Today’s main slate features 14 games and starts at 7:05 pm ET. Here’s a date-driven breakdown featuring five key stats, courtesy of FantasyLabs Editor-in-Chief, Matthew Freedman.
FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tool and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models and construct customized lineups. In this piece, I leverage the same tools used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for each slate.
9.8 K Prediction – Max Scherzer
This slate has a number of pitchers with high upside — Jacob deGrom, Chris Archer, Alex Wood, Jake Arrieta and Carlos Martinez all stand out — but there’s only one Scherzer, who has the slate’s highest salary at $12,700. Ordinarily, he would likely have high ownership, and Scherzer probably will still be popular, but his ownership rate might be slightly reduced given that there is an abundance of other options and DraftKings players might choose to pay up for batters in a slate full of lineups with high implied run totals.
Regardless of all the dynamics in the slate, Scherzer looks like a guy who deserves high ownership. He handily leads the slate with a 9.8 K Prediction, and the Nationals are favored by 1.9 runs against the Padres, who have slate-low marks with 3.1 implied runs and a .255 wOBA. At FantasyLabs we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. Per our industry-leading Trends tool, pitchers comparable to Scherzer on the basis of K Prediction, opponent implied total and probability to win have historically averaged 27.36 DraftKings points with a +5.80 Plus/Minus, 71.4 percent Consistency Rating and 32.1 percent ownership rate in large-field guaranteed prize pools.
For people who don’t mind paying up at pitcher, Scherzer will likely be the guy they roster.
93 Park Factor – Jaime Garcia
Park Factor is a 0-to-100 FantasyLabs metric that measures the friendliness of a park based on the handedness of the batter and the starting pitcher. AT&T Park in San Francisco is one of the most pitcher-friendly venues in the league. Pitching on the road at AT&T Park, Garcia leads the slate with a 93 Park Factor, and Giants righty Matt Cain is actually second in the slate with a 92. Given that they’re both relatively cheap at $7,000 and $6,400, both Garcia and Cain deserve some consideration as punt plays for the second pitcher spot.
While Garcia isn’t exceptional, with just 33 strikeouts this season in 48.2 innings, he is fortunate to be facing the Giants, who are dead last in the league with a woeful .642 OPS in 2017. Although the Braves are slight underdogs against the Giants, who are implied for 4.1 runs (which in this slate is actually a low total), Garcia is probably preferable to Cain, who has a lower K Prediction (5.1 vs. 5.9) and an uninspiring 5.51 ERA since 2015. Historically, pitchers comparable to Garcia in Park Factor, K Prediction and salary have actually provided value, averaging a +1.06 Plus/Minus and 55.3 percent Consistency Rating.
He’s not likely to be popular, but Garcia is a cheap pitcher who has a decent chance of providing some value in a slate in which people will likely want to pay for batters.
10 Pro Trends – Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter and Randal Grichuk
At FantasyLabs we have what are called “Pro Trends” — angles we’ve identified that historically yield value. Unsurprisingly, three Cardinals lead the slate in Pro Trends. Not only are the Cardinals playing at Coors Field, where they have slate-high marks with a 100 Park Factor and 82 Weather Rating, but they also lead the slate with an implied total of 5.6 runs. Given that Coors is the most hitter-friendly ballpark in MLB with league-high marks in average DraftKings points (9.06), Plus/Minus (+1.28), Consistency Rating (47.0 percent) and Upside Rating (19 percent), the Cardinals are likely to be chalky in both cash games and GPPs.
Projected to hit first and third, Fowler and Carpenter will probably be popular, but Grichuk is expected to bat seventh and thus could have substantially lower ownership. While batters in the top third of lineups at Coors have historically had 14.6 percent ownership rates, batters comparable to Grichuk in Pro Trends and lineup spot have had a +1.28 Plus/Minus and 50.7 percent Consistency Rating at a reduced ownership of 8.3 percent. For a No. 7 hitter, that ownership rate is still high, but for a Coors batter with double-digit Pro Trends, it’s a bargain.
For DraftKings players who want to stack the Cardinals without being totally chalky, Grickuk is a viable option.
272 Feet, Batted Ball Distance – Michael Conforto
With five home runs, a +6.47 Plus/Minus, and 60 percent Consistency Rating over his last 10 games, Conforto is currently one of the hottest hitters in MLB. As of writing we don’t have a team total for the Mets, but they are facing Pirates righty Chad Kuhl, who this season is 1-4 with a 5.85 ERA and only 33 strikeouts in a meager 40 innings across nine starts. Averaging not even 75 pitches per start, Kuhl is likely to give way to the Pirates’ bullpen relatively early in the game, which has been slightly overworked lately (the Mets have an Opponent Bullpen Rating of 60) and is in the bottom third of the league with a 1.42 WHIP. The Mets aren’t a potent team, but they have the potential to smash in this game.
Leading off for the Mets, Conforto has been a Statcast beast over the last 15 days. He leads all everyday players with a recent batted ball distance of 272 feet, and his exit velocity of 99 miles per hour and fly ball and hard hit rates of 48 and 65 percent are incredible. Historically, players comparable to Conforto in lineup spot, batting distance, and hard-hit rate have crushed with 10.26 DraftKings points, a +2.70 Plus/Minus, and 48.0 percent Consistency Rating.
Stacked with teammates or used individually, Conforto offers a lot of upside and could go overlooked in this slate.
83 Team Value Rating – Phillies
Team Value Rating is a 0-to-100 grade showing a team’s value based on its implied run total and collective salaries. The Phillies are only 23rd in MLB with a .721 OPS, but in this slate they are implied for 5.0 runs against the Reds. While ordinarily, that would seem like a high total, there are seven other teams in the slate with implied totals of at least 5.0 runs, so the Phillies will probably have relatively low ownership in comparison to their potential. Given that only one batter in their projected lineup has a salary over $4,000, the Phillies easily lead the slate with an 83 Team Value Rating.
One reason the Phillies are implied for 5.0 runs is that they’re facing Reds’ righty Tim Adleman, who in his six starts this year has a 6.75 ERA. With the wind currently forecast to blow toward right field at 13 miles per hour, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Odubel Herrera have some hidden upside. The switch hitters and lefty are all on the beneficial side of their hitting splits, and they all hit in the top half of the order. So far this season, switch hitters and lefties batting in the first five spots of their lineups have crushed Adleman, averaging 10.56 DraftKings points, a +2.59 Plus/Minus and a 68.8 percent Consistency Rating.
For DFS players who want hitting upside on the cheap, the Phillies are in play.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mefreedman) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.