We’re sitting on a smooth eight-game slate for the evening action. A mixture of aces and exploitable arms should make this a fun experience.
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 9-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.
2. Weather and Park Factors
Baltimore and Atlanta require monitoring for pop-up storms. As of this morning, Camden Yards should stay dry until late or overnight. The risk in Atlanta is more random. Pop-up cells can affect anywhere, although they’ve been clearing very quickly this year.
The slate skews towards pitcher-friendly and neutral venues. In fact, only Camden Yards is blatantly a hitter’s park. The park greatly buffs home runs while suppressing other typed of extra-base hits. Lefties are much better off than righties which has implications for tonight since both clubs are using a left-handed starting pitcher.
3. Building Block Bats
In this section, we’ll look at top hitters with strong projections before moving on to a detailed analysis of deeper picks.
Aaron Judge (DK $4900, FD $4100)
Giancarlo Stanton (DK $5500, FD $3800)
The Orioles are welcoming back their “ace” John Means. The southpaw is a fly ball pitcher who was homer prone even during his successful 2019 campaign. His fastball velocity was up in Summer Camp, but then he missed time with shoulder fatigue. We’ll see if he’s still rocking the extra heat tonight. Judge and Stanton love fly ball pitchers – assuming they can avoid being fooled by Means’ frequently used changeup.
Fans of patterns would include Gleyber Torres here, if only because he hit a couple hundred home runs against the Orioles last year. I expect him to be woefully oversubscribed, thus I’ll avoid him in GPPs. As a fly ball hitter, this matchup isn’t ideal either. Of course, he should see at least two plate appearances against Baltimore’s bullpen of baddies.
Jorge Soler ($3600 DK, $3700 FD)
Soler is frequently among the likeliest to homer. He has a little better than a one-in-four chance to launch a dinger against Ivan Nova and friends. Nova is a homer prone ground ball pitcher. Soler skews slightly towards fly ball contact. It’s not a perfect launch angle platoon, but it should nudge Soler in the right direction. Besides, he’s extremely cheap on both sites despite ranking among the top 10 projected hitters.
Also consider: Mookie Betts, Gary Sanchez, J.D. Martinez, Fernando Tatis, Pete Alonso
DJ LeMahieu ($4400 DK, $3300 FD)
The Yankees stack will undoubtedly be popular. LeMahieu will rank fifth or later on most wishlists, but there’s a strong case for bumping him to third. His lineup role as the leadoff man makes him an important piece of a stack, especially if you opt for a contrarian wraparound build using Miguel Andujar or Giovanny Urshela.
He also matches up incredibly well with Means. LeMahieu adjusted his launch angle back in 2018 in preparation for free agency. He’s still an extreme ground ball hitter, but he’s become much better at lifting the ball. Means, as we’ve covered, is an extreme fly ball pitcher. When you interact these traits, the hitter has an easier time reaching ideal home run launch angles. Additionally, LeMahieu isn’t remotely homer dependent. He’s a high-BABIP hitter who consistently ranks among the most likely to supply a multi-hit game.
Renato Nunez ($3800 DK, $2400 FD)
Even before writing it, I can tell this is going to come off as a very tepid recommendation. I can’t tell if Nunez will be oversubscribed or slip through the cracks. Lefty mashers tend to draw a lot of attention, but DFSers often avoid Orioles when they aren’t obviously one of the top stacks. Yankees starter J.A. Happ is comfortable working the upper edges of the zone while Nunez prefers low pitches. An infield fly is likelier than a home run. Digging into his platoon data, there is a lot of uncertainty that his splits are “real.” The stickiest trait is an improved strikeout rate versus left-handed pitchers. However, the other apparent aspects – fewer infield flies and a more varied distribution of batted balls – could be small sample artifacts. The worst part of this matchup is that the Yankees stout bullpen will probably handle the final four innings of the game.
In short, using Nunez means you believe he’s a true lefty masher and that Happ will fail to execute the obvious plan of using high fastballs and breaking balls out of the zone.
Also consider: Salvador Perez, Franchy Cordero, C.J. Cron, Hanser Alberto
Although it isn’t the deepest slate, a variety of pitchers with a wide range of matchup quality means we have a lot to consider.
Shane Bieber (DK $9800, FD $10700) at Jose Berrios (DK $10200, FD $9000)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this matchup is that the two sites push you in opposite directions. They project to perform within half a point of each other on both platforms. We can interpret this as a tie. Therefore, the cheaper option is the better value.
Personally, I think the projections are underselling Bieber. Yes, he’s on the road against a tough opponent. He also displayed what appeared to be a new slider. It ran two mph harder than the one he used last season. It’s not a stretch to consider him one of the five best pitchers in the league. Berrios, by comparison, is less adept at missing bats and lack’s Bieber’s command. In his favor is a two-mph jump in velocity. Many pitchers are missing a couple ticks on the radar gun. Berrios is among the few to buck the trend.
Dylan Bundy (DK $8200, FD $8200)
It’s the strikeouts stupid. The easiest way to pile up pitcher points is to chase strikeouts and let the innings and wins follow. Whiffs are predictive of good performances. Bundy has a favorable matchup against an interesting but below average Mariners offense. In his debut, he threw more sliders and fewer fastballs than ever before – exactly the changes we expected him to make with the Angels. He figures to have the second-highest strikeout total in the slate. As a bonus, he’s one of only a handful of pitchers who was allowed to work into the seventh inning last week. Add everything together and he’s the top pitcher on the docket.
There are a couple red flags. He has a history of platoon splits, although those were absent last season. The Mariners offense is extremely left-handed. He also has a well-earned reputation as homer prone due to a bad fastball. We’ll see if the buffed slider rate helps.
Robbie Ray (DK $7100, FD $7900)
It’s the strikeouts stupid. Also, it’s a pivot! Nobody wants to mess with the Dodgers offense, and with good reason. They’re a little less scary against left-handed pitchers. Last season with basically the same roster, they had only a 103 wRC+ versus southpaws (115 wRC+ vs northpaws). Ray is a bit of a random number generator. We can count on over a strikeout per inning. Today, he projects for the highest punch out total. The rub is with innings. He lasted only 3.2 frames last week. Fewer than five innings is not unusual for him. Sometimes he’ll lock into cruise control and carry his DFS investors. It’s a volatility play. His much ballyhooed new arm mechanics didn’t seem to help his command, but his velocity was up a couple ticks.
Don’t skimp on the trio listed below. They all deserve plenty of attention.
Also Consider: Steven Matz, Dinelson Lamet, Brady Singer
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.
Ryan O’Hearn ($2000 DK, $2300 FD)
O’Hearn was limited at summer camp so it’s no surprise he looks a little rusty at the plate. He can be expected to bat fifth or sixth against Nova. O’Hearn has a history of better outcomes against right-handed pitchers. Nova tends to struggle versus lefty swingers. The wild card is O’Hearn’s ground ball or fly ball tendency. In parts of two seasons, he’s yet to settle on a stable batted ball profile. The most recent trends point towards more grounders than flies. Nova is best against ground ball hitters. The Detroit bullpen adds extra value to O’Hearn.
Jaylin Davis ($2400 DK, $2300 FD)
The Giants have run a handedness platoon with Davis facing southpaws. However, the utter futility of platoon-mate Joe McCarthy combined with Davis’ gaudy Statcast data is already shifting these usage patterns. Davis suffers from extreme whiff rates including an over-20 percent swinging strike rate in 59 career plate appearances. Strikeouts are the most likely outcome against Lamet and a good bullpen. However, Davis also has that tasty potential for one or more home runs – even at Oracle Park – that separate the “good” scrubs from the bad ones.
Also Consider: Maikel Franco, Jose Peraza, Michael Chavis, Jose Marmolejos