DFS Baseball Guide 2020

How To Play Fantasy MLB


In 2007, Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) was born and introduced baseball fans to single-day fantasy contests for real-money prizes. Today, MLB DFS is one of the most popular options in the booming industry.

DFS baseball allows users to select any players they want to build their lineups as long as they remain under a total salary cap. Points are tallied up as games play out and stats are accumulated on the field. The DFS team with the highest scoring lineup wins.

There’s a wide variety of MLB contest types and a few different scoring nuances to consider with the biggest DFS operators.

We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about daily fantasy baseball right here, starting with where you can play.

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Where can I play Daily Fantasy Baseball?

One of the great things about MLB DFS is its widespread availability. It is completely legalized in 20+ states and available in over 40 states. As of now, these are the only states which have yet to get on board:


That’s it. Everywhere else across the US, you can play fantasy baseball online without issue. The two biggest operators in the industry, DraftKings and FanDuel, have sponsorship deals in place with MLB for both DFS and baseball betting.

In short, MLB DFS is both a widely-accepted and wildly popular way to play fantasy baseball.

How to sign up for an account/deposit money

Signing up for a DFS account is quick. You only need to enter a few pieces of information, such as name, address, email, and date of birth. The entire process takes just a couple of minutes.

Once your account is created you can download the mobile DFS apps on your device of choice. You’ll then be ready to play on both the browser-based site and on the app.

You can perform the same functions in both places, such as entering contests and adding or removing funds. For deposits, you’ll find options such as PayPal and credit cards. Moving money in happens instantaneously, while withdrawals take a little time to process.

Best fantasy baseball apps

DraftKings sportsbook MLB ads

In the world of DFS, two operators are head and shoulders above the rest:

DraftKings and FanDuel are the two largest operators in terms of active users, prize pools, and contest sizes. Here’s a more detailed look at how the two compare:

While those two dominate the DFS market there are other options out there for those looking for something different. To try both out, click through out links below to claim your bonuses:

How to download a DFS app

Downloading a DFS app is quick and painless and can be done in over 40 states. To start the process, click through on the links to to start registering your account.

Look for the links to download for iOS or Android once your account set up is finished. Once the app is downloaded you can manage your account details, deposit and withdraw funds and jump in any MLB fantasy contests right from your phone or tablet.

Daily fantasy baseball vs. Season-long fantasy baseball

While the concepts are similar, there are also distinct differences between DFS MLB and season-long fantasy baseball. Both can be tons of fun, so it’s really just a matter of being different ways to play something you enjoy.

Here are a few of the major differences to keep in mind:

DraftKings mlb dfsDaily MLB DFS vs. season-long MLB Fantasy

In daily fantasy MLB you set your lineup just for that day’s games. You can draft any of the players scheduled to play based on the contest format you enter.

In season-long fantasy, you draft your entire roster before the season kicks off and tweak it via trades/drops as you move through the season.

Salary cap vs. draft

For DFS, you can build your lineup out of all available players. However, you must stay under the salary cap while doing so.

Season-long fantasy baseball teams are chosen during the draft in advance of the season, and users make moves to adjust from there.

Single day vs. whole season fantasy baseball

A DFS MLB contest revolves around a single slate of games. Scoring is based on what happens during the day’s games and that’s it. On the season-long side, scoring is tallied up throughout the year based on all of the games played.

While there are big differences in how to play, there’s still a crossover in skills required for success in both. A good season-long fantasy baseball player can generally catch on pretty quickly with DFS, and vice versa.

What kinds of DFS baseball contests can I play?

Another big reason for the explosive popularity of DFS baseball is that there are a number of different ways to play. Here are some of the most popular contest types you’ll find.

  • Head-to-Head: This is the DFS form which most closely resembles season-long. It’s user vs. user with the best lineup winning.
  • 50/50s and DoubleUps: In these contests, the goal is to score better than up to half the field with the potential reward up to double your entry fee.
  • GPP: Guaranteed Prize Pool tournaments are games which attract tons of users competing for massive prize pools. You pay a single entry fee which is added to a prize pool of buy-ins of all competitors plus any top ups or guarantees from the operator.
  • Multipliers: A multiplier is similar to a 50/50 or DoubleUp. You’ll need to beat a portion of the field in order to win 3x your entry fee or more.
  • Leagues: A league is similar to a tournament in that the top finishers cash, but they’re generally a smaller size of 100 entrants or less.
  • Qualifiers: A qualifier is a GPP-style contest in which the prize is a ticket to larger tournament or contest.
  • Showdown: Also known as single-gamed DFS, these are contests which revolve around just a single game as opposed to an entire slate of games.
  • Tiers: A pick’em style game in which users make their selections out of tiers of players without having to worry about salary cap.

For all of the above ways to play, you’ll find MLB DFS contests at numerous buy-in points, ranging from the micro-stakes all the way up to high roller contests.

There are contests such as GPPs in which you can enter multiple lineups, as well as plenty of single-entry tournaments and games to choose from.

Which DFS baseball contests are best for beginners?

MLB DFS at the high stakes is very competitive. There are seasoned users out there who are good at what they do and spend the time and money to enter multiple teams in major contests.

MLB Spring TrainingThankfully, there are also many beginner fantasy baseball contests out there which you can and should take advantage of. On DraftKings, you’re allowed to enter beginner contests until you have played 50 games in total.

It’s the same deal over at FanDuel. Both operators have badges or icons which designate the experience level of players. This helps you gain a quick sense of who you’ll compete against.

For beginners, there are contests which are designated just for them, such as 50/50s. These are great ways to gain some experience while playing against others of similar skill level.

Don’t be afraid to use up all your eligibility on beginner contests before moving up in class. DFS isn’t going anywhere, so you’ll have plenty of time to increase your level of competition.

How are points scored in daily fantasy baseball?

This is one of the most important areas to understand for those new to MLB DFS. Scoring is different from season-long and it can also vary among operators. For example, here’s how the two biggest players in the game score things for hitters.

Hitter ScoringFanDuelDraftKings
Single3 points3 points
Double6 points5 points
Triple9 points8 points
Home Run12 points10 points
Run Batted In3.5 points2 points
Run Scored3.2 points2 points
Base on Balls3 points2 points
Stolen Bases6 points5 points
Hit by Pitch3 points2 points

DraftKings and FanDuel are in line in a number of ways, but the differences in scoring can’t be understated. It’s the same story with how the two sites approach scoring for pitchers.

FanDuel sticks to the basics when scoring pitchers. Pitchers get points for strikeouts and innings pitched and have points subtracted for earned runs.

DraftKings takes a different approach. Its scoring penalizes pitchers for things such as hits, and they’ll also add bonuses for complete games.

In addition, FanDuel only requires you to roster one pitcher while DraftKings requires two hurlers.

What are the differences between DK & FD baseball DFS?

DraftKings and FanDuel both offer MLB DFS contests, but they aren’t exactly alike. Understanding the key differences between the two platforms is imperative, as strategic approaches to playing on both are impacted. Let’s take a look at the key differences.


As we outlined in the above section, there are distinct scoring differences on the two sites. For example, FanDuel credits 3.5 points for a run batted in, while DraftKings only awards 2. Understanding these little nuances can be key when it comes to building competitive lineups on the two sites.

Roster requirements

The two sites take different approaches to lineups as well. On DraftKings you need 10 players while it’s just 9 on FanDuel. Here’s the breakdown.

  • DraftKings: P, P, C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF
  • FanDuel: P, C/1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, Util


Bigger overall prize pools can be found on DraftKings. However, FanDuel also offers massive GPPs. Payouts on contests such as 50/50s and DoubleUps are similar on both platforms.


The two DFS giants invest heavily on tech. As a result, they both offer very smooth and user-friendly platforms. Picking which one is better than the other comes down to a matter of user preference.

You can evaluate some of the more notable differences between DraftKings and FanDuel here, but you’ll come across additional quirks as you explore the two platforms. Try out both sites by signing up via our exclusive links to take advantage of both bonuses.

You may find that you like one better than the other, but you may also decide that you like playing on both. There are plenty of seasoned DFS players who take both approaches.

How to build your first MLB DFS lineup

You’ve signed up for DraftKings and FanDuel. Now what? It’s time to browse the lobby to find an appealing beginner contest. Once you find one, you can build your first lineup.

Even for experienced fantasy baseball players this can seem a bit intimidating at first – especially on a slate with lots of games. However, you can make things a little easier on yourself by taking a four-step approach.

1. Find your pitcher

Is there an ace on the mound tonight that you just have to have? How about a lesser-priced pitcher that has been dealing of late? Start here and make this your first lineup choice.

2. Target two stud hitters

For a jam-packed MLB slate, you won’t have any trouble finding some stars to build around. Find two that have particularly appealing matchups for the evening and use them as your core plays.

3. Go value shopping

MLB DFS is based on a salary cap model. It can be challenging to fit in all the players you want as a result. However, there’s value to be found every day. Target a pair of lower-priced players for your lineup and you’ll have more room elsewhere.

4. Fill out your lineup

After the first three steps, you have a pitcher and four hitters to form the bulk of your lineup. Now, you’ll need to fill in the rest while staying under the cap. Go position by position and look for the most appealing plays of the day.

Once you have it narrowed down, pick your top choice and work your way down until your lineup is full. As you gain more experience, you can check out more advanced lineup building approaches such as game stacking (targeting four hitters from a potentially high-scoring game), but it’s best to master the basics first.

This four-step approach will help you get a handle on MLB DFS in no time.

Single entry vs multiple entry MLB DFS

Many of the larger MLB DFS contests are multi-entry. This means that individual users can put in numerous lineups in the hopes that one of them will perform best. For the largest tournaments, users can put in up to 150 lineups.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are single-entry contests. As the name implies, this means that each user only enters once. Between the two types of contests, there are various strategic approaches which can be employed.

For newer players, starting with one lineup is best. It takes time to get a handle on lineup building, the salary cap, and DFS scoring, and that’s much easier to do when you’re only managing a single lineup.

After you’ve gained some experience, you can give it a shot with multiple lineups and see how you like it. Some users find that they absolutely love building out multiple lineups, while others prefer the challenge of building a single optimal lineup.

DFS Baseball World Championships

The two major DFS operators host live final events for MLB DFS. Users gain entry to these tournaments by winning a qualifier, which is a GPP-style contest in which the award is a seat to the final. Here are the details on the most recent editions:

DraftKings MLB DFS ChampionshipDraftKings Fantasy Baseball World Championship

  • In 2019, the live final was held in Chicago for 100 qualifiers. The top prize was $500k and all places cashed with a minimum price of $15k.

FanDuel World Fantasy Baseball Championship

  • FanDuel held its live final event in San Diego in 2019 for 125 qualifiers. Top prize was $500k. All places won prizes with a minimum cash of $5k.

Live final events have helped to put the DFS industry on the map. They remain incredibly popular and they are very tough to qualify for as a result. That doesn’t impact the enthusiasm as qualifying tournaments generally fill up without issue.

Beginner fantasy baseball strategy tips

As your experience level increases with fantasy baseball, you’ll find that there are a number of different strategy approaches you can employ. You can get as advanced as you like moving forward but it’s also possible to have success while keeping it simple.

When starting out, lean towards keeping it simple and tweak as needed. Here’s a handful of DFS baseball strategies which will help get you off on the right foot:

1. Lineup building basics

We’ve outlined a simple lineup building approach that you can lean on: start with your pitcher, find two studs and two value plays, and fill in the rest of your lineup around that. Once you have this technique mastered, you can start branching out into more advanced concepts.

2. Understand the salary cap

Building a competitive lineup while staying under the cap is challenging. However, it gets easier as you move along. A key part of the learning curve stems from understanding value – i.e. the price you are playing for a player in relation to what you can reasonably expect them to produce.

3. Know your scoring system

As mentioned, DraftKings and FanDuel take different approaches to both lineups and scoring. Focus on understanding the requirements on both sites as this can impact your player choices for the day. Additionally, salaries are different on both sites, so good plays on one may be poor plays on the other.

4. Analyze the matchups

Matchups are key in all sports, but it’s especially true in baseball when we’re talking about hitters vs. pitchers. Some batters excel versus some pitchers and struggle versus others, and the same is true for hurlers. As part of your research routine, devote some time to finding the good and bad matchups of the day.

5. Be objective

When it comes to fantasy sports, taking emotion out of the equation will help boost your objectivity. While it’s cool to roster your favorite players, there are times when they have bad matchups or just aren’t playing very well. Use your head when building lineups, and reserve your heart for when you’re cheering on your favorite team.

After you’ve gained experience by employing these five tips, you can look to expand the repertoire. You can get more advanced in your matchup analysis, and even take a stab at making daily projections. Additionally, you’ll find that there are plenty of resources out there to get advice from for MLB DFS.

Picking MLB DFS pitchers

mlb playoffs oddsWhile each part of an MLB DFS lineup is important, nailing your pitcher will make it that much easier to build a competitive one. If your pitcher goes out there and gets shelled, there’s a good chance you won’t be winning anything that day.

Once again, matchups are key. Stud pitchers and hurlers on hot streaks can excel against weak hitting teams. Clubs that beat the tar out of the baseball can pose a matchup nightmare for any pitcher – regardless of skill level.

One way to help narrow down the choices of the day is by taking a look at the betting lines for the day’s MLB games. Oddsmakers will install an Over/Under for each contest. A total of 8-8.5 runs is pretty common.

Totals that go above this number could be an indicator of a potentially high-scoring game, while those that go less than that can be pitching duels in the making. Additionally, keep in mind factors such as recent performance and pitcher track record versus the team he’s facing.

Pitchers get on hot streaks in which they seem unhittable, and they’ll also go through stretches when they struggle with control. On the team level, pitchers can own certain teams but struggle versus others.

If you make these key points part of your routine, your chances of picking a solid pitcher will increase greatly.

How to win at fantasy baseball

There’s no magic answer on how to win at MLB DFS. It takes practice, patience, research, skill, and a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt. However, you can increase your chances of success by sticking to some tried and true principles.

Keep it simple

We’ve outlined a number of simple approaches for you to take. You can certainly employ a more detailed and analytical approach as you move forward, but there’s a lot to be said for keeping it simple.

Not everyone has hours and hours to devote to researching MLB every day. The good news is that you don’t need to in order to have success. Get a handle on a basic strategy that works for you and follow it.

You can always tweak it as needed by adding pieces that seem important and subtracting others that you deem to be ineffective. In addition, you won’t be lacking for options when it comes to MLB DFS advice.

Find a few trusted sources

There are a ton of resources out there, some of the free variety and others for which you pay a fee. A good rule of thumb is to find a few trusted sources that you can lean on for daily data and matchup analysis.

This can help cut your research routine down, and you’ll then be able to focus your time on the concepts that are important to you. From a bottom line perspective, you can keep it simple and still find success.

MLB DFS vs MLB sports betting

DFS and sports betting are two pastimes with crossover appeal. There are some similarities but also some distinct differences to keep in mind. Success in one is no guarantee that you’ll knock it out of the park in the other. But it certainly can’t hurt.

For DFS, the idea is to build the best possible lineup out of the players competing that day. In sports betting, bettors are analyzing the games themselves to find the best betting opportunities – i.e. who is going to win.

It takes research to find the best DFS plays of the day and identify the top betting opportunities. That’s a skill that translates well.

If you can build a DFS lineup, you can learn how to find potentially profitable betting opportunities, and vice versa.

Here’s one other thing to consider: the lines between DFS and sports betting can be blurry. For sports betting, there are prop bets which revolve around player performance, and it can take a fantasy sports mindset to find success with them.

MLB DFS terms you have to know

As with all hobbies, there is jargon that’s specific to MLB DFS. The list below is by no means comprehensive, but it’s a solid base to begin with as you’ll come across these terms many times as you evolve as a player.

  • Stud: This is a top player who is among the best in the league. Typically, they’ll be the priciest choices in DFS.
  • Value: This is a player whose salary seems low in comparison to potential output. Identifying top value plays every day is a key part of lineup building.
  • PIR: Once contests go live, you’ll see this indicator on DFS sites which stands for Player Innings Remaining.
  • AVFP: Average fantasy points refers to what a player is scoring on average for fantasy purposes for the season to date.
  • Rank: On DFS sites, you may see a ranking for hitters, pitchers, and teams which refers to how they stack up for fantasy purposes in relation to their peers.
  • BvP: This stands for Batter vs. Pitcher and refers to the matchup for how a hitter stacks up against the pitcher they are preparing to face.
  • Chalk: A chalk play is a player who is expected to be popular for the days slate of games. They’re usually highly-owned in GPPs.
  • Contrarian: A contrarian play refers to a player who is flying under the radar. Finding lowly-owned players with the potential to go off can help set your lineup apart.


When does fantasy baseball start?

Fantasy baseball begins with Opening Day of the regular season. For 2020, March 26 is scheduled as the start date.

What are the most important stats for baseball DFS?

There are a number of different theories as to which stats are the most important. For hitters, all-encompassing statistics such as OPS or wOBA is leaned on by many DFS players. It’s the same for pitchers, as advanced ERA statistics such as xFIP and Sierra are quite popular.

Who should you start in MLB DFS?

The answer to this question will vary based on the slate at hand. Matchups are key to determining the plays of the day, as is a players salary in relation to their expected output. As such, the top plays of the day will vary.

What is the best MLB DFS site?

DraftKings and FanDuel are the two biggest operators in terms of prize pools and registered users. As for which one is better, it all comes down to user preference. There are many players who play on both sites, as well as some who have distinct preferences.

What is the biggest MLB DFS contest?

DraftKings and FanDuel feature the biggest contests day in and day out. There are massive GPPs available on both sites which offer eyebrow-raising top prizes. In addition, both sites have live final events which are among the biggest DFS highlights of the calendar year.

What is a utility player in MLB DFS?

A utility player is essentially a flex player. This player can be chosen from all of the hitters available for a slate of games.