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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Why in the world at 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, April 16 – instead of going to bed after a long week - did I turn over to a game in the eighth inning in which Kansas City was visiting Oakland? In doing so, I switched off the Giants at Dodgers contest.

After all, I am a National League guy, right?

DFS is the reason – specifically a second-year contest called Tout Wars Daily.

If you are a long-time full-season fantasy player but haven’t yet committed to daily action, this article is for you. On the other hand, if you are already all-in on daily play, you know where I will be coming from.

Still with me? OK!

Have you ever had a traditional league title come down to the last day of the season? You nervously hammer your remote control and the enter key on your computer or phone, scanning games and monitoring box scores for each player on your and your opponent’s rosters while living and dying with the success and failure of each at-bat.

When the last West Coast contests are nearing their end, the intensity increases to an almost unbearable level until the final outcome is clear.

That is what precisely happened to me on an otherwise mundane Friday night in mid-April. In fact, that same final-day excitement can be recreated each and every day with DFS.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have not yet jumped into daily play with both feet, though as you will see, my resistance is becoming weaker and weaker. I have looked at it similarly to golfing (in real life, not fantasy). If I cannot commit the time to become above-average in the game, it is not worth the time and frustration to simply be mediocre.

Tout Wars Daily has pulled me in, though. Not only is it a once-a-week daily contest, taking less time out of my schedule, my competitors are not some random, faceless userids. The players are sourced from all the Tout Wars leagues – some my best friends and most well-known industry players in the world.

How could one not get up for that?

Each Friday, all the Tout warriors select their one best lineup for the evening. The season consists of five four-week segments. The top three finishers in total points in each segment receive a ticket to the final, which will be held on August 26.

In Week 1 of the 2016 competition, I finished first among the 41 Touts who participated, with a 56-51 edge over the second-place finisher, Doug Anderson (rotodaddy).

Heading into Week 2, I knew I could again compete. What was key for me was that I had allocated ample time in the late afternoon to study lineups and batter versus pitcher histories - which is over and above basic identification of “hot and cold” players, checking weather forecasts and the like.

Without a couple of hours to really research my lineup options and figure out the tradeoffs on how to best fit them under the salary cap, it is like golfing without having practiced putting and hitting balls at the driving range first. Lacking full preparation means the odds are high that the result will be middling at best.

Last Friday, my efforts helped me identify Dodgers second baseman-outfielder Kike Hernandez’ past success against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. Though it is inexplicable, some average-at-best hitters seem to own superstar pitchers. So it was here. All Hernandez did Friday night was hit two home runs and knock a two-run double in his three Friday at-bats against MadBum. For just $3700, Kike delivered 16 points, highest on my team.

When setting my final lineup that afternoon, I was torn whether or not to take the obvious pitching play – Clayton Kershaw at home against those rival Giants. Coming up with the $9900 to roster Kershaw meant I had to drop my declared top hitter of the day in St. Louis third baseman Matt Carpenter ($5800).

In hindsight, that decision almost sunk me. Kershaw was not dominating, at least for him, with a number of other pitchers delivering higher value on the evening. Yet, the Dodgers ace was throwing a shutout through five innings.

But Kershaw lost points when he gave up two runs in the sixth. Our excellent stats provider, RTSports.com, refreshed the live scoring with Kershaw at 6 2/3 innings. At that point, I was tied for first at 84.66 points with “ThePME”. Patrick Mayo is among the toughest competitors, having been the third-place finisher in Week 1.

I had Kershaw and Kike still playing, while Mayo had A’s catcher Stephen Vogt live. The latter was already 2-for-2 with a home run.

I was crushed when I saw Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sit down next to Kershaw on the bench, almost certainly telling his ace that his day was done after seven innings and a 7-2 lead. Saving bullets is the right answer for a 162-game season, but not for my evening’s hopes. As it turned out, all was not lost. Kershaw’s final out of the seventh was worth 0.34 points, breaking my tie with Mayo.

My secret weapon Hernandez had been neutralized, however, as MadBum was already in the showers. When Giants skipper Bruce Bochy went to his pen, Kike’s kryptonite was useless as he went 0-for-2 the rest of the way. When Hernandez came to the plate in the eighth, he appeared to be my last hope to open up my 0.34 point lead. Instead, he crushed my irrational hopes for a fourth hit, grounding into a double play.

With my roster done for the night, I turned over to the KC-Oakland game to root against Vogt. At 1:04 a.m., I woke up my entire household with one screamed f-bomb as the catcher singled with two out in the bottom of the eighth.

That base hit, which was meaningless in the context of the game when Vogt was stranded, scored one point for Patrick. In the process, he took over first place, 85.66 to 85.00.

I went to bed defeated, but I could not sleep. No one – and I mean no one - wants to finish a very close second in any endeavor.

When I awoke (later) Saturday morning, I was delighted to see that I had in fact won. I had not noticed that Kershaw’s four-point win had yet to be included in the scores. That gave me a roller-coaster 89.00 to 85.66 victory.

The best news is that I have another shot this week and I will again be ready for the excitement of competition against the very best!

To follow along with Tout Wars Daily each Friday, check out the results live at RTSports.com.

If you haven’t yet started to play DFS, consider taking your first steps with Mastersball. RealTime Fantasy Sports hosts a Mastersball Daily 50-50 GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) contest with $135 in prizes available for just a $5 entry fee. Take our free trial DFS projections on your test drive and compete against the Mastersball staff at RealTime Fantasy Sports here.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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