One of the more difficult processes to go through when going full contrarian is determining how to go about choosing which stacks and pitchers to select for your rosters. Some people like to choose a mix of chalk players and contrarian players, and have success to back that strategy up with. In my personal opinion, I think the optimal strategy (especially for a very large, top heavy GPP) is to go almost all contrarian.
The main difference between NBA GPPs and MLB is that players (especially hitters) are tremendously volatile, and even some of the better pitchers are capable of scoring negative points. Furthermore, the total pool of reasonably good available players is gigantic compared to NBA, where there are plenty who simply never play. When you go chalk, you’re basically banking on the “field” (low owned players that you don’t have) performing poorly, which is a tough fade, since there are so many of them, and again, volatility is a problem.
If you take the presumed “best” catcher of the day at 15-20% ownership, there is a strong possibility that one of the other 20 or so catchers will get lucky and outperform him, in which case the field has a big advantage on you at the catching position. If you take this approach at all positions, you end up with an overly chalky lineup that requires nearly all of your players to hit a 75 percentile or higher result, which is very unlikely.
However, if you go players who are almost all 10% or lower owned, and several of them have 90 percentile or better games, you usually don’t need as much help from your surrounding players to take down a GPP. The key is simply having low owned dynamite plays on days when most of the chalk does poorly, or more ideally, none of the chalk plays hit a 90+ percentile game.
Figuring out quite a bit of today’s chalk should be fairly simple on DraftKings, and let’s begin by looking at the top run lines:
Expect most of the star power on these teams to be owned pretty heavily, and at scarce positions such as C/2B. I will for the most part be fading almost every hitter on these teams, as even the #8 hitter on KC is correlated with all the other ones to some degree. Let’s now look at the middle of the pack in terms of run lines:
This is a gigantic slate, so there are even a few teams with worse run lines than Atlanta that I would look at. One important thing to keep in mind is that NYM@MIA went 16 innings last night, so bullpens should be really depleted. This makes Noah Syndergaard and whoever MIA starts (Adam Conley threw last night so his status is unclear) ideal GPP plays because they should be allowed to go deeper than normal. On the flip side, these pitchers might be good candidates to stack against in case of a blowup from either pitcher.
Here are my favorite stacks and players to roster that might not be heavily owned:
The Brewers don’t have a gigantic run line, but they have the power/speed combo that is ideal to load up on in tournaments. Facing Scott Feldman who is both home run and stolen base friendly, I’d look to play Jonathan Villar, Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Domingo Santana, and pretty much literally anyone who starts for the Brewers both as a stack and as one-offs.
The main guys I’m looking to target here vs. Masahiro Tanaka are Jedd Gyorko, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Carpenter, and Matt Adams. I believe that people will shy away from using such batters in this spot, but they all have decent pop here. I am a big fan of using good-great home run hitters against very good, but not elite pitchers mainly due to upside vs. relatively low ownership.
Dee Gordon and Christian Yelich have sneaky big upside against Thor, as do any of the Marlins hitters you think will try to run on him. Thor is a pretty terrible pitcher to target otherwise, since most of the value against him comes from the stolen base. Thor will carry some ownership in GPP so this is a solid leverage spot to choose.
Almost no one is looking to target the Rangers and their paltry 3.53 run line, but King Felix is very susceptible to the stolen base, which makes Carlos Gomez, Rougned Odor, Elvis Andrus, and Shin-Soo Choo very playable.
I’m not totally dialed in on who will be popular besides Salvador Perez, but here are some very good options on teams that don’t have giant run lines. A big part of MLB DFS is rostering a low owned catcher who hits 1 or 2 HRs, so it’s wise to spread out your options a bit since such a feat is rare.
Geovany Soto $2,600: Soto not only has a cheap price but has very good HR power for a catcher. It’s likely he will be owned somewhat, but if you don’t hear anyone talking about him he’s an elite play.
Jett Bandy $2,900: A great pick to put in a Brewers stack or one-off as he has good HR potential here vs. Feldman.
Yasmani Grandal $3,300: People generally like to save money on catchers, and tend to avoid the more expensive ones hitting against Zack Greinke. I am a big fan of punting value (Bandy and Soto are way better values per $ than Grandal) on MLB hitters if it can give me unique roster construction and the somewhat realistic possibility of a very low owned HR.
Steve Pearce $3,400: While Pearce always has a big risk of getting platooned later in the game, he hits for good power vs lefties, and Wade Miley is a decent target to pick on. I prefer to avoid guys who are platoon risks, but he is one of the better ones.
Jonathan Schoop $3,300: While people are flocking to Brian Dozier and Raul Mondesi with great run lines, I will be playing Schoop vs Estrada where no one will want anything to do with him. The upside to Schoop is that he has a ton of power for a 2B, and getting HRs out of a 2B is a tremendous advantage in tournaments.
Jose Peraza $3,800: I am a bit more on the fence regarding him simply because he’s on a team with the second highest run line. On one hand he isn’t cheap, but he should carry some ownership. I am less interested in the run line as I am in his elite stolen base matchup vs. Tommy Milone, but without that I would happily fade him.
Aside from that, feel free to get weird as it’s an extremely large slate and anything can happen. Just remember that chalk and other good, but popular plays often fizzle out, so as always, set your rosters to maximize the luck factor!