Fantasy baseball is an incredibly popular pastime with a devout following. In fact, there are season-long leagues out there which have been in existence for decades and are still going strong today.
In recent years, a new twist has been added with the advent of Daily Fantasy Baseball. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) takes the concept of traditional fantasy sports and condenses the action into a single day.
Let’s just say that the idea was a good one. The DFS industry has grown from a small niche to a massive business in just a few short years. Daily Fantasy Baseball is a big part of the reason why, as it’s one of the big three DFS sports – along with fantasy basketball and fantasy football – which attract tens of thousands of users to its biggest tournaments.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about Daily Fantasy Baseball, starting with the top places to play.
Best Daily Fantasy Baseball Sites 2023
In the world of DFS, there are two sites which are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of total users and prizes offered. However, there are also some intriguing new places to play for those looking for some more variety. Here’s how the top spots stack up for MLB.
Best Daily Fantasy Baseball Apps on the Market
1. DraftKings DFS – $20 Free with First Deposit
Click here to join DraftKings!
2. FanDuel DFS – 1 bonus NBA entry Free No Deposit
FanDuel traces its roots back to 2009 and was one of the original DFS companies on the scene. Now part of the Flutter Entertainment Group, FanDuel remains an incredibly popular place to play DFS, MLB included.
When Did Daily Fantasy Sports Start?
The concept of Daily Fantasy Sports was first introduced on a mainstream basis in 2007. The year prior, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law, and it included specific language which clarified that DFS was a game of skill and permitted under federal law.
In the early days, it was niche operators servicing a devoted set of clients with offerings revolving around the major sports, MLB included. FanDuel made its debut in 2009, and they quickly became the first company to gain a whole lot of traction.
Many other operators followed, including DraftKings in 2012. Most of the other operators have gone by the wayside since then, but FanDuel and DraftKings are still going strong as the biggest players in the industry.
Just like the industry itself, Daily Fantasy Baseball has grown and evolved through the years. In the early days, it was just a salary cap game revolving around selecting a starting pitcher and a player for each of the traditional positions.
Fast forward to today, and there are different iterations which include various scoring concepts and roster requirements.
How Does Daily Fantasy Baseball Work?
In its most traditional form, Daily Fantasy Baseball closely resembles traditional season-long fantasy, albeit with some twists.
For traditional fantasy, players draft a team at the beginning of the season. This will be the team they roll with all year, but they can make moves throughout the year to attempt to improve their roster, such as via trades or free agent additions.
Games can be played in a rotating head-to-head format or via total points which are added up as games are completed. In both cases, the top teams advance to the playoff round with the winner of the league christened from that bracket.
In DFS, games take place over the course of a single day. Users select their lineup from the available player pool, which consists of players slated to play in that day’s games. Each player has a salary attached to them and users must build their lineups while staying underneath the cap.
For traditional MLB DFS, the initial roster requirements were as follows: P, C, 1B, 25, 3B, SS. OF, OF, OF.
Through the years, that has evolved based on the site. In certain places, users select two pitchers. Some sites use a flex position in addition to the traditional positions, while others have used a concept of multi-position eligibility for players.
Once the games begin, users will receive points based on how the players they have selected perform in real time. Just like in traditional fantasy MLB, events such as strikeouts for pitchers and home runs for hitters are among the ways to accumulate points.
After all of the games have wrapped up for the day, the user with the best score wins. In DFS MLB, there are a number of different ways to play. Here are a few of the more popular styles of games.
- GPPs: These are guaranteed prize pool tournaments, some of which offer absolutely massive top prizes. The biggest of these tournaments can attract tens of thousands of users for a single slate of games.
- 50/50s or DoubleUps: In these type of games, entrants only need to have a better score than up to half of the field to win or cash. These games have proven to be popular with those who like to shoot for somewhat predictable returns.
- Head to Heads: Just like in traditional fantasy, this is user versus user with the higher scoring lineup being deemed the winner.
Depending on the site you play on, there will be a number of other different ways to play such as Showdowns (single-game DFS), Pick’Ems, or leagues. In general, each of the different game types are offered at various buy-in points, ranging from the very small stakes all the way up to high roller ranges.
Daily Fantasy MLB Rules and Scoring
Rules and scoring can vary based on which daily fantasy baseball app you use. While differences in scoring and roster requirements may not seem like they matter all that much, they actually change the game.
For example, let’s take a look at how certain events are scored by the two major operators.
DraftKings vs. Fanduel Baseball Scoring Chart
|Single||3 pts||3 pts|
|Double||6 pts||5 pts|
|Triple||9 pts||8 pts|
|Home Run||12 pts||10 pts|
|Run Batted In||3.5 pts||2 pts|
|Run Scored||3.2 pts||2 pts|
|Base on Balls||3 pts||2 pts|
|Stolen Bases||6 pts||5 pts|
|Hit By Pitch||3 pts||2 pts|
In a nutshell, the more significant the event, the more fantasy points you’ll score. However, there are differences to be found on most of the events. On FanDuel, a Home Run is worth 12 points, while it’s 10 points on DraftKings. While that’s a lot of points in both cases, it makes a home run hitter slightly more valuable on the FanDuel side.
For pitchers, there are even more differences to consider. On FanDuel, users are only rostering a single pitcher, while DraftKings requires you to select two. Scoring is completely different on both sites as well.
As an example, both sites award points for strikeouts and subtract points for earned runs allowed. However, DraftKings will also deduct points for things such as hits and add bonuses for events such as a complete game. On FanDuel, it’s mainly the basics when it comes to pitcher scoring.
Before playing on any new DFS site, always be sure to review the rules, scoring, and roster requirements for the sport you are looking to play. If you’re unsure which site may work best for you, don’t be shy about trying out a few different spots to find the best fit.
How to Select / Optimize a Baseball Lineup
In DFS MLB, your job is to build a lineup that you believe will score the most points from the available player pool, all while staying under the salary cap.
While building out a lineup is a simple process with the smooth interfaces that sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel have to offer, selecting an optimal lineup is far from easy.
For those new to the game of DFS, there will naturally be a learning curve involved. This includes those who may have experience in season-long fantasy sports. It’s a different ball game, as you’re trying to find the best plays of the day as opposed to the top performers for an entire season.
In DFS MLB, matchups are key. Certain hitters perform well against certain types of pitchers, but they can’t get a hit to save their life versus other kinds of pitchers. The same applies in reverse.
For example, there may be a great hitter available who mashes right-handed pitchers, but he doesn’t fare so well against left-handed pitchers. As you review the day’s matchups, you notice that his opponent will be starting a lefty. This may be a spot where you want to stay away and find another great hitter.
This is just one small example of the strategy component for DFS MLB. There are dozens of small factors to consider each and every day when trying to find the optimal lineup. Naturally, this can be very research intensive, and few have the time to devote an entire day to such things.
As a result, DFS content and advice has become a cottage industry in and of itself. There are even sites out there which will provide you with recommendations and optimal lineups. While that sounds great, keep in mind that there are plenty of other users who will be following the same exact advice.
For a best of both worlds approach, try finding some trusted resources that do a lot of the legwork for you while you focus on the stats and situations that you have a knack for researching. This can help cut your research time dramatically, and also allow you to better focus your efforts on building quality lineups.
Who to Start in Daily Fantasy MLB
The answer to this question will vary based on the day’s matchups. For a simple answer, you’ll want to start stud pitchers versus bad hitting teams, and fantastic hitters who are going against poor and struggling pitchers.
However, there are exceptions to even those two hard and fast rules. Matchups rule the day in DFS MLB, and some hitters and pitchers just don’t match up well with the opponents they’ll be facing that day.
One thing that can be very helpful in building out your lineups is to cut down the available player pool by focusing on those with the best chances to excel. You can start doing that by looking for the following:
- The day’s top pitchers who will be facing the worst hitting teams.
- Any cheaper pitchers who will also be facing poorer squads.
- Hitters facing off with struggling or poor pitchers.
- Hitters who match up well with the day’s opposing pitcher and/or have a good history against them.
- Hitters or pitchers who are currently on hot streaks.
If you focus on these five factors, you can cut the available player pool immensely and greater focus your research efforts. Once again, if you don’t have time to do all the heavy lifting, consult a trusted resource or two which examines factors such as these.
From there, walk away with a short list of players to consider at each position and take it from there.
Daily Fantasy Sports Guide
Nailing Down Your DFS Baseball Draft Strategy
Selecting the best possible DFS MLB lineup takes some practice. Even with that, every user is going to have off nights. It happens. Fantasy sports revolves around the performance of athletes in real-life situations, so there’s no way to predict with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen.
That doesn’t mean you can’t do your best trying to figure it out. In fact, that’s part of the fun. Here are some helpful tips you can use for setting your lineups.
- Matchups: Look for players who match up well versus the day’s opponents, as well as those who do not to spot potential hitters and pitchers to select.
- Recent Performance: Just like the rest of us, athletes have good runs and poor runs. Look for those who have been playing well recently and think twice about those on cold streaks.
- Salary Value: Same as you would while shopping for an item, consider the price of the player before pulling the trigger. There may be a comparable player available at a lower price point, for example.
If you love strategy and research, then you’ll take quite well to DFS MLB. If that’s not your strong suit, you can still get in the game by finding some trusted resources to lean on as you build out your lineups.
Fantasy Baseball FAQ
Fantasy baseball season begins on Opening Day and goes through the close of the regular season. DFS MLB will be available every step of the way, as well as into the playoffs. In 2020, Opening Day is scheduled for March 26.
Yes, DFS MLB is completely legal to play in the majority of the United States with the exception of in the following states: Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Montan, Nevada, and Washington.
This stands for player rank, and generally stands for a player’s ranking in comparison to their peers on certain metrics.
This refers to average draft position. In season-long fantasy, players are often referred to by their ADP in the offseason, which gives players a sense of where they stack up in comparison to others at the same position.
For season-long fantasy, some players recommend drafting stud pitchers as soon as possible, while others suggest taking a wait and see approach and focusing on value. In DFS MLB, the pitcher is one of the most important spots, so be sure you’re devoting plenty of time on this selection.
On the major DFS sites such as DraftKings and FanDuel, entry fees for contests can range from as low as .25 cents all the way up to over $1,000 and beyond. One of the great things about DFS is that there are contests of all shapes and sizes at various price points for users to choose from.