Houston Astros v Cleveland Indians

This Thursday, there are eight MLB games on the fantasy baseball main slate, including a few contests that could be potential playoff previews. The Indians are in the Bronx to face the Yankees, the A’s are hosting the Astros and the Mets and Braves are wrapping their three-game set in Atlanta. The eight games offer plenty of different ways to build your fantasy baseball roster for Thursday, on what looks to be a relatively quiet evening of weather.

As you start to assemble your squad, take a look at my favorite studs and values at each position listed below. As you know if you’re a regular fantasy baseball player, it’s vital to double-check starting lineups and weather outlooks before the scheduled first pitch, so check out the DK Live app or live.draftkings.com for all the latest info.



Sonny Gray, CIN vs. STL, $9,100 — After a rough season in New York last year, Gray has found his footing in Cincinnati and put together an excellent bounce-back campaign. He is only 7-6 but has a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He hasn’t allowed a run in either of his two most recent starts, going 13 shutout innings and allowing six hits while striking out 14. He had more than 24 DKFP in each of those outings and has more than 21 DKFP in seven of his past eight starts, going 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA, 59 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings and an average of 25.1 DKFP per contest. None of those outings came against the Cardinals, but they have been against tough opponents. He lost to St. Louis when he faced them earlier this season and will look to stay in form and avenge that defeat as he goes head-to-head with the struggling Michael Wacha ($5,400). Other Options — Yu Darvish ($9,700), Julio Teheran ($8,600)


Aaron Sanchez, HOU at OAK, $7,700 — The Astros added Sanchez at the trade deadline, and the 27-year-old has looked sharp in each of his first two starts for Houston, going 2-0 with a 0.82 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11 innings. He threw six no-hit innings in his first Astros start on his way to 27.7 DKFP and followed that with 21.65 DKFP against the Orioles in his most recent outing. He was held under 95 pitches in each outing, so it doesn’t look like the Astros will ask him to pitch especially deep in games at this point. However, the adjustments the Astros have made to his pitch selection and his continued solid strikeout rate make him a great option under $8K even though his overall numbers this season are still uninspiring.

Other Options — Reynaldo López ($7,900), Devin Smeltzer ($7,200)



J.T. Realmuto, PHI vs. CHC, $4,200 — Whether Charlie Manuel as hitting coach is the key to the Phillies’ success or not, the offense seems to be turning things around, and Realmuto is right in the middle of things. He has collected multiple hits and more than 15 DKFP in three straight games after homering for the second straight game Wednesday. Since Aug. 1, Realmuto is 13-for-41 (.317) with five doubles, two homers and a .994 OPS and has averaged 12.6 DKFP in his 10 starts. He has thrived at Citizens Bank Park in his first year with the Phils, hitting .297 at home with an .892 OPS. While Yu Darvish ($9,700) has pitched better lately, he still has given up six home runs in his past four starts, so the Phillies are necessarily an option you have to avoid even though they’re facing the most expensive SP on the slate. Other Options — Gary Sánchez ($4,500), Wilson Ramos ($4,000)


Tucker Barnhart, CIN vs. STL, $3,500 — Barnhart has been a solid offensive option since returning from an oblique strain, hitting .327 (16-for-49) with a double, four home runs, 12 RBI and a 1.013 OPS. He is hitting only .200 on the road but has hit .243 at Great American Ball Park with a .741 OPS. The switch-hitter is much stronger against righties, so he’s in a good spot against Wacha and the Cardinals at home in this matchup.

Other Options — Jason Castro ($3,900), Chris Herrmann ($2,900)


Carlos Santana, CLE at NYY, $5,000 — Of all the top-tier 1B, Santana has the hottest bat and is in a great ballpark to keep crushing as he and the Indians visit Yankee Stadium. Santana went 0-for-2 with two walks Wednesday afternoon against the Red Sox, snapping his five-game hitting streak and three-game home run streak. He still is hitting an impressive .356 (16-for-45) this month with four homers, 12 RBI and a 1.144 OPS. The Yankees are planning a bullpen day with Chad Green ($4,800) as opener, so the Tribe bats should be in a good spot to produce. Other Options — Freddie Freeman ($5,300), Paul Goldschmidt ($4,300)


José Abreu, CWS at LAA, $3,900 — Abreu also has been heating up and has averaged more than 10 DKFP over his past 10 games. He is 17-for-38 (.447) during that stretch with five doubles and a home run. All season, he has been a great play against lefties, who he has pummeled for a .956 OPS by going 43-for-125 (.344) with six of his 24 home runs. Abreu and the White Sox took two of three from the Astros and will head to Anaheim to take on the Angels and lefty Andrew Heany ($9,000). The Sox should be a nice source of value, especially their bats that excel against southpaws like Abreu.

Other Options — Rhys Hoskins ($3,800), Corban Joseph ($3,000)



Ketel Marte, ARI vs. SF, $5,100 — Even though they’re not in Coors Field anymore, Marte and the Diamondbacks are another lineup to consider. They have a good matchup against Dereck Rodríguez ($4,800), who has allowed 18 runs in 21 1/3 innings in his past 10 games in the Majors and has a 5.32 ERA on the season. Marte has been on a tear this month, going 18-for-49 (.367) with two doubles, two triples, a home run, three stolen bases and a 1.007 OPS. He has thrived at home this season, hitting .342 with eight homers and a .972 OPS. Marte went 4-for-5 with 24 DKFP in Arizona’s loss Wednesday and will look to stay hot as the team returns home after a six-game road trip. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Marte is not in tonight’s starting lineup.

Other Options — Gleyber Torres ($5,200), Ozzie Albies ($4,900)


César Hernández, PHI vs. CHC, $3,300 — The Phillies’ ever-shifting lineup has seen Hernández bounce back and forth from the leadoff spot to either sixth or seventh depending on the matchup. He has been productive in both situations, though, going 20-for-62 (.323) over his past 16 games with three doubles, a home run and a stolen base. The stolen base came Wednesday against the Cubs as part of a 19-DKFP performance. At just $3.3K, he’s a nice value in a lineup that is showing signs of turning things around.

Other Options — Josh VanMeter ($4,000), Luis Rengifo ($3,100)



Yuli Gurriel, HOU at OAK, $4,400 — Third base is a relatively deep spot on this limited slate, but Gurriel is hard to pass up with his potential upside and affordable salary. He hit two home runs Wednesday against Chicago and finished with 35 DKFP and has averaged 15.4 DKFP over his past 10 games while going 14-for-39 (.359) with five homers, 16 RBI and even a stolen base. He has gone 3-for-9 with a home run in his limited career appearances against former teammate Mike Fiers, and he’s a great way to get a high ceiling without paying all the way up to the top of the 3B salary structure. Other Options — Gio Urshela ($5,200), Eduardo Escobar ($4,800)


David Fletcher, LAA vs. CWS, $3,500 — Since there is so much depth at the top of the 3B pool, there aren’t a lot of cheap options lined up to start. One exception is Fletcher, who has offered solid production over his past seven games, averaging 6.7 DKFP per contest. He has doubled in three of his past four games and is hitting .306 with a .813 OPS at home on the season.

Other Options — Matt Chapman ($4,000), Jake Lamb ($3,800)



Francisco Lindor, CLE at NYY, $5,000 — Lindor enters the series with the Yankees riding an eight-game hitting streak and has averaged 9.3 DKFP per game over that span. He has four doubles in his past five games and continues to provide a nice spark from the top of the Tribe lineup. In his career, he has gone 19-for-57 (.333) in 13 games at Yankee Stadium with four home runs and a .952 OPS. Other Options — Alex Bregman ($4,900), Elvis Andrus ($4,200)


Amed Rosario, NYM at ATL, $3,800 — Rosario moved into the leadoff spot for the Mets on Wednesday, when Jeff McNeil (hamstring) went on the injured list. The 23-year-old went 4-for-5 with four singles and finished with 16 DKFP. He has been on a nice roll since the All-Star break, going 40-for-117 (.342) with six doubles, three home runs and a .878 OPS. Rosario should be a nice value play if he stays atop the lineup and the Mets’ offense keeps on rolling.

Other Options — Leury García ($3,700), Jean Segura ($3,600)



Aristides Aquino, CIN vs. STL, $4,900 — Aquino has made a huge splash since joining the Reds and has connected on nine home runs in just 14 games. The big right-hander made an adjustment to his stance this spring training and went on to crush Triple-A with 28 homers in 78 games and a .992 OPS. He has been even better in the bigs with a 1.448 OPS and nine home runs in just 44 at-bats. Six of those nine homers came at Great American Ball Park, where he went 11-for-22 (.500) in his first six home games. It’s a small sample, but The Punisher is in a good place to keep producing against Wacha, who has allowed righties to hit .330 off him this season with a .983 OPS and given up 15 home runs in 13 road games. Other Options — Ronald Acuña Jr. ($5,600), Mike Yastrzemski ($4,500)


Eloy Jiménez, CWS at LAA, $3,400 — Jiménez has hit safely in seven of his past eight games, going 10-for-32 (.313) with two doubles and two home runs and averaging 8.8 DKFP per contest. Jiménez had a slow start after coming off the injured list but has settled back into the middle of the White Sox’ order. He doesn’t have great numbers against lefties this season, but last year he went 21-for-46 (.457) with a 1.215 OPS against southpaws in Triple-A, so part of his .216 average this season against lefties is the adjustment to the Majors and limited sample size. Jiménez has a nice ceiling for an outfielder under $3.5K.

Other Options — Franmil Reyes ($3,900), Josh Rojas ($3,000)

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Z.Thompson) 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.