2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit

How Prediction of Game Can Help With Fantasy Baseball


*Disclaimer: I use the term ‘Vegas’ very loosely. It’s a generic way of saying ‘the conglomeration of sportsbooks that supply betting odds in Las Vegas’.

My good friend and I have a running competition during college football seasons. We analyze the top 10 relevant games (well, relevant to us anyway) and have friendly wagers on betting odds on these matchups based on over/under. Sometimes, we would agree on a matchup and think that Vegas didn’t do their homework to its fullest extent. By the end of the day, we usually find that we were completely wrong on those agreements.

We have a simple, traditional phrase for those moments – “Vegas knows”. These odds-makers are insanely great at their jobs and know how to work the market. If you think you have easy money on a game with teams you’ve watched and studied all season, you are just naive to the fact that Vegas is three steps ahead of you. Don’t doubt these sites.

How does this apply to the fantasy sports world? Well, if fantasy drafters aren’t using betting odds, they likely aren’t doing it right. There are countless ways that Vegas lines can assist fantasy baseball players like you and me. No matter the style of player, there’s information pertinent to every fantasy game out there. Allow me to explain!

How Prediction of Game Can Help With Fantasy Baseball

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS)

The better DFS players are analyzing the betting odds of every game on every slate of games. Figuring out which players to own in a daily format can be as easy as making a list of marquee games according to Vegas. There are plenty of numbers to review for each game to achieve DFS glory.

Run Totals

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Arguably the most important number in DFS studies, a game’s run total is the tell-all predictor. Vegas predicts a combined run total for the two teams in a game and sets an over/under to bet on.

Games with high run totals are typically targets for DFS players to ‘stack’, which describes the tactic of using multiple players in a lineup or game as a whole. As a reference point, games at offense-friendly Coors Field in Colorado generally have high run totals. These are very popular games to stack guys like Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon as well as offensive players from the opposition that night.

Low run totals lean towards pitching duels. Whether the offenses are anemic or the pitching is that dominant, Vegas believes these are games to avoid for offense. Pitchers are of popular use in these instances, but that doesn’t necessarily tell you which one to use. For that, there’s another set of odds…

Money Line (Spread)

Spreads in baseball are a little different than most sports. Because games are so much more difficult to predict, Vegas uses this format more often. These are the positive or negative triple digit numbers seen for each team in a given game. In a basic sense, this number tells you how much money you bet and win in different scenarios. For example, in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, the Cubs (-120) were favorites against the Indians (+110). Larger numbers mean larger intensity with the positive and negative driving it towards underdog and favorite, respectively.

So how does this help in DFS? Simple – it’s a good way of predicting which pitchers will get wins. If wins are weighed heavily in the DFS contest entered, then this is vital to success. So after analyzing all of the money lines, the pitching pool can likely be narrowed to a nice number to choose from based on other statistics. If it is suspected that other contestants use this strategy in a big tournament, one can choose to be ‘contrarian’ and select pitchers they like that are predicted to lose. Plenty of angles…

Daily Prop Bets

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Most betting sites include ‘prop bets’, which singles out scenarios for teams and players separate from game outcomes. Vegas sets over/unders for statistical performances that signifies how good or bad a team or player might do in a given evening. This ranges anywhere from predicting strikeouts for pitchers, home runs for batters or teams, and even stolen bases. This is obviously helpful for the DFS junkies – if Marcus Stroman’s over/under on strikeouts is 8.5 one evening, it would be wise to put him in a few lineups.

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Season-Long Leagues

Vegas makes a large chunk of their money on preseason odds. Bettors will throw different sums of money at odds that are large before a season starts. Because of the parody every baseball season brings, even the surest things can be laughably off by season’s end. Think about it as it pertains to fantasy drafts – Jonathan Villar can go from being a second rounder in 2017 to outside the top 200 in 2018.

In both odds and draft rankings though, all that can be done is give an educated guess. Bettors and drafters alike take these educated guesses combined with internal ‘hunches’ to try and up their odds at success. There’s no one better than Vegas at educated guesses in the sports world, so it’s imperative that drafters at least peruse the season-long odds provided by the educated guessers who do it best.

Win-Loss Predictions

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One of the more popular preseason bets to make, win-loss totals predict how competitive teams will be. This is another great predictor for fantasy baseball players who are selecting players. Elevated win totals can mean either offense or pitching (or both) is very strong for a given team.

To compare how theories can be spun, take two teams in 2017 – the Dodgers and the Blue Jays. The Dodgers are likely expected to be one of the better teams on the pitching side when healthy. The offense is above average, but probably not among the league bests. Thus, the high win total suggests that their pitchers should be the providers of value. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, are expected to match decent pitching with a fantastic offense. With the high win total, position players like Josh Donaldson in Toronto have high run expectations.

From the pessimistic point of view, the same can be done on the teams expected to be terrible. A drafter may really love Mike Moustakas this season, but they are projected by Vegas odds to be the worst team in baseball. That projection does not bode well for Moustakas’ potential for run production, as the rest of his teammates are not proven players.

Awards Odds

Every drafter has aspirations to pass on overrated early round players while finding value on mid-round players. That sounds like such an obvious statement when reading it aloud, but it’s much easier said aloud than done in the draft. This is especially true when what I call the ‘One Burn Only Effect’ occurs. This is what happens when a player burns a fantasy owner and causes him to write him off for the season(s) following.

All in all, unbiased Vegas odds are a great way to counteract this effect. They release their preseason odds on awards such as each league’s Cy Young and MVP. Manny Machado burned lots of fantasy owners last season and left a bad taste in their mouths for 2018 drafts. But, looking at his top five odds to win AL MVP, his second round average draft position (ADP) is well worth it.

The best way to use these lists is to glance through the entire lists to see which random names show up. The Cy Young odds list is very inclusive and shows upside of each pitcher in each league. Basically, one could compare two pitchers with similar ranks and decide which one to pick based on upside. Searching the odds, it’s determined that Pitcher A has better odds of having a breakout season than Pitcher B. This could be the 2018 version of Luis Severino or Robbie Ray.

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Where to Find Betting Odds

view the whole range of betting at William Hill

View the Whole Range of Betting at William Hill

There are a plethora of betting sites out there available for this information. One great source is William Hill headquartered in Las Vegas. Not only do they provide odds for baseball, they have the goods for just about every sporting event out there. They are a one-stop-shop for bettors and fantasy players alike..

2018 Fantasy Baseball Position Previews
CatcherFirst BaseSecond BaseThird BaseShortstopOutfieldStarting PitcherRelief PItcher

Check out the rest of our great Fantasy Baseball content as the 2018 season approaches.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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