Daily Fantasy Baseball - Find the Right Game For You

By Richard Gibson
Apr. 08, 2017

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Baseball season is upon us! At this time of the year, you are sure to see a spike in people around town wearing team caps and jerseys to support their local or favorite team. If you're looking to get more engaged with baseball this year, daily fantasy games are a great, low commitment way of doing just that. Not only can they make watching your favorite team more exciting, they transform games involving other teams from passive entertainment to interesting contests.

However, not all fantasy games are the same. Newcomers and even veteran players may not know that there are several different game types available from different providers. In this article, we outline some of the daily fantasy baseball games that are available today, where they are played, and the player types best fitted for each.

Salary Cap Drafts

For:

  • Gamblers
  • Jackpot seekers
  • Stats junkies

Not for:

  • Casual fans
  • Socialites

Found at: FanDuel, DraftKings, Yahoo Daily Fantasy, and a plethora of others

In salary cap drafts, each MLB player is assigned a salary value. Your task is to put together a team, typically one player per position, such that the sum of your players' salaries is under the given cap. You score points based on your players' accumulated statistics for that day.

If you love number crunching and lineup optimizing, then salary cap drafts are right up your alley. Almost all daily fantasy sites featuring salary cap drafts offer real money contests. There, you pay an entry fee to play, but also win money when you are one of the top finishers in the contest. The most popular type of contests are "Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP)" contests that typically feature hundreds or thousands of entrants competing for a large pool of money. Some prize pools have made it into the millions of dollars.

If you are a casual fan, beware: some players spend hours a day optimizing their lineups with statistical models and software tools. This makes it extremely difficult for the average player to win in the long run. In addition, unlike season-long fantasy drafts, there is no user interaction. While you can play against friends in private contests, salary cap drafts are not something you would organize to do together at a local bar.

No Salary Cap Drafts

For:

  • Casual fans
  • Gamblers
  • Jackpot seekers

Not for:

  • Socialites
  • Stats junkies

Found at: DraftPot, DraftDay, DRAFT

As the name suggests, no salary cap drafts are simply salary cap drafts without the cap. In other words, you can choose any players you like without having to worry about staying under the cap limit. This opens up the contests to the casual fans who can compete simply by picking the top players in the league who are facing weak opposition. Lineup optimization tools are much less useful in the no salary cap format since the lesser-known players are seldom picked.

Snake Drafts

For:

  • Socialites
  • Stats junkies
  • Strategy gamers

Not for:

  • Busy individuals
  • Jackpot seekers

Found at: DRAFT

Snake drafts are conducted live with other entrants over multiple draft rounds. Users take turns selecting players to fill out their lineup, with the player who selected last in one round selecting first in the next round. Snake drafts have been around for years in season-long fantasy leagues, and now they are available to play in daily fantasy too. User interaction makes the snake draft a great forum for some serious smack talk when you beat your opponents to a sought-after player.

On the other hand, success in snake drafts comes with a pretty big time commitment. Not only should you be doing some player research beforehand, but you also need to commit a block of time to actually doing the live draft. Don't expect any big jackpots either since you cannot practically play a snake draft involving thousands of entrants.

InGame Fantasy™

For:

  • Gamblers
  • Live game watchers
  • Stats junkies

Not for:

  • Busy individuals
  • Jackpot seekers

Found at: Fanamana

If you have ever thought "I wish fantasy was more like actual baseball", then InGame Fantasy™ (IGF) might be for you. IGF is played live during MLB games. You face off head-to-head, repeatedly picking new hitters as they come to the plate in the actual games. If your pick gets a hit, you get a runner on base in your virtual IGF game. If your next batter also hits, he moves your runner around. Score more runs than your opponent over the course of the game to win cash.

If you love digging for favorable batter-pitcher matchups and watch a lot of live games, IGF is great. If your schedule is a bit more erratic and you tend to watch recordings of games, you will want to look elsewhere.

Beat the Streak

For:

  • Busy individuals
  • Casual fans
  • Jackpot seekers

Not for:

  • Socialites
  • Strategy gamers

Found at: MLB.com

Beat the Streak (BTS) is by far the simplest of the athlete-choosing games on this list. Each day, you pick two hitters. If one or both of your hitters gets a hit, your streak goes up by one. Otherwise, your streak resets back to zero.

BTS is a great way to kill a few minutes, but there's not a lot of strategy involved. Your best bet is to pick leadoff or 2-hole hitters who hit for high average and are facing a weak starter. There is, however, a $5.6 million prize up for grabs.

Streak for the Cash

For:

  • Busy individuals
  • Casual fans
  • Jackpot seekers

Not for:

  • Stats junkies
  • Strategy gamers

Found at: ESPN.com

Streak for the Cash (STFC) is very similar to Beat the Streak. Rather than picking batters that you think will get a hit, you pick teams that you think will win. Put together a long enough streak of successful predictions and you can win some big cash prizes.

As with BTS, there is not a lot of thinking required to play STFC. I recommend simply checking the betting odds and picking one of the highest favored teams. STFC is not just for baseball, and if you want to maximize your odds of winning, I'd further recommend not picking baseball winners at all. Stick to basketball or tennis where variance is much lower.

Team Pick'em

For:

  • Busy individuals
  • Casual fans
  • Gamblers

Not for:

  • Stats junkies
  • Strategy gamers

Found at: Easy Streak

Team pick'em games are similar to Streak for the Cash. Rather than putting together a long winning streak of correct picks, you instead try to pick as many winners as possible for an entire day's slate of games. Make more correct picks than your competition to win prizes.

If you are into strategy games, again you will want to look elsewhere. The basic strategy of simply picking the favorite in every match is your best bet. You might want to pick one or two underdogs just to avoid tiebreaker scenarios with other players doing the same thing, but any other strategy is a losing one in the long run. On the other hand, pick'em games are great if you like gambling and don't care to put a lot of thought into your picks.

Auction Drafts for Teams

For:

  • Casual fans
  • Socialites
  • Strategy gamers

Not for:

  • Jackpot seekers
  • Stats junkies

Found at: SportsBid

Like snake drafts, auction drafts are interactive and played out live with other users. Each player starts out with a set number of chips to bid with. Teams are drawn one at a time and bid for. The player with the highest bid claims the team and pays out their final bid. The goal is to draft as many teams as you can that you think will win the day's games.

Auction drafts for teams are great when played with friends and, compared to snake drafts for athletes, are more accessible for the casual baseball fans in your group. This is because deep knowledge of player statistics is basically irrelevant. In addition, auction drafts require much more strategic thought compared to the other team-based games on this list, making them feel more like an actual game. However, contest sizes are limited, so don't expect any giant jackpots.

Finally, don't hesitate to completely disregard this advice and give any or all of these games a try. The beauty of daily fantasy is that you can always move on to a different game the next day. Good luck and have fun!

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