Introducing FanDuel's MLB 3-Man Challenge Game Style
A big part of the allure of daily fantasy sports is being able to set a roster when you have the ability to do the research and really dig into a slate to find the best matchups and value plays. You aren't simply forced into shuffling around a season-long lineup just to plug in your starters mindlessly for the day before logging out.
Sometimes, though, prepping for a baseball slate -- especially one with 12 or 14 games -- can be tricky. Weather concerns can derail a game, and sometimes when the lineup gets posted, your favorite value pick isn't even starting. Lots of adjustments can make building a full nine-man roster tricky.
FanDuel's 3-Man Challenge is doing its part to change the game.
What Is 3-Man Challenge?
Aptly, the MLB 3-Man Challenge game style requires you to roster three players -- all batters -- and the pricing is simple. You'll have a $7 salary cap to roster three batters, whose prices will be either $1, $2, or $3. You'll designate one player as your MVP, and that player's FanDuel points will be multiplied by 1.5.
Also, we're not dealing with 14-game slates for 3-Man Challenge. Instead, we're picking from five or six of the best, most offense-friendly games of the night, and the only real restriction -- beside the salary cap -- is picking batters from at least two teams.
Further, the scoring structure is as straightforward as could be.
|FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Scoring||Fantasy Points|
So, this means, for example, a homer from your MVP is worth 6 FanDuel points, and an RBI from the MVP is worth 2.25 FanDuel points.
Which Players to Target?
In a game style like this, we need results. In baseball, results aren't always easy to predict. Frozen ropes can get caught, and an inch or two can be the difference from a home run and a long foul ball.
So, how can we build great 3-Man Challenge rosters?
Get those dingers. And those RBI.
From a sample of 140 qualified hitters from 2018, RBI and 3-Man Challenge points had a correlation coefficient of 0.92, which is a mathematical way of saying that hitters who knocked in runs scored a lot of fantasy points in this game style (a perfect correlation here would be 1.00). The correlation between homers and 3-Man Challenge points was 0.82.
Here's a full breakdown of 3-Man Challenge Points per at-bat from this sample.
|3-Man Challenge Points
Even with points awarded for singles, it's really not enough relative to the added points from other scoring actions. We should be looking for extra-base hits, primarily doubles and homers. Triples are fluky and generally stem from the speedy lead-off types. In general, they don't have the power or RBI potential that other sluggers do.
If we dig into batting order splits, that theory checks out. Leadoff hitters collectively ranked sixth in 3-Man Challenge points per plate appearance from the 2018 season, as they generally lack home run and RBI potential.
|Batting Order||3-Man Challenge Points|
per Plate Appearance
You'll generally want to stack the middle of the lineup -- second through sixth -- and leave the leadoff men on the bench.
The stats that point to standout performers in this game style are pretty obvious: slugging percentage (SLG) and isolated slugging percentage (ISO). These stats give weight to extra-base hits -- batting average doesn't -- and are tied very, very strongly to 3-Man Challenge performance.
In 2018, the top 10 hitters in 3-Man Challenge points per at-bat from our 140-batter sample were identical to the top-10 in slugging percentage. The rankings were a little shuffled, but you want your boys to grade out well in slugging. Likewise, every top-10 fantasy performer in this game style ranked inside the top-10 in isolated slugging in our sample.
It'd be a good idea to check out the leaders in slugging percentage to help guide your roster construction, and you can also lean on expected slugging percentage to help find some batters who have either over-performed or under-performed in the slugging percentage column.
You also may think that overall contact rate would yield strong results in this game style, which requires you to put the bat on the ball to score, but that's not the case. However, hard-hit rate, a super valuable stat in just about every fantasy baseball iteration, shines again.
Your three-player roster should always include players with home run upside, even if they have high strikeout potential. An out is an out, and a walk won't move the needle in the 3-Man Challenge Scoring game style.
Target the early part of the order without leadoff hitters, and check out the slugging percentage leaderboards -- as well as the expected slugging numbers -- to help find values.
And, of course, you can rely on numberFire's daily MLB projections, which are available free every day to see which players are primed to hit dingers and help your three-man rosters thrive.