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Daily Fantasy Baseball Strategy: May 1, 2015


Below we’ve got a discussion of the starting pitching situation as well as the best teams to use for stacks for Friday’s 14-game evening slate on DraftKings. We’ve also got projections derived from Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections, and we have rankings of the top plays at each position.

Pitching Perspective

Here are our projections for today’s starters. You’ll see each starter’s salary, the average number of fantasy points the starter is projected to score per game and how far above or below average his projection is compared to his salary in the value column. You’ll also see adjustments being made for matchup and ballpark. As for the colors, they rank as follows from good to bad: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, burgundy.

It’s not a loaded day for pitching, but there a couple of aces taking the hill, some good values in the mid-price range and some gambles that may be worth taking a chance on.

Let’s start with the mid-price guys because that’s likely where I’ll end up with most of my rosters. According to my model, Lance Lynn ($8,300) is projected to be the second highest scoring pitcher of the day, but he isn’t priced anywhere near the two aces in action today. Lynn has a better projection than one of those aces, Matt Harvey ($11,200), but the ZiPS projections are still holding on to a conservative projection of Harvey. In a vacuum, I’d prefer Harvey to Lynn, but with an almost $3,000 price difference between the two, I most definitely prefer the value of Lynn.

The other mid-price guy I like is Carlos Carrasco ($7,900). Carrasco may be more of a tournament play as he has a below average matchup against the Blue Jays. However, the real meat of Toronto’s lineup is right-handed, and Carrasco’s home park is tough on right-handed power hitters, not to mention that Carrasco is right-handed. I can’t deny it’s somewhat of a risky play, but my model thinks the DK pricing algorithm is factoring in too much of that risk. Again, I understand if you can’t stomach Carrasco in cash games, but he’s a good upside play in a tournament.

If you want to pay up for a pitcher, my model likes Max Scherzer ($12,000) more than Harvey both in terms of projection and value. But I’m generally not a fan of paying big for pitching, and neither Scherzer or Harvey has a value grade today good enough to sway me off my usual strategy.

If you want to go cheap, I’d recommend Chris Heston ($5,600). The rookie has had a nice four starts this year with a 2.77 ERA. More importantly, he has backed up the ERA with some decent underlying numbers. His strikeout rate is only a hair below average, his walk rate is safely better than league average, and his groundball rate is well above league average. His average strikeout rate limits his upside, but he doesn’t need much upside to provide a significant return with his price tag. Heston will face the Angels, who have struggled against right-handed pitching so far, in San Francisco, which obviously works in Heston’s favor.

If you rely want to go out on a limb, allow me to suggest Houston’s Samuel Deduno ($4,000) at home taking on the Seattle Mariners. The ballpark isn’t super-friendly, and the Mariners aren’t the best possible matchup (though they’re not a bad one). Another negative is that this will be Deduno’s first start after five relief appearances totaling 9.1 innings this season. You have to wonder how deep he’ll be able to go in the game. But his price tag is obviously low, as $4,000 is the minimum price for a pitcher on DK, and our model doesn’t think he’s that bad. Something in the $5,000 range would be more appropriate according to my model. That said, with Heston being a good value at a relatively low price point, there’s probably no point in taking a risk on Deduno.

Stack Options

Today’s game with the highest total in Vegas in the Yankees at Red Sox with an over/under of nine. I wholeheartedly agree with that being the highest total of the day as both teams are among the four teams I would consider stacking today.

Of the two (of the four, actually) I prefer the Red Sox at home against C.C. Sabathia. Since Sabathia’s average fastball velocity slipped below 90 mph last year, he’s had an impossible time keeping balls in the park with a HR/9 rate of 1.76. That’s the worst mark in that stat of any starter with at least 70 innings since the start of 2014. I won’t be surprised at all if a few fly over the monster tonight and a few more bang into it.

If stacking almost a complete team is your thing, Boston is a good option for that today. On DK you can only have six hitters from one team, so I’d probably skip over David Ortiz, who will be without the platoon advantage, and go with these six: Mookie Betts ($4,400, OF), Dustin Pedroia ($3,900, 2B), Hanley Ramirez ($5,000, SS/OF), Pablo Sandoval ($4,700, OF), Mike Napoli ($3,800, 1B) and Xander Bogaerts ($3,300, SS). Aside from Sandoval and to a lesser extent Hanley, all these guys have good price tags and make plenty of sense in cash games on their own or in mini-stacks.

As for the Yankees, their left-handed bats make sense for a stack. If you want to go Yankees heavy, I’d go with Jacoby Ellsbury ($5,200, OF), Brett Gardner ($4,300, OF), Mark Teixeria ($4,600, 1B), Brian McCann ($4,900, C), Carlos Beltran ($3,800, OF) and Chase Headley ($4,100, 3B). None of them have really great price tags, so they don’t have to be used in cash games.

The other two teams I considered stacking are Cincinnati and Oakland. But the more I think about it, I don’t see the point in stacking Cincy over Oakland. They project roughly the same, and the A’s represent much better value. If you go A’s heavy, your options are Marcus Semien ($4,500, 3B/SS), Stephen Vogt ($3,800, 1B/C), Billy Butler ($4,400, 1B), Ike Davis ($2,700, 1B), Josh Reddick ($4,000, OF) and Brett Lawrie ($3,600, 3B). Lawrie, Reddick, Semien and Vogt are all excellent values and good cash game targets.

You can view and download our hitter projections here. These projections are an average of what each hitter is projected to do on a per game basis according to the ZiPS rest-of-season projections. The projections have then been adjusted for splits, quality of the opposing starting pitcher and ballpark.

Player Rankings


  1. Buster Posey – $4,000 – San Francisco Giants
  2. Carlos Santana – $4,400 – Cleveland Indians
  3. Stephen Vogt – $3,800 – Oakland Athletics

First Base

  1. Freddie Freeman – $4,600 – Atlanta Braves
  2. Joey Votto – $4,700 – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Mark Teixeira – $4,600 – New York Yankees
  4. Mike Napoli – $3,800 – Boston Red Sox

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia – $3,900 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Dee Gordon – $4,600 – Miami Marlins
  3. Jose Altuve – $5,000 – Houston Astros
  4. Brett Lawrie – $3,600 – Oakland Athletics

Third Base

  1. Xander Bogaerts – $3,300 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Brett Lawrie – $3,600 – Oakland Athletics
  3. Marcus Semien – $4,500 – Oakland Athletics
  4. Chris Davis – $5,000 – Baltimore Orioles


  1. Hanley Ramirez – $5,000 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Xander Bogaerts – $3,300 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Marcus Semien – $4,500 – Oakland Athletics
  4. Jimmy Rollins – $3,600 – Los Angeles Dodgers


  1. Mookie Betts – $4,400 – Boston Red Sox
  2. Hanley Ramirez – $5,000 – Boston Red Sox
  3. Mike Trout – $5,200 – Los Angeles Angels
  4. Jacoby Ellsbury – $5,200 – New York Yankees
  5. George Springer – $5,100 – Houston Astros
  6. Joc Pederson – $4,100 – Los Angeles Dodgers
  7. Josh Reddick – $4,000 – Oakland Athletics
  8. Nick Markakis – $3,700 – Atlanta Braves

Starting Pitcher

  1. Lance Lynn – $8,300 – St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Carlos Carrasco – $7,900 – Cleveland Indians
  3. Max Scherzer – $12,000 – Washington Nationals
  4. Chris Heston – $5,600 – San Francisco Giants
  5. Samuel Deduno – $4,000 – Houston Astros

*Rankings are price sensitive

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