I’ve always found it really interesting how pricing fluctuations affect tournament ownership. Many times, cheaper isn’t always better. Unlike in cash games in which value is the name of the game, tournament play is governed as much by game theory as it is by dollar-per-point value.

Tonight, for example, both the Rockies and Dodgers are severely underpriced, in my opinion. It is very obvious they are values. Actually, the top 13 players in my model—thirteen!—all play on either Colorado or Los Angeles. That’s insane.

The offenses are such clear values that you know pretty much every DFS player is going to notice and be on them. So does the value make up for the increased ownership?

That’s a really difficult question to ask, mostly because ownership levels aren’t set in stone. If we knew each player’s ownership before a GPP, we could calculate his value and how much usable tournament value he offers to determine if he’s worth it. That uncertainty is why playing the chalk is sometimes merited; there are times when I think a lot of users sort of outsmart themselves and everyone thinks they’re being contrarian, only to leave the top plays in too few lineups.

Nonetheless, we do know offenses like Colorado and the LA Dodgers are going to be popular tonight. If you’re going to stack them, I think you need to incorporate non-chalky elements into your lineup, whether it’s a contrarian mini-stack, under-the-radar value bats, or even a pitcher no one else is on. Given the value of both offenses, I think it’s extremely risky to fade them tonight, so you might want to figure out creative ways to get them into your lineups.

 

The Teams

Pittsburgh Pirates (vs Tyson Ross)

There are a lot of reasons I like Pittsburgh tonight, despite the fact that Vegas has them at just 3.5 implied runs right now. The first is that almost their entire lineup is a sensational value. Polanco, Walker, and Alvarez all cost $3,600 or less. Even McCutchen is only $4,600. You can stack the Pirates and legitimately afford two aces or one ace and some big value bats.

It is supposed to rain in Pittsburgh tonight, but there shouldn’t be too much of a concern of a rain out. Delays are fine for batters, and many times a positive because 1) they draw down tournament ownership and 2) the starter can get forced out of the game early. Otherwise, the weather is favorable with a high temperature and humidity.

Finally, home plate umpire Jerry Meals is a batter’s ump. He has historically added 0.26 DraftKings points to hitter scores above what we’d expect based on their salaries. All of this adds up to me loving Pittsburgh as a contrarian stack against Tyson Ross, especially if they have a lefty-heavy lineup.

 

LA Dodgers (vs Chad Billingsley)

For whatever reason, the Dodgers’ salaries are too low tonight; Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasmani Grandal all cost no more than $3,800. My fear is that their such good values that lots of people will be using Dodgers bats even if they don’t stack the offense, but I’m hoping this lineup card comes out really late so some users are too scared to roster them.

I also like the idea of combining a mini-stack of the Dodgers with one from Colorado. The Rockies’ right-handed bats plus the Dodgers’ left-handed bats could give you ultimate upside without running into crazy lineup overlap.

 

 

The Players

C Stephen Vogt, Oakland (vs Nathan Eovaldi) – $3800

Yasmani Grandal, Michael McKenry, and Wilin Rosario are likely to be among the most utilized catchers. It is high-variance to fade Grandal at home against Billingsley at his price, particularly if he’s hitting in the top five for the Dodgers, but Vogt is in nearly just as good of a situation in New York. Yankee Stadium is very friendly to left-handed bats and Vogt hits righties well. The other catcher in this game—Brian McCann—is also a contrarian option against Sonny Gray.

 

2B Neil Walker, Pittsburgh (vs Tyson Ross) – $3600

Like I said, I like Pittsburgh’s lefty bats. I think Justin Turner’s ownership is going to be through the roof given his price and position flexibility. There are more quality options at third base than second base tonight, in my opinion, which means most users will probably utilize Turner as a second baseman given his scarcity at the position. Walker is the perfect example of a player in a slightly worse situation who could have more usable GPP value given dramatically reduced ownership.

 

SS Nick Ahmed, Arizona (vs Yovani Gollardo) – $2800

If there’s a position at which it will be easy to be contrarian tonight, it’s shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki is facing a weak lefty at home and costs only $4,800. He’s such an obvious value that I won’t be fading him even though I know ownership will be high. I can almost guarantee he will be in more lineups than any other batter tonight, as he should be.

There’s also basically a crisis at shortstop behind Tulo, so he’s not only a clear value, but also extremely scarce. Ahmed has seen a power surge of late leading off for an offense that will be in a decent spot tonight in Arlington. Another option here is Adeiny Hechavarria facing Wade Miley in Boston. No matter who you roster, though, it is going to feel “off” given how obvious a play Tulo is. If you don’t want to deal with the variance, just roster the Colorado shortstop and then use contrarian plays around him.

 

P Taijuan Walker, Seattle (vs Detroit) – $8200

There are a lot of aces throwing tonight, including Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, Francisco Liriano, Jake Arrieta, and Johnny Cueto. If you want to save a few bucks, I really like Taijuan Walker against Detroit. Take a minute and look at Walker’s last seven starts. He hasn’t gone fewer than six innings or struck out fewer than six batters in any game, scoring at least 21 DraftKings points in all of them.

Tonight, he’s facing a Detroit offense that Vegas has at just 3.2 implied runs. Walker has decent enough K upside in this game for me to roster him in any league type. Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley is also a plus for pitchers.