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CoachS111’s Beginner’s Guide to Daily Fantasy Baseball Showdown Contests



What is the purpose of this article? Who would read this? Why would I read it?

The purpose of this article is to explain what a DFS showdown contest is, why we enjoy it so much, basic strategies for winning and to help players who are just getting started.  At one point, I read an article like this many years ago! Now hundreds of thousands of “sweats” later I am passing on some tricks of my trade. By the way, the term “sweat” is referred to the process of a DFS player sweating (being nervous) during the finial moments of a contest.
As you are reading this article look out for ***ADVICE FROM COACH***.

When you see it, I’ll be offering my own personal tips or strategies on the topic.


What is it? (if you have already started playing showdown contest feel free to skip this part)

If you have read this far you probably already know what a showdown is. Showdown contests involve only one game rather than a given week or day’s slate of games that a classic DFS contest would encompass. That means your player pool consists only of the two teams playing.

Of course, the lineup construction is much different. On DraftKings, you will pick six players in a Showdown lineup, one which is called the captain, and five utility players. The captain will have his points multiplied 1.5x, but his salary will also be multiplied 1.5x. The five utility players can be any offensive player in the game, as can the captain, while you can also choose from the kickers or the team defense and special teams’ units.

The scoring itself matches up with DraftKings’ standard scoring. FanDuel is slightly different as most of the showdowns they offer you only play five players and there is no multiplier on the salary of your “MVP” or “Captain” Spot.


FanDuel has way more ties due to having to roster one less player and there not being any salary difference in the “MVP” slot. If you like FanDuel I suggest playing cash showdowns, or single entry. If you do play the large top heavy GPP and you mass enter or enter multiple lines. I recommend following my rule of 4-3-2-1. What that means is for every 10-lineups I enter I enter one lineup 4 times, one 3 times, one 2 times and one 1 time. This allows me to win more when there are super large ties.   The lineups entered the lessor amounts must project for less ownership there for you should win the same amount of money no matter which lineup wins!


Cash Games vs GPP

Cash games are all about making sure your lineup has the highest floor possible. Unlike GPPS where you want the combo of floor and ceiling.  In Showdowns, I focus more on double-ups, not H2H. My hypothesis here is the more casual players are more likely to throw an entry into a double-up than post H2H contests. In addition, I feel the causal player does not often make their lineups any different between GPP and Cash when entering Showdowns.



For showdowns you must as yourself this question; How adverse to risk are you? If you answered extremely high you must be able to handle losing a lot more than winning (but when you win, winning big).  If you are not able to stomach risk play cash only in showdowns. As if you always want to lean towards chalky builds you will lose money in large top heavy GPP’S overtime (except for possibly basketball).  You may be able to win in cash though. If you can handle risk and are willing to be contrarian showdown GPP’S are for you!


Showdown Difference Between Sports

I hate ties! If you want to be a winner you should hate ties too! So with that being said Basketball is my least favorite Showdown sport as it is the most predictable sport there are times you just can not get away from the chalk. This often leads to way more chalky builds and many more ties. Now football and baseball have a huge amount of variance and are excellent sports for large GPP showdown contest.

You must play each sport slightly different and come up with game scripts and builds based on sport and particular game being played that night.  You will want to take more risk in football and baseball. In basketball you will want to pick a few places and spots in which you can make your lineups different. In basketball you want to more than likely pay up for the captain spot and spend more of your salary than the other sports.


Baseball Specific Strategies:

Baseball can be a great showdown sport if you understand the best ways to play it. It is less about correlations and game scripts. In baseball you will always want to vary your strategy specifically bases on a few factors. First off you will want different strategies when looking at Cash contest vs GPP’s. Secondly you will want to vary your strategies bases on factors like maximum entries allowed (single entry, 3 max, 20 max, 150 max), size of contest, and pay out structures.


Cash Strategies

Baseball has the most variance and is the hardest to predict sport when looking at one game sample size. Why is this? It is because the volume of actions is so low. In baseball you get three to five at bats generally.  In football you can me in for 60-80 snaps. In basketball you get 60-90 possessions. The larger number makes it easier to project data. When you are looking at 3 or 4 at bats there is not a huge difference between the best and worst player in the league. Look at it this way if you were to give Mike Trout three straight at bat’s against the same pitcher and Carlos Santana three at bats against that same pitcher the outcomes to get on base would be extremely close.  Mike Trout has an OBP of .390, while Carlos Santana (in a down year) has an OBP of .349. So, 3(.390) =1.17 and 3(.349) = 1.047. So, both are expected to get on base around 1 time. But if you take that number to 80, which is an estimated number of plays per team in football/basketball you will get much different numbers. Mike Trout would be 80(.390)= 31.2 and Carlos Santana would be 80(.349)= 27.92. That is three times more on base or a minimum of 6 DK points more.  Since the same size is so small in baseball you have more variance, which is great in GPP’s! BUT WAIT!! What position is there 70-100 actions per game in baseball? Starting pitching as they throw 70-100 pitches per start generally. This means the SP position is the easiest to predict and you will want to start there with cash.

Simple Strategies to follow to win at MLB Showdown Cash Games:

  1. Only Play contest that include at least 1 above average pitcher in a good game environment (NOT COORS FIELD) or 2 above average pitchers.
  2. Captain the starting pitcher with the most strike out potential if that starter in not on a short leash.
  3. Play the other starting pitcher in the utility if it is a game that has two above average pitchers which is recommended to find those contests. If not research and find who is likely to pitch in relief.
  4. Fill the rest of your utility slots with match up specific players likely to get on base. Even though this is hard to predict over a small sample size. Remember if you use all your salary on pitchers and your position players do not look as strong as you want, it is ok the.
  5. Use the following general guidelines; 1 batter vs your Captain SP (no more than 2), and either 3 batters vs your Utility SP or 2 batters and a RP.


If you start here and start here and start with smaller dollar contest until you get familiar with showdown cash games, you will be able to develop a winning formula!

MLB Showdown GPP Strategies

Now this is where we embrace the variance!  One thing that is key to MLB Showdown GPP’s is understanding how to play each contest. You must play each contest different bases on its size and entry maximum. This is also one of the best features of the DFS Karma Optimizer! It is the only optimizer in the industry that I know of that you can set your contest size and settings and it does the rest. Make sure you sign up and give it a try!

Since the optimizer will get you the correct settings I will not go into detail on the ins and outs of what to do in each contest type. In general the smaller the contest like your 200 person single entry, or your 225 3 entry max contest you will want to follow more cash type principles and your huge top heavy GPPS you will want to take other strategies at times. In the rest of this article I will give you tips on those strategies.

Pitcher Selection

Since this is the most projectable place in terms of results and ownership this is generally where we will want to start.  You certainly want to look for high strikeout pitchers in favorable game environments if you are going to captain a pitcher.  When playing in single entry and 3 max smaller size (1000 or under tournaments) following the cash strategy and playing SP in Captain spot with the other SP is suggested.


Since it is easy to predict what the public will do in each one game showdown slate here is some advice for MLB baseball.  Turn that into your advantage! Do not always play cash and GPP’s or when you do, do not be afraid to make them opposite.  What I mean is I often look at the game, understand what the public is going to do then decide if I want to play Cash, GPPS or both.  If I play both sometimes it is Cash heavy with a limited number of entries in GPPs opposite my Cash strategy. My Cash strategy is the most likely and best possible projected lineups which will also mean highest owned.  Follow these tips for success in contest selection.

Contest Selection Tips:

  1. One Stud Pitcher Nights – If there is only 1 stud pitcher in the game that is a cash heavy night. Captain that pitcher and use the other SP in the utility if average or above average.  If you want to play GPPS as well I often run 5-10 lineups against that stud pitcher.  Here is the Math and Logic to why I would do that.

Cash (50/50s and Head 2 Heads) I play $1000 in lineups with the stud pitcher at Captain.

GPPS I play $100 in lineups against that pitcher or with the pitcher and 3-4 batters against him.

If the most likely thing happens most of the time, I win $1000-$100= $900 (not a bad night)

If the opposite happens, I have created leverage and less duplicated lineups with a good shot to place in the top % percent of GPPS and win thousands. At the very least I should place in most of these lineups and get back a decent % of the cash losings.

  1. Two Below Average Pitcher Nights –I will keep this one short and sweet take the night of Cash and play GPPS. Without a good starting pitcher baseball has too much variance and you really can not accurately predict one game sample size. This becomes to much “luck” and not a night I want in cash.


Relief Pitcher Strategy

In GPP’s using relief pitchers to differentiate your lineups can be key!

I found this data over the course of an estimated 100 lower dollar ($10 and below GPPS). These numbers represent the following Pitcher 1, Hitter 2/3 would mean one pitcher from one team, with two hitters from one team and three from the other.  Pitcher 1/3, Hitter 2 would mean 1 pitcher from one team and 3 from the other with 2 hitters from the team against he one pitcher.  The insane thing the data show is that a four-pitcher lineup won around 15% of the time but was owned less than 2 percent of the time!  See I told you pitching was the most predictable!  In addition to that not on the graph Pitcher 1/3 and hitter 1/1 won around 4% of the time and is owned around .5% of the time.  The most common type of winning lineup with pitcher stacks is.

Captain- SP

UTIL- Opposing SP

UTIL- Setup Man (team with SP)

UTIL- Closer (team with SP)

UTIL- Hitter vs Opposing SP

UTIL- Hitter vs Opposing SP

This lineup build will win 2.5-4 times the amount of times vs the percentage of times it is owned. I like to use this strategy in games with a stud SP and average or slightly above opposing SP.

Batter Tips

Since baseball has so much variance very rarely do I recommend using the “best” hitter or even best few hitters in the Captain spot vs average to below average pitcher. It a spot like this I often fade the best hitter and play his teammates and hope he is the 6th, 7th, or 8th scoring fantasy player that night. Now you could never do this in basketball or even football but in baseball you can. Perfect example was on 10/14/20 (around when this article was written) the LA Dodgers scored 11 runs in the first inning and I believe 15 runs overall. They were the obvious play as well.  So, who would the top three projected players be? Most Likely Seager, Bellinger and Betts.  Creating lineups with them at Captain or even with all three in the same lineup would produce to many duplicates. So, fading one of them per lineup if a good strategy. In this example Betts was the 8th best scoring Dodger batter than night but the 4th highest owned.

Simple Batter Tips:

  1. Mix in bottom of the order guys that are not well owned names.
  2. Do not be afraid to put hitters against pitchers. Avoid the SP at Captain with 4 hitters from that team and 1 opposing hitter stack as much as possible because it will be duplicated a lot.
  3. Pay attention to weather and game environment. (fly ball hitters in games where wind is blowing out)
  4. Mix in the 1-5 stack when you have a stud SP sometimes. That is when I use a star a lot vs a stud SP who is facing a weak SP.  Example:


Captain- Star Hitter Team #1 (vs Stud SP Team #2)

UTIL- SP  Team #2 (the stud)

UTIL- Hitter Team #2

UTIL- Hitter Team #2

UTIL- Hitter Team #2

UTIL- Hitter Team #2


Closing Advice

This baseball section completes the first Showdown Strategy piece of our toolbox. Additional pieces will be coming out on showdowns, as well as many other parts of DFS. Do not forget to try our optimizer at DFSKARMA.com. Next piece coming out soon is on bankroll strategy!

Until next time! Signing Off  WHO-DEY!

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