MLB Early Targets

This four-game afternoon fantasy baseball slate kind of feels like a straightforward mess, with good players in good spots who are entirely impossible to afford in real roster construction. There are valuable pieces that will demand a lot of ownership, so I think it’s important to be contrarian where you can to make sure you take advantage of the sweet variance we have come to love. Let’s dig in.

PITCHER

Stud

Zack Wheeler, NYM at WAS, $10,000 — There are a lot of things that look good for Wheeler, including a matchup with a team mostly consisting of RHBs and facing off against a far inferior pitcher, giving him a much better chance for the win bonus. Wheeler has been lights out with 10+ strikeouts in three of his past five games and 20+ DKFP in four of his starts. Playing in a neutral park for offense against a subpar offense gives him a chance to add to those totals.

Other Options — Chris Bassitt ($8,600)

Value

Zach Davies, MIL at PHI, $7,000 — Just at first glance this seems like a popular play, and it’s easy to see why Davies would carry ownership. He has just one start under 10 fantasy points and he’s inducing groundballs at a high rate with five or more in all but two of his contests, creating a great floor against upside events. The Phillies came into the season being a feared group but are middling at best with just a 90 wRC+ over the past two weeks, making Davies a solid option in all formats.

Other Options — Homer Bailey ($6,000)


CATCHER

Stud

Wilson Ramos, NYM at WAS, $3,800 — The subpar pitcher I talked about in the Wheeler blurb is Anibal Sanchez ($7,200), who has given up three or more runs in all but two of his starts. Ramos hasn’t been consistent at the plate but that might be changing with three hits and five RBI, including a home run, in his past three games. Hitting near the middle of the order will give Ramos plenty of opportunities against a bad pitcher, and that’s all we can ask for with a catcher on this slate.

Other Options — Yasmani Grandal ($4,100)

Value

John Hicks, DET vs. OAK, $3,300 — Whew, boy are the cheap catcher options ugly on this slate; there’s no way to feel comfortable with a pure punt. I prefer the mid range on an undervalued catcher in Hicks, who is averaging 5.1 DKFP in the past 10 games with eight hits to just nine strikeouts. The matchup with Chris Bassitt ($8,600) is not great, but we have to play the skill of the player at the position, and Hicks is above average on this slate.

Other Options — Yan Gomes ($2,900)


FIRST BASE

Pete Alonso, NYM at WAS, $5,300 — I generally am worried about rostering Alonso at a high price because of his strikeout issues, but the matchup should help him to mitigate those issues. Sanchez has four games with three or less strikeouts and walks hitters at a rate of 5.27 per nine innings, helping Alonso avoid leaving empty handed. Though the average has been bad, Alonso still is averaging 7.5 DKFP and has three home runs and six RBI in his past 10, showing a great floor with upside.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Alonso is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. the Nationals.

Other Options — Danny Santana ($4,900)

Value

Jesus Aguilar, MIL at PHI, $3,300 — Averaging seven DKFP over his past five games, Aguilar has been heating up at the plate. His season batting average of .209 does him no justice as he has hit .333 with 10 hits for seven RBI in his recent sample. His game will come against Zach Eflin ($9,100), who has been fantastic over his past three games but has bad flyball rates and a low strikeout percentage, making him a good target for upside.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Aguilar is not in the lineup for today’s game vs. the Phillies.

Other Options — Ryan O’Hearn ($3,500)


SECOND BASE

Stud

Whit Merrifield, KC vs. TEX, $5,100 — Merrifield is in a really good spot against a pitcher that is considerably weaker against RHBs, and he is the only second baseman in the upper tier with true 25+ DKFP upside. He has 12 hits in the past 10 games including three doubles, a triple, and two home runs and two stolen bases with just seven strikeouts, giving him massive upside against a suspect pitcher/bullpen combo.

Other Options — Logan Forsythe ($4,600)

Value

Nicky Lopez, KC vs, TEX, $3,300 — It’s not often I get to write about two players on the same team at the same position, so I’m going to cherish suggesting Lopez here. Lopez was called up recently and is a great mix of contact and speed. In his first two games in the majors he has three hits and just one strikeout while averaging 9.5 DKFP — and that’s without a single steal (he had 40 in the minors), giving him lots of upside at a modest price.

Other Options — Keston Hiura ($3,500)


THIRD BASE

Stud

Mike Moustakas, MIL at PHI, $4,400– The Brewers seem to be in a bit of a weird spot up against a pitcher that has put up huge performances but also seems to be kind of a fraud. Eflin has a 41% flyball rate and is getting hit hard in his recent sample with marks above 40%. I love Moustakas and his power against RHPs as a contrarian option.

Other Options — Hunter Dozier ($4,700)

Value

Maikel Franco, PHI vs. MIL $4,000 — As was the case with catcher, there is little value to be had at third base on this slate. Franco has a matchup in a good park for offense against a pitcher that has a low strikeout rate. Franco also has a solid SLG% for his price at .439 in 2019. He’s had his struggles at the plate lately, but he isn’t priced for his upside and represents a decent value if you pay down.

Other Options — J.D. Davis ($3,800)


SHORT STOP

Stud

Adalberto Mondesi, KC vs. TEX, $5,000 — The thing about Lance Lynn ($7,600) is he has massive splits that make him much better against RHBs, but that doesn’t matter with a switch-hitter like Mondesi. With a 10-game slash line of .293/.488/.843 and 11.5 fantasy points per game, Mondesi is the highest upside option on the slate and should be a priority in all formats, especially considering he can exploit the opposing pitcher’s weakness.

Other Options — Ronny Rodriguez ($4,400)

Value

Orlando Arcia, MIL at PHI, $3,100 — The opposite of the stud at this position, Arcia is mostly devoid of upside and should be used only as a salary-saver with a decent floor. Averaging 6.9 DKFP with a .343 average over his past 10 games gives him a fantastic floor. But with no home runs and just three extra-base hits, he isn’t going to get you 15+ fantasy points in the vast majority of outcomes. Still, he’s a good salary-relief option with a good floor.

Other Options — Carter Kieboom ($3,200)


OUTFIELD

Stud

Christian Yelich, MIL at PHI, $5,800 — I am hoping the Brewers don’t end up popular on this slate because the idea of Yelich in this spot is really exciting. He has a .479 xwOBA and .722 xSLG against RHPs, and Eflin’s flyball issues already have been discussed in this article. He’s a fantastic play at a prohibitive price that hopefully lowers ownership.

Other Options — Joey Gallo ($5,700), Alex Gordon ($4,900)

Value

Billy Hamilton, KC vs. TEX, $3,200 — Using all the speed guys against Lynn and the Rangers is a trend for me today, but it’s hard to see these guys not running amuck on the basepaths against a pitcher with on-base issues. Hamilton has been lamented for his hitting ability over the past year or so but is hitting relatively well with a .242/.324/.303 slash and nine stolen bases on the year to sweeten the deal. He’s a good source of upside for his price.

Other Options — Niko Goodrum ($3,300)


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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Multichem) 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. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.