Creating unique lineups helpful in fantasy play

Creating unique lineups helpful in fantasy play

One of your primary goals in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com should be to create a high-upside lineup -- one with a lofty ceiling that could allow you to finish among the top users on a given night. We've talked about all sorts of ways to increase your lineup's upside -- selecting high-variance players, seeking home runs, targeting strikeout pitchers, and so on. With that said, there's another important but oft-overlooked step to consider when playing the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com: One must predict which players will be underutilized by his or her competition.

Many participants in the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com think the goal is solely to score as many points as possible. Although you never want to purposely limit your team's scoring potential, the aim isn't to do everything possible to score the highest number of points. The real goal is to win. Scoring many points is obviously a prerequisite for winning, but it's not the only meaningful factor in your success.

To demonstrate this point, consider these two lineups:

Lineup A: 155 projected points using an Angels hitting stack, with 25 percent utilization by participants

Lineup B: 154 projected points using an Astros hitting stack, with 5 percent utilization by participants

If the only goal is to maximize projected points, a stack of Angels hitters would be the better option. But how much is that one extra projected point really worth? Not much, especially when you consider the player-utilization percentage. If the Angels batters used were in one quarter of other lineups, it would be really difficult to win with them, even if they were to have a huge game. Why? Because you would still be competing with 25 percent of users on whom you could gain no edge.

Now, consider the Astros' stack. If the Astros hitters were to have a big game, your chances of winning the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com would be greater, since only 1-in-20 lineups would have a similar stack. Basically, you would be cutting down the number of lineups with which you need to compete, in exchange for a slightly-lower-projected offense. That's the tradeoff here: one projected point for a unique lineup.

In this way, you can see that winning the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com isn't all about maximizing your points. It's just as much about understanding which players and teams might be really popular and using that information to your advantage. All other things equal, you want to side with the lineup that you think will be the least popular, allowing you to compete with fewer combinations of similar players.

Of course, this concept isn't so simple. The most popular players are popular for a reason, as they're projected to do well or have great values in relation to their cost. Thus, you must balance the goal of maximizing projected points with strategic player utilization.

Those who win the Official Mini Fantasy Game of MLB.com combine good values with underutilized players in such a way that their lineups are both unique and formidable enough to top a large field of competitors.

Jonathan Bales contributes DraftKings-related content to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.