The main slates run nine-games deep. A couple obvious pitching targets headline an otherwise terrifying collection of arms. Good luck!

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 are 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 nine-game slate begins at 7:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

 

It’s hot and humid throughout the league. If the roof is open at the new Globe Life Field – I’m not sure of their protocols – then mid-90s temperatures could give a boost to fly ball distances. The wind is also blowing out to left, but we don’t know how this park behaves. Many either block the wind at field level (i.e. you need Joey Gallo-ian launch angles to “catch the jet stream”) or sometimes the stadium swirls the wind such that directionality is inconsistent.

Several nitro hitters parks are on the docket tonight including Coors Field, Miller Park, and Minute Maid Park. The best venues for pitchers are Comerica Park and Angels Stadium. Let’s take some time to evaluate the Astros home venue.

 

 

Minute Maid Park was designed to behave strangely (remember Tal’s Hill?). The most notable feature is the Crawford Boxes. Not only does this boost right-handed home run rates by 32 percent, but left-handed hitters are also a whopping 138 percent more likely to homer on their fly balls to left field compared to a neutral stadium. Left center and center favor pitchers. Centerfield in particular suppresses run production by an incredible margin. And then there’s right field. Oh, right field. Both down the line and right-center great increase the odds of a home run. Clearly, this is a park where it doesn’t pay to work up the middle of the field. You want hitters who pull the ball. Opposite field contact also benefits.

 

3. Building Block Bats

 

Elite values:

Starling Marte ($4700 DK, $3800 FD)
Ketel Marte ($5000 DK, $4100 FD)

The Rockies side of the equation is painfully priced, especially on DraftKings. You’ll be hard-pressed to build any kind of Colorado stack. The pricing is much more affordable at the Marte Party (and other select Diamondbacks on the guest list). Of course, good prices come at the expense of a chalky taste in the mouth. Visitors to Coors Field certainly benefit from the spacious, homer-happy venue. Just not as much as the home team.

Both Martes are high average bats who skew towards low-angle, pull-side contact. Although neither lacks for power, they’re both more attractive for their high floor than high ceiling. As a ground ball pitcher, Jon Gray actually makes for a troubled matchup. Fly ball hitting Diamondbacks like Jake Lamb have a better chance of launching a home run.

Never forget: the Rockies bullpen is terrible.

 

Trea Turner ($4800 DK, $3300 FD)

It’s tempting to talk about stolen bases whenever it comes time to write about Turner. And, yes, this is an incredible baserunning opportunity. Mets catchers Wilson Ramos and Tomas Nido struggle with controlling the running game. Matz, a southpaw, has pinballed between completely inept and reasonably decent at holding runners. This probably indicates some kind of tell for when he’s going home.

Ah, I did it again. Stolen bases are never the point in DFS. They’re not even the icing on the cake. Maybe they’re the writing. Or one of those cloying buttercream roses. Turner is attractive today because he’ll be extremely low-owned in a favorable matchup and projects to be among the best hitters in several categories. The Nationals leadoff man is hitting just fine in every way except the one that counts. His triple-slash is .196/.240/.304 (.205 BABIP). All of his peripherals are in line with past norms or, if anything, improved.

Treat him as a buy-low opportunity in season-long fantasy too. I think I’ll go toss out a couple dozen offers as soon as I wrap up here.

Also consider: Kole Calhoun, Christian Walker, J.D. Martinez,

Unlikely heroes:

 

Hunter Renfroe ($3600 DK, $2800)

This recommendation is pretty simple. Renfroe is frequently the most affordable power hitter. Tonight, he’s one of just five batters who project for better than a one-in-four chance to homer. The others all cost at least 25 percent more than Renfroe – Nolan Arenado is nearly double the price on DraftKings. Renfroe, a fly ball hitter, is set to face Colten Brewer, a ground ball pitcher. They’ll likely only face each other once – this is a bullpen game for the Red Sox. That’s ok though, the Boston bullpen is highly exploitable.

 

Max Kepler ($4600 DK, $3700 FD)

This is another fly ball – ground ball pairing in favor of the hitter. Kepler loves to lift the ball. Houser pounds the lower edge of the zone. This has all the makings of a multi-homer game for the Twins leadoff man. Miller Park is especially friendly to left-handed power. There is one minor drawback – the Brewers bullpen is rather effective.

Also consider: Eduardo Escobar, Kevin Pillar, Ben Gamel

 

4. Pitchers

 

“Safe” Picks: 

 

Patrick Corbin (DK $10400, FD $10800)

Corbin frustrates a lot of the ways we conduct pitcher analysis. We know all about his slider, but it isn’t a standout pitch by velocity or spin rate. It’s a weapon because he’s able to add and subtract from it while hitting spots. The Mets offense is a little awkwardly designed for left-handed pitchers, but they do have a few righty bats who get a boost. Corbin has normal platoon splits. He’s slightly less effective against righties, but it’s not so bad that you can’t use him.

This is going to be extremely chalky, and I’m not sure it’s merited. True, no pitcher is likelier to finish six or more innings, and he’s also the only pitcher expected to reach seven strikeouts. However, he projects to outperform the second-tier pitchers (listed below) by less than four points on DraftKings. You might have noticed the price tag too.

 

Lance McCullers (DK $8200, FD $8400)

It doesn’t feel too “safe” to select a pitcher coming off a meltdown. In DFS, it’s best to keep a short memory about these things. Look no farther than James Paxton’s most recent outing. Not only did he rack up a contest leading point total, but his rostership was also in the neighborhood of four percent in GPPs.

McCullers has a Paxton-like ability to turn in a 10 spot of strikeouts in six innings. His fastball is missing a little oomph, and he’s had an unusual issue with allowing hard contact through three starts. Part of the “problem” is a reduced curveball rate in favor of more changeups. In the past, his curve was used as a primary pitch. Possibly, he’s throwing fewer for health reasons. One thing we do know – this isn’t an adjustment due to reduced efficacy. His 2,794 spin rate on the curve is in line with past performances. Notably, his fastballs are suffering from reduced spin rates. After a clunky outing (eight runs in 3.1 innings), I expect to see the bendy ball front and center.

The Giants collection of Quad-A bats and veteran zombies makes for a friendly matchup.

 


(source: Alex Chamberlain’s Pitcher Leaderboard)

Also Consider: Kyle Gibson, Dustin May

 

Value Targets: 

 

Garrett Richards (DK $6600, FD $6600)

Honestly, you’ll probably want to stick to the four “safe” plays tonight. Dallas Keuchel and Steven Matz are fine second pitchers, but they lack that magic spark for runaway strikeout totals. Richards has the spark… and a terrifying matchup against the Dodgers offense. He was dinged for four runs in five innings against these same Dodgers just five days ago. He recorded only four strikeouts.

The oft-injured pitcher has some serious spin-rates on his breaking balls which is a solid raw indicator of pitch efficacy. A seldom-used curve (N=19) currently rates as the second-highest spin pitch of 2020. His slider is one of the spinniest thrown by a starting pitcher. These offspeed weapons could be the key to surviving this particular matchup.

Also Consider: Dallas Keuchel, Steven Matz

 

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.

 

Jake Lamb ($2700 DK, $2500 FD)

I guess I ruined this surprise earlier. Lamb is one of the worst-performing hitters this season. He doubled on Opening Day. He didn’t record another hit until yesterday. This Coors Field series should be his last chance to remain in the regular lineup. He made a mechanical change to generate more lift in his swing. The trouble is he didn’t have any strikeouts to spare so now he’s whiffing. A LOT. When he does connect, hard contact follows. Lamb’s swinging under pitches so facing a ground ball guy like Gray should help.

 

Robbie Grossman ($2400 DK, $2400 FD)

With Ramon Laureano possibly suspended for starting a brawl during COVID (he’ll definitely be suspended, but he could appeal), Grossman is a candidate for an expanded role. He’s already been playing most days with a .278/.409/.528 batting line over 44 plate appearances. He’s also popped a couple home runs and even has two steals. Grossman’s best trait is the pristine plate discipline. Angels starter Julio Teheran’s command was patchy last week. He made more than his usual share of mistakes both on and off the plate. Grossman’s price should be in the neighborhood of $3800 DK, $3400 FD. This is an enormous bargain.

Also Consider: Miguel Cabrera, Jake Cronenworth