- Yahoo’s Fair Play Initiative
- Daily DFS
- SaberSim Observations
- Tomorrow’s Targets – Conley, Stephenson, Howard, Rollins
- Factor Grid
1. Yahoo’s Fair Play Initiative
Yahoo was a late entrant to the DFS marketplace. They began offering daily fantasy sports late last season. I checked it out at the time but didn’t commit to learning the platform. The contests were too small for my liking and the pricing was…odd.
Prior to this season, Yahoo announced their fair play initiative. It addressed a critical problem with the “sport” that FanDuel and DraftKings have ignored – how to let normal people have fun and compete fairly. Scripts and other automated tools are now banned on Yahoo. There are some other details, but this is the important part.
On FD and DK, scripts are used to automatically enter and edit lineups. Ever wonder why your attempt to make a H2H contest always immediately matches against a seasoned pro? It’s because their script identified you as easy money. It’s one thing if a human takes the time to snipe positive EV matchups, but it feels damned cheap when a computer does the work.
I applaud Yahoo’s effort, but I don’t expect to see a similar move from the industry giants. Yahoo’s DFS platform didn’t have an established upper class of quants. As the new guys on the block, Yahoo needed a way to take market share from the top dogs. Targeting their disillusioned, average Joe users was the way to go.
FD and DK make a ton of money from the guys who run scripts. They’re the top customers. Any effort to constrain these users with “fairness” cuts into the bottom line. DFS is also the entirety of their business. Meanwhile, Yahoo has a multi-media mega platform. There are, dare I say, synergies between their DFS, traditional fantasy, and other media offerings. Raw volume of users may be more valuable to Yahoo as a whole than a few power users.
In summary, kudos to Yahoo for making an astute and fair business decision. Don’t expect to see FD or DK follow suit any time soon.
2. Daily DFS – Happ, Corbin, Maeda
Early: Six games fall into the early bracket. Aces include Jose Fernandez and Cy Young candidate Carlos Carrasco. Unfortunately, rain may muck with Carrasco’s start. While I don’t mind targeting hitters from rainy games – assuming you think the game will actually happen – I don’t recommend using pitchers.
That leaves us paying out the nose for Fernandez or digging deeper. Everybody seems to think Jeff Samardzija will be better with the Giants. I’m not part of everybody. Steer clear. The two obvious choices – to me – are actually relatively affordable.
I’ve recommended J.A. Happ twice already so it should come as no surprise that I think today’s start is usable. The improvements he made in Pittsburgh don’t require proximity to Ray Searage. While I’m still wary about using him in most AL East matchups, a game at Tropicana Field could go well. The Rays hyper-aggressive offense could allow Happ to pitch deep into the game.
The better, and undoubtedly more popular target, is Patrick Corbin. The lefty has a tough matchup against the Rockies, but at least the game isn’t at Coors. The Colorado outfield includes three of their top five hitters, and they’re all lefties. Tyler Chatwood should be easy pickin’s for the Pollock-less D’Backs.
Late: The seven late games also include two aces. And once again, the better option (Stephen Strasburg) could be affected by rain. Sonny Gray is returning from food poisoning and could be on a pitch limit.
The weather is still cold in New York. I foresee Collin McHugh benefiting from the chill more than Michael Pineda, although that just puts them on an even playing field. I think they’re too pricey for what they are.
Kenta Maeda has looked sharp all spring, and he’s just $7,200 on FanDuel. I wasn’t a believer when he was signed, and I haven’t seen him pitch yet. By all reports, he spots like a champ. The Padres offense is a good first assignment.
4. SaberSim Observations
SaberSim loves Finnegan tonight. Don’t take the bait. A seven inning projection is ludicrous. While it’s possible he’ll reach that threshold, a projection of seven innings implies a range of something like 4.2 to 8.2 innings with the top end more likely than the bottom. That wouldn’t be reasonable on a dry day. Finnegan is a five inning starter. Oh, and that game is going to be wet.
Otherwise, the pitching picks confirm my own – aces if they’re dry, Corbin, and Maeda.
On the hitting side of things, the Giants are once again the stack to own, and Nelson Cruz is the top individual. Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Orioles also figure prominently on page one. Yep, those are good stacks today.
5. Tomorrow’s Targets – Conley, Stephenson, Howard, Rollins
The first Thin Thursday isn’t actually that thin – there are nine games to be had. Onto the action.
Pitchers to Start: Adam Conley is a guy to watch closely. He reportedly added a few tics on the ol’ radar gun, and he was already a decent command guy. The potential for something like 8.00 K/9, 2.80 BB/9, and a 3.50 ERA could be useful. As with many young pitchers, count on five or six innings per start.
Also consider: Nate Eovaldi, Joe Kelly
Pitchers to Exploit: I have a lot to say about most of the exploits here. Let’s focus on Robert Stephenson. Arguably the Reds top prospect, Stephenson is a strikeout pitcher with a upper-90s fastball and iffy command. The Phillies aren’t a strikeout offense, making the matchup less than ideal.
Yes, Stephenson could dominate a relatively weak opponent. I foresee something like two or three runs allowed over five innings. Then Philadelphia gets four frames to exploit a godawful bullpen
Hitters (power): It’s become popular to hate on Ryan Howard. He’s just five percent owned on Yahoo even though he bats cleanup against right-handed pitching. The best part – the game is at homer happy Great American Ballpark. Howard may be a shadow of his former self, but he can still pop around 20 home runs in 450 PA versus righties.
Hitters (speed): I boldly predicted Jimmy Rollins would outperform Corey Seager. So far, they’re neck and neck. Rollins has the edge on counting stats with a home run, three runs, and two RBI. Seager is playing the BABIP game again with a high average.
I like Rollins’ matchup against a predictable sinker ball pitcher. I’ve noticed hitters with pop-up problems tend to be the guys who show up as studs versus ground ball pitchers on the GB/FB reports.
6. The Factor Grid
The table below indicates which stadiums have the best conditions for hitters today. The color coding is a classic stoplight where green equals go for hitters. The weather conditions are from SI Weather’s home run app. A 10/10 means great atmospheric conditions for home runs. A 1/10 means lousy atmospheric conditions.
Do note the three rain risks.
This post is not brought to you by any DFS platform. The current author is quite pleased to present a DFS ad free environment.