Now that we’ve had a taste of real baseball, it’s time to ingest the main course – an 11-game main slate starting 7:05pm ET.

This is Plan of Attack. We’re here to provide advice and recommendations to help you build successful daily fantasy lineups. We’ll be loosely guided by the tenants of our DFS Manifesto – namely a single lineup build designed to improve your enjoyment of the game while giving you a chance to beat the rake.

Don’t be surprised if the column evolves. This is a living creature, and it’s sure to adapt in Darwinian fashion. If there are features you especially like or believe need tweaking to be actionable, please reach out to us. Since this is written early in the day, certain important details will be left for you to find on your own. In particular, weather, lineups, and umpires are all things you should verify within three hours of contest-lock.

For clarity, when I reference “value,” I’m referring to projected points divided by cost.

 

1. The RotoFanatical Challenge

 

We will be hosting a daily 20-entry, $3 contest on DraftKings. It’s an excellent low-cost testing ground against fellow RotoFanatic fans. A level playing field is always nice. Today’s 11-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.

With an ace-packed slate, we have plenty of builds to explore. Congrats to I_AM_SWAN for a hard-fought victory last night.

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

 

After some fireworks on Opening Night, the weather should cooperate today. The winds at Wrigley are under 10 mph. Let’s move straight into park factors.

 

 

Most of the parks lack extreme factors. Philadelphia, Boston, and Cleveland are the most unusual. Citizen’s Bank Park is especially friendly to pull hitters. Fenway, as everyone knows, has some truly wacky features which affect the left and right field corners. Progressive Field is stealth one of the most platoonable parks. Left field is cavernous while right field is a chip shot. Left-handed power hitters benefit – especially those with a lot of pull-side contact. Too bad the Indians are facing a southpaw.

 

We also get our first “real” look at NuGlob aka Globe Life Field.

 

3. Building Block Bats

 

In this section, we’ll look at top hitters with strong projections before moving on to detailed analysis of deeper picks.

Elite values:

Most of the best hitters have aggressive price tags.

J.D. Martinez ($4800 DK, $3900 FD)

Martinez is the best and chalkiest hitter of the day. We all know how he mashes bad southpaws. Orioles staff “ace” Tommy Milone is left-handed. For those thinking about pivots, I’ll be stunned if Martinez isn’t the most-owned hitter. He’s exceptionally affordable too.

Bryce Harper ($5000 DK, $3900 FD)

While undoubtedly a better value on FanDuel, Harper is also attractive on DraftKings if you can find the cash. He carries a projection nearly on par with Martinez and should come with much more palatable ownership rates in GPPs. The Marlins are calling upon Sandy Alcantara, a workhorse pitcher who had some platoon issues last season. Lefties hit for more power (1.35 HR/9), rarely struck out (6.09 K/9), and walked with more frequency (4.15 BB/9). These are symptoms of a real platoon issue rather than a small sample artifact. Harper himself isn’t much of a platoon guy. He’ll feast on anyone.

Also consider: Max Muncy, David Dahl, Andrew McCutchen

Unlikely heroes:

With so many aces on the docket, the supply of hitters with juicy matchups is thin. Don’t forget to look beyond the starters for weak bullpens.

Andrew Benintendi ($3800 DK, $2700 FD)
Michael Chavis ($3000 DK, $2600 FD)

I wasn’t planning to jump back on the Benintendi bandwagon this quickly. Upon investigation, Milone doesn’t have notable platoon splits – he’s an equal opportunity baddie. Benintendi isn’t a platoon guy either. We’re also counting on five or more innings from a terrible Orioles bullpen. With luck, the lefty-on-lefty factor holds Benintendi’s ownership to a reasonable level.

Chavis is expected to start at first base against lefties. He’ll probably bat fifth or sixth which isn’t a dealbreaker given his low price and juicy matchup. A Boston-based pivot using Xander Bogaerts, Chavis, and Kevin Pillar (assuming he starts) could capture the benefits of facing the Orioles without suffering from the over-popularity of JDM-centered stacks. Last night, those who used Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger lost money. Who’s to say Martinez isn’t today’s Betts.

Domingo Santana ($3600 DK, $2500 FD)

The Indians kick off the season facing a southpaw. They have a few lefty mashers, but none has the clout of Santana. A dynamic hitter with no defensive home, he’s expected to serve as the Indians designated hitter. In 523 career plate appearances against lefties, he’s scalded them to the tune of .257/.354/.472. The things we look for in a “real” split, i.e. more walks, fewer strikeouts, and harder contact, are all present. Duffy has a career-long trend of platoon issues too – again with all the glowing red indicators we want to see. As an added bonus, the Royals bullpen is pathetic.

Remember, Progressive Field is tough on right-handed power.

Also consider: Cesar Hernandez, Jay Bruce

 

4. Pitchers

 

I count nine aces and several more usable arms. Let’s not dally.

“Safe” picks:

Justin Verlander and Shane Bieber are the king and prince of this slate. They face the Mariners and Royals respectively. Not only are they the two best pitchers available, they’re also two of the best values. This is actually a common occurrence. The challenge comes in fitting a potent lineup around them – they’re expensive!

The next tier down consists of Aaron Nola and Jack Flaherty. They host the Marlins and Pirates respectively. These too are limp, exploitable offenses. While these pitchers project for strong output and good value, they were uneven performers in 2019. Nola was an ordinary sort of good more often than not while Flaherty was flat out bad in the first half before turning into a dominating force down the stretch. Flaherty costs more than Bieber on FanDuel.

Value Targets:

I’m focused on a handful of pitchers as affordable alternatives to the safe plays.

Andrew Heaney ($8000 DK, $6700) at Frankie Montas ($8800 DK, $7600)

It’s almost a shame they’ll face each other. Heaney has the highest strikeout projection of pitchers not named Verlander, Bieber, or Nola. Another way to say that: he has the fourth-highest strikeout projection today. The interesting part is the Athletics aren’t even a strikeout prone opponent. Heaney is coming off a half season of 11.14 K/9. He’s long struggled with home runs (career 1.56 HR/9). The 2019 baseball appears to be back, making Heaney a high risk, high reward target.

My colleague Matt Williams detailed Montas’ rise to prominence. The entire thread is well worth reading. The short of it is his new splitter is lethal, and it helps the rest of his repertoire to click. The Angels will likely be among the bottom five in strikeouts which takes some of the savor out of this pairing.

 

Nate Eovaldi ($7100 DK, $7100 FD) vs Orioles

Baltimore features one of the most exploitable offenses – they’ll strike out, they don’t have much power, and they’re not effective at working counts or walks. Boston personnel are signalling this is going to be one of those good Eovaldi years – possibly because they’re comparing him to the rest of their pitching inventory! Eovaldi did seem to solve for X late in 2019. Encouragingly, he finally overcame his history of low strikeout rates by replacing his bad slider with a high-whiff curve ball. Now he just needs to discard his ineffective cut fastball. Whether or not Eovaldi can take the next step in repertoire growth, this is an amazing matchup.

Kyle Hendricks ($7400 DK, $7700) vs Brewers

I’m breaking rank for this selection as I’m extremely bullish about Hendricks in this shortened campaign. He projected as one of the worst pitchers tonight. Facing the Brewers obviously isn’t ideal. So why am I enthusiastic? In a word, command.

 

 

And in a second word, spin!

 

 

That second GIF appears to be a new high-spin weapon for Hendricks’ arsenal. And the bit of swagger at the end of the clip tells me he knows it’s a weapon.

Also Consider: Joe Musgrove, Chris Paddack, German Marquez, Brandon Woodruff

5. Connectors

Connectors are cheap guys who offer a tangible upside and enable you to explore top-heavy builds. FanDuel offers an embarrassing quantity of these players (their pricing model is drunk) so I’ll focus on DraftKings first and foremost.

Edward OIivares (DK $2100, FD $2000)
Ty France (DK $3000, FD $2000)

This Olivares recommendation is built on a series of assumptions. Word around the water cooler is the Padres traded Franchy Cordero because they were more impressed with Olivares. He has options so he didn’t need to be on the Opening Day roster. This tells me Olivares is going to play at least some of the time. Initially, the easiest way to get him in the lineup is against a southpaw like Madison Bumgarner. If he does crack the starting nine, Olivares has star-caliber traits including decent pop, plus speed, and a knack for contact. He skipped Triple-A so growing pains are likely. A sunnier perspective is that no Major League club has a detailed plan of attack.

France will reportedly serve as the designated hitter against southpaws. The right-handed utility man scorched Triple-A pitcher but failed to leave much of an impression in 201 Major League plate appearances. He made plenty of hard, pulled contact. The matchup against Bumgarner is merely passable, not ideal.

Rob Brantly ($2000 DK, $2000 FD)

Catcher is the most popular position to punt. Although he shouldn’t be expected to do much at the plate, Brantly offers an acceptable value proposition. He’s not entirely without positive offensive traits. Last season with the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, he worked more walks than strikeouts while batting .314/.404/.462. If you’re able to squeeze something like a single, walk, and run out of Brantly, you’ll profit handsomely. Opponent Ross Stripling loses some of his zest when he works out of the rotation. He’s a merely ordinary starter and one of the weakest in the slate.

Also Consider: Bruce ($2100 FD-only), Sam Hilliard ($2000 FD-only)