2016 Fantasy BaseballBrett TalleyFront Office

Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 23, 2016 – DraftKings Analysis

Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Monday’s nine-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

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Clayton Kershaw and pitchers facing the Padres. There aren’t two things a whole lot more bankable in fantasy baseball. Kershaw leads the league in virtually every statistic, and the Padres rank last or damn near it in almost all offensive statistics. Johnny Cueto will have the pleasure of facing those Padres, and Kershaw will be in action against the Reds. Both guys are expensive, but Kershaw is basically salary-proof in cash games and Cueto’s salary should be high given the matchup and the fact that he is one of eight qualified starters with an xFIP at or below 3.00. Both should probably be avoided in GPPs if you’re looking to be contrarian, though the likely heavy ownership of Kershaw should knock off a few percentage points from Cueto’s ownership rate.

Expensive pitchers you should avoid tonight are Gio Gonzalez, Ian Kennedy and Vincent Velasquez. Gonzalez and Kennedy don’t nearly deserve their price tags. Both have xFIPs near or higher than 4.00, and you shouldn’t have to pay five figures (or damn near it in Gio’s case) to roster a pitcher of that caliber. Velasquez could be reasonably priced with a five figure price tag, but it would need to be very near $10,000 to be kosher, not where it is tonight at $11,800.

Slightly cheaper options to consider are Drew Pomeranz and John Lackey. Admittedly, neither has a great matchup. Lackey will face the Cards who have the highest wRC+ in the league vs. RHP, and Pomeranz will face Cueto’s Giants who strikeout very infrequently. But both guys have xFIPs in the mid-threes, and I much prefer to pay for good pitchers as opposed to paying for good matchups, which is what you’re banking on if rostering Gio, Kennedy or Velasquez. Of Pomeranz and Lackey, I prefer Pomeranz because he’s almost a grand cheaper and has a bit more strikeout potential even in the tougher strikeout matchup.

If you’re looking for a cheap option, consider Bartolo Colon or…and stick with me here…Adam Wainwright. With a price tag of only $5,800, you may not need much convincing with Colon. His ERA is under 4.00, and his xFIP is a few points lower than his ERA. His strikeout rate is a bit above average, and he keeps the walks to a pretty good minimum. He’s got a slightly above average matchup with the Nationals, and, again, he’s really cheap. And he’s heap on a day where you could use some salary relief so you can pay up for someone expensive like Kershaw.

With Wainwright you may need a little more convincing. His ERA is near 6.00 and his xFIP in the mid-fours isn’t even encouraging. BUT. But as August Fagerstrom pointed out at Fangraphs last week, Wainwright may have found something. Click on over for a much better attempt than I could ever give to convince you Wainwright could have some success coming his way. But I’m willing to buy into a little of that hope for only $6,000. Absolutely no one is going to be on Waino tonight in a tough matchup with the Cubs, which makes him an option in GPPs. Using Cueto would be a bit chalky, but it would be fine to roster Cueto if you also rostered the ultra-contrarian Wainwright along with him.

Stack Options

Detroit Tigers – The Tigers will host the Phillies with Vince Velasquez on the hill for the Phils. This game has the second highest total of the day in Vegas at 8.5, but the Tigers are slight dogs facing Velasquez and sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound. As a result, they may not be too chalky of a stack. Velasquez has a typical split, so left-handers would be the best way to attack him. That means you’re likely avoiding the top third of their order, which makes this stack even less likely to be chalky. Victor Martinez in the cleanup spot would be a good place to start a stack. Ideally, lefty Steven Moya and switch-hitter Jarrod Saltalamacchia would be in the lineup behind him. And Justin Upton is so cheap and hitting in the back half of the order, so he could also be an option. To lengthen the stack, you could also include Miguel Cabrera in the three spot.

Los Angeles Angels – The Angels are in Texas to take on the Rangers in the game with the highest total of the day in Vegas. They’ll face LHP Derek Holland who is downright woeful against right-handed hitters. Among 208 pitchers who have faced at least 200 right-handers between this season and last, Holland has the fifth worst xFIP vs. RHH. That means Mike Trout is a no-brainer tonight as long as he’s in the lineup after rolling an ankle last night, and Albert Pujols is a great play as well. Other right-handers like Yunel Escobar, C.J. Cron and Johnny Giavotella are all options to be included in a stack as is are whoever starts behind the plate, Carlos Perez or Jett Bandy.

Minnesota Twins – Like the Tigers, the Twins are playing in a game with a total of 8.5 in Vegas, but they’re the underdog. They’ll host the Royals who will start RHP Ian Kennedy. Kennedy has been known to give up a dong or two as his HR/9 has been over 1.2 in five of his seven full seasons. The players that should be a part of any Twins stack are Byung Ho Park and Brian Dozier, but after that it will really depend on what the lineup looks like. Any of the following names are options if they would fit in a streamlined stack: Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe, Jorge Polanco and Danny Santana.

Texas Rangers – On the other side of the game in Texas the Rangers will face Nick Tropeano. Ignore Tropeano’s 3.30 ERA and look at his 4.92 xFIP. The gap is the result of Trop’s 89.7 percent strand rate, which is astounding when you consider his HR/9 is 1.44. He’s a fly ball pitcher, so home runs may always be an issue for him. He can probably get away with all the fly balls when pitching at home in a park friendly to such pitchers. Just ask Hector Santiago. But Texas has to be one of the worst parks for a fly-ball pitcher to pitch in. Lefties Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara are great options and should be a part of any Rangers stack. Struggling Prince Fielder could also be in a stack as could Adrian Beltre and Mitch Moreland.

Player Rankings


  1. Buster Posey – $3,500
  2. Carlos Perez – $2,800
  3. Jett Bandy – $2,800
  4. Stephen Vogt – $2,700
  5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – $2,700
  6. Kevin Plawecki – $2,200

First Base

  1. Albert Pujols – $4,500
  2. Byung Ho Park – $3,500
  3. C.J. Cron – $3,500
  4. Prince Fielder – $3,900
  5. Victor Martinez – $3,000

Second Base

  1. Rougned Odor – $4,000
  2. Brian Dozier – $3,200
  3. Kolten Wong – $3,100
  4. Neil Walker – $2,900

Third Base

  1. Matt Carpenter – $4,300
  2. Adrian Beltre – $3,800
  3. Yunel Escobar – $3,700
  4. Trevor Plouffe – $3,200
  5. Max Muncy – $2,500


  1. Corey Seager – $4,100
  2. Taylor Motter – $2,200
  3. Jorge Polanco – $2,400
  4. Javier Baez – $3,000
  5. Asdrubal Cabrera – $2,900


  1. Mike Trout – $5,400
  2. Nomar Mazara – $3,700
  3. Yoenis Cespedes – $4,200
  4. Bryce Harper – $5,300
  5. Alex Gordon – $3,300
  6. Brandon Moss – $3,000
  7. Justin Upton – $3,100
  8. Steven Moya – $2,600
  9. Danny Santana – $2,400
  10. Whit Merrifield – $2,000

Starting Pitcher

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Johnny Cueto
  3. Drew Pomeranz
  4. Adam Wainwright
  5. Bartolo Colon
  6. John Lackey


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