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Lesson 4: Paying Down at Pitcher - Two-Pitcher Sites

JM Tohline (JMToWin)

JM Tohline (Tuh-lean) – DFS alias JMToWin – is a novelist and a DFS player who specializes in high-stakes MLB and NFL tourneys, with a strategy geared toward single-entry play in multi-entry tourneys. He joined the DFS scene at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, and has since won five DFS championship seats and two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders articles and RotoAcademy courses. You can find JM on Twitter at JMToWin.

Paying down for pitcher on single-pitcher sites is usually done because of strategy. Paying down on two-pitcher sites is usually done out of necessity – as this is often the only way to fit in solid bats to go along with your arms!

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The First Key:

One of the most important truths of MLB DFS is this:

Every day is different!

As you aim to “stay afloat” between The Big Scores, you need to be willing and able to adjust your approach from day to day. Those who stick with the same approach no matter what are going to hit The Big Score from time to time, sure. But in between the days on which they hit The Big Score, they will lose back most of (or more than) what they won.

Every day is different!

While others are looking for the “one key” that will help them, or the “one approach” they should be using, you will be continually keeping your eyes open for the best approach for the slate in question – and as you do this, you will be able to capture the most upside that is available to you on each slate.

Don’t get locked into a set plan! Adjust from day to day.

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When To Pay Down?

“Thanks, JM. That’s cool and all, but…when should I look to pay down at pitcher on two-pitcher sites?”

The main time you are going to look to pay down for cheap guys is when you feel strongly that you can get a solid game, with some upside, from the arms available at the lower end.

The same truths we covered in the last lesson (paying down on single-pitcher sites) hold true in this spot. If the high-priced guys are more than just “names” – if there are numbers that back up the price tag you are seeing – you don’t want to go out of your way to roster a cheap guy “just to be different.” When a high-priced guy truly justifies the price tag – when he not only has the upside his price tag indicates he should have, but also has the sort of consistency his price tag indicates he should have – you will almost always want to find a way to roster that guy. As you continue to dig into the numbers, however (and continue to trust the “numbers” over the “names”), you will quickly realize that those guys who “truly justify their high price tag” are not as prevalent as everyone thinks. There are a lot of high-priced guys who can post big games, but who do so on an inconsistent basis. There are a lot of high-priced guys who post solid games, but not the types of games you “have to have” in order to have a shot at taking down a tourney (i.e., they post the types of games you can often get on that same slate for a lower salary).

As always: it’s all about how the slate shapes up! Some days, you’ll roster a cheaper, more volatile guy – the kind of guy who could implode, but who could also post the highest score on the slate (at low ownership) if everything goes right. Other days, you’ll roster the cheaper pitchers we brought up in the last lesson: the guys you know are unlikely to get you a monster fantasy output, but who you nevertheless feel confident can match the higher-priced guys on that slate.

Every slate is different!

In my mind, we always start with pitcher. But as you start with pitcher, do one of two things:

1) Start from the bottom of the price range, rather than from the top, or

2) Do all your pitcher research before you ever look at price.

This second one is the approach I take most days. Before I ever look at price, I do my research and gain a strong sense of what I feel each pitcher will do that day (and what each pitcher’s range of outcomes is) – which makes it easy to then look at pricing and say, “Okay, this guy has the same expectation today as this other guy. I’ll take the cheaper, lower-owned one.”

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Realize, 1:

Pricing is ultimately fallible!

This is more true in MLB, with hitters, than in any other DFS sport. Cheap hitters can get you a big game in a good spot, so don’t force in a mediocre cheap pitcher just to fit in the high-priced bats you think you “have to have.” Start with pitching! Trust the numbers. Maximize your output in those spots on your roster first, and then move onto the bats.

There is no element, in all of DFS, more important to your roster than pitching. Pitching is among the most predictable elements in any DFS sport…and hitting is the least predictable element in any DFS sport. Put the two together on a single roster, and you end up with a huge gap between the predictability of one element on your roster and the predictability of the other.

I hate the term “punt,” in DFS, as it implies taking a sub-optimal play in order to fit in other plays you feel you “have to have.” Punting is usually a mistake. But it’s an even greater mistake to force in a pitcher you don’t like, just so you can grab the bats you want. If worst comes to worst, grab one or two low-floor, high-upside hitters on the cheap to fit in the other bats you want – but don’t sacrifice your pitchers. If there is not a place to pay down, don’t pay down!

Pricing on hitters is fallible.

Get the pitchers you want.

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Realize, 2:

We have touched on this already, but this is tremendously important (and is made even more important by the fact that most people fail to grasp this fact)…

The majority of DFSers – either consciously or subconsciously – assume that pitchers are priced correctly. The majority of DFSers, therefore, trust price over stats.

Once you start paying attention to all the little things we are talking about in this course, you will be surprised to realize just how often the cheaper (lower-owned) option is actually a better play, by the numbers, than the popular high-priced guy.

Don’t worry about what the price indicates.

Don’t worry about the “names.”

Study the numbers. Trust the numbers! Then brake out that rake – because you’re going to need it to haul in all the money that is flowing your way.

About the Author

  • JM Tohline (JMToWin)

  • JM Tohline (Tuh-lean) – DFS alias JMToWin – is a novelist and a DFS player who specializes in high-stakes MLB and NFL tourneys, with a strategy geared toward single-entry play in multi-entry tourneys. He joined the DFS scene at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season, and has since won five DFS championship seats and two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders articles and RotoAcademy courses. You can find JM on Twitter at JMToWin.

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