Vegas Lines and Paying for SP Wins in DFS
One of the maxims I’ve always lived by in season long Fantasy baseball is not to pay for pitcher wins. Essentially, wins are a lot less predictable and less skills driven than the other categories (Ks, ERA, WHIP). As a result, it doesn’t make much sense for that to heavily factor into our valuation of players and influence our draft day selections. You’re much better of focusing on skills and letting the win column fall where it may.
Now for DFS, SP wins certainly have a large impact on cash rates and are worth a meaningful amount of points. For example, on FanDuel often times a 30-plus score will leave you around the cash line in a 50/50. That means an SP win (4 FanDuel points) is 13.3 percent of what you need to score to be in contention to cash 50/50s. The percentage effect it has on DraftKings isn’t as high, but with two pitchers and a win four points a pop, the potential for eight points via wins is impactful.
This is where we can’t afford to confuse performance with predictability. If we can’t accurately project who will or won’t get credited with a win on a given day, well then it doesn’t really matter how important it is. That’s the reason you’ll see us focus on strikeout floor and upside for pitchers in our Daily Analysis columns. Since strikeouts are more skill based and less skewed by chance, it makes sense that this is a core part of our valuation process.
However, simply translating a season long ideology to DFS can often be a recipe for failure. While over the course of a season an individual pitcher’s win total may be difficult to predict, perhaps it’s not as left up to chance on a start by start basis. After all, for each start we have a bevy of information to help us determine that – such as the opposing pitcher, opposing lineup and venue. Most of this is encapsulated in the betting odds of the day.
Using Vegas lines is nothing new. It’s something everyone uses (or should use!) to some extent when setting their DFS lineups. Quite often I see people, particularly on FanDuel, rely heavily on the money lines to pick their starting pitchers in the hopes of locking in 4 Fantasy points for the win. At DailyRoto, we use them more as an aid rather than a driving force. With that mindset, I’ve often warned subscribers to not take pitchers simply due to them being heavy favorites. You’d be surprised how often pitchers of lesser skill levels and lowered overall expectations see their ownership levels driven up due to being heavy favorites. Rather than telling people not to pay for wins using primarily anecdotal evidence (my season long maxim that wins aren’t predictable) I wanted to test it against actual data.