We’re sitting on a modest six-game slate tonight with the unusual start time of 6:05pm ET. Two of the games kickoff after 9:00pm so hopefully we’ll get to see lineups before contests begin. The pitching slate is deep. Case in point, the best stacking targets are Jordan Montgomery and Frankie Montas.

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 six-game slate begins at 6:05pm ET. Reserve your spot for the contest.

 

2. Weather and Park Factors

Rain up north – specifically in Cleveland and Buffalo – could play a role in tonight’s contest. The Indians game could be delayed. The current report suggests clearing by 7:00pm. These things tend to change though. The risk of rain peaks in Buffalo right around mid-game. It’s not especially likely (28% per one model).

The parks skew heavily towards pitcher friendly with Oracle Park and Oakland Coliseum the most aggressive examples. Sahlen Field is also thought to be a pitcher’s park while Petco Park, Progressive Field, and Nationals Park are roughly neutral. Remember Prog Rock Park is friendly to left-handed power.

Check out our park factors HERE.

 

3. Building Block Bats

Elite values:

Jose Ramirez ($5200 DK, $3800 FD)

I’ve mostly avoided Ramirez this season due to his nagging thumb injury. Such issues tend to sap power and bat control. Indeed, he has a career-worst 19.9 percent strikeout rate despite making his living in a Central silo with mostly execrable pitching (the Indians, Reds, and some Twins notwithstanding). This seems to be a function of taking too many strikes. Maybe he’s swinging less because of the thumb or perhaps there is another reason.

Despite the strikeout issue and another low BABIP (.266), Ramirez is hitting a still-solid .250/.347/.487. He has nine home runs and nearly twice as many fly balls as grounders. Keller is a ground ball guy. The combination of fly ball hitter and ground ball pitcher tends to produce ideal launch angles for the hitter. Progressive Field is friendly to left-handed power. Ramirez will be swinging from the left side today.

Also consider: Luke Voit, George Springer, Austin Meadows, Ketel Marte, Cavan Biggio, Randal Grichuk, Lourdes Gurriel

 

Unlikely heroes:

Kole Calhoun ($3500 DK, $2900 FD)
David Peralta ($2900 DK, $2700 FD)

Although the Diamondbacks are not my first pick for an offensive stack tonight, there’s no denying they’re stuffed with value plays. Calhoun and Peralta are two that stand out. The former has a high launch angle (17 degree average) which isn’t ideal for a fly ball pitcher like Gausman – not to mention a venue that stifles home runs. He’s still one of the best options for a cheap home run. Peralta offers a better matchup – he hits the piss out of low angle contact (seven degree average). Gausman’s pitch usage could help Peralta generate lift, but he’s mostly interesting for a mid-lineup role and potential for run production.

Since Gausman makes short starts, the Diamondbacks should see upwards of four innings from a below average Giants bullpen.

 

Michael Brantley ($3600 DK, $3300 FD)

Brantley may not have the prodigious power we look for in DFS picks, but few players are steadier sources of production. The Astros third hitter is batting .316/.393/.526. He’ll do *something* in almost every ballgame. His strongest value is in run production where he’s on pace for something like 130 runs and 120 RBI in a 650 plate appearance season. The Astros opponent, Montas, is in the midst of a slump with some speculating about a lingering injury.

Also consider: Aaron Hicks, Christian Walker, Carlos Santana, Franmil Reyes

 

4. Pitchers

“Safe” Picks: 

Zac Gallen (DK $9200, FD $10600)

With the variety of pitchers available at reasonable price points, there shouldn’t be any runaway chalk picks in this slate. If anyone gets too much attention, it’ll probably be Gallen. Especially on DraftKings, he’s an affordable alternative to Scherzer. Gallen has yet to allow more than two runs in a start this year. He typically throws six or seven frames. This will be his third start against the Giants. He’s coughed up just two runs in 13 innings against them. His so-called “luck stats” suggest some regression could be on the horizon. He won’t remain this stingy with balls in play or runners on base forever.

Also Consider: Max Scherzer, Dinelson Lamet, Hyun-Jin Ryu

 

Value Targets: 

Zach Plesac (DK $7600, FD $10300)

Plesac costs a fortune on FanDuel. It’s possible they’ve done a better job of pricing him today. He looked none the worse for his stint on the restricted list. He made his first start in nearly a month last Tuesday, holding the Royals to just one solo home run in six innings with six strikeouts. He gets a rematch today. KC has a well-below average offense (88 wRC+ and falling) and a league average 23.8 percent strikeout rate. Another quality start is likely.

Kevin Gausman (DK $6100, FD $7700)

Gausman has one thing really going for him – he’s piling up strikeouts (11.73 K/9) while avoiding walks (1.99 BB/9). The downside is he remains prone to hard contact and home runs in particular. Even Oracle Park isn’t large enough to save Gausman. Although he’s been throwing between 90 and 100 pitches per start, he’s still barely finishing five frames. Our hopes are riding on a hefty strikeout rate against the Diamondbacks – a team with the third-fewest punch outs (20.4 percent).

Also Consider: Brad Keller

 

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 ($2700 DK, $2000 FD)

Three of the best cheapies play for the Diamondbacks. Rojas is a jack of all trades with power representing his weakest trade. We’re looking for multiple hits rather than a home run. Strikeouts have plagued Rojas through 174 career plate appearances. Oddly, he has no such issue in Triple-A – he posts a mid-teens strikeout rate backed by an above average swinging strike rate. Both stats have ballooned in the Majors. It’s easy enough to trace the issue to its source – he’s swinging at too many pitches out of the zone and too few in the zone. He’ll adjust.

 

Victor Robles ($2100 DK, $2400 FD)

If one is willing to squint, there are reasons for optimism about Robles. He’s hit leadoff in his last three games. Since August 28, he’s batting .375/.412/.406 with three three-hit games. Of course, even this selectively chosen sample has red flags – namely an .031 ISO, 81.5 mph EV, and .462 BABIP. Ideally, a Robles “breakout” will be signaled by an uptick of hard contact rather than a brief period with a fluky 45.8 percent line drive rate.

In any event, a leadoff hitter at this price is almost always playable. Rays starter Charlie Morton is probably capped around four innings. Their bullpen isn’t exactly exploitable, but it is stretched thin.

Also Consider: Tim Locastro, Derek Fisher, Daulton Varsho