It’s a meaty 11-game slate tonight. With no clear aces and plenty of exploitable arms, this could get messy. Let’s wade in. But first, some boilerplate text about this column:

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

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

 

Rain could affect the action in New York and Baltimore. As of this writing, it’s around a 30 percent chance for “light rain” in both locations. As we get closer to game time, we should have more clarity. The roof is likely to be off at nuGlob (Globe Life Field) which should provide a boost to power. Not that we know anything about the park’s factors yet.

The ballparks skew towards neutral. Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Guaranteed Rate Field, and Minute Maid Park are the hottest for home run power. One particularly interesting venue we haven’t discussed in detail is Chase Field. Despite a reputation as a hitter friendly park, the Diamondbacks home turf is actually tough on bats. This can be simplified to a deep center field which greatly suppresses home runs. The other four dimensions are within a stone’s throw of neutral.

Check out our park factors HERE.

 

3. Building Block Bats

 

Elite values:

Corey Seager ($5400 DK, $4000 FD)

The entire Dodgers stack should be chalky versus Justin Dunn and an exploitable Mariners bullpen. I like including Seager in my Dodger stacks for two reasons. For one, he’s hitting the piss out of the ball – 33 of 60 batted balls are classified as “hard hit” by Statcast. His exit velocities are also among the best in the league. Seager isn’t the most popularly used Dodger so squeezing him in can ensure differentiation. I also like using him individually which is why I’ve listed him instead of the others.

Also consider: Mike Trout, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Marcell Ozuna

Unlikely heroes:

 

A.J. Pollock ($3800 DK, $2900 FD)

If Seager is slightly undersubscribed, Pollock is the premium bat who’s frequently forgotten in Dodger stacks. Between his many injuries and tepid 2019 campaign, it’s easy to forget he occasionally challenged Paul Goldschmidt for best Diamondbacks hitter. Pollock is off to a torrid .292/.352/.600 start. The power outcomes smell a tad fortunate, but the rest of the profile is roughly luck neutral. And with the network effects we expect from the Dodgers offense, Pollock should remain on a career-best pace until the next injury crops up.

 

Trent Grisham ($3600 DK, $3100 FD)

Tommy Pham is banged up which means Grisham should return to his perch atop top of the lineup. The offseason acquisition is a high OBP bat with both speed and pop. A low batting average appears to be part of the bargain which introduces some downside in DFS. Especially in GPPs, nobody wants to pay core-talent prices for a walk. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happened in nine of his last 10 games. A pairing with Jordan Lyles unlocks additional upside. The journeyman has lost that sharpness he exhibited during a breakout 2019. He’s issuing droves of walks while failing to induce whiffs. The Rangers bullpen is a weakness too.

Also consider: Kole Calhoun, Brandon Nimmo, Howie Kendrick

 

4. Pitchers

 

“Safe” Picks: 

 

Hyun-Jin Ryu (DK $9400, FD $9300)

Look, I know going after the Orioles offense has not worked out for anybody. They’ve compiled a stunning 114 wRC+. But let’s take a deep breath. We see this every year. In 2019, the Mariners and Giants raced out to hot starts. The M’s dawdled down to league average (98 wRC+) while the Giants collapsed entirely (83 wRC+). This is a reasonable range of outcomes for the Orioles going forward.

If we accept the Orioles are outpunching their weight class, then Ryu becomes chalk. He’s a ground ball pitcher who records around a strikeout per inning and (usually) avoids free passes. This year, he’s handed out 4.05 BB/9, but I’m inclined to call that a small sample fluke. Baltimore has a few fly ball hitters who benefit from a pairing with Ryu – especially Renato Nunez and Anthony Santander.

 

Zac Gallen (DK $8800, FD $9700)

Will Gallen never face the Rangers or Giants? He’s torn through the Padres, Dodgers, Astros, and Rockies (at Coors) with hardly a blip. Now he draws the Athletics, a team that has roughly mirrored the Dodgers offensive output. One piece of good news for Gallen: Oakland has the fifth-highest strikeout rate (25.9% K%).

Thus far, Gallen has 10.96 K/9, 2.74 BB/9 (nearly all from a five-walk first outing), and a 2.74 ERA. He’s shifted his pitch mix away from his fastball which is effective but prone to hard contact. He’s a rare pitcher with a four-pitch repertoire of above average offerings. His primary fastball is effective at inducing called strikes while his curve, change, and slutter (between a cutter and a slider) all have average or better whiff rates.

Also Consider: Chris Bassitt

 

Value Targets: 

 

Ross Stripling (DK $7900, FD $8100)

I rarely find myself approaching Stripling in DFS for two reasons – he makes predictably short starts, and his strikeout rate as a starter is merely adequate. Personally, I like to chase runaway strikeout plays even if they come attached to a lot of volatility. In this particular slate against a limp-bat Giants offense, Stripling has appeal.

Again, a hefty strikeout rate would be a surprise – the Giants have the eighth-best strikeout rate (22.0% K%). Stripling should survive at least five innings. If he does, there’s around a 50 percent chance the Dodgers offense will have already supplied sufficient run support for a victory. He’s one of the best values in a value-free slate.

 

Kris Bubic (DK $6400, FD $6600)

For those hunting something cheaper, Bubic is the best I can recommend. I want to be clear, this is not a safe play. Bubic is a ground ball pitcher and the Twins themselves enjoy low fastballs. The good news is, as a left-handed pitcher, he’ll partially neutralize Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario. He has a little funk to his delivery which has helped produce some futile swings through three starts. A meltdown is a very real possibility.

There’s a good chance you haven’t seen any of Bubic. Here he is at his best. The changeup (second clip) appears to be a weapon.

Also Consider: Griffin Canning

 

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.

 

Travis d’Arnaud ($2500 DK, $3300 FD)

This is the second straight day d’Arnaud has a ludicrous price on DraftKings. This is a catcher/DH who typically bats second in the lineup. Yesterday, I was happy to pay $2500 for Grayson Greiner to bat eighth (d’Arnaud sat). This is a far superior hitter at the same price and with a premium lineup role. The matchup against a struggling Anibal Sanchez and a thin Nationals bullpen is almost irrelevant. At this price, I’d take d’Arnaud against Gerrit Cole.

Incidentally, I’m less interested on FanDuel where the favorable matchup is the only reason I’d consider rostering a catcher over a first baseman. When you can get Max Muncy, Luke Voit, or Matt Olson in the $3200 to $3600 range, why would you ever roster a catcher?

 

Luis Garcia ($2000 DK, $2000 FD)

It’s unclear to me why DraftKings has decided the Nationals offense is considerably worse than the Marlins and Giants. Several of their talented hitters fall into the connector category tonight. It’s not like they’re facing a Cy Young contender. Touki Toussaint is capable of momentary brilliance, but he’s more likely to implode than dominate on a given night.

Garcia happens to be minimum-priced with 2B/SS eligibility. He’s an aggressive contact hitter with an all-fields approach. Against an effectively wild opponent like Toussaint, Garcia’s approach isn’t ideal. He’ll be prone to chasing pitches out of the zone. However, we can expect at least three balls in play which gives us an easy path to profitability. While it’s unlikely, he’s also capable of filling up the boxscore.

Also Consider: Adam Eaton, Victor Robles, Keibert Ruiz, Lewin Diaz (may be demoted)