The Great American GPP: Inventing a Battle Plan

I had a good week in small ball GPP play on DraftKings, making a few deep runs, culminating in my best day yet this season: a 196 point lineup on Saturday night, good enough for 10th place in the moonshot and a $365 profit on the night

Welcome the second installment of the Great American GPP, a blog series in which I hope to help my readers (and myself in the process) gain an edge in MLB GPP play by taking an inter-disciplinary approach to the game. Basically this means we’re going to take winning and effective ideas and strategies from all kinds of off-beat places and people, ranging from successful models in other types of gambling and gaming, to ideas from some of the most creative, or most off beat, people around. The idea isn’t to replace numbers and statistical thinking with gut feelings and hunches, but rather to think about the data and the numbers in such different ways that we develop and train our intuition to give us gut feelings already aligned with the best strategy.

When I used to teach first year composition, I found that the students who performed the worst didn’t really have a plan for writing their essays. Hell, they seemed unaware that writing could even be planned out. Instead, they just sat there and typed out their “thoughts” in the order they popped into their heads, without even wondering how they all fit together. I believe that many of the worst GPP (or DFS in general) players think of making a lineup the same way. They just sit there and type player names until all the spots are filled, hopefully without going over budget. I believe the results for both groups are the same: failure and loss.

Last week , besides learning that Jack Kerouac invented fantasy baseball, and that the rapper Aesop Rocks may have a larger vocabulary than Shakespeare (you did click the links, didn’t you?) we wondered whether the skills required to construct a great essay out of many small parts and choices, could sharpen our skills in crafting a great lineup out of many not so small players and the choices we make regarding them.

When I taught first year Composition courses, I used two basic models to teach students how to write effective, successful essays. The first was based on a rhetorical approach, and at its core, Rhetoric means learning to think about the choices we are constantly making about the language we use, and that these choices determine how effectively our language works (or does not); the second method was a more structural approach, and focused on teaching that an essay was made of several parts, and that each part had a specific function, or duty, to fulfill. Each approach can, I think, give us insight into crafting powerful lineups.

Let’s begin by imagining that writing an essay is the same thing as filling out a lineup card. Using my structural method, the first thing we must do is determine the purpose of our essay. Is it meant to inform the audience about something, or is it supposed to persuade them, to win them over to our point of view. In terms of lineups, I think cash games, especially 50/50’s and the like, are informative essays, and GPP lineups are persuasive essays. Why? Well, like a cash lineup, an informative essay just needs to inform without making a mistake, which sounds equivalent to the cash game task of setting a floor, and making sure to meet it by avoiding mistakes and not taking any unnecessary risks.

A persuasive essay needs to persuade the other; it needs to win an argument with them. This requires employing all kinds of strategies to outwit the other, many of which are inherently risky, like drawing on a reader’s emotions, or testing your wit against theirs. This sounds more like a GPP lineup, which must go far beyond its floor in order to win; indeed, a GPP lineup must embrace risk in order to reap the high scores necessary to win the tournament.

Well, we have a nice little metaphor, but so what? How does thinking of a GPP lineup as a persuasive essay help us win? Let’s take the next few steps and see.

When attempting to persuade someone, you need a main idea, or argument, you want them to agree to. This is called the thesis. The job of the persuasive essay is to convince the reader to accept the thesis, and the essay is organized and structured in a way most likely to cause that outcome. An essay without a thesis is an essay without a plan, and an essay without a plan is an essay that is not going to win. Thus, if our GPP lineup is a persuasive essay, it needs to have a thesis, or plan, for how it is going to win us all the money. And this is where we can fall back on the ancient rhetorical skill of INVENTIO, which simply means to research, discover, and invent things to say in your essay. In our case, we will examine the GPP, think about how to win it (you already do that, right?) and collect all our baseball data and research. And just like that you are a master of the ancient art of Inventio. Take it from me, this will impress the ladies.

Now, take all this research, and make it into a thesis to prove, or a plan to win, the GPP. Based on your examination of the tournament structure, the slate, and the analysis of the teams, players and stadiums that made up the slate, you decide what the best plan is for winning the damn thing is. Some days, pitching will be the primary driver, others, offense. Some days it will be a case of paying up for one thing and finding good value for the rest. Other days it will be a matter of stacking. The point is that for each lineup, you devise one strategy/plan/*THESIS* for that lineup to win the GPP. If you enter multiple lineups, you could devise a different thesis for each one, or perhaps there will be a series of lineups dedicated to proving the same thesis, but with a different set of tools that the other lineups with the same thesis (for example 3 different stacked lineups from the same team). What is most important is that you don’t try to jam multiple thesis statements/plans for winning into one lineup. That Is a sure fire way to undermine or defeat yourself. Patton didn’t spend the night before a battle devising three plans to defeat the Germans, and then order his men to follow all three plans at once; the results would have been disastrous. No, Patton picked one plan, one battle thesis, and then made sure that he put everything he had into working to make sure that one battle plan won. (famous quote @ 1:49).

In the next post, we will examine organizing the body of an essay in order to prove the thesis, and if these rhetorical skills can help us build tighter, more unified, lineups.

About the Author

  • BigMatt

    Great article! This can change perspectives on how we think when it comes to creating lineups.

  • divusjulius

    • Blogger of the Month

    Thanks @BigMatt ultimately I hope we all ultimately learn to think about every decision we make when creating them, and to break the bad habit of seeing each roster spot AND each decision about each roster spot as unrelated events. Great writers think about how every word they write effects every other word in their book; Great poker players have the entire hand planned out as soon as money goes into the pot. I’m willing to bet that great players in DFS do so as well.

  • mwek

    “Don’t try to jam multiple thesis statements/ into plans into one winning lineup.” I totally just did this in my first ever monster on FD. As a former journalist, I love your analogy to writing. Good stuff.

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