I had a dream about daily fantasy sports last night. That’s not really uncommon, which is very, very sad; I dream about weird stuff like whether or not I’m emphasizing wind too much in my daily fantasy baseball selections.

Take home $25K in the MLB Slugfest tonight!


This particular dream isn’t specific to baseball, but I wanted to mention it here before I forget it, and also because I couldn’t think of anything else to write. #ProfessionalWriter #BlogLife

My dream was that maybe “cash games” aren’t all the same and we should be approaching head-to-head games quite a bit differently than 50/50s. I’ve been guilty of grouping the two together in the past. For the most part, I do think approaching them with a risk-averse mindset is smart, but there’s a fundamental difference between head-to-heads and 50/50s; there’s value in scoring really highly in your head-to-head games, but not really in 50/50s. You want the highest score you can get, obviously, but a score of 140 points when the cash line is 130 in a 50/50 acts the same as a score of 180 points.

Basically, I think perhaps 50/50s are really the leagues that are about risk-minimization—narrowing the range of outcomes for your lineup to consistently score above the median—while head-to-heads are more about point-maximization. A really high head-to-head score is very valuable, because you can beat other outlying scores, and over the long run, maximizing points will likely maximize profit in head-to-heads.

The implications would be that median projections and strict dollar-per-point calculations are still valuable in head-to-head leagues, but not as much so in 50/50s. In the latter, we should be concerned about safety and consistency—establishing a high floor—whereas maybe the risk-averse behavior we generally employ in head-to-head matchups is less valuable than we thought.

In daily fantasy baseball, it could mean a willingness to overpay for top pitching in 50/50s, but perhaps (just a tad) less willingness to do the same in head-to-heads, where you should construct lineups that you believe will truly maximize points over the long run.

I don’t know though. It was all a dream. (I used to read Word Up! Magazine, Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine).

Editors Note: CLE SP Corey Kluber has been scratched from his start tonight. Right-hander Josh Tomlin will start in his place.

The Teams

Kansas City Royals (vs John Danks)

There are some ridiculously high implied run totals today; anecdotally, I’d say they’re the highest all season. Right now, the Nationals, Blue Jays, Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, Astros, Reds, Royals, Giants, and Rockies are all projected by Vegas at a minimum of 4.5 implied runs. That’s a lot of teams, and it makes fading Coors way less risky than normal.

I think you could make an argument that you should just be value-seeking with your stack tonight because, with so many options, ownership will be spread out more than normal and there’s less reason to be contrarian. That might be true, but I do like the idea of getting an offense projected at 4.9 runs in Kansas City that I think will still be low-owned.

The Royals’ righty-dominant lineup faces Danks tonight in a park that isn’t nearly as pitcher-friendly as people think when the weather is good for batters, as it will be tonight. The temperature will be approaching 90 degrees and there’s likely going to be a strong wind blowing out to left field, which has historically been linked to value for righty bats. This offense has more upside than people think in certain situations.


Baltimore Orioles (vs Drew Hutchison)

The Orioles aren’t one of the top-projected offenses, but I don’t care about that as much with them given the power of some of their bats. With guys like Machado, Jones, and Davis hitting in Rogers Centre against a very volatile arm in Hutchison, the sky is the limit.

Once again, Hutchison is underpriced in my opinion. I will use him in GPP lineups because he can strike batters out and thus has a ton of upside, but the fact that I think he’ll be semi-popular only adds to my willingness to stack Baltimore; if they go off, you’ll not only move up the leaderboards, but all the Hutchison lineups will drop as well.


The Players

C Brian McCann, NY Yankees (vs Jake Odorizzi) – $4000

McCann probably won’t see big ownership outside of Yankees stacks because he’s facing Odorizzi and has a somewhat expensive price tag. I actually love that he costs $4000 as opposed to, say, $3900; small pricing quirks like that can change the way we perceive cost, and thus you can get much lower ownership due to a $100 difference in salary.

McCann has doubled his salary-based DraftKings expectation in 24 percent of games this season, which is really high for a catcher. Actually, it’s in the 92nd percentile. With everyone rostering Buster Posey against a lefty in Coors tonight, McCann is the contrarian play I like most.


2B/OF Ben Zobrist, Kansas City (vs John Danks) – $4200

Even at $4200, Zobrist is my top value second baseman tonight. I also don’t think he’s going to be in a ton of lineups, so any time I can get what I think is optimal value without high ownership, I’m going to be all over that. Zobrist has outperformed his DraftKings expected points (based on salary) by 1.19 PPG this season, including a ridiculous 2.45 PPG over the past month. He has a running 12-month wOBA of .392 against southpaws.


OF Jose Bautista, Toronto (vs Ubaldo Jimenez) – $5000

A few nights ago, I recommended Bautista because I thought he’d have somewhat suppressed ownership and he was a top value of mine. I thought that because the Rockies were at home and Bautista was facing a righty (and ownership is down for batters versus the same handedness of pitcher, even when it shouldn’t be). Bautista’s ownership that night was only six percent, which was lower than even I thought it would be.

With so many highly projected offenses tonight, I think you can make an argument Bautista’s ownership should be even lower than it was the other night. Pretty much every other factor is the same—Jimenez might drag down ownership even more—but Bautista is a top four value for me among outfielders. He has a .282 ISO against righties.


P Kris Medlen, Kansas City (vs Chicago White Sox) – $4700

If you want to go big on bats, I like Medlen as one of your pitchers. Actually, he’s so cheap you can fit an ace into your lineup—probably deGrom—and still spend a lot on your batters.

Medlen is obviously a risk, but he’s also been pretty good in his two starts this year, finishing with 15.2 and 20.5 DraftKings points. Vegas has the Sox at just 3.7 implied runs, and Kansas City is currently (-175) to win this game.