Setting MLB Lineups Across Daily Fantasy Sports Sites FanDuel, DraftKings

Want to play Major League Baseball daily fantasy sports contests across FanDuel and DraftKings, with minimal fuss? We break down how to tweak your lineups.

Before we start

Obviously, because of the different salary caps, and the salaries associated with each player, at FanDuel and DraftKings — direct imports of lineups are nearly impossible.

While exploiting differences between the two sites is a key to creating successful lineup, finding value within their individual salary cap structures is a bigger key to a winning strategy. So if you have what you feel are strong plays at one site, look at those players in terms of salary cap value at the other site. You can reuse the players that you feel are good values, and then build from there.

The bottom line? You could certainly do worse than creating a good lineup for one site and use it to play at the other. But the best practice, if you have the time and energy, is to optimize your lineups for each.

The basics at FanDuel

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The lineups at FanDuel exactly mirror that of an MLB team. Here’s what you draft:

Pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman and three outfielders.

The salary cap for FD is $35,000. FanDuel average salary per player: $3,889

Scoring is pretty simple for hitters:

  • One point for each base you get with a hit (one point for a single through four points for a home run).
  • Single points for RBIs, runs, walks and being hit by a pitch.
  • Two points for a stolen base.
  • Minus-.25 points for an out.

For pitchers:

  • Four points for a win.
  • Minus one point for an earned run.
  • One point for a strikeout and an inning pitched.

FanDuel Review

The basics at DraftKings

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There are just two small tweaks that occur in setting a lineup for a DraftKings MLB contest: an extra pitcher is included in the lineup, and the first baseman slot is combined with a designated hitter slot. Here’s what you draft:

Pitcher, pitcher, catcher, first baseman/designated hitter, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman and three outfielders

The salary cap for a standard DK contest is $50,000. DraftKings average salary per player: $5,000

Scoring is a little more complicated at DraftKings. For hitters:

  • Three points for a single, five points for a double, eight points for a triple, 10 points for a home.
  • Two points each for an RBI, a run, a walk, or a hit by pitch.
  • Five points for a stolen base.
  • Negative two points for being caught stealing.

For pitchers:

  • 2.25 points for an inning pitched.
  • Two points for a strikeout.
  • Four points for a win.
  • 2.5 points for a complete game.
  • 2.5 points for a shutout.
  • Five points for a no-hitter.
  • Negative two points for an earned run allowed.
  • Minus-0.6 points for walks, hit batters or hits allowed.

DraftKings Review

Hitters at FanDuel vs. DraftKings

Not every point is created equal when setting MLB lineups across the two sites. As you can probably tell, there is not always a direct correlation between the values of stats as you compare them.

So based on the hitting scoring systems above, what points have more value at each site? The easiest way to make comparisons for hitting points is to use “base 1” point at FD, and “base 2” at DK, and then look for disparities from there.

  • Power/extra-base hits are at a premium at FanDuel. A home run at FanDuel is worth four times the value of a single. Meanwhile, a home run is a little more than three times more valuable than a single at DraftKings.
  • Walks and being hit by a pitch have less value than a single at DraftKings (two points vs. three points), while getting on base by any means always has the same value at FanDuel.
  • All hits are slightly more valuable in moving from the FanDuel format to DraftKings, anywhere from double the value (single = three points at DK, one point at FD: under a “base two” system singles should be worth two points, if there was a direct correlation between the sites) to a 50% increase in value (double = five points at DK, two points at FD).
  • You get penalized for outs at FanDuel, while you do not at DraftKings.
  • Stolen bases have 50% more value at DraftKings, although you also get penalized points if a player is caught stealing (under a “base 2” system, steals would be worth four points at DK, if there was direct correlation to FD).

Let’s take a look at a couple of hypothetical hitters who have different stat lines, and see how they perform across sites (ignoring runs and RBIs, as they are weighted the same across sites, at a two-to-one ratio)

4-for-4, all singles 
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 12

1-for-1, HR
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 10

As this clearly illustrates, a singles hitter who hits for average and simply gets a lot of hits has more value at DraftKings than at FanDuel. One home run equals four singles at FanDuel, in terms of points, while you get more points for the four singles at DraftKings.

Now, let’s compare the singles hitter to players who get on base a lot through other means (i.e. walks, high on-base percentage)

4-for-4, all singles 
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 12

2-for-2, 2 walks, 2 singles
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 10

0-for-0, 4 walks
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 8

As this illustrates, there is more value in players who get on base more frequently (without getting a hit) at FanDuel. This idea is exacerbated when you consider you lose a quarter of a point every time a player gets out in FanDuel, while there is no such penalty at DraftKings:

0-for-2, 2 walks
Points at FanDuel: 1.5
Points at DraftKings: 4

0-for-4, 2 walks
Points at FanDuel: 1
Points at DraftKings: 4

So, if you have a base lineup in play at FanDuel and you want to port it to DraftKings, what should you do? Skew toward players that are more likely to hit for average in your DraftKings lineup, all things being equal. And if you are going the other way? Skew towards players with more power and a higher OBP, all things being equal.

Stolen bases are their own issue, as well. While you get more credit for stolen bases at DraftKings, you also get penalized when your players are caught stealing:

2 stolen bases
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 10

2 stolen bases, 1 caught stealing
Points at FanDuel: 4
Points at DraftKings: 8

From FanDuel to DraftKings, skew toward players that have a higher stolen-base percentage, all things being equal.

Pitchers at FanDuel vs. DraftKings

The differences between the two sites is even greater for pitching, with far more negative points in play for DraftKings lineups.

Wins are worth the same at each site, and that’s about where the similarities end. Using the fact that win points are equal, we get the following disparities:

  • Strikeouts are twice as valuable at DraftKings (2 points vs. 1 point)
  • There is more than 2x value for innings pitched at DK.
  • You can get up to 10 bonus points for pitchers who complete games at DraftKings.
  • Earned runs are penalized twice as much at DraftKings (-2 points vs. -1 point at FanDuel)
  • You are penalized .6 points for walks, hit batters or hits allowed at DraftKings.

The obvious takeaway is to select players who accumulate more strikeouts at DraftKings, as those points are worth a premium. At DraftKings, you also want to be more cognizant of a pitcher’s WHIP (walks + hits / inning pitched). Pitchers that have a higher WHIP will lose you more points, on average, than players with a lower WHIP.

Because of the benefits of having a good pitcher, you likely don’t want to skimp on your pitching when setting a lineup at DraftKings vs. FanDuel, despite the fact that you only pick one for a FanDuel lineup. Just having a pitcher that is likely to win a matchup and give up few earned runs are the most valuable metrics in picking a pitcher at FanDuel. But the potential upside of a good pitcher — and downside of bad pitchers — makes those selections more valuable at DraftKings vis a vis the rest of the lineup.

Consider these examples (excluding wins, which are a wash as far as points):

Quality start:
Win, 6 innings pitched, 6 strikeouts, no earned runs, 4 hits allowed
Points at FanDuel: 6 points + 6 = 12
Points at DraftKings: 13.5 points + 12 + 0 – 2.4 = 23.1 points

Poor start:
3 innings pitched, 1 strikeout, 7 earned runs, 10 hits allowed
Points at FanDuel: 3 points + 1 – 7 = minus-4 points
Points at DraftKings: 6.75 points + 2 -14 – 6 = minus-11.25

As you can see, all the peripheral stats around wins have far more effect on a DraftKings pitcher’s value. Taking a dicey bargain play at DraftKings could torpedo your entire lineup.

Summary

  • Porting a lineup from FanDuel or DraftKings isn’t the perfect answer, but if you are only researching for one site and want to quickly get a lineup entered for another, it’s not the worst idea.
  • Hitting points between the two sites don’t have a huge disparity, but FanDuel emphasizes power, on-base percentage and steal percentage, while DK emphasizes batting average.
  • Pitching points present a larger disparity. At DraftKings, you must analyze a pitcher’s peripheral numbers far more than at FanDuel, as innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP all come into play with higher values.
  • Want some more advice on optimizing for the DraftKings format? Two good articles here and here.