By Dave Loughran, Special to InGame Fantasy
Anytime real money is awarded to the victor in any form of competitive affair, strategy is going to be involved. The two go hand in hand, and why wouldn’t they? We play to win, and in order to win, we must be better than the competition. Gaining a competitive edge over your opponent isn’t difficult, but more so a matter of commitment. Learning, understanding and mastering these strategies is the first step to becoming a successful daily fantasy sports player.
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InGame Fantasy isn’t your typical daily fantasy sports app, and with its uniqueness comes an entirely different set of strategic methods. Here are my top five strategy tips to becoming a force at InGame Fantasy and crushing the competition:
Watch or follow the games as they are being played
Let’s not be unrealistic; InGame Fantasy is an appealing fantasy sports game partially because we don’t need to be as vigilant with our research or attention to games. However, you’re going to win a lot more by putting in the additional work, and that work involves following games as they’re being played. Now, this isn’t to say you need to watch every pitch of every game, but it’s important to get a feel for how pitchers look on a given night, and how tight or friendly an umpire’s strike zone looks. Every base counts, including walks, so utilize all the tools you’ve been provided. Even following along on the MLB At Bat app is useful, as we can semi-accurately gauge whether a pitcher is simply off his game, or if he’s getting squeezed by the ump. Identifying and targeting struggling pitchers is one of the easiest ways to rack up some easy bases.
Ride the Rally!
In regular daily fantasy baseball formats, stacking a team (playing four or more hitters from the same team) is generally not a recommended strategy outside of tournaments formats, but on InGame Fantasy, there’s no downside to hitching your cart to an offensive rally. If, for example, the Red Sox string together some hits and are knocking around a pitcher, don’t hesitate to select multiple hitters as they come to the on deck circle. Just as stacking teams works in standard daily fantasy baseball, the same thing applies on InGame Fantasy. Even if we’re dealing with a sub-elite batter during an inning where a team is racking up the hits, he still has plenty of value. This isn’t to say that selecting a poor hitter is always the right move in this situation, but more so suggesting that we shouldn’t always avoid them based solely on their career or season stats. Many of my best results on InGame Fantasy have come when I latch onto a team that explodes for several runs in an inning.
Patience is Perfect
One of the easiest ways to have disappointing results playing at InGame Fantasy is to rush your picks. Each night we have plenty of games, plenty of innings and plenty different pitchers to pick on, so don’t load up on all of your hitter selections early in the night just because you want to get some excitement. Middle relief pitchers are generally the weakest arms on any team, and many of weakest bullpen arms take the mound in games that get out of hand (blowouts). This isn’t to say that we don’t want to load up on opposing hitters if Adam Morgan starts for the Phillies, but slow playing InGame Fantasy contests definitely has its advantages. Keep in mind, however, that targeting closing pitchers is not an advisable strategy. Contrary to middle relief pitchers, closing pitchers are typically the best one-inning bullpen arms on their respective teams.
Target the Platoon
If you’re new to baseball terminology, a hitter having the “platoon advantage” means he has different handedness than the pitcher he’s facing. Bryce Harper (LHB) has the platoon advantage over Matt Harvey (RHP) and Nelson Cruz (RHB) has the platoon advantage over Wade Miley (LHP). There are a few things to consider here, though: first, elite hitters don’t need the platoon advantage to be quality options. However, even uber-talented left-handed hitters will have a tougher time hitting left-handed pitchers than the opposite situation (RHB vs. RHP) because there are less southpaws in baseball, therefore left-handed hitters will face them less often than a righty faces a righty. With less skilled hitters, it’s important to look for matchups against pitchers with opposite handedness as themselves, as we’re trying to find any advantage possible in order to succeed. On InGame Fantasy you aren’t forced to roster cheap under-talented hitters, but it’s a viable approach in quality matchups, especially when they have the platoon.
Contact is Key
Some pitchers are capable of blowing hitters away with 100 MPH fastballs or sliders with filthy break. Some pitchers aren’t capable of generating swings and misses if their lives depended on it. The latter type of pitcher is who we’re looking to target for InGame Fantasy contests. The concept is simple: put the ball in play and good things will happen — not always, but there’s a zero percent chance of earning a hit on a strikeout. Selecting hitters against contact pitchers provides us with a higher probability of recording a hit, even if it’s a bloop single to shallow left field. Flyball pitchers are also more susceptible to allowing home runs and extra base hits, so they make for excellent pitchers to pick on, too. “BABIP” stands for “Batting Average on Balls in Play,” and it’s a statistic that doesn’t measure a pitcher’s true talent level, but more so his level of luck or misfortune. What that suggests, however, is that pitchers, despite how well they pitch, will always risk unfortunate bounces and lucky hits, because, well because that’s baseball. As a result, we want to target hitters against the pitchers who are consistently allowing the most contact.