MLB DFS: DraftKings & FanDuel Strategy – Quick Picks – Friday 3/29/24

The Friday main slate features eight games on both DraftKings & FanDuel, starting at 6:50 ET. With most of the teams on the slate using their second or third best pitcher we are working with another day of similarly projected options atop the board, at a variety of prices from site to site, with more value seemingly on the DraftKings two-pitcher slate than on the FanDuel board where there is a broad mid-range. In place of the full strategy article, today’s rundown is presenting top picks and thoughts for each game.

Don’t miss our Hitter Projections, including custom Home Run ratings for each player, and Pitcher Projections for more on the top opportunities today.

(Catch the full breakdown on YouTube this afternoon)

Note: All analysis is written utilizing available projected lineups as of the early morning, pay close attention to confirmed lineups and adjust accordingly. This article is posted and updated as it is written, so if a game has not been filled in, check back in a few minutes. Update notes are provided as lineups are confirmed to the best of our ability. Still, lineup changes are not typically updated as lock approaches, so stay tuned to official news for any late changes.

MLB DFS: General Strategy Notes

  • Always Be Stacking – It’s not as good an acronym as the one in Glenngarry Glenn Ross but it is just as critical. MLB DFS is all about positive correlation and capturing the most point-scoring possible from every event in a highly event-based and volatile sport. As opposed to the minor stacking that we find in NFL DFS or the lack of stacking at all in NBA DFS, making the most of every home run is the only approach to building lineups for baseball. The goal is to capture not only the raw points of a home run hitter but also the upside of the baserunners who provided scoring in how they reached base and will provide additional scoring on the home run via RBIs for the hitter and runs scored for the baserunners. With that in mind, it makes far more sense to roster groups of hitters together, with a slight preference for directly adjoining hitters in a lineup where possible, to capture the full upside of a team scoring a high number of runs. Every lineup should feature at least one stack. Our typical approach is for double stacking, whether that means a 4-4 or 4-3-1 construction on FanDuel with 5-3 and 5-2-1 builds available on DraftKings. Individual upside can be captured in a 5-1-1-1 build on any given DraftKings slate but the approach adds more variance to a lineup.
  • Do NOT focus on individual batter vs pitcher matchup results “BVP” this is bad data that is tremendously lacking for sample size even for late-career players who have faced one another numerous times. Baseball statistics take a long time to normalize.
  • Batting average is not a key metric, nor is ERA, we prefer to focus on predictive stats and batted ball events.
  • Pitching can be treated as a source of value to reach high-cost stacks on many slates, low-cost pitchers often provide strong paths to success simply by providing access to otherwise unavailable hitting combinations. Premium pitching talent should always be considered regardless of price and, almost, regardless of matchup.
  • MLB DFS lineups do not demand a full salary spend, particularly when utilizing two full stacks in a lineup.
  • Remember, baseball is incredibly variable, if a hitter does his job right just 30% of the time he is a potential Hall of Fame candidate.

MLB DFS: Game by Game Main Slate Overview – 3/29/24

Toronto Blue Jays (+109/3.90) @ Tampa Bay Rays (-118/4.18)

  • Aaron Civale worked to a 23% strikeout rate over 122.1 innings last season but was in the 29% range in 10 starts after being traded to Tampa Bay in what was overall a strong season with a 3.46 ERA and 4.10 xFIP
  • The Blue Jays lineup features two hitters above the “magic number” for home run upside today: George Springer and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., shortstop Bo Bichette makes for an easy third man in a stack and all three options are reasonably priced from site to site
  • Infielder Justin Turner is a strong option for correlated scoring with that group but there are interesting cheaper pieces down the board, most notably Daulton Varsho, a lefty with power coming off of a down season who costs $2,700/$3,600 compared to Turner’s $2,900/$4,500
  • Chris Bassitt worked 200 innings over 33 starts, he is one of the more reliable options for average depth of start, if nothing else, in baseball. Bassitt had a 22.5% strikeout rate and 4.21 xFIP last season, he allowed a 3.39% home run rate.
  • The rock-solid Rays got an immediate contribution from terrific first baseman Yandy Diaz with a home run in yesterday’s game, Diaz has a 5.01 and joins most of his teammates in the mid-level for home run upside. Diaz can be paired easily with left-handed power-hitting second baseman Brandon Lowe at the top of the lineup and three-hitter Randy Arozarena is our home run pick from this team at 5.04.
  • The bottom of the Rays lineup can produce interesting upside at low prices, depending on who is available. Jose Siri hit 25 home runs last season and is projected to hit seventh for $2,800/$3,800 today and catcher Rene Pinto is a sneaky power bat at the position, he hit six home runs in a tiny sample of 105 plate appearances last year.

Play: Blue Jays bats from the top of the lineup, Rays stacks with a broader spread, both in moderate doses. Shares of either starter are fine, Bassitt projects slightly higher but we lean toward Civale slightly between the two

Update Notes:

Pittsburgh Pirates (+112/4.12) @ Miami Marlins (-121/4.47)

  • AJ Puk worked 56.2 lights-out innings out of the bullpen last season and now is back to a starting role in the depleted Marlins rotation. Puk had a 32.2% strikeout rate last season and a 27% mark in 66.1 relief innings in 2022. His 3.02 xFIP last season was excellent, but he did allow a 4.13% home run rate on an 8.1% barrel rate allowed, his depth of start and the power will be something to monitor.
  • The Pirates should be an improved team this season, they rate out surprisingly well for this matchup but they do not have a hitter at or near the 10.0 mark for a home run
  • Righty Connor Joe will likely lead off against the lefty, he has strong splits favoring success but he managed just 11 home runs in 472 plate appearances total last season. Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes, a strong candidate for a breakout season, click together easily behind Joe
  • Veteran Andrew McCutchen is easy to afford at $2,500/$4,100 across sites as are the two prized young players Oneil Cruz, today’s Pirates home run pick, and Henry Davis in the heart of the projected lineup
  • Martin Perez is a veteran left-hander who had just a 15.3% strikeout rate with a 4.45 ERA and 4.96 xFIP over 20 starts last season, he is targetable with Marlins bats today
  • Luis Arraez is an excellent leadoff man and a strong source of correlated scoring for MLB DFS purposes but he needs help to hit ceilings. Josh BellBryan De La Cruz, and Jake Burger do not have the topside power of the departed Jorge Soler but they can provide enough thump to help Arraez score and give Perez problems with their right-handed pop.
  • Jazz Chisholm Jr. is a star lingering in the middle of the lineup, he hit 19 home runs and stole 22 bases in just 384 chances last season. Chisholm is cheap at $3,300 on FanDuel, he is more difficult to reach at $5,100 on DraftKings. Tim Anderson and Avisail Garcia are playable veterans at cheap prices late in the lineup

Play: Marlins bats, minor shares of Pirates hitters

Update Notes:

New York Yankees (+105/4.44) @ Houston Astros (-114/4.66)

  • We are betting somewhat on a turnaround from Cristian Javier this season. The righty worked to a 4.56 ERA and 5.16 xFIP over 162.0 innings in 31 starts last season and had just a 23.1% strikeout rate with a 9.0% walk rate. Javier worked previous seasons in a hybrid role between the bullpen and the starting rotation, in 2022 he made 25 starts and had a 33.2% strikeout rate with a 3.53 xFIP, while he may not reach those lofty heights we expect an xFIP in the 4.00 range with a high-20s strikeout rate over the season. Javier is targetable for home runs with Yankees bats but he is also playable at $8,700/$8,300 with what should be low-owned upside
  • Yankees hitters are fairly straightforward, they rank out well once again after leaving a small village on the basepaths last night in a game in which they still managed to pick up five runs and a win. The Yankees loaded the bases in several innings and had runners on with big opportunities and did not come through in what could have been a much bigger day. Gleyber Torres‘ under-discussed season in 2023 makes him a strong leadoff option ahead of superstars Juan Soto and Aaron Judge, who have far too much power and on-base ability between them. Judge and Soto are both above the magic number for home run power, as is Giancarlo Stanton in the fifth spot in the lineup
  • Anthony Rizzo joins Stanton as being far too cheap in the heart of the order. Both veteran sluggers cost $2,900 on FanDuel and $4,300 on DraftKings, they are easy clicks in stacks of Yankees. Anthony Volpe had a good day in terms of limiting his swings at pitches out of the zone, which was a problem for him last season. The counting stats with Volpe are already strong, if he becomes a better hitter there is an interesting ceiling. Austin Wells is a sneaky-cheap catcher with power upside.
  • Carlos Rodon joined a long list of players who had terrible first seasons in pinstripes. Rodon made just 14 starts last year, working 64.1 innings and pitching to a 6.85 ETA and 5.30 xFIP so there is room for improvement. The 22.4% strikeout rate was down more than 10 points from the 33.4% he posted in 2022 and 34.6% he had in 2021. Rodon is a good bet for a bounceback and he is in play for shares on both sites tonight at an easily affordable $8,000/$7,600
  • The Astros lineup is a bit top-heavy with stars Jose AltuveYordan Alvarez, and Kyle Tucker in the first three spots. Both Alvarez and Tucker are among the league’s best overall hitters against left-handed pitching, despite being lefties themselves, do NOT skip them for the lefty-lefty even against a hurler like Rodon.
  • Alex Bregman and Jose Abreu bring some underpriced power upside from the right side of the plate and Chas McCormick is a strong outfield option at a fair mid-range price. Yainer Diaz remains to cheap where catchers are necessary with a $2,900 DraftKings price.

Play: Bats/stacks on both sides, either starter is fine but we prefer the value-based upside on Rodon

Update Notes:

Cleveland Guardians (-126/3.98) @ Oakland Athletics (+116/3.60)

  • Righty Ross Stripling will be on the hill for Oakland, he had an 18.4% strikeout rate with a 5.36 ERA and 3.98 xFIP last season and allowed a 5.25% home run rate but when the fans don’t want to see your team play this is what qualifies as a two-starter in your rotation. Stripling is not very playable outside of extreme value darts as an SP2 and even that is a very rough idea
  • The Guardians remain better hitters than MLB DFS options but they are showing interesting upside against Stripling with Jose Ramirez cracking through the top of the home run model at 10.17. Andres Gimenez has 20-20 ability, he went 15-30 last season and has room to grow, he makes a better pairing with Ramirez than leadoff man Steven Kwan who is more of a slap-hitting correlation play. Josh Naylor hit 17 home runs in a good season that saw him slash .308/.354/.489 last year, he has room to push the power up this year and is today’s Guardians home run pick. Brother Bo Naylor is a good catcher bat from later in this lineup. Estevan Florial is a toolsy player finally getting a regular crack in the Show after spending years in the Yankees’ system
  • Lefty Logan Allen was very good down the stretch in his rookie season. Allen made 24 starts overall and finished with a 22.2% strikeout rate, a 3.81 ERA, and a 4.29 xFIP. The lefty projects as a strong option in this easy matchup at $8,600/$7,400, he is an excellent target for SP2 shares on DraftKings and he plays as a competitive FanDuel starter, though he could be slightly cheaper
  • Athletics bats are not a great idea on most slates. Leadoff man Esteury Ruiz has speed to burn if he manages to reach first base, his .309 on-base percentage needs to climb before he is truly valuable. Zack Gelof is a good candidate for a 20-20 year after going 14-14 as a rookie in 2022. Brent Rooker hit 30 home runs last season but he is highly flawed at the plate. Rooker has an 11.14 in our home run model to lead the Athletics today. JD Davis is our home run pick from this team and Shea Langeliers can provide sneaky catcher power on the right day.

Play: Logan Allen value sharesSome stacks of Guardians

Update Notes:

San Francisco Giants (+133/3.69) @ San Diego Padres (-144/4.40)

  • Righty Joe Musgrove is a slate-topper with his high projection for $9,000/$9,200 against the free-swinging Giants today. Teammate Yu Darvish had a strong MLB DFS outing against this team last night and Musgrove has an opportunity to replicate that start. He had a 24.3% strikeout rate and a 3.05 ERA with a 3.70 xFIP over his 97.1 innings and 17 starts last season and a 24.9% strikeout rate over 181 innings in 30 starts in 2022.
  • The Giants lineup has playable parts but they do not look like a priority stack on this slate. Targetable hitters include Jung Hoo Lee who is a hit-tool-based player who needs help from teammates to provide scoring. Jorge Soler leads the team with a 9.29 in our home run model, he and Lee are a strong pairing atop the order along the lines of Arraez-Soler from last season’s Miami team. LaMonte Wade is an on-base machine ahead of serviceable power bats Matt Chapman and Michael Conforto
  • Kyle Harrison starts his first full campaign in the Show as a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors in the National League. The southpaw had a  23.8% strikeout rate with a 4.15 ERA and 5.02 xFIP over just 34.2 innings in his seven starts at the end of last season but he is a highly regarded prospect who has dominated the minor leagues on his way to the Show. For $7,600/$7,800, Harrison has a significant value ceiling on this slate
  • The Padres’ top-heavy lineup has Ha-Seong Kim in the leadoff spot against the lefty with Xander Bogaerts sliding to third between Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, forming a strong four-man core that is playable from the top. Lefty Jake Cronenworth slides down to sixth, a more appropriate spot for him, while catcher Luis Campusano is an interesting fifth man in a DraftKings stack if he hits fifth

Play: Kyle Harrison value, Joe Musgrove, minor shares of Padres top-end as a Harrison hedge

Update Notes:

Boston Red Sox (+122/3.31) @ Seattle Mariners (-133/3.77)

  • Righty George Kirby is an excellent starter who had a 3.35 ERA and 3.63 xFIP with a sparkling 2.5% walk rate to go with his 22.7% strikeout rate. Kirby is the mold for Mariners pitchers, they focus on quality, limiting walks, and not creating problems while strikeouts are somewhat secondary with most of them working to strong K:BB ratios but lower strikeout rates than true aces around baseball. Kirby projects well but he is high priced with a lower strikeout ceiling that others on this slate.
  • Leadoff man Jarren Duran has a good blend of mid-level power and excellent speed, he stole 24 bases in 362 plate appearances last year while getting on at a .346 clip in his part-time role. Duran has a good spot ahead of Rafael Devers, who leads Boston with a 7.97 in today’s home run model against Kirby who allowed a 2.91% home run rate last season. Duran and Devers can be combined with shortstop Trevor Story for a cheap FanDuel price and a fair one across town but we prefer the power bats that follow.
  • Tyler O’Neill hit his traditional Opening Day home run yesterday, the righty has a homer on five consecutive Opening Days, an MLB record. O’Neill is a prodigious power bat when healthy and he adds a sneaky 15-steal upside to the equation. Triston Casas hits from the left side in the heart of the lineup ahead of O’Neill, Casas had 24 home runs in a breakout 2022 and is a good bet to hit 30+ this season given a 13.1% barrel rate with a .226 ISO last year.
  • Righty Nick Pivetta is not a good option on this slate, the Mariners look stackable against him. Pivetta is not bad, he worked to a surprising 31.2% strikeout rate last season but that was a jump from 22.6% the year before and 26.5% in 2021, both in larger but similar innings samples. Pivetta allowed a 3.92% home run rate on 11.8% barrels, 43.7% hard hits, and a 90.5 mph average exit velocity last season, in a good year.
  • JP Crawford has correlated scoring value with a bit of individual upside at shortstop, he hit 19 home runs in 638 opportunities last year. Julio Rodriguez is our home run pick of the day at 10.97, the superstar outfielder hit 32 homers last season, stole 37 bases, and posted a 126 WRC+ in what was originally a concerning down year for half of the season. Jorge Polanco is a great addition to this lineup, he is inexpensive for his talent at $3,000/$4,000. Catchers Mitch Garver and Cal Raleigh both have power in the heart of the order at inexpensive prices, and castaway veteran Mitch Haniger may be sneaky after a disappointing 229 plate appearances delivered just six home runs last year. Haniger is only two years removed from the 39 homers he hit for this team in 2021.

Play: George Kirby, Mariners bats/stacks

Update Notes:

Colorado Rockies (+208/3.60) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (-230/5.52)

  • Merill Kelly projects for a strong start against the lousy Rockies tonight. Kelly is one of the slate leaders at $9,400 on both sites, he is worthy of the investment. The righty had a 25.9% strikeout rate with a 3.29 ERA and 3.84 xFIP over 177.2 innings in 30 starts last season. He is one of the leading candidates for MLB DFS shares from the top shelf of pitchers tonight
  • The Rockies have a more useful lineup than it may seem this season. Veterans Charlie Blackmon and Kris Bryant will have to deliver quality to make that statement true, Bryant in particular needs a comeback season after two lost years saw him hit only 15 home runs across 556 plate appearances. Bryant is not done with his career yet, an upswing will lift players like Nolan Jones who is a major talent that went 20-20 in 424 plate appearances last year, as well as known commodities like Ryan McMahon who is a quality left-handed power bat that is rarely high-priced or overly popular outside of Coors Field. Elehuris MonteroEzequiel Tovar, and even Brendan Rodgers warrant monitoring early in the season, there is raw talent in play with all three.
  • Cal Quantrill is almost certainly a non-entity on this slate. The righty had a 13.1% strikeout rate and a 5.43 xFIP with a 2.48% home run rate allowed in 19 starts and 99.2 innings last season, his MLB DFS quality is not apparent against a team that obliterated his squad yesterday
  • Arizona has a chance to repeat last night’s beating in this spot, the team is loaded with talent including multi-category star Corbin Carroll who stole 54 bases on top of the 25 home runs he hit in his first full season last year. Carroll leads off ahead of Ketel MarteLourdes Gurriel Jr., Christian Walker, and Joc Pederson, making for a strong straight-line stack at fair prices. Marte had a 25-homer season in 2022 and created runs 27% better than average, Gurriel hit 24 long balls and was six percent ahead of the curve, Walker is an excellent power bat who can hit for average and limit strikeouts, he had 33 homers to lead the team last year, and Pederson is a good lefty power bat looking to get back on track after 15 home runs and a .182 ISO over just 425 plate appearances last year.
  • Down-lineup Diamondbacks hitters including catcher Gabriel Moreno and third baseman Eugenio Suarez are interesting options for value upside as well. Suarez in particular is a tremendous power hitter who is coming off of a down year, he had only 22 homers for Seattle last season after two consecutive years of exactly 31. Alek Thomas has good mid-range power and speed and is a 15-15 candidate with upside for more, he costs just $2,600/$3,000 from the bottom of the lineup and hits left-handed.

Play: Diamondbacks stacks, Merrill Kelly

Update Notes:

St. Louis Cardinals (+198/3.46) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (-218/5.15)

  • Righty Bobby Miller is a dynamite starter who is a big favorite for a monster breakout season. Miller had a 23.6% strikeout rate with a 3.76 ERA and 3.75 xFIP over 124.1 innings and 22 starts last season, there is plenty of room for growth for the talented hurler but he lands in the middle of a deep pitching board today at $8,900/$9,000. Miller is a tad pricey by comparison to similarly projected starters, but he has a higher ceiling than many other options on this slate, he is easily playable in this spot
  • The veteran Cardinals are a talented bunch starting the season in a bad spot against baseball’s best team. St. Louis featured toolsy Brendan Donovan from the left side in the leadoff spot, he has a bit of individual upside and is a good correlated scoring play with Paul GoldschmidtNolan Gorman, and Nolan Arenado for an easy top-end stack at fair prices. Goldschmidt hit a home run yesterday and had 25 last year, Gorman led the team with 27 homers in 2022, and Arenado contributed 26. Gorman leads the team at 10.77 in our home run model today. Willson Contreras is an any-given-slate option as a catcher one-off, Jordan Walker is a sneaky-good young player who lost a lot of his early season hype last year then went on to deliver a quality season with upside for more this year, and Victor Scott has Flash-level speed on the bases
  • Lefty Zack Thompson is in for a long short day today. Even at $6,300/$5,800, it is difficult to envision much success for the southpaw who had a 25.1% strikeout rate and a 4.48 ERA and 3.83 xFIP over 66.1 innings and nine starts last season. Against another team, Thompson would likely be on the board for value shares, against an All-Star team he is decidedly not
  • The top three hitters in the Dodgers lineup are high-priced superstars who can be combined with any other hitters in the batting order or utilized as one-offs wherever they can be afforded, they are elite in every sense of the word in virtually any matchup. Catcher Will Smith has a 5.13 in our home run model today, he hit 19 homers last year, 24 in 2022, and 25 in 2021, the right-handed backstop is an excellent option at $4,500 where his position is required. Teoscar Hernandez and Max Muncy bring terrific righty-lefty power to the middle of the lineup for $3,000/$4,900 and $3,600/$4,700, and James Outman is a good option for mid-range power with stolen base potential. Chris Taylor may land in today’s lineup, he is a shortstop on DraftKings but has triple-position eligibility for just $2,600 on FanDuel and is a strong option against a lefty

Play: Dodgers bats/stacks, Bobby Miller

Update Notes:

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