DraftKings' Quirky Roster Deadline Rule and Boom-or-Bust Players


Originally published at DFSEdge.

As part of my Who To Target series, I recently looked at the various rules and eccentricities of DraftKings to determine optimal player selection strategy, but thereís one quirky rule that DraftKings employs that didnít fit neatly into any of the categories I looked at.† The rule has to do with the way players can be selected and lineups can be edited.† It reads:

ROSTER DEADLINES Contest entry will close approximately one minute before the start of the first game included in the contest. You can edit your roster as many times as you like before the contest closing time, and you can continue to edit players after contest start time that have not started playing yet. Once an MLB game begins, all players on participating teams will lock and can no longer be edited.

Now that wording is a little funny, but in essence, this rule means that, unlike most daily fantasy sites, lineups donít completely lock with the first game of the day.† If you select half of your team from the batch of 7 p.m. ET games and the other half from the batch of 10 p.m. ET games, when 9:55 rolls around, you can continue to change which 10:00 players are in your lineup, even though youíve already seen how your 7:00 players performed.† DraftKings implemented this rule, Iíd imagine, to combat getting screwed over when lineup cards for 10:00 games havenít been submitted by the time 7:00 games are starting.† So if you pick a 10:00 player that winds up on the bench, you can replace him with a starter.† The side effect of this, however, is the creation of some interesting strategic opportunities for the savvy daily league player.

The most basic strategy to employ with this rule is to start a few late-game players and make mid-evening changes based on how your early-game performers did.† If youíre outpacing your opponent(s), fill your remaining lineup with safer players in late games to ride out an easy win.† If youíre not doing as well, fill it with a few boom-or-bust type players.† Since youíre heading toward a loss anyway, either your guys bust and you lose spectacularly or they hit and you wind up winning.† There would seem to be less room to leverage this rule in tournament play, however, since youíre going to be selecting a lot of boom-or-bust type players anyway.† In tournaments, using it for its intended purpose (making sure you have starting players in your lineup) is about the best you can do.

In head-to-head or small group games, the most efficient way to take advantage of this rule is to set at least one of your pitcher spots aside for a late-game play since pitchers are often easier to classify as boom-or-bust and since they accrue more points than hitters do.† I would employ this tactic almost any day that there are two viable pitching options (a safe one and a risky one) in the late set of games.† Pitching points make up such a large chunk of total points that they give you the most leverage, and their high point ceiling makes it easier to play catch-up if that happens to be the position you find yourself in.

Exactly how many late-game roster slots to reserve is a question without an easy answer.† It really depends on the exact makeup of a given dayís games and how many strong plays you think are in each set of games.† Keep in mind, however, that there are far more early games than late games on any given day -- nearly four times as many, actually:

Game Start Time

Percentage of Games

Afternoon

41%

Early Evening

46%

Late Evening

12%

Because of this, you donít want to go crazy with reserving spots for late games since your options will usually be limited.† It would be ill-advised to forgo selecting a player in an early game with a good matchup simply so you can have options later.† A good play is a good play whether itís in an early game or a late one.† But after you pick out the cream of the early-game players, leaving a few late-game spots to toy with (assuming there is a sufficient number of safe and boom-or-bust players that are likely to be available) is a good idea.† Planning ahead is your best friend here.† Donít just hope that youíll have options in the late game; make sure that theyíre actually going to be there.