Fantasy Score DFS Picks for 4/7/15 (Lawr) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Tuesday, 07 April 2015 06:42

The good news is my ability to select pitchers who will succeed, having picked Sonny Gray (15 points) and Chris Tillman (13.66 points), each of whom got a win with their Opening Day starts.

Unfortunately, my hurler's point totals constituted 80% of my point total, relegating my somewhat anemic hitting to 17th place (at least it was a tie) in our first Mastersball Fantasy Score Challenge of the season (won by HLG1 with a whopping 77 points).

The odd thing is my batters largely did get hits--only Kole Calhoun and Jorge Soler were goosegged, but for the most part a few singles and runs, as opposed to the three dingers HLG1 bagged (and he didn't even roster Dustin Pedroia or Hanley Ramirez).

In talking with resident DFS expert Lord Zola, Todd explained picking pitchers can be far less ephemeral than grabbing hitters, and to rely more on left/right match-ups, and while I am sure he is correct, it is hard to let go of players I know do well to start the season (i.e. Brandon Crawford and Mike Morse, each of whom actually did ok).

OK, so, who do I like on Day 2, with a limited schedule? Let's take a look.

By the way, you can match up against me at the Fantasy Score MB Challenge. You can play against Zach Wednesdays and Thursdays, me on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, and against a handful of Mastersballers every Saturday. Furthermore, Zach and I will be posting our picks and thoughts daily, so continue to follow us here at MastersDaily.

Ben Zobrist ($3800): Broke out in a big way (a homer and a double) against a terrible Texas team. I think he can keep the groove going.

Nolan Arenado ($4700): Adjusted to the best hitting possibility with the Cards postponed.

Jesse Hahn ($3800): Hahn has good stuff, and faces a questionable bunch of hitters in a pitcher's park in an instance where the opposition has not really seen his stuff.

Zack Greinke ($7000): Again, due to the Cards postponement, dropped Lance Lynn and used surplus bucks for the very good Greinke.

Note a conundrum with my roster today: I still have $6500 of my $50K salary cap left, but part of the experiment here is to see if you really need to spend the full cap to win? We'll see.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 14:57
DFS: My Roster Is In! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Sunday, 05 April 2015 16:08


Check out USA Today FantasyScore Baseball, league MastersBall 50/50 GPP. Three hours before the first game, there are 10 open slots. Hurry up.

    My roster:

P        Madison Bumgarner    SF        $8,400        @ ARI            10:10PM ET

P        Max Scherzer            WSH       $8,300        vs NYM          4:05PM ET

C        Caleb Joseph            BAL        $2,200        @ TB              3:10PM ET

1B      Adam Lind                MIL        $3,800        vs COL           2:10PM ET

2B      Jace Peterson           ATL         $2,000        @ MIA           4:10PM ET

3B      Nolan Arenado        COL         $5,900        @ MIL            2:10PM ET

SS      Jhonny Peralta         STL         $3,900        @ CHC           8:05PM ET

OF     Ryan Braun              MIL         $5,900        vs COL           2:10PM ET

OF     Khris Davis               MIL        $3,800        vs COL           2:10PM ET

OF     Hanley Ramirez      BOS         $5,600        @ PHI             3:05PM ET



  1. Take 2 top pitchers who have a good chance to win
  2. Do not pay for catchers and infielders, typically weak positions; would rather pay for outfield.
  3. Get hitters who face weak pitchers, not an easy thing to do since on day one most teams play their top starters. Colorado has Kyle Kendrick, not an elite hurler. Hence three Brewers on my team.
  4. See if there is an unheralded guy who is a full-timer but new, hence inexpensive. Found Jace Peterson. I am curious about his performance.


Will it work? The good news is that I do not have to wait for the season to end to find out. That’s the beauty of daily leagues.

Incidentally, this was my first experience with USA Today FantasyScore. I found the site easy to navigate and the roster creation intuitive.

Pasko Varnica writes about present day fantasy sports and about sports in the ancient Roman world. You can find his work at

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 April 2015 16:41
Beat the Mastersballers: Fantasy Score DFS Starts Up PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lawr Michaels   
Friday, 03 April 2015 00:00

It is a new season, for sure, and everything changes.

No stagnancy here at Mastersball, where we have partnered with our friends at USA Today to have a weekly Mastersball Challenge where you can indeed play against Brian, Rob, Zach, Pasko, and me and walk away with some actual cash--not to mention the satisfaction of saying you are smarter than we are--as part of the Fantasy Score's Guaranteed Prize contest.

If that is not enough, Zach and I will be posting right here at MastersDaily, every day, noting a pitcher and a hitter we like for the day (sometimes even more) to help you navigate through the fun, exciting, and somewhat addicting path that is Daily Fantasy Games.

Don't worry: we will still be writing about our season-long leagues, and our Scoresheet and Strat-O-Matic Leagues. Todd and Greg will still be writing regularly about their NFBC. The Hotpage and Diary of a Fantasy Madman and the wonderful Rotisserie Duck and Articles of the Configuration and the other articles you depend upon to help direct your fantasy decisions will still be here.

But, well, Daily Games are big fun, and if you haven't yet dipped your toes into that pool, we all think you will be more than smitten.

In addition, we will also be producing our Podcasts in which we will also offer hints and plays we like for every format, but with an emphasis on DFS.

What's not to like?

We hope you will play and get as much of a kick out of this effort as we are (we started playing the daily format during the NFL season, and Zach will also be placing his chips on some NBA plays as well).

Our first weekly contest--Fantasy Score 50/50 Weekly Challenge--is open now up and my roster is in. Fantasy Score is a pretty simple format: eight position players, two pitchers, with a $50K salary cap.

So, wiith thoughts of full disclosure, here is my squad this Sunday/Monday (this first contest covers the Sunday Night Opener, and then the balance of Monday games, but henceforth games will involve just a single day) game, and my logic behind my selections. 

And, Zach and I do indeed invite--or should I say challenge--you to beat us! It will be fun, all season long!

C: Yan Gomes ($5500): Like the Indians this year, and like the Indians backstop a lot. Opening Day is as much about guess work as anything, but I like this guess.

1B: Mike Morse ($3800): Morse clobbered six of his 18 homers in April last year, and is a hot starter traditionally. The price tag is just value added.

2B: Neil Walker ($4800): Probably the most underrated second sacker in baseball, does a little of everything, and against the Reds, I like Walker's chances.

3B: Brett Lawrie ($4500): Lawrie might have gotten some pop back late this spring, and the Rangers pitching looks pretty sad, so I am guessing Lawrie and his mates at home.

SS: Brandon Crawford ($3500): The Giants shortstop also tends to be hot out of the blocks, and again, Arizona's pitching staff is looking for some direction.

OF: Kole Calhoun ($4800): I doubt Calhoun will be this cheap in a month, and he's the best bet to simply get the best of Felix Hernandez is Opening Day.

OF: Alex Gordon ($4800): Another guy who is steady, and gets no respect, I like Alex to start against the White Sox. Defending AL Champ has something to prove.

OF: Jorge Soler ($4800): He's dangerous. And, maybe he can channel some Tuffy Rhodes Opening Day pop.

SP: Sonny Gray ($7500): I think he will keep the ball down, and have a good game at home against that same dissheviled Rangers team.

SP: Chris Tillman ($5900): Underrated, very steady, and he gets to open against another team struggling for an identity: The Rays.

Stay tuned through the season, and follow my thoughts @lawrmichaels, @zachMLB, and the game @fantasyscore.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 April 2015 12:05
Experiment #5: Opposite strategies PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pasko Varnica   
Saturday, 14 March 2015 12:02

After more than two dozen mock drafts, the real thing is here. Ah, spring training, spring flowers, spring showers, or no showers for us in California and, most importantly, spring drafts.

I joined two real auction drafts recently. One draft was for NFBC, the other one for a private league. Being only two days apart, I decided to experiment with opposite strategies. Hence the word “experiment” in the title of this post.

“Experiment” in the sense that I am curious about which approach will prove to be superior to the other by the end of the season. We will review this topic again after the season is over, post-mortem, when the leaves turn red and autumn is in the air.

To be valid, we must assume that the quality of competition and the severity of injuries will be equivalent. That’s impossible to predict, but we know that injuries will happen. Any draft strategy must incorporate the reality of today’s baseball. However, multiple major injuries to one team while the other skates unscathed will invalidate this experiment.

Both drafts were 15 teams, auction, mixed league format using the Roto 5x5 scoring system and a standard $260 budget. The concepts depicted here can be extrapolated to snake drafts by assuming that early-round picks in snake equate to expensive players in auction. For example, to make myself clear, a $1 player in auction is equivalent to a last round pick in snake.

Money, money, the root of all evil. All this would be a moot point if I were a Hollywood celebrity and my budget were limitless. However, we cannot escape the reality and the reality is simple: with $260 to spend, our team will not consist exclusively of top tier or near top tier players. The key question then is “where to go cheap?”

Team 1 strategy: save $ for pitching

Team 2 strategy: do not overspend; ensure to have money towards the end of the draft to avoid being stuck with the least productive lowest tier players (i.e. $1 players). Stick to the 70%/30% hitters/pitchers ratio.

Opposite experimental strategy (A): Catchers: spend nothing, splurge or somewhere in between?

Team 1: Kurt Suzuki $2 / Ryan Hanigan $1 Total spent $3

Rational: catchers have been historically the most injury prone hitters, so why spend?

Team 2: Brian McCann $11 / Yadier Molina $13 Total spent $24

Rational: do not splurge on Buster Posey but get proven producers

Opposite experimental strategy (B): Corner Infield: Get a top tier player or not?

Team 1: Edwin Encarnacion $32 / Matt Carpenter $10 / Justin Smoak $1 Total spent $43

Rational: cannot ignore that considerable production comes from this position; get one top 1B or 3B.

Team 2: Joey Votto $19 / Josh Harrison $12 / Adam Lind $5 Total spent $36

Rational: overpaid for Votto, saved on Lind, overall met the objective of spending in the mid 30’s.

Opposite experimental strategy (C): Middle Infield: Get a top tier player or not?

Team 1: Ben Zobrist $12 / JJ Hardy $6 / Jhonny Peralta $6 Total spent $24

Rational: After catching, this position is the least productive, so why spend?

Team 2: Robinson Cano $23 / Starlin Castro $12 / Neil Walker $10 Total spent $45

Rational: There is a big drop-off in production after the top tier, hence get a player before the projected drop-off.

   Outfield: no opposing strategy; the objective in both cases was to pay for HRs and acquire an outfield that is balanced in terms of Roto hitting categories. Both drafts showed that the outfield is deep this year. A deep position calls for some planning by analyzing players’ projections. Add the numbers. For example, add projections for two outfielders who can be had for a buck plus a reasonably expensive catcher. Repeat by adding projections for one $1 outfielder, one $1 catcher and a middle tier outfielder whose $ value makes the two additions equivalent money wise. Which projection numbers look better? Draft accordingly. 

Team 1: Yoenis Cespedes $20 / Ben Revere $17 / Jason Heyward $17 / Alex Gordon $14 / Coco Crisp $3 Total spent $71

Team 2: Giancarlo Stanton $38 / Rusney Castillo $13 / Brett Gardener $13 / Melky Cabrera $10 / David Peralta $1 Total spent $75

Utility: Team 1: Nelson Cruz $11 Team 2: Adam LaRoche $9

Both players come with a huge question mark about their performance with new teams. Their price was right.

Opposite experimental strategy (D): To spend or not to spend on pitching?

Team 1: Max Scherzer $34 / Jake Arrieta $16 / Julio Teheran $14 / Hyun-jin Ryu $14 / Jake Odorizzi $7 / Danny Duffy $1 Total spent $86

Rational: A lot has been written on about the new era of pitching. My interpretation of that is that we ought to revise the old hitting/pitching ratio in favor of pitching and get Clayton Kershaw or another elite player if you can.

Team 2: Alex Wood $15 / Jacob DeGrom $13 / Collin McHugh $7 / Matt Shoemaker $6 / Kevin Gausman $4 / Scott Kazmir $4 Total spent $49

Rational: Spend the usual 25% to 30% of total budget on pitching; keep an eye on newcomers during the season.

Opposite experimental strategy (E): Not opposite, but still different

Team 1: Aroldis Chapman $21 / JP Howell $1 / Tony Watson $1 Total spent $22

Rational: Get a top RP and two $1 ones at the end of the draft; considering the high turnover of closers, new ones will be available during the season, so why pay?

Team 2: Trevor Rosenthal $12 /Koji Uehara $9 / JP Howell $1 Total spent $22

Rational: I was surprised that while top tier closers went for low to mid 20’s, other solid ones went for much less. Hence the closer situation of Team 2 appears superior to that of Team 1. By the time Team 1 acquires two new RPs, Team 2 will be well ahead in the Saves category.

   Final thought: Team 1 has spent much more than Team 2 on pitching. The only valid comparison is the end of the season result: that is, which of the two teams will find itself higher than the other team in the final standings of their respective leagues.

   I would put my money on Team 1. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 March 2015 16:34
Greetings From Camelback Ranch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 05 March 2015 17:49

Camelback Ranch Stadium and complex is just west of University of Phoenix Stadium, and is home to the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

As with most shared complexes, the first two games of spring training are a real home and home series, so on Wednesday the White Sox were the visiting team and the Dodgers the home team with that being flipped on Thursday. In Wednesday’s game, Chicago’s #3 SP Jose Quintana had a very quick two innings, with six Dodgers in a row retired, two by strikeout.

On offense, shortstop Alexei Ramirez led the way with three RBI on a single and a double, but Adam Eaton, Jose Abreu, Adam LaRoche, and Avisail Garcia all contributed hits against starter Erik Bedard and relievers Juan Nicasio and Carlos Frias. Nicasio can’t blame Coors Field any more – he just gives up too many hits.

The lone bright spot in the Dodgers starting lineup was DH Joc Pederson, who was 2-for-2 with a single and a double, scoring a run.

Both Wednesday lineups looked like in-season lineups but Thursday saw a wide array of subs as Clayton Kershaw was pitching for the Dodgers and Manager Don Mattingly found at-bats for Scott Van Slyke, Justin Turner, A.J. Ellis and Matt Carson while Yasiel Puig, missing from Wednesday’s lineup, started in right field.

The Dodgers scored a run in the first on a single by Joc Pederson, a double by Darwin Barney and a ground out by Yasiel Puig. Kershaw was, well Kershaw – six up, six down with three strikeouts, two called.

And not much changed. The Dodgers added five more runs, including a two-run homer by Kyle Jensen, and the White Sox got off the schneid in the ninth on a round tripper by Courtney Hawkins.

Now the two teams will see some new opponents.

Last Updated on Friday, 06 March 2015 10:02
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