'Opportunity cost' key to daily fantasy strategy
Basic economics concept can help players succeed in Mini Fantasy Game
So you're playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings, and you've experienced how much fun it is to draft a new lineup every day and win prizes. You know that lineup decisions aren't as simple as identifying the best players and plugging them in. You need to make tough choices in regard to value, seeking players who are better than their salaries indicate.
Earlier this week, we learned about using long-term stats to find value in individual players through Drill No. 2. In this drill, we expand on individual player value and look at our entire lineups. Drill No. 3 is all about cost.
One mistake daily fantasy baseball novices make is guessing how many points each player can provide without considering what is lost via their addition. Thinking about lineup choices in terms of what's lost -- known as "opportunity cost" in economics -- can seem like an odd way to approach the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com for those unfamiliar with it.
In daily-fantasy-baseball terms, a question to ask is, "Does this player's anticipated production warrant the day's price tag?" However, the cost in selecting a particular player isn't just his salary, but also the opportunity to add other players to your roster. Sometimes, the opportunity cost is so big that it overrides value.
Suppose you like Tim Lincecum and a bunch of hitters on the Arizona Diamondbacks for your daily fantasy lineup on a given day. The only problem? They play one another. Starting a pitcher and the hitters he's facing is usually a big no-no in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings, because their production is inversely correlated; as one goes up, the other will go down. It's highly unlikely that both Lincecum and multiple hitters on the team he's facing will have a big day.
Because of the way salaries are structured, however, it's not unreasonable to assume that both Lincecum and a few D-backs hitters could be some of your top values on a given day. Maybe you expect Arizona to hit fairly well, but Lincecum's salary is low enough that he offers value. In this case, the opportunity cost of selecting Lincecum would be that you would probably want to bypass any D-backs hitters.
You can see that the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings isn't solely about using great players, nor is it only about finding value (although both are big parts). The best players also think about what they need to yield with each decision -- the opportunity cost of their choices -- to ultimately create an optimal lineup.
Remember, the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com is free to play. The top two nightly winners of the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings will receive 30-day MLB.TV Premium subscriptions. And even if you don't win, you'll still win -- when you play the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com from DraftKings on any given day, you unlock free entries into three DraftKings contests: the MLB.com Regular Season Tickets Contest, the MLB.com All-Star Game Contest and the MLB.com World Series Contest. The prizes range from two tickets to a regular-season Major League game of your choosing, to two tickets, lodging and airfare to the 2014 World Series.
Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.