Starling Marte is only 24 years old, so who knows how good he can be. He’s young, which does not necessarily mean inconsistent, and his price tag has no place to go but up. He might have only hit .257 last year, but we are talking about fewer than 200 at-bats for a guy in his first call-up. So far this year, he’s hitting .321 with 14 extra base hits, 16 RBI and 10 steals. He is striking out at a good clip, but he makes up for those lost opportunities by creating new ones once he hits the basepaths (26 runs scored already this year). The Pirates offense has improved, which helps, but anytime you have a young guy with power at the top of the lineup, any lineup, you need to take notice no matter what kind of fantasy game you’re playing. Click here to check out his leadoff shot from Monday night.
The main difference between “regular” fantasy sports and daily fantasy sports: you’re not stuck with your team. You don’t have to re-hash draft day mistakes all summer; every day is a fresh start; you are always only one really good call from being a winner. This is the opposite of your roto- and year-long leagues, where a single good call can help, but a bad one can ruin you immediately.
As fantasy players, in any sport, you rank players, you form preferences and biases about the top players, and you get to know them and what they can do by heart. But that’s no advantage – because everyone else does too. Instead we all focus on the future – we take great pride in unearthing those sleepers or identifying breakout candidates before anyone else. In daily fantasy, though, you have the luxury of waiting to see a player actually start to break out before you consider playing him. But once they do, jump on board, because the converse is true, too – in daily games, you don’t need to worry if some guy’s production is merely the product of a fluky hot streak and a small sample size – you just take advantage of it while it’s there.
When you are scrolling through the list of available offensive options for any given DraftKings contest, you will notice that there are only a handful of hitters averaging double-digit fantasy points per game and some of these are misleading (to avoid those, just click on the player name to check for games played to make sure this average isn’t based on one 3-4 game before being sent back to the minors). But when you make that check and you really do have a guy playing every day, averaging 10+ fantasy points and not costing you too much money… well, start him.
A simple scroll through our player list will give you average points, and a simple click on a player’s name will give you games played, and I have already told you about the single most important statistic you can use to determine fantasy production, but there are other tools out there too. For example, ESPN’s Player Rater will give you a good snapshot at who is playing well right now (and, as discussed, right now is all that matters in daily fantasy). So, when you see Starling Marte (10.1 PPG, $4,100), Carlos Gomez (10.6 PPG, $4,300), and Nate McLouth (9.7PPG, $4,200) all in the top-15 on this list, don’t worry about whether Gomez is the next Ryan Braun (9.7 PPG, $6,400), just take the extra $2K and spend on something else (say, pitching?) and worry about a potential drop in production when the time comes, not before.
Braun or not, Gomez went 4-4 his last time out, and is now hitting .386 with 18 extra base hits, 14 RBI and 7 steals and McLouth is getting on base at almost a .400 clip, with 11 steals already this year (vs. only one caught stealing). I don’t care how many all-star games they have between them or how bad their teams are, that’s the kind of production you want on your team. These guys aren’t BETTER than Cano, or Pujols, or whoever, but right now that are as good, and without the price tag. Yeah, you might feel more comfortable and confident using more well-known players, but you’ll pay for it (Mike Trout: .273 average, 19 extra base hits, 22 RBI… $7,000 price tag). Sure, take Trout with the #1 overall pick in your yearly draft if you want, but make sure you at least look a bit farther down your list when putting together a team for tonight’s High Heat. Because sometimes that high PPG average next to the low price tag ISN’T a fluke – it’s the key to a big win.