There are 20 games today. Twenty! Ten of them are doubleheaders and thus unavailable for DFS purposes. The Marlins and Rays start half an hour early so they’re out too. We’re left with nine-games in the main slate.

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.

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 7:10pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

There is nothing to report on the weather front – no rain in the forecast and temperate temperatures. As of this morning, Wrigley Field has a 12-mph wind blowing from left to right. If that shift a little, it could become a big boost to left-handed power. Presently, the looks to wreak more havoc on balls in play.

Oracle Park, Oakland Coliseum, Kauffman Stadium, T-Mobile Park, Angel Stadium, and Dodger Stadium rate as some flavor of pitcher friendly. The two L.A. venues increase home runs but otherwise limit run production. That leaves us just CitiField – a roughly neutral park – and Progressive Field. You may recall from past episodes that the Indians home park is very friendly to left-handed power but suppresses righties.

Check out our park factors HERE.

 

3. Building Block Bats

Elite values:

Rhys Hoskins ($4600 DK, $4000 FD)

Most of the truly elite hitters are priced through the roof. Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout all cost between $6000 and $6200. Hoskins makes for a solid value alternative. He’s a hitter we’ve grown comfortable thinking of as streaky. Guess what? The man is streaking. Since August 23, he’s hitting .378/.465/.973 with six home runs in 43 plate appearances. The passivity he showed earlier in the season is gone. Porcello isn’t especially homer prone, but he does match up poorly with fly ball hitters. Project systems have him at a one-in-four chance to homer, but I have it closer to 40 percent.

Also consider: Christian Yelich, George Springer, Kyle Tucker, Ketel Marte, Michael Conforto, Brandon Nimmo, Robinson Cano, Pete Alonso

 

Unlikely heroes:

Joey Gallo ($3900 DK, $3300 FD)

This is, for me, a classic recommendation – an extreme fly ball hitter against a ground ball pitcher who doesn’t limit hard contact. Yusei Kikuchi is rocking over a strikeout per inning, so it’s not a perfect matchup for Gallo. There’s an easy path to zeroing out. However, keep in mind the Mariners traded away all of their competent relievers. Even if Kikuchi fires five or six solid innings, Gallo will have a chance against Triple-A quality arms.

This is another instance where the projection says a one-in-four chance to homer tonight, and I’m looking at it as closer to two-in-five. Put another way, the projection thinks he homers once per 16 plate appearances in these conditions. I’m saying it’s once per 10 plate appearances. For his career, Gallo has homered once per 14.5 plate appearances, and these are highly favorable conditions.

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A.J. Pollock ($3300 DK, $2700 FD)

Pollock is an all-around solid play. He’s capable of filling up a boxscore and bounces around the middle of a potent Dodgers lineup. They’re hosting Antonio Senzatela, an overachieving swingman. The Rockies bullpen is one of the worst in the league. While Senzatela’s 3.32 ERA may suggest otherwise, the Dodgers stack is one of the scariest available. Pollock offers you the option of saving some money while using the full stack or simply taking a smaller one-off exposure.

Also consider: Christian Walker, Andrew McCutchen, Michael Brantley, Brandon Belt, Kole Calhoun, David Peralta

 

4. Pitchers

“Safe” Picks: 

Jack Flaherty (DK $9400, FD $9700) at Yu Darvish (DK $11000, FD $11200)

Darvish, an early candidate for the Cy Young Award, is priced in the stratosphere today. Luckily, his opponent projects to match him pitch-for-pitch at a far more reasonable cost. Darvish’s reemergence as an ace began late last year. He now features career-best velocity and swinging strike rates to go with his golden results. He’s averaged over 100 pitches in his last four starts and usually finishes six or seven frames. He also projects to lead the slate in strikeouts – the life blood of DFS.

The second-best strikeout projection belongs to Flaherty. Like Darvish, he reemerged as an ace in the second half of 2019, and it’s carried over to this season. The Cardinals lengthy layoff for COVID affected his pitch count. He’s ramped back up to 83 pitches as of his last outing. Expect around 95 today. Flaherty not only induces over a strikeout per inning with a low walk rate, he also consistently induces weak contact.

Remember to keep an eye on the wind at Wrigley. It could be favorable to the hitters, pitchers, or just a tricky cross breeze. Both teams have a roughly neutral offense. The Cardinals rank 11th and the Cubs are 17th by wRC+.

Also Consider: Carlos Carrasco, Dylan Bundy

 

Value Targets: 

Yusei Kikuchi (DK $5700, FD $6300)

We all agree, 2020 is a strange year. One of the biggest mysteries is this: why does Kikuchi suck? His 6.12 ERA is right in line with the luck neutral 5.46 ERA he posted in 2019. However, Kikuchi is throwing his fastball three mph harder, his strikeout rate has increased by one-third from 6.46 K/9 to 9.72 K/9, and ERA estimators range from a 2.70 FIP to a 4.07 SIERA. The obvious explanation is that when he allows contact, it’s hard. However, as a ground ball pitcher with a low home run rate, we should expect regression to somewhere in the 4.00 to 4.50 ERA range. He’ll face the Rangers, aka the worst offense in the league by wRC+ (by quality, I’m not convinced they much below average). Just watch out for Gallo.

A thoroughly confusing Statcast profile.

Corbin Burnes (DK $8000, FD $7600)

Burnes is always a risk to throw fewer than five frames. The good news is he’s fully stretched out so any failure to last deep in the game will be due to his own inefficiency. The Indians have a below average offense (89 wRC+) with a mid-tier 23.2 percent strikeout rate. Few starting pitchers have Burnes’ strikeout chops. He’s recorded 12.80 K/9 with no difference between starting or relieving (12.79 K/9 as a RP and 12.81 K/9 as a SP). Outside of Darvish and Flaherty, he’s the likeliest pitcher to reach double-digit strikeouts.

 

Also Consider: Jesus Luzardo, Dane Dunning

 

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.

 

Josh Rojas ($2200 DK, $2000 FD)

I’ve been waiting to dust off this pick all season. Rojas is perhaps my favorite non-prospect. It appears the Diamondbacks intend to use him indiscriminately – he started against Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. He finally gets a reasonable assignment against Tyler Anderson. Although it’s more lefty-on-lefty crime, Anderson’s changeup-centric approach tends to nullify any platoon considerations. A home run is witheringly unlikely, but he could easily kick in multiple hits while batting sixth.

 

Roman Quinn ($2000 DK, $2400 FD)

Quinn got a one-day promotion to leadoff where he proceeded to go 0-for-5. Andrew McCutchen will resume his usual top-of-the-lineup role tonight, relegating Quinn to last in the order. He’s still a reasonable play against a pitch-to-contact righty like Porcello and a stolen base prone battery. At a minimum price, it only takes a single, a steal, and a run to return value.

Also Consider: Tim Locastro, Josh VanMeter, Abraham Toro