We’re in the midst of a couple big survivor leagues on DraftKings, and there’s another right around the corner in the $400K Mega Strikeout. In that league, the following percentage of users advanced each day:

Day 1: 54%

Day 2: 40%

Day 3: 50%

Day 4: 160-man GPP

Other survivor leagues offer different levels of advancement, with some below 20%. The way to approach these leagues depends on the stage. In Days 1-3 of the Mega Strikeout, you can treat it like a 50/50 given that between 40 and 54% of users advance in those levels.

To me, that means not really worrying about ownership rates until the final day. I don’t care too much about ownership if Josh Donaldson or Paul Goldschmidt are facing lefties, for example; if they’re elite plays, I want them in my lineup. I’m also more likely to play it safe on pitching in these formats, paying for what I consider to be the safest options.

I really think that risk-minimization is important with your pitchers in these survivor leagues. I like to look at the Vegas lines (moneyline and public betting) and the opposing offense’s wOBA to determine how safe of a play a pitcher might be. While I still want strikeout upside, my main concern is first minimizing the risk of a blow-up game.

 

The Teams

Toronto/LA Dodgers

The Blue Jays are the obvious play tonight at home against a lefty. I think their ownership is going to be very high—perhaps prohibitive if you want to run a six-man stack—but I also think it’s dangerous and probably foolish to not have some exposure to them. You could mix in certain values—Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Bautista, especially—with your other stacks. I like the idea of mini-stacking them with another chalk offense in the Dodgers. You’re going to need to sit either Encarnacion or Adrian Gonzalez to do it, but otherwise you can run a 4-3-1 mini-stack combination and get exposure to the two highest-projected offenses while still maintaining some semblance of a unique lineup.

 

Cincinnati Reds

The thing that scares me here is that teams and players coming off of big games typically see inflated tournament ownership. However, given the presence of other top offenses in a full slate, I don’t think we need to be as worried about the Reds’ usage. I especially like this offense if Billy Hamilton is leading off versus the right-handed Phil Hughes.

 

The Players

C Josh Phegley, Oakland (vs Rubby De La Rosa) – $3100

I feel pretty confident that Matt Wieters, Yasmani Grandal, and Stephen Vogt are going to be among the three highest-owned catchers tonight, and perhaps No. 1, 2, and 3. Wieters is my top value, but I also think he’s a very clear play. I’ll still have exposure, but Phegley really interests me. He’s crushing lefties this year and still costs just $3100. His ownership will be low, especially because so many people will be playing his teammate Vogt at the same position.

 

2B/3B Jimmy Paredes, Baltimore (vs Colby Lewis) – $4200

Paredes has doubled his salary-based expectation in 27 percent of games this year, which is one of the highest rates in baseball. He has awesome splits in a great park against a weak pitcher, with the Orioles projected very well by Vegas. I don’t think this is a particularly contrarian play, but the presence of Justin Turner (2B/3B), Ivan De Jesus (2B/SS), and Josh Donaldson (3B) should help keep Paredes’ ownership down.

 

1B/3B Todd Frazier, Cincinnati (vs Phil Hughes) – $4900

Josh Donaldson is the clear value play at third base against a lefty tonight. I’m not going to fade him completely, but Frazier makes for an interesting tournament play. He’s facing a right-hander, but actually has just slightly better wOBA and ISO numbers against righties over the past 12 months. He’s also $100 more expensive than Donaldson, which is going to make it really difficult for people to justify passing on the Toronto slugger.

 

P Danny Salazar, Cleveland (vs Tampa Bay) – $9200

Salazar is personally my favorite tournament pitcher tonight, but I have a whole bunch of guys rated around the same: Chris Sale, Sonny Gray, and Gerrit Cole among them. I might be more concerned about pitcher ownership tonight if there weren’t so many quality options, but it isn’t like Salazar is a must-play option by any means. Given his 10.8 K/9 and Tampa Bay’s struggles against righties, this has the makings of a double-digit strikeout performance.