Happy Monday, Razzball DFS’ers!

I think by now we all know now that when it comes to DFS tournaments, we need to find ways to get a little different from the field. Today’s strategy section will give you some practical tips on assessing and dealing with ownership. We’ll talk about pitcher chalk vs. hitter chalk, and we’ll expand upon it in the pick section. 

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Most DFS sites that feature ownership projections keep that information behind paywalls, but we can get a reasonable idea of how popular players will be if we know what to consider. Some of the factors that drive ownership include:

Name Recognition – Self-explanatory. Household names consistently outdraw unknowns.

Recent Performance – Game log watchers will see a player’s (or team’s) recent success or failure and expect that it will continue.

Park and Weather– The field is well-aware of the Coors Field altitude, the Wrigley wind, and the Yankees’ short porch, and understands that the ball tends to get hit farther when it’s hot.

DFS Content – I take advantage of free web articles, podcasts, and YouTube shows not so much for the “plays,” but to gauge where the field can be expected to go. Heck, sometimes they even show you their ownership rankings for free. Win!

Price – The player’s salary, relative to his ability, matchup, and (for hitters) position in the batting order. 


Pitcher Chalk vs. Hitter Chalk:

In season-long leagues, hitter projections tend to be more reliable than pitcher projections. In DFS, the opposite is true. Pitching is the closest you can get to guaranteed points in a one-night sample, and that’s largely due to how DFS scoring systems value the strikeout. 

On DraftKings, a strikeout is worth 2 points to a pitcher. That’s nearly as much as he gets for a full inning pitched (2.25 points), and equal to what he’s deducted if he gives up an earned run. Strikeouts are therefore a large part of both a pitcher’s floor and his ceiling. 

Not only is the strikeout valuable, but it’s also predictable. In fact, it’s the most predictable stat in baseball. Everything that happens after a batter puts the ball in play is much less predictable than whether or not he puts it in play at all. 

Hitters have no inherent floor. Those who strike out at a low rate (and/or are facing a pitcher who doesn’t strike out a lot of hitters) are more likely to put the ball in play, but they’re subject to the whims of batted ball luck. 


Handling Pitcher Chalk: 

In most cases, I want to roster the pitcher(s) who represent the best combination of safety, ceiling, and price, regardless of anticipated ownership. 

Some exceptions where I might stray from a highly-owned pitcher include: 

    • Volatility: The pitcher walks batters at a high rate, or tends to get blown up often. 
    • Pitcher is a “Control” guy: He relies ongoing deep into games more so than strikeouts
    • I have information about the pitcher that my opponents might not have, such as a pitch count or innings cap, that could limit his ceiling


In light of this discussion, let’s have a look at today’s 8-game DraftKings slate which begins at 7:10 p.m. ET.


Jacob deGrom, P: $10,100: DeGrom is going to be massively popular today. He’s a strikeout pitcher who is also good at run suppression, and he’s facing a Royals team that has so far been the least productive offense (65 WRC+) and carries the third-highest K% in MLB. Although he had health concerns entering the spring he has worked his way up to 98 pitches and appears to be clicking on all cylinders. There is not enough reason for me to consider fading DeGrom.  

Corbin Burnes, P: $8,800 – Burnes will be extremely popular as well. His velocity was down to begin the season, but it came back in his latest start as he dropped 36.2 DK points on the Diamondbacks. Burnes has a track record of consistency that includes high strikeouts, low walks, and going deep into games. I’m playing him against a very average Mariners’ offense. 

Connor Joe, OF: $3,500 – DraftKings has again failed to price up the Coors bats, so today’s most popular lineup build of the day will feature DeGrom with Burnes and Pirates and/or Rockies bats. Since I’m going with those pitchers, I’ll go elsewhere for bats. If there’s one guy from this game I’ll play it’s Joe, who has a history of success hitting lefties at Coors. 

Jonah Heim, C: $3,200 – The Rangers are in KC to face Jordan Lyles and a poor Royals’ bullpen, and feature a number of value bats that allow us to fit our expensive pitchers. Heim was one of the more productive catchers last year and has started this season swinging well. 

Vaughn Grissom, SS: $3,100 – Grissom will be popular today but the Braves stack won’t be. Lefty Ryan Weathers has a low 17.6% career strikeout rate and 4.76 xFIP and the Padres’ bullpen is actually quite attackable if you take out Josh Hader and company, who won’t appear in the game if they’re trailing. 

Ozzie Albies, 2B: $4,600 – Notorious lefty killer Albies looks to be getting it going of late and is a great addition to Braves stacks. Look to the bottom of the order for value plays like Marcell Ozuna ($2,600) and Kevin Pillar ($2,200). 

Patrick Wisdom, 3B/OF – $3,900: One more affordable stack to look at is the Cubs, who are on the road and facing Kyle Muller and what looks to be a historically bad A’s bullpen.

Brett Baty, 3B: $2,000 – One edge Razzballers have over DFS grinders is knowing the prospects. There’s nothing good about the matchup here, as Baty faces Dustin May and the Dodgers in his debut, but he’s a lineup-maker at that price. Sometimes the field takes a few days to catch on to how good a prospect is, so let’s take advantage while we can. 


I’m Only Happy When It Rains

It’s a cold, damp day across most of the country and there are really no great spots for hitting on the slate.  We already had a surprise PPD of the Phillies/White Sox game. The other games should be good to go but check the weather before slate lock to be safe. 


Doing Lines In Vegas 

Considering the strength of the pitching and cool weather in the Mets/Dodgers game, the 8.5 total looks a bit high. 

8.5 seems too high in the D-backs/Cards game as well. We have two capable starters and two offenses that have struggled of late.