We have 12 games on the docket tonight including a bunch of classic rivalry games.
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
Pop up storms are always a risk in summer time Atlanta. They usually won’t force a postponement, but they might delay a game enough to ruin a start. Keep an eye on it. Baltimore has lingering rain which should clear out of town by game time. A late start is possible.
We finally have a Coors Field game. Check out these spicy park factors. Did you know right-handed batters are more than twice as likely to hit a triple as compared to a neutral park? It’s no secret the Rockies venue greatly increases hits of all types. The benefits, however, are disproportionately enjoyed by the home team. There is a modest visitor’s penalty. The Padres bats should definitely be expected to outperform their sea level talent. Since pitches move differently and the altitude has enormous effects on a player’s body, the park-fueled benefit is partially mitigated.
Besides Coors Field, most of the neutral and pitcher-friendly venues from yesterday remain in play. Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium are the juiciest sea level targets for home run aid. One stadium in particular merits a shoutout. As of this writing, the wind is blowing in from center field at 14 mph at Wrigley Field. These are very pitcher-friendly conditions, at least in regards to preventing home runs. Sometimes the wind changes direction mid-afternoon. Double-check closer to contest lock.
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.
Tommy Pham (DK $4800, FD $3800)
Manny Machado (DK $5000, FD $3800)
Wil Myers (DK $4600, FD $3500)
Trent Grisham (DK $4900, FD $3300)
Fernando Tatis Jr. is difficult to roster on DraftKings with a $6,000 price tag. The rest of the Padres stack is extremely desirable. Opponent Jon Gray was missing over two mph on his fastball last week. He also struggled to induce whiffs. While he’s historically pitched fine at home, the last time he had a sub-95 mph heater, he posted a 5.12 ERA. He probably won’t last five innings. The Rockies bullpen is a horror show -, especially at Coors Field. Gray is a ground ball pitcher so any fly ball hitters are better targets. Interestingly, that has me looking at catchers Austin Hedges and Francisco Mejia. Grisham also seems to be a fly ball guy.
Don’t exclude Eric Hosmer from your calculations. He doesn’t project alongside his teammates, but that’s only because systems haven’t picked up his new swing mechanics.
Jose Ramirez ($4600 DK, $3800 FD)
Francisco Lindor ($4400 DK, $3300 FD)
This affordable mini-stack might go overlooked in a slate that includes two Coors lineups, the Yankees opposite Ryan Weber, the Astros at Matt Andriese, and the Braves against Rick Porcello. There’s an awful lot of stack opportunities. I happen to believe Twins starter Randy Dobnak is underappreciated. He’s has a rare mix of high ground ball rate with plenty of swinging strikes. This profile tends to underperform in K/9, and Dobnak is no exception through 32.1 innings. However, they’ll overperform in run prevention as they can turn up the pressure when runners reach base.
Ramirez matches up especially well as a fly ball hitter with speed to spare. Dobnak should help Ramirez to avoid lazy fly outs. Lindor’s swing doesn’t have the same lift, making him a slightly less sharp target. He’s more likely to keep the ball on the ground. However, these prices are such that you don’t need a carrying performance. You’ll come out ahead if they reach base, maybe steal a bag, and score a run. On the subject of stolen bases, Twins catcher Mitch Garver is ineffective at catching would-be thieves.
Also consider: Trevor Story, Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Pete Alonso, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Ronald Acuna
Michael Brantley ($2800 DK, $3400 FD)
I don’t know what happened to Brantley’s price on DraftKings. He might turn out to be rather chalky if the DFS commentariat takes note. Brantley is one of my absolute favorite DFS plays, both in a stack and alone. He has enough power to supply the occasional home run, but it’s his high floor that makes him especially attractive. As a high average, high OBP hitter batting cleanup in an elite offense, he benefits from bonus run production and various network effects. The Angels will start Matt Andriese, a right-hander who is probably best-used as a bulk reliever.
Dalton Varsho ($2800 DK, $2800 FD)
Varsho might be the most anticipated catching prospect to enter the league since Buster Posey. The reason is a combination of hitting ability and speed. The stolen base potential isn’t of much interest to DFS managers. However, an instant projection as one of the top catching bargains should get everyone’s attention. He’s capable of delivering multiple hits, run production, and power on a nightly basis. He’ll have the platoon advantage against Tony Gonsolin, an interesting but by no means elite pitching prospect. The Dodgers bullpen is merely solid.
Make sure he starts tonight before locking him in.
Also consider: Kyle Tucker, J.D. Davis, Mike Moustakas
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.
Luis Castillo (DK $8000, FD $10100)
On DraftKings, Castillo might be the most-owned pitcher since Opening Night (remember, there were two games and Clayton Kershaw got bumped last-minute). He’s the top-projected pitcher, the second-best value in the slate, and an ace in his own right. This isn’t some situation where we think a guy might be good tonight because of X, Y, and Z changes that we haven’t yet seen in regular season action. No wishcasting is required. Castillo is plain-vanilla good, and he’s facing a below average offense. Among his many positive traits tonight, he projects to lead the slate in strikeouts.
Yu Darvish (DK $10500, FD $9100)
Darvish is a premium value on FanDuel. As we discussed earlier, a stiff wind should play to the pitcher’s favor tonight. He pitched well in his season debut – his 94.9 mph heater would represent a career-high if sustained. He also recorded 11.25 K/9 against no walks. A barrage of not-barreled line drives otherwise marred a strong performance. The Pirates offense isn’t especially strikeout prone. They are otherwise below average.
Also Consider: Mike Minor, Blake Snell, Mike Clevinger
Kris Bubic (DK $4000, FD $4000)
This is the minimum pitcher price on both sites. Meanwhile, Bubic projects as a typical mid-tier arm. He’s stretched out enough to throw five frames, and he can be expected to deliver about a strikeout per inning against a volatile and strikeout prone White Sox offense. Major League debuts are always perilous affairs in DFS. Bubic is a southpaw who relies on command as much as stuff. His fastball lives in the low-90s and is his weakest offering. Scouts love his secondary stuff, praising it as some of the best in a system chock full of touted arms. Chicago seems to have a very hard time with breaking balls, making this a favorable matchup for GPP play.
To add some perspective, Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs prefers Bubic to Brady Singer. Bubic, however, does not have any experience in the upper minors. Singer tossed 90 frames in Double-A before he was summoned to the big leagues.
Zac Gallen (DK $8700, FD $8000)
For the second straight day, the Diamondbacks are here to supply us with a contrarian pivot. There’s no need to state the case for avoiding the Dodgers offense. They maul right-handed pitching. Gallen is a cut above the typical mid-rotation pitcher – he’s on a path to ace-dom. Gallen has a full repertoire of four effective pitches. His 2020 debut was uneven. He struck out six and allowed five walks in four innings. The most encouraging sign is he threw fewer fastballs – his most hittable pitch – in favor of more cutters and curves.
The Dodgers will certainly be a challenging test. The contest isn’t quite shaped correctly for this particular play. There are enough aces available that one of them will be both low-owned and effective. On DraftKings, Gallen only offers a modest $1300 savings over Clevinger. Supposing the two pitchers perform similarly, you’d have to make efficient use of the extra cash to profit. And we can all intuit that Clevinger is a safer play – due to superior talent and a slightly easier matchup (Twins).
Also Consider: Alex Cobb, Randy Dobnak, Dallas Keuchel
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.
Shogo Akiyama ($2500 DK, $2500 FD)
Personally, I’m a fan of Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull. He does seem to have some issues with left-handed hitters. The Reds aren’t shy about flooding their lineup with southpaw sluggers. Akiyama has yet to do anything awe-inspiring at the plate, but he’s held his own through the first week of play. He’s working counts and isn’t whiffing at an alarming rate (9.9 percent SwStr%). It all adds up to a sort of poor man’s Michael Brantley – he has a high floor, and he also has potential to deliver pop. His lineup role tends to vary. He batted leadoff over the last two games. That role, these prices, and a solid project make him an excellent cheap value play.
Evan White ($2900 DK, $2500 FD)
First base isn’t usually the place to go cheap. White works as a value play only if you think A’s starter Sean Manaea will continue to flop like a fish on land. The Oakland southpaw needs sharp command if he wants any hope of success. He does get a free boost simply by facing the Mariners – their offense is extremely left-handed. White is one of the exceptions. He looks a tad overmatched at the moment as evidenced by 10 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances. Manaea will prove to be more hittable than the typical opponent. When he does connect, White is making solid contact.
Also Consider: Scott Heineman, Ryan McBroom