There are fourteen games on the slate for Friday night, so you will have plenty of players to choose from – just not any Giants or Cubs. Here are a few players – at every position and price range – you can consider to help start to sort through the rest. Good luck.
Jose Fernandez @ ATL ($13,000) – I know, Kershaw hasn’t given up a run in forever. But that’s why Fernandez isn’t the most expensive pitcher on the board – by all rights, he should be. He’s gone either six or seven innings in each of his six starts and he is averaging eight K’s per outing. Against an Atlanta lineup that should let him stretch the limits of his strikeout potential, the fact that he represents a $2,000 savings over anyone is shocking. With a bunch of top-flight pitching options tonight, spending up for one might represent nothing but the ante – you have to pay to play – you still want to be right. Not all of them are going to be awesome.
Lance Lynn @ MIL ($9,600) – Before a rough outing against Colorado last time out, Lynn had been on a bit of an upswing – three straight quality starts where he averaged just over 25 fantasy points per outing. He’s been averaging almost a strikeout per inning all season, and even if he doesn’t quite hit that against the Brewers, he’s got a solid chance at the win and easy mid-twenties upside.
James Shields vs. PHI ($8,600) – He hasn’t been sharp every outing, and he doesn’t get much in the way of run support, but if there was ever a matchup where he’ll have a good chance at the victory, this is it. Even when he doesn’t win, which has been plenty this year, the ten Ks per nine innings make him more useful to DFS owners than to Padres fans.
Edinson Volquez vs. CWS ($7,700) – Volquez has been the opposite of Shields – there is no doubt whatsoever that he’s been more valuable to the Royals than to fantasy owners so far this season. But he has had four straight quality starts, averaging just about five K’s per outings over that stretch – and with no run support. If the Royals can get to Danks and give this guy the win, you could easily be getting 20+ fantasy points at this price, a relative bargain.
Russell Martin @ Eovaldi ($4,200) – One of only three active catchers who costs more than $3,500, I figured recommending two of the three would at least tell you which one I wouldn’t play. If you’re going to pay for catcher and try to get a leg up because of positional scarcity, you have the added benefit of even the top options not being all that expensive.
Welington Castilo vs. Iglesias ($3,900) – Talk about a hot streak – he is averaging more than 13 fantasy points per game over the past two weeks, with six home runs in his last nine games. He’s facing a pitcher he’s never seen, but one who has had a hard time getting much past the fifth inning or so lately, and who has given up a home run in each of his last five starts.
Salvador Perez vs. Danks ($3,200) – Danks has been pitching a little bit better lately, but he is still not someone who is going to scare you off a hitter you like. And Perez has the same problem against Danks, historically, that he has against everyone else – inconsistency. But in 22 at-bats against the big left-hander, Perez has connected for home runs twice, so there is at least some potential for him to flash his power in this matchup.
Chris Stewart vs. Kershaw ($2,000) – Why not, for a goof? The ultimate contrarian play, first you have to make sure he’s playing – but why wouldn’t he be? 6-for-12 in his career against Kershaw with a home run mixed in. A one-man streak-stopper, this guy.
Paul Goldschmidt vs. Iglesias ($5,600) – I told you at the top that these were players for you to consider. I, and you, would be wrong if we didn’t at least consider this guy for our lineups. There truly is no such thing as a bad matchup for him – right now, with the way he’s playing, it’s just a question of how much damage he manages to do – a little or a lot. At this price, you’re hoping for a lot – and you often get it.
Edwin Encarnacio @ Eovaldi ($4,500) – One of the centerpieces of one of the best offenses in the league, in a game where there should be plenty of fireworks – the potential is certainly there. He has been averaging double-digit fantasy points lately, having pulled himself out of the late-July funk he found himself in for a while there. He has hit safely in seven straight, with at least two hits in four of those.
Victor Martinez vs. Kelly ($3,500) – Sure you would have loved to have him and his two home runs in your lineup last night, but that could easily be a sign that he is ready to go off on one of his hot streaks right now, and what better way to kick it off with a monster game followed up by an A+ matchup?
Mitch Moreland @ Iwakuma ($3,300) – He is still slugging over .500 for the year, and maintaining a steady 7-fantasy-point per game scoring average. He might not be the guy who will put you over the top in a big GPP, but in a cash game he is a solid choice for the money.
Ian Kinsler vs. Kelly ($4,300) – If there was ever a guy just completely overmatched by an offense, it’s Joe Kelly, tonight. He’s lucky Cabrera is still not out there, but unluckily for him, Kinsler is. He is slashing a completely ridiculous .500/.538/.792 over the past week, with twelve hits in twenty-four at-bats, including two doubles, a triple and a home run. Good luck, Mr. Kelly.
Dee Gordon @ Teheran ($4,100) – Gordon now has nine games under his belt since returning from the DL, and the dislocated thumb does not seem to have any lingering negative effects. He’s now hit safely in five straight, including a 2-for-5 performance with a double last night. He’s 5-for-14 against Teheran in the past (good for a .357 average), so you know he’ll be looking to keep up his recent success.
Rougned Odor @ Iwakuma ($3,100) – I am going to be honest: this price confuses me. It almost seems like the elusive golden ring, hidden in plain sight, and all you need to do is grab it. I mean, he hasn’t cost less than $3,600 in any of his last ten starts. He didn’t play last night, but it seemed like nothing more than a routine night off – so hopefully all it means is that he’ll be well-rested in this one. He was 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and a RBI the only other time he’s faced Iwakuma. Yeah, I don’t get it.
Stephen Drew vs. R.A. Dickey ($2,800) – Dickey is in the midst of a pretty great run right now, with five straight excellent starts. But he is running into a Yankees lineup with no fewer than nine guys on it who have faced him 19+ times in their careers, so he is not going to be able to sneak anything by here, or get through with less than his best. Drew is one of those experienced guys, with six hits in his twenty-one at-bats against Dickey, including three doubles. With an OBP of .348 and a slugging % of .429, if there was ever a night to trust Drew in your lineup, it might be tonight.
Josh Donaldson @ Eovaldi ($5,500) – The only thing surprising about this price tag is that there is actually someone on the board who is more expensive. He is averaging over 15 fantasy points per game over his last ten – you get to a number like that by going over 20 five times, and never getting shut out. That’s consistency. You get it with games like his performance last night: 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, a run, an RBI and a steal. That’s upside.
Alex Rodriguez vs. R.A. Dickey ($4,700) – I feel like I am doing a lot of recommending A-Rod lately, but I haven’t regretted it much, either. Which I guess is saying something. But he is hitting almost .300 against Dickey in almost 30 at-bats for his career, so you know he’ll be comfortable up there tonight. If that means he produces at or near the top-end of his potential tonight, you are going to want him in your lineup for this price.
Adrian Beltre @ Iwakuma ($3,700) – Beltre seems to finally be picking up the pace this season – never mind hitting for the cycle against Houston a couple of days ago, he has just been raking in general, averaging almost ten fantasy points per game over the last two weeks. And when you combine that with his history against Iwakuma (11-for-30 with a double and a pair of HRs), he is basically the biggest no-brainer choice on the entire board, for me. He’ll be in all my lineups.
Yunel Escobar vs. De La Rosa ($3,500) – In his last five games, he has six hits, including two home runs and a double. The outcome of this pick will definitely depend a bit on which De La Rosa shows up – the one who controls the ball and throws strikes, or the one who doesn’t. Last time they faced each other, Escobar drew a walk and smashed a three-run homer – so how he performs will tell you a lot about how De La Rosa looked. If you expect the Nats to take this one, expect Escobar to be part of the action.
Carlos Correa ($4,800) & Jed Lowrie ($4,100) @ Gray* – So, in most matchups, you just consider yourself lucky that Lowrie is back and blessed with SS eligibility because, in reality, he’s a 3B. But in this matchup with Gray, it’s hard to like any Astros – and liking these two is a bit of a cop-out. Of course there is the best-seeming chance for them to do well against the fireballing right-hander – they’ve never faced him before, so we’ve never seen them fail. But the fact is, if Houston is going to generate any offense lately, these two are the most likely to do it. Correa is old news now – already maybe the best shortstop in baseball. Right now he is working on a stretch of five double-digit performances in his last seven. Ho hum. Lowrie spent a bunch of time on the DL, but he’s back now, with six games under his belt. How’s he been in those six games? How about 6-for-20 with three doubles, five walks, three RBI and a run scored in each game?
Jose Reyes @ Zimmerman ($3,800) – He his hitting .200 in 20 at-bats since joining the Rockies, but he is solidly sitting at second in the order, which will give him plenty of opportunities on the basepaths. Considering he is up to 18 steals on the year now, you have to look at that speed as a real fantasy asset, akin to a minor power hitter, except more spread out (re: more consistent). On top of all that, for what it’s worth, he is also someone who has hit better than .300 against Zimmerman through 26 career at-bats, so you like the chances that he will – at least – not leave completely high and dry.
Ian Desmond vs. De La Rosa ($3,100) – He has been scuffling a bit lately, but he homered and singled in last night’s win over Arizona, and now he is facing off against a pitcher against whom he has hit .444 (4-for-9) in his career, so hopefully he keeps seeing the ball as well in this one as he did last night.
J.D. Martinez vs. Kelly ($5,200) – Joe Kelly can’t get anyone out, so there is no reason to think he is going to start with this guy. Martinez is up to 29 home runs on the year, and he is one of those right-handed hitters who actually prefers crushing against right-handed pitchers – especially right-handed pitchers who can’t ever seem to get the ball to actually travel through the strike zone and reach the catcher.
Randal Grichuk @ Cravy ($4,500) – Not only has Grichuk hit in eight straight games, he now appears to be doing it from the two-hole in the batting order, which is only going to increase his opportunities to pile up fantasy points. The 23-year-old outfielder has faced Cravy once before, finishing 2-for-3 with a double – he’ll look to expand and improve on those numbers in this one.
Yoenis Cespedes @ Odorizzi ($4,300) – The only guy on the Mets with any real experience against Odorizzi, that experience includes three hits in nine at-bats, including a home run. There is always a danger in picking players from teams you don’t expect to score a lot of runs – but you don’t have to shell out the big bucks for Cespedes, and if someone is going to help break this game open, he has as good a chance as anyone.
Chris Colabello @ Eovaldi ($3,800) – He’s hit safely in five straight, and he has a plus matchup here with Eovaldi in a game that should involve plenty of scoring. He’s not an exciting pick, and doesn’t have massive upside, but he has as good a chance as most players in this price range to at least give you something.
Josh Hamilton @ Iwakuma ($3,500) – Hamilton has five home runs in 32 games so far this season, and Iwakuma has given up 12 home runs in nine starts. A match made in heaven.
Yasiel Puig @ Cole ($3,100) – The price is less than it’s been in a while for Puig, and while he remains total inconsistent, he has been playing ok lately (two 20+ point games in his last seven). So, you assume then that the price must reflect the “bad” matchup, except that when you look a bit closer, you realize this is no bad matchup for Puig, who is 5-for-6 with a pair of doubles against Cole since last year.