFS pitching strategy. Is it possible that April has more variability than the rest of the year? Maybe. Could mid-tier pitchers graduate to high priced pitchers and change the options? Possibly. But that’s why we’re going to keep trucking along. This week, instead of some short notes, jump to the wrap-up for some insight on what I’ve found so far.

As a reminder, this Thursday piece is a continuing examination of the merits of spending on DFS high-priced pitching. (You can always look back here for the introduction.) This entire season, I’ll be tracking lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel and FantasyAces. There will be two competing lineups on each site, one using the highest-priced pitchers and another avoiding those. As a FYI, “highest-priced” means the Top 1-3 guys on most days. In addition, many of the hitters will remain the same to get a decent lineup-to-lineup comparison with the saved money used at 1-3 spots to improve the hitting choices.

For the method in choosing pitchers, it’s not arbitrary. I use the DailyRoto pitcher rankings to break ties or close calls. I’ll never take the highest-priced pitcher if he’s not even a recommended play, and I won’t use a cheap pitcher that should be avoided. In addition, when you see skipped days, that could be for various reasons: too many weather concerns, small slate to get a fair comparison, I wasn’t home for enough research (happens often on Sundays). Hey, we still have lives too.

May 1

DraftKings: Scherzer+Lynn 112.30, Heston+Koehler 111.30 (+1.00)

FanDuel: Scherzer 43.75, Lynn 44.25 (-0.50)

FantasyAces: Scherzer+Lynn 53.50, DeSclafani+Koehler 40.50 (+13.00)

May 2

DraftKings: Gio+Archer 138.45, Archer+McHugh 130.45 (+8.00)

FanDuel: Archer 47.00, Miguel Gonzalez 52.91 (-5.91)

May 4

DraftKings: Kershaw+Wood 108.65, Ross+Keuchel 134.55 (-25.90)

FanDuel: Kershaw 12.83, Wood 21.24 (-8.41)

FantasyAces: Kershaw+Felix 54.00, Wood+Keuchel 52.50 (+1.50)

May 5

DraftKings: Greinke+Strasburg 74.40, Shelby+Pineda 122.25 (-47.85)

FanDuel: Greinke 37.16, Alex Wood 33.75 (+3.41)

FantasyAces: Greinke+Strasburg 58.75, Colon+Pineda 69.75 (-11.00)

May 5

DraftKings: Cole+Lester 61.60, deGrom+Colome 78.80 (-17.20)

FanDuel: Cole 44.25, Lynn 47.50

FantasyAces: Sale+Cole 36.25, Lynn+Ubaldo 45.25 (-9.00)


DraftKings tracking -246.90 or -12.99 FPPC (Fantasy Points Per Contest)

FanDuel: -68.76 and -3.82 FPPC

FantasyAces: -11.00 and -1.00 FPPC

DraftKings has the biggest gap, and after a month, it appears it’s a result of their scoring method. Pitchers do see higher scores on DK than any other site and can put up a pretty big gap versus FanDuel. For example, last night, Jacob deGrom scored 30.95 on DK and 19.00 on FD. However, the gap is minimal for the mediocre games, as Lance Lynn had 9.50 on DK and 7.00 on FD. So, you need a good night for pitching not only to see a big score on both sites but also a bigger gap for DK. Why does that matter? Because the mediocre nights are more easily offset with good hitting. Another example last night, Nelson Cruz had two singles and a run for 8.0 FP on DK but just 2.5 on FD. Let’s look at two more. Mookie Betts had 16.00/6.25 and Joc Pederson 28.0/11.5. The better the night for a hitter, the wider the gap grows on the sites.

To put that in better light, let’s say your stud pitcher (Gerrit Cole last night) missed on a good night and put up 7.25 and 6.0 on DK and FD. Because you spent on a big pitcher, you couldn’t afford Pederson on either site. So you bought Colby Rasmus instead, who got 3.0 and 0.25. As a result, you have 10.25 and 6.25 on each site right now. Let’s say you avoided Cole and took Lynn instead of deGrom since he scored nearly the same as Cole… actually, we can just give Lynn the same scores to make this real simple and comparative. So, we have Lynn with 7.25 and 6.0, but now you could afford Pederson who scored 28.0 and 11.5, which is a difference of 25.0 and 11.25 points. You have more than doubled the positive difference on DraftKings.

For the testing, so far we have seen an average score of 112.95 on DK and 38.58 on FD. Let’s use those as the base for a team’s score outside of Cole, Lynn, Rasmus and Pederson. Again, this is for ease of example… and we’ll just say we had really good nights!

On DraftKings, we would have 112.95+7.25+3.0 for Cole and Rasmus or 112.95+7.25+28.0 for “Lynn” and Pederson. Or, 123.20 and 158.20, which is a 28.4% jump. On FanDuel, it’s 38.58+6.0+0.25 and 38.58+6.0+11.5, which is 44.83 and 56.08 and a 25.1% jump. To put it another way, in the testing, DraftKings is tracking -12% while FanDuel is at -10% on the year.

As you can see, being able to get some big bats in your lineup is beneficial on both sites, but on DraftKings, you get an extra bonus likely due to FanDuel accruing negative points for outs. FantasyAces is very similar to FanDuel here (negatives for strikeouts), and it’s why I didn’t give all of these examples for them… and we already had numbers flying all over the place.

There will be more tidbits of info like this as the year goes on, but either way, we certainly can’t buy into high priced DFS pitching being the better way to go at this point.