A DFS aficionado knows as well as anybody, identifying undervalued, affordable producers to round out their lineup is imperative if one has the aspirations of either keeping a hot streak going, or even better, continuing to win a substantial amount of coin. Lets face it, what’s better than waking up to that congratulatory DraftKings email? Or seeing that significant spike at the bottom of your FanDuel account? Okay, maybe a few things but not many.
The point is, while yes, you will most likely need strong performances from your exorbitant, more notable players. However, complimenting them with these aforementioned productive, and hopefully relatively lower owned players, that at times, you may scroll right past when adjusting your lineup, will prove beneficial in regards to obtaining a competitive edge, which presumably you’re looking for having clicked on this post.
Of course, this is easier said than done, especially in the cruel realm that is daily fantasy sports. Fear no more, though, DRS has you covered. Through an in-depth statistical analysis, taking into account all of the vital numerical data, as well as some variables like price, an “All-Underrated” team has been comprised based off the performances of the players through the All-Star break. This will mark the first post in a seven part series where each day a player, and an honorable mention from a position, will be detailed in hopes of helping you to discover some of the less-heralded, yet effective options the next time you sit-down to construct a lineup.
Certain statistics in regards to daily fantasy sports, generally carry more weight than those of the ones baseball traditionalists’ may be accustomed to following. Because of that, some of these categories might be confusing to some. So before jumping right in, a brief explanation will be provided of each category in order to help you further understand what we looked for, when it came time to discover the undervalued gems.
wOBA: wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average, is a statistic used to assign a different value for every potential outcome that a hitter can have at a given at bat. For instance, a double, is weighted more than say a single, a triple more than a double and so forth. wOBA is generally used as a better gauge in DFS than batting average and OBP, because of its ability to combine all aspects into one metric, as opposed to making no distinction between hits, as in the cases of average and OBP. When looking at wOBA, its important to note, that any player with a wOBA above .370, is most likely having a great season both on the field, and for fantasy purposes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a player with a wOBA under a .310, is a player presumably in the midst of a trying year, and one that avoiding, may not be the worst option.
Hard Contact %: A degree in Astrophysics is not required for one to comprehend that hard contact%, is a statistic meant to portray the percentage of balls hardly hit by a player. Quality of contact data usually makes evident which players are swinging the bat well. Clearly the hitters with a tendency of going yard or supplying extra-base-hits more often than not, will have a higher hard% than your typical end of the order player. A hard % 35% and higher is usually indicative that a player is getting the most of his swings, where a 28% or lower, might represent a player who just may have not represented himself as being a power-hitter thus far into the 2016 campaign.
Isolated Power: Not to be confused with hard Contact, Isolated power, commonly referred to as ISO, is a measure of a hitter’s power and ability to get XBH. Similar to wOBA, ISO is a statistic that takes into account all hits, the difference is that ISO is used in determining the degree to which a hitter provides those aforementioned XBH, as opposed to singles. Given that DFS is a game where XBH are rewarded a significantly higher point total than singles and walks, taking into account ISO while filling out your lineup, can prove very beneficial in the grand scheme of things. Generally speaking, a player with an ISO of .170 and higher, are players that frequently supply more than just a source of singles. A player with a 0.120 ISO or lower, is not one you should expect to give you more than a few singles here and there.
LD%: LD% or line drive% is another member of the batted ball statistical category. Not only is a players LD% a good indicator of how well they are hitting the ball, but more importantly, line drives create roughly 25.2 times more runs than ground balls. Compare that with fly balls creating only around 2.6 times more runs than ground balls and it becomes clear to see why utilizing the line drive can surely be helpful. The league average usually hovers around that of 21%, so consider anything over about 24% to be very good, and everything under 17%, to be less desirable.
BABIP: Acrimonious for, “Batting Average on Balls in Play,” BABIP, is an excellent determent on whether or not a player is living up to expectations, overachieving, or possibly even having been the recipient of some rather unfortunate events. The league average centers around .300. As is the case with most stats, players with superior talent tend to have higher BABIP’s, while your typical major leaguer will find himself around that of the average .300. However, BABIP can be a little misleading at times. For instance, although player A could be carrying a .400 BABIP, and player B on the other hand say has a .276, one can not come to the conclusion that player A, is actually hitting the ball better than player B. The reason being is that BABIP, includes factors such as defense and even luck. A player can hit a ball extremely well only to have an outfielder make an incredible diving catch to record an out. In the same scenario, a different player can hit the ball into the outfield, only to have a player with less defensive prowess make an error, or not have the ability required to make a play on the ball. Those are the type of events that can see a players BABIP ascend to an uncharacteristically high number, while a player possessing a drastically lower BABIP in comparison to his career average, can for the most part, be expected to raise it gradually as the season progresses.
Stolen Bases: At once a focal point of some offense’s, stolen bases have declined throughout the years at the professional level. However, rostering some base-thieves in your FanDuel and DraftKings lineup’s, is quite enticing actually. With base stealing as previously mentioned trending downwards, it isn’t exactly far-fetched to consider it “rare.” The element of rarity usually carries great value, and value is a term sometimes often associated with underrated. See where I am going here? This isn’t an endorsement to target only speedsters, thus passing up on power-hitter’s. Consider it more of a “recommendation,” something to take into account next time you’re filling out a lineup. Stolen bases are awarded a point total double that of a single, and when a player steals, he immediately supplants himself in scoring position, one hit away from scoring a run, which is compensated with more points. Identifying players with a good balance of speed and power is ideal, and in the event they get you a bag or two, your confidence in them will more probably than not be rewarded as evidenced by the currency in your account rising.
Price-Range/Name Recognition: Because of the nature of DFS, the prices of players often fluctuate based off factors such as ballpark, the pitcher they’re facing, a hot-streak a given player might be on etc.. Incorporating all those factors, makes it hard to pinpoint a stable price of any one player. In light of this, every player appearing on our list, will generally be outside the top tier of pricing at their respected position. Affordability plays a role in assessing a player as underrated in DFS. It seems counter-intuitive to publish an underrated-player list, solely comprised of the premier options, with the top name recognition at each position. Name recognition, brings us to our next point. Your grandmother probably wont know the names of a lot of the players, if any, that we have selected as underrated. Which of course, maybe to your grandma’s disbelief, is a good thing. Variance in lineups is paramount in order to separate from the herd. With that in mind, aside from not only being affordable, these players will almost always be under-owned, despite being in the midst of a productive season.
Now that you have been provided a brief explanation of all the statistical categories we valued when comprising our All-Underrated team, with no further adieu, we introduce to you the deserving members. Today, we take a look into the first basemen, who have quietly went about their business so far this year.
St. Louis Cardinals: Brandon Moss
The position of first base in DFS, is a spot in which the options one often finds himself choosing between, will most likely result in allocating a large chunk of salary towards. There is nothing wrong with paying top dollar for a first basemen, as they are often associated with being power hitters, capable of launching multiple homers on any given night. So what if I told you, there was a way to save money, and yet were still able to obtain a player with equally as much upside as the premier options?
In the case of St.Louis Cardinals Brandon Moss, it just might be possible. While Moss did finish the first half of the season on the disabled list, his return to the lineup is expected shortly after the All-Star break. Sure, Moss is a bit of a boom or bust candidate, maybe not best suited for cash games, but if you’re looking for a contrarian pick in a high volume GPP, It’s at the very least, wise to consider him. His K% (30.0%) is a little alarming, but as suggested by his .311 ISO, which has him comfortably in first place at the position with a lead of about .20 from runner-up, Anthony Rizzo, When Moss makes contact, he sure makes the most of it. The Cardinals first baseman and outfielder also finds himself top five in both wOBA, and Hard % with a .379 and and 40.7%, respectively. No small feat, taking into consideration all the talented hitters available who are eligible as first base options across fantasy platforms.
In the 250 plate appearances before a sprained ankle robbed him of the last couple weeks of playing time leading up to the All-Star break, Moss was batting .256 with 17 homers and had accounted for 40 runs scored and RBI. Had he been able to remain healthy, we might be discussing how Moss is on pace for a 40+ home-run season. You’d think that a player with 40+ homer potential would be one priced among the top two or three options at a position given the upside. However, in the case of Moss, he was routinely priced sometimes even $1,500 less than some of his counterparts. Quite the disparity despite Moss actually possessing better stats in most cases than the upper-tier options.
Miami Marlins: Justin Bour
Ankle ailments seem to be the emerging theme of our underrated DFS first basemen. Like Moss, Justin Bour finished the first half of the season on the disabled list with an ankle injury. The severity is nothing significant, and missing the last few games should not detract from the productive seasons Bour and Moss have achieved thus far.
The Miami Marlins have quietly assembled a middle-of-the-order that packs a punch. Yelich, Ozuna, Stanton, and Justin Bour? Yes, Justin Bour. After a relatively slow start to the season, Bour found his boom-stick and with it came an additional threat to the Marlins lineup. Bour’s power is represented by his .258 ISO, and his hard% of 37.9.% His BABIP of .273 looks concerning upon first glance. However, considering that his stats which often correlate with DFS success appear highly productive, it’s safe to say Bour, has presumably been the victim of some bad-luck and good defense at times this season.
Before the injury, Bour was batting .268 with 15 homers, to go along with 30 runs and 46 RBI, in his 246 plate appearances. The Marlins slugger often finds himself in a position to drive in runs. That of course coming as Yelich and Ozuna, who are both batting over .300 on the year, are frequently able to get on base. If Giancarlo can’t drive them in, Bour is usually right behind him in either the five or six hole, salivating at the chance to potentially add another three RBI to his seasons total. What’s important to note with Bour, is that while he may be an elite option vs RHP, he definitely becomes a player to fade when a lefty takes the mound. Bour, who himself is a left-handed batter, has only one homer to his credit off LHP this year, as well as suffering almost a .50 differential in batting average when he faces a lefty.
At a position rich with power as in the case of first base, Brandon Moss and Justin Bour have illustrated all year that they are just as capable as going yard, as the majority of their respected counterparts. Moss and Bour certainly do not come without flaws, as both are familiar to going down on strikes, but in a time where the strikeout rate seems to ascend every year, players like Moss and Bour only need one swing to significantly impact your lineup.
Make sure to check back tomorrow, as the underrated second basemen options will be revealed.
Nick has been an avid MLB, NBA, NFL DFS player for a little over a year now. He has played season long fantasy since the age of 13.
He hopes to one day become a general manager for a professional sports team. Aside for writing about DFS, he also writes for
the FanSided affiliate, Call to the Pen