FantasyDraft data and tools are now available at FantasyLabs. To kick things off, we’re hosting an MLB freeroll for FantasyLabs users, so be sure to check it out.
Let’s start with MLB rosters and how they compare to DraftKings and FanDuel.
This is not dissimilar to the DraftKings roster, which also requires users to select two pitchers. All three sites have eight batter spots, although FantasyDraft is unique in that they basically ignore positions. Instead of needing to roster a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, and three outfielders, you are required only to roster three infielders, three outfielders, and then two more players in either group.
So what does that do to rosters and ownership? It probably gives an edge to sharp players; anytime restrictions are placed on users, be it positional eligibility, late swap, etc., the best players have less of a chance to stand out. FantasyDraft’s roster construction is by far the most lenient of the three sites and will result in lower ownership overall at some positions. For example, catcher is such a weak position that oftentimes the only stud options (think Gary Sanchez or Buster Posey) are massively owned. On FantasyDraft, you don’t have to roster a catcher at all, and because of the distribution of ownership sharp players will be rewarded with identifying the strongest plays in a slate independent of position.
The second major difference between roster construction on FantasyDraft and other sites is stacking: On FanDuel, you can roster just four batters from a single team; on DraftKings, five. On FantasyDraft, you can go up to six. You still have to span batters from three teams, but stacking six batters definitely gives you access to both a higher ceiling and a higher floor. As I recently wrote about stacking in MLB tournaments:
Stacking is popular because of the upside it gives your lineup — if a team goes off for 15 runs, then your chances of accumulating a lot of points are higher when you’ve stacked the team — but, honestly, stacking is also important because it limits your downside. The odds of hitting on every batter in a lineup are small; if you’re taking batters from different games with different pitchers and different dynamics, the odds get smaller. Stacking eliminates variables and correlates outcomes. All you need is one team to go off, and you will have five of your spots perform well. Stacking gives you upside, but perhaps more importantly it decreases downside.
Because six of the eight batters can be from a single team — 75 percent versus just 50 percent on FanDuel — you can achieve both a higher ceiling and a higher floor for the reasons mentioned above. That said, stacking will be a popular strategy, and it could certainly pay off to fade the public if six-man stacks become overowned. But even that counterstrategy is a tough sell because of the innate equity of using 75 percent of your batters from the same team. In a 15-game slate, it’s nearly impossible to have eight batters from eight different teams crush value. Eight batters from just three different teams, however? That’s much more feasible.
To get a sense of the impact of scoring differences, I measured each stat in the scoring systems for DraftKings and FantasyDraft as a percentage increase or decrease over the most basic stat for batters and pitchers: Singles and innings pitched. That was largely unneccessary, however, as FantasyDraft’s scoring is essentially identical to DraftKings’ except batters are penalized for being caught stealing. Also, FantasyDraft gives an extra bump to pitchers who record no-hitters:
Any scoring change is significant, but no-hitters, for example, are so rare that they shouldn’t be accounted for in DFS analysis. I’m not sure how we would calculate the likelihood of a no-hitter anyway. We’d probably look at K Prediction, Statcast data, and other factors that are important anyway. For the caught stealing stat, you can give a slight downgrade to players who are inefficient base thieves, but don’t go overboard: The five points a player gets for being successful can be massively beneficial in guaranteed prize pools. Better to have been caught stealing than to never have tried at all, as they say.
Finally, let’s look at the salaries of a typical slate for batters and pitchers on both DraftKings and FantasyDraft and see how they compare:
While FantasyDraft has a salary cap of $100,000 and DraftKings has a cap of $50,000, the salaries are almost identical in terms of scale. In this example slate, Dinelson Lamet cost $7,000 on DraftKings and $14,000 on FantasyDraft; both salaries represent 14 percent of the total salary cap. The high end guys like Clayton Kershaw and Chris Archer in this slate are slightly less expensive on FantasyDraft in relation to the cap, but the percentage differences of -0.8 and -0.6 percentage points are minuscule.
Because of this similarity in salaries, a lot of the roster construction strategies you have for DraftKings are likely to be directly applicable to FantasyDraft.
- In terms of scoring and pricing, FantasyDraft and DraftKings are highly comparable.
- FantasyDraft allows a stack of six batters, compared to five and four on DraftKings and FanDuel. Stacking gives a lineup access to a higher ceiling and also increases the probability of hitting on each position within a lineup. Although it’s always wise to think about the meta game of GPPs and to fade public strategies that become too popular, the opportunity to stack six of eight batters from a single team is welcome.
- FantasyDraft does not have the traditional positional designations of DraftKings and FanDuel. Instead, users roster three infielders, three outfielders, and two utility players. In many cases, this will act to distribute ownership more evenly across the field, as there won’t be issues of positional scarcity.