It’s my favorite day of the week – Thin Thursday. Just five games are in the main slate which has a special 4:05pm ET start time on DraftKings. <——Make sure your eyes were open for that sentence.
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 five-game slate begins at 4:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.
2. Weather and Park Factors
For the second straight day, Philadelphia has mid-afternoon rain in the forecast. Unlike yesterday, they’re scheduled to play a mid-afternoon game. Whoops. The chances for rain are below 50 percent so this isn’t doomed for postponement or even a delay. The other four games are clear. The wind is blowing in at Wrigley, but it’s only a seven mph breeze.
The spiciest venue on the docket is the affectionately named Great American Small Park. Why is it named the Small Park? Well, I think it’s easiest to show.
Unlike some home run happy stadium, GABP greatly boosts home run production to every dimension. Overall, the only outcome it suppresses is right-handed singles. I think those righties will take the tradeoff.
3. Building Block Bats
Bryce Harper ($5400 DK, $4300 FD)
Harper was a useful pivot yesterday. He’s straight up chalk against soft-tossing righty Tom Eshelman. Nothing complicated to discuss here – only Josh Bell and Rhys Hoskins are more likely to homer. This Orioles pitching staff is always on the cusp of a complete meltdown.
Nick Castellanos ($4800 DK, $4000 FD)
Trailing just behind Harper on the potential home run list is Castellanos. Pirates starter Trevor Williams is inducing more strikeouts by throwing fewer fastballs than ever – an excellent choice. He’s almost completely retired his bad sinker. While this is a good thing for Williams long term, a visit to GABP figures to provide a temporary speed bump. Castellanos’ post-Tigers growth as a power hitter has continued apace in Cincinnati. He’s hitting .290/.380/.726 with extremely positive Statcast events.
Also consider: Josh Bell, Austin Meadows, Mookie Betts, Kris Bryant, Fernando Tatis
Rhys Hoskins ($4100 DK, $3000)
As noted in the Harper excerpt, Hoskins appears to be the best boom-or-bust play for a home run. Because he reaches base so often via walks, he has a decent floor for this slate. It’s not implausible that a couple walks and a run could lead all first basemen. If there’s a downside, it’s that Eshelman is a command and control fly ball pitcher. At least until he sees the bullpen, Hoskins might hit the ball too high.
Hunter Renfroe ($3400 DK, $2700 FD)
Renfroe basically enters every game with a one-in-four chance to homer. Looking beyond the big flies, he’s a low average, low OBP bat who’s unlikely to deliver much value. This all-or-nothing play has mostly rolled snake eyes (only two home runs). He’s usually especially effective against left-handed pitchers. Not-quite-prospect Kyle Hart is making his big league debut. His minor league performances resemble a generic southpaw. He works in the upper-80s and depends on changing speeds. Baseball America has more to say on the topic.
Also consider: Yandy Diaz, Jose Martinez, Mike Brosseau, Nick Senzel
Yu Darvish (DK $10400, FD $9600)
Darvish is the chalk in this tiny, action-packed contest. He’s working with career-best velocity (excluding Japan). Most importantly, his 1.06 BB/9 represents a new level of command. While he’s recorded less than a strikeout per inning, his swinging strike rate is also a career-high by a wide margin. And that’s with a career-low slider rate – a pitch widely considered his nastiest weapon. The Brewers offense is both below average and prone to strikeouts. Let’s not forget, the wind is blowing in at Wrigley too. All told, this adds up to a projection of around six innings and just under seven strikeouts. He could easily pitch deeper into the game and brush double-digit strikeouts.
Chris Paddack (DK $8500, FD $8700) at Julio Urias (DK $9600, FD $7700)
Small slates reward multi-ordered thinking.
First order: I’d like to avoid this game. The Padres and Dodgers feature two of the top offenses. Paddack and Urias are good, but they aren’t without warts. It’s easiest to just steer clear.
Second order: If other DFSers fall prey to similar thinking, fleeing to the perceived safety of Darvish in response, then this duo becomes more valuable. When choosing between the two, I find myself relatively indifferent. Paddack is more likely to complete five innings, but he’s also a tad homer prone. Urias has the home field advantage to make up for those occasional four-inning outings. We should expect about 5.5 strikeouts from both hurlers. Given their divergent prices, I might just go with the cheaper option on my platform of choice.
Third order: Due to price, Urias might have price-suppressed rostership on DraftKings. Ditto Paddack on FanDuel. If we think their odds of taking off for a big point total are about the same, spending a little inefficiently in a GPP might yield a larger financial return.
Also Consider: Tyler Glasnow
Anthony DeSclafani (DK $8200, FD $7100)
DeSclafani’s fastball velocity is up for a second straight year. He’s coming off a six-inning gem against the Brewers and hosts the lowly Pirates this evening. They have the worst offense in the league (69 wRC+). Their team strikeout rate isn’t especially out of hand – just 22.5 percent.
The venue is less than ideal, but we’ve found good value with Reds starters this season. Besides the slight uptick in velocity, there’s nothing new about Tony Disco. Same pitches, same usage. He has a history of home run issues – probably because his home park is built for high school freshmen.
Also Consider: Corbin Burnes
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 Cronenworth ($2100 DK, $2700 FD)
We get to revisit this recommendation since the Dodgers bumped Urias after I penned yesterday’s Plan of Attack. To simplify, Cronenworth is basically a faster Adam Frazier. Would you roster Frazier in this matchup, at this price, and with the Padres supporting cast? The answer should be yes (especially on DraftKings).
As I pointed out yesterday, the issue with this one is he’s set to face a fellow left-hander: Julio Urias. Cronenworth doesn’t project for serious platoon splits, but the Padres are laden with talent begging for a chance to play. This is a good excuse to bench their new second baseman for Jurickson Profar or Ty France.
If Cronenworth is sitting, Edward Olivares ($2300 DK, $2200 FD) is probably in the lineup.
Also Consider: Matt Davidson, Ben Gamel