There’s little room for error when playing a five-game slate like the one FantasyDraft offers on Thursday night. If you don’t roster the guy who throws a gem or smacks two home runs, you’re probably in store for a long evening.
Unexpected outcomes can always torpedo a DFS lineup, but the following players present the clearest path to profit.
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Top SP: Zack Greinke ($20,600) vs. San Francisco Giants
In cash contests I’d roll with two of Jameson Taillon, Zack Greinke, and Chase Anderson. The notable fades are Matt Harvey–who has allowed 17 hits and eight runs over his last two starts–and Jake Arrieta, who has submitted six strikeouts and a 5.6 % swinging-strike rate in two turns. There’s a strong case for using Taillon and Greinke, but simply recommending both studs feels like a cop-out.
Because of his 0.89 ERA, Taillon costs $600 more than Greinke, who enters Thursday with a 5.29 ERA. The former Cy Young Award winner, however, has also tallied 21 strikeouts to one walk. He has also accumulated far more first-pitch and swinging-strikes than his younger counterpart:
- Greinke: 73.6 First Strike %, 15.7 SwStr %
- Taillon: 53.3 First Strike %, 7.7 SwStr %
Greinke also gets an easier opponent in the Giants, who hold baseball’s fifth-worst wOBA. Both of Thursday evening’s aces are likely to regress in opposite directions toward the mean, so take the cheaper one with the favorable matchup and lengthy track record.
Honorable Mention: Jameson Taillon ($21,200) at PHI
Value SP: Chase Anderson ($18,500) vs. Miami Marlins
Maybe Anderson isn’t the best cost-per-point value. A .193 BABIP and 92.8 % strand rate has facilitated his 2.83 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in four starts despite diminished velocity yielding more contact. Season-long investors should question his strong start. DFS players, on the other hand, can take him out for another spin against the Marlins. Three homers plagued his only problematic outing of 2018, but the Marlins have hit nine home runs with an MLB-low .309 slugging percentage. No team has generated a higher ground-ball rate than Miami’s 51.0 %. Any regression from Anderson will have to wait another week.
Honorable Mention: Eduardo Rodriguez ($14,700) at LAA
This would be the biggest no-brainer possible in a pre-humidor universe. While it’s far too early to draw any meaningful conclusions, Paul Goldschmidt has collected three hits in eight games at Chase Field, where he registered a .431 wOBA prior to 2018. He has also demolished lefties to a tune of .333/.438/.606, and that has not changed this season with three homers in 24 plate appearances. Ty Blach has conceded a .470 slugging % and all 18 of his career home runs to righties. Four starts into the year, he has amassed as many walks as strikeouts (nine) with an 88.2 opposing contact %. While DFS gamers don’t yet know how to handle the humidor, that uncertainty is generously baked into Goldschmidt’s $9,300 price tag. Otherwise he’d probably match Mike Trout as the slate’s costliest player for an extra $1,000.
A BVP chaser will gravitate to Josh Bell, who has gone 7-for-14 with four walks, two doubles, and two homers against Arrieta. I’d rather save $400 and play Corey Dickerson. The outfielder has also menaced Arrieta with four hits in six meetings, but toss that bite-sized sample size aside. As a career .284/.330/.534 hitter against righties, the expanded data says he’s a good matchup against a declining veteran who permitted a .354 wOBA to lefties last year. While Dickerson has proven more than a Coors Field byproduct, swinging at Citizens Bank Park sure beats his new home park in Pittsburgh.
I’m not fully buying Preston Tucker’s hot start, but neither is FantasyDraft. The streaking outfielder costs $5,500 despite hitting .325 (13-of-40) with two doubles and three homers against righties. Even someone taking his career .325 wOBA off righties at face value should give him some consideration at this price against Harvey. Since the start of 2016, lefties are hitting a Trout-like .315/.392/.546 against New York’s former ace. On that note, pairing Tucker with Ender Inciarte ($7,400) and/or Nick Markakis ($6,300) makes a sensible strategy. This is also assuming Freddie Freeman won’t play after again getting in the wrist last night.
Honorable Mention: IF/OF Chris Owings ($6,500) vs. SF (Blach)
Lineup Stack: Milwaukee Brewers vs. Miami Marlins (LHP Dillon Peters)
Trouble is brewing for Dillon Peters. The owner of a 6.75 ERA and .317/.394/.508 opposing slash line travels to Miller Park, where he will combat a potent Brewers lineup. Here are some top plays with their prices and career numbers against southpaws:
- Ryan Braun ($9,100): .1,578 PA, 330/.399/.617
- Lorenzo Cain ($7,400): 881 PA, .305/.362/.476
- Domingo Santana ($5,800): 334 PA, .273/.368/.488
- Jesus Aguilar ($5,500): 161 PA, .288/.373/.468
This stack requires close lineup monitoring before the 8:10 p.m. ET game. After returning from a back injury, Braun missed Wednesday’s game with an injured calf. If he can’t suit up, Aguilar should receive the starting nod at first base, making him the slate’s best value. He’d have some competition from a struggling Santana, who costs as much as Daniel Robertson and Jose Osuna despite recording a .377 wOBA against lefties last season. Even Cain is oddly affordable considering the platoon and ballpark advantage.
Honorable Mentions: Mets at Braves (Sims); Pirates at Phillies (Arrieta)