FanDuel's New Daily Fantasy Baseball Scoring Rules Further Incentivize Stacking
And y'all thought stacking was important before. Things just got a whole lot tastier for stack savants on FanDuel.
As of Wednesday, FanDuel will be tweaking their scoring rules to increase the points assigned for runs scored and runs batted in. The intent here was to respond to criticism about the number of ties involved with the scoring rules put in place before the season, but it simultaneously has some interesting implications in other aspects of the game.
Let's dive a bit deeper into these scoring rules to show just what kind of impact they'll have once they're put into place. Prepare for the era of the combo stacks.
Increased Value in Quality Lineups
Just in case you haven't read through the new rules yet, let's skim through that quickly to illustrate why they're important.
The system will now be assigning 3.5 points for all RBI's and 3.2 points for all runs scored. Previously, both of those events had been worth three points, equal to the points for each total base, inning pitched, or strikeout. This tweak seems small, but even the smallest changes leave ripples.
Let's check out what this would do in a real scenario. We've been logging perfect lineups for each day during the 2016 season, and they can give us a glimpse into what a realistic lineup looks like. The table below shows the perfect lineup for Saturday, April 23rd.
|Tanner Roark (WSH)||P||$6800||0||0||0||7.0||0||15||78|
|Jose Altuve (HOU)||2B||$5100||5||3||0||0||0||0||24|
|Chris Davis (BAL)||1B||$4300||5||4||1||0||0||0||36|
|Colby Rasmus (HOU)||OF||$3900||5||2||1||0||0||0||39|
|Eugenio Suarez (CIN)||3B||$3300||5||3||1||0||0||0||42|
|Troy Tulowitzki (TOR)||SS||$3100||4||3||2||0||0||0||39|
|Ian Desmond (TEX)||OF||$2900||5||1||1||0||0||0||45|
|Yan Gomes (CLE)||C||$2500||5||3||1||0||0||0||45|
|Ezequiel Carrera (TOR)||OF||$2100||5||4||0||0||0||0||30|
|Total Salary||$34000||Total FP||378|
In this example, the batters totaled 20 runs scored and 20 RBI's. That would result in 14 total additional points under the new scoring rules. This does lower the relative value of the starting pitcher, Tanner Roark, though not by a dramatic amount. The more important takeaway is the new-found additional upside high-powered offenses have.
Two of the players in that lineup were on the Toronto Blue Jays, who scored nine runs in the game. Let's say you had decided to stack the Blue Jays by using their first-, second-, third-, and fifth-place batters. If you had done so, you'd have received eight RBI's and seven runs scored, a total of 5.4 points more than you would have received under the old scoring rules. That's almost the same number of points you'd receive for an RBI single, and -- again -- those are only points you wouldn't have received under the old rules.
I realize that 5.4 points doesn't sound like a lot, so think about it this way instead. Previously, every time you double dipped with a run scored and an RBI, you would receive six points. Now, you get 6.7 points, an increase of 11.7%. That would seem to be significant, correct? Your competition also receives this bump up, but if they're not stacking, they won't be taking advantage of these changes as much as those who fully indulge in the art of a stack.
The only question you should be asking after looking at that is, "Why stop there?" If extra double-dipping is good for one lineup, wouldn't it be even better for multiple lineups? That's where combo stacking comes into play.
The Upside in Combo Stacking
If you deploy a strategy where you only stack one team for a given slate on FanDuel, that means you'll have (at least) four stand-alone batters on each roster. When you do that, you can benefit from what they do individually, but those are also four slots where you won't be able to double dip with the expanded points for runs scored and RBI's. This seems to be a less efficient strategy than deploying multiple stacks within each lineup you push out.
Going back to our perfect lineups, we've now analyzed 22 of them over the course of this season. Over half of them (13) have had multiple stacks within them. A perfect lineup assumes you have ideal decision making across the board, and none of us are going to have that. Yet, part of the intent of stacking is to reduce variance, meaning you'd expect stacking to be less prevalent in a perfect lineup than a randomly-chosen winning lineup. Despite that, combo stacks were involved in our perfect lineups more often than not. That should say quite a bit about the value they provide. All of this is before the value of stacking is amped up with the new scoring rules.
We do still need to keep FanDuel's stacking rules in mind when thinking of this. The first rule is that we can't use more than four players on the same team, and the second is that we must have exposure to three separate teams. This means we can't simply use two stacks of four players, but we do still have a degree of flexibility.
The first option would be to stack four players from one team, three players from another, and then toss in one stand-alone player. This way, you still get the two largest stacks you can possibly have while limiting yourself to only one player by himself. That's an option, but it's not the furthest you can go. Why stack two teams when you can stack three?
Stacking three teams is the only way you can avoid having any stand-alone players on your roster. Whether you choose a 4-2-2 stack or roll out a 3-3-2, you have at least one teammate associated with every player on your roster. With the extra incentive the new scoring rules give us to stack, this may be the optimal route moving forward.
By implementing this sort of decision making, you allow yourself to only target three different opposing pitchers and three different park factors. Instead of potentially facing the fifth-worst pitcher on the slate or dipping into a more pitcher-friendly park, you could hypothetically be facing only the three worst with more acceptable run-scoring spots. By consolidating the number of offenses you target, you're not spreading things thin to the point where you're making sub-optimal decisions. All of these advantages existed before, but the new scoring rules only make the upside in using them higher.
There are still going to be times when using a player all by himself is going to be a quality play, and that'll be the case almost no matter what the scoring rules are. If there's a player on a lesser team with a grotesque platoon advantage over the opposing pitcher, maybe it's time to use that person and capitalize on the advantage. It certainly seems, though, as if pairing that player with a teammate will be the superior strategy more often than not.
The changes FanDuel is making to the scoring rules are small, but they are also impactful, and they should change the way we view our lineups.
When we stack, we're looking to double dip in the points scored from RBI's and runs scored. By increasing the scoring associated with both categories, the value of stacks goes up, and the value in stand-alone players goes down. This is why we should be increasingly interested in stacking multiple teams within each roster and gravitating away from stand-alone players when possible.
In the pursuit of eliminating stand-alone players, we see why three-team stacks are appealing. We can't have two stacks of four players, so the closest replacement may be stacking three separate teams to fill all eight hitting spots on the roster. We can alter how we distribute those eight players between the three teams, keeping the flexibility we would have and allowing us to mold our rosters to the slate on hand, but the advantage of these three-team stacks is clear.
As always with daily fantasy sports, we have to be willing to adapt when situations change. This is most true when the rules themselves change. Our perfect lineups were showing before that combo stacks were a quality strategy, but FanDuel's most recent scoring changes should only reinforce that thought. By implementing these combo stacks into our lineups, we may be in the best position to fully capitalize on the new scoring rules and the extra incentive they give us to load up on players on the same team.