MLB DFS – GPP Strategy vs Cash Game Strategy
In our articles, shows, and webcasts here on FanVice – and around the DFS industry – you’ll often hear analysts talk about “GPP Plays” and “Cash Game Plays” (read HERE for FastEddieFear’s general breakdown). But what do these terms and strategies mean specifically for MLB DFS, and how can we effectively implement strategies that will increase our chances of success in both formats?
Cash Game Strategy
Cash Game strategy, and it’s core, is much less complex and much more straightforward than GPP strategy, and that doesn’t change for MLB DFS or any other sport. The main focus here is building the highest projected scoring lineup you can, while leaning slightly toward “safe” players over “boom or bust” options. There is no need to concern yourself with who your opponent might have on their roster (at least not until after contests start, at which point, on late-swap sites, you will want to analyze your opponent’s roster to see if you can make any changes).
So how do we go about creating the highest projected scoring lineup? There is, of course, no easy answer to that question. Our projection system here at FanVice is meant to give you the top point per dollar plays at each position, and combining those players into an optimal lineup should get you most of the way there. No projection system is perfect, of course, as in-season changes to player abilities cannot always be captured entirely accurately on a day-to-day to start-to-start basis. That’s why we also provide in-depth daily analysis to supplement our projections and ultimately provide you with the to plays available.
While I personally play both Cash and GPP formats in my own DFS play, GPP play, for me, provides an extra element of strategic thought that makes the format more fun (and profitable). Successful GPP play requires all of the same in-depth analysis of MLB players that Cash games require, but also requires thinking on a deeper level of tournament strategy, and one must consider how one’s opponents will approach the contests. For more on general GPP strategy, read here (insert link to GPP article).
MLB DFS is a binary, event based sport, meaning that hitters get very few chances to impact a game and therefore your DFS score. In most games, a hitter will get four or five plate appearances (and sometimes just three). Compare this to a sport like the NBA where a player will typically be on the court for 30-40 minutes and get 10+ shot attempts as well as plenty of opportunity for rebounds, assists, etc. What that means when selecting hitters for GPP’s is there will be an enormous amount of variance with regard to the performance of selections. Even in the best of the best match-ups (say, Mike Trout against a horrible left-handed starting pitcher in Coors Field with the wind blowing out and 95 degree temperatures), you’re looking at a very reasonable chance of failure for that player. Any hitter, in any match-up, has a very decent chance of producing no fantasy points at all, and we can use that to our advantage in GPP play.
With experience and practice, you’ll become better at projecting what ownership percentages on hitters might look like. This can vary based on the the size of the slate (how many games there are to choose from), the site you are playing on, how tight the salary cap is, etc. But if you pay careful attention over the course of several weeks and monitor what we here at FanVice are saying, what others around the industry are writing, and who is being mentioned a lot on Twitter (seriously, get a Twitter account if you don’t have one), you can get a very good feel for where the ownership might fall and plan your plays accordingly.
While in general we want to avoid heavily owned hitters in our GPP play due to the top-heavy nature of the payout structures in such tournaments, we do not need to be quite so concerned when selecting pitchers. The reason being that pitchers have much more opportunity to express their skill advantage over the course of a game, where a starting pitcher will generally face 25-30 hitters. Yes, if you project two pitchers at the same price point, you would still much prefer to have the lower owned player, but points-per-dollar projections should, for the most part, decide your selections for pitchers.