Our first post in the series examined the importance of having a Daily Fantasy Baseball Research Plan. The first step, Examine Entire Slate means to collect the research already produced by bookmakers in Las Vegas because in fantasy baseball Vegas lines and odds are the most important information a smart or winning player has at their disposal. In this article, I’m going to show you how to use Las Vegas to win money at DFS.
This may be hard to believe, but in fantasy baseball, Vegas lines and odds are more important than player stats, daily splits, or even a pitcher’s K numbers.
Why is Las Vegas So Important for Daily Fantasy Sports?
The basic answer is that years of research have demonstrated a close correlation between the Run Line created by Las Vegas Bookmakers and the fantasy point production of teams and players. The run line looks like a traditional over under bet. The team total run line gives a number the bookmaker thinks each team will score, and the game total is the combined score of both teams in the game.The run line looks something like NEW YORK METS 4.5 GAME 8 PHILADELPHIA 3.5. Likewise, there is a close relation between a game’s money line and the fantasy performance of that game’s starting pitching. A money line looks like New York Mets (-220)/Philadelphia (+180). The favorite is the (-) and the underdog (+).
Individual player proposition bets can be used to identify players to roster or fade.
Since literally millions of dollars depend on the accuracy of casino book maker’s game projections and lines, they are highly motivated to get the lines right. Nowadays a casino’s bookmaker is more like a Wall Street Trader or Risk Analyst than a character out of The Hustler or The Sopranos. High powered computer algos create today’s lines.
The result is that you can use the bookmaker’s computer brain (which makes the casinos hundreds of millions of dollars a year) to help you construct your daily fantasy baseball lineups. How so? As Freedman proved, between the moneyline and pitching performance, there is an 0.62 R-squared value:
As a cohort, pitchers with moneylines between -191 and -300 on FanDuel have Consistency ratings of 68.89 percent.
On DraftKings? 69.48 percent. Yes — the Consistency rating is actually higher on DraftKings.
Fantasy Baseball Vegas Lines and Odds -How to Use Them
The key to remember is the undisputed fact of the close correlation of fantasy baseball, Vegas lines and odds, and winning.
When playing fantasy baseball vegas lines and odds should determine your pitchers, the teams you stack, and the bats you play or fade. In daily fantasy baseball vegas lines and odds can also help you estimate player ownership.
Picking Starting Pitching
Sticking to the claim made in the first paragraph that in fantasy baseball Vegas lines and odds can be used without looking at player stats to create winning lineups, I’m going to show you how to pick high scoring pitchers without any reference of baseball stats. (of course, in real life you should combine Vegas research with stats and sabermetrics to make high powered lineups).
- Use the individual Team Run line to find the offenses Vegas thinks will score the fewest runs on the day
- Try to find a starting pitcher with an opponent’s run line of 4 or less; 3.5/3 is preferable, and any starting pitcher with an opponent at 2.5 or lower is an elite level pick.
- Next, examine the money lines to find the favorites. I like to aim for at least a (-160) favorite, with any favorite at (-220) or better worth a very serious look. Any favorite in the (-300) ballpark may indicate an elite pick.
- Aim for starting pitchers who have a low run line against and are a big money line favorite. If you find a starting pitcher with a run line against of 3.5 or lower and a money line of (-200) or better, you are probably looking at a star level pitcher. Any combination of a run line against of less than 3 and a money line of (-260) or better and you have probably have an elite level pitcher–think Kershaw, Snydergraad, or 2015’s Jake Arrietta.
Picking Hitters and Stacks
As with pitching, in fantasy baseball Vegas lines and odds will enable you to find the richest run environments and the best bats to stack. A “rich run environment” is a game that is likely to produce a lot of runs. Rich run environments are the result of bad pitching, good offenses, hot and humid weather, hitter-friendly stadiums and umps, and, yup, you guessed it, a high Vegas run total. (The archetype rich run environment is two 5th starters facing each other at Coors Field in late August with both bullpens burned out and Joe West behind the plate)
In many ways we are flipping the pitching method on its head.
- Look for teams with high run totals. 4 is ok, 4.5 is better, but the target is 5 or higher.
- Next, examine game totals. Aim for game totals of 8.5 or better. At 10.5 or higher think batting practice game, and start buying bats.
- Obviously, the team with the highest team run total is the best source for your lineup’s bats.
- If both teams have high run totals, this is a particularly juicy game, as the bookmakers are telling us they don’t expect much from the starting pitching, and even less from the bullpens.
Player Prop Bets
When it comes to fantasy baseball vegas lines and odds usage, player prop bets are the least understood, and thus the least used bit of Vegas Data.
And when the public is not using something, the smart player knows they have an edge to use.
Player prop bets are individual odds set on an individual player’s performance. They normally are tied to a pitcher’s strike out total, the chance a slugger will or will not hit a home run or the chance of a player stealing a base. How can smart fantasy baseball vegas lines and odds researchers use prop bets to their advantage?
- The bigger favorite a hitter is to hit an HR or get a stolen base, the more likely that player is to hit an HR or steal a base today.
- Since Home Runs and stolen bases are two of the most valuable sources of fantasy points, rostering prop favorites seems like a logical way to increase your lineup’s chances of getting an HR or SB.
- Use Strikeout props to identify the estimated number of strikeouts for each starting pitcher.
- Since K’s are highly valuable in fantasy baseball, knowing which SP’s the bookmakers think will K a lot of batters can be very useful information.
Of course, Vegas research should be combined with player and game research (which will be covered in future guides), but hopefully, we have given you an idea of how useful Vegas data is, and how you can use it to win. In a follow up post we will examine how to use Vegas data to estimate player ownership.
Be like Cameron. She’s really smart and really good at games. She uses Vegas data to win. So should you. Plus, you deserved a reward for reading 1200 words 🙂