Opening Day for the 2018 MLB season arrives on Thursday, which means daily fantasy baseball is officially back. If you want to get the action started early, be sure to check out my early slate MLB DFS picks and then join me as I peruse the main slate.
All 30 MLB teams are in action on the first day of the new seasons, which makes for an exciting MLB DFS debut. That being said, there are a lot of expensive options to consider and even more value that could slip through the cracks.
How you formulate your daily fantasy baseball strategy is up to you, but for GPPs, one of my favorites is fading the elite arms. That gives you a chance to nail a value pitcher on FanDuel and if that arm pans out, you can pay up for some monster bats.
I still suggest the top arms (Clayton Kershaw, etc) for cash games and other tournaments, but this is one of my favorite tourney teams. Let’s dive in with my favorite MLB DFS picks for the first slate of the new season:
Note: The Reds vs. Nats game has already been cancelled. Don’t use anyone from this game and always be sure to stay on top of weather issues and late scratches.
SP: Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers ($7.6k)
Kershaw is the chalk pitcher on this slate and there are several elite options, but I want to stack hitters and I think there is enough value to strike gold with. I’ll take my chances with Anderson, who is in Petco Park against a Padres offense that still isn’t very scary.
This tends to be a pretty good park for pitchers, too, while I like Anderson’s chances of getting the win against an inferior San Diego team. Anderson was plenty fine (7-3, 2.95 ERA) on the road last year and notched 11 strikeouts in two meetings with San Diego in 2017 as well. The Padres do have a little power to contend with, but Anderson is fairly safe and offers value and upside in this spot.
I’m also looking at Julio Teheran, Clayton Richard, Garrett Richards and Chris Archer in the name of savings.
C/1B: Lucas Duda – Kansas City Royals ($2.5k)
I love targeting James Shields. He’s a human gas can and tonight he’ll be on the road against the Royals. Kansas City is down top catcher Salvador Perez and they operate out of a pretty weak ballpark, but this is an awesome matchup.
Not only do I love this team as a whole, but Duda walks into his KC debut with awesome splits (25 HR and .342 OBP) versus right-handed pitching. He’s a solid price, too, while he’s fared well (3 of 9, 1 HR) in limited duty against the beatable Shields in the past. I love the Royals here, but if you want to limit your exposure I’m fine with a cheap piece to the puzzle like The Dude.
2B: Whit Merrifield – Kansas City Royals ($3.3k)
I am not enamored with Merrifield. He’s got only mild power and this park isn’t really the best spot to load up on guys hoping for a dong party. That being said, he did bust out with a strong season in 2017 and is part of a fun three-man stack against a pitcher that often goes up in flames early.
KC could catch fire tonight and I’m not sure anyone else on their roster is calling my name. That, and 2B is really weak beyond Jose Altuve up top. This still is a bit pricey for a guy I’m not in love with, but consider the matchup at hand.
Whit does fare better against right-handed pitchers and thrived at home (.300 BA, 13 od 21 HR) in 2017. I think he’s a fine play due to the lack of options at this position.
If you can pay up for elite mashers like Altuve, Brian Dozier or Jonathan Schoop, I’m fine with that. Merrifield could float a bit under the radar, though, and I love that four GPPs.
3B: Mike Moustakas – Kansas City Royals ($3.3k)
I don’t need to stack Royals, but I am pretty locked into Moose, who was a long ball artist last year, launching a career high 38 home runs. Perhaps that ends up being a blip on the radar, but he honestly would have had a way better year if he could have stayed healthy.
Moustakas is still very much in his prime at just 29 years old and carries fun splits into this date with a weak pitcher. Unsurprisingly, he’s blasted Shields in the past (5 for 10, 1 HR) and I love him to do so again today.
SS: Trevor Story – Colorado Rockies ($3.1k)
My first two picks at SS today are Carlos Correa and Corey Seager. Correa is way out of my price range, while Seager would take some movement I don’t want to make. That leads me to Story, who is far from a consolation prize due to his elite splits (.301 BA, .380 OBP) against southpaws.
Story doesn’t get a sad sack today, as Patrick Corbin is perfectly capable of battening down the hatches. The lefty was at his best at home last year, so there is some mild concern he could keep the Rockies (who tend to be awful on the road) at bay.
I hope he does, too. I just hope Story double dongs him. There is evidence to support he’ll deliver in some manner, as Story wrecks lefty pitchers and specifically has found success (4 for 11, 1 HR) in this matchup. He’s got the matchup in a good park and I get the feeling he’ll go overlooked in tournaments. Sign me up for all of that.
OF: Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels ($4.8k)
I don’t need much reason to play Trout, who is still the best hitter in baseball. Even when he isn’t donging for you, he’s still getting on base and racking up stats. Today he faces Kendall Graveman, who does induce a lot of ground balls, but otherwise is not a scary pitcher.
The upside isn’t through the roof for regular players in this matchup and playing in the A’s park, but this is Mike Trout we’re talking about. Not only does he win in the splits game, but it’s pretty hard to ignore how badly he’s obliterated Graveman (10 for 27, 2 HR) in his career. I can’t fade him today.
OF: Giancarlo Stanton – New York Yankees ($4.6k)
I agree that Aaron Judge might be the better tournament play than Stanton, at least in theory. He’s just as good, he has awesome splits against a beatable pitcher in J.A. Happ and he’s cheaper. He’s bound to be lower owned, which makes him a pretty solid tourney option.
But Stanton is calling my name. Obviously this is a monster hitter who is matchup proof, but he destroys southpaws even more than Judge – and that’s saying something. Last year’s absurd .441 ISO versus lefties is too much for me to bypass, while the Yankees debut narrative is really appealing as well. Stanton has taken Happ yard before, too, so I’m not seeing much reason to be scared off despite the hefty price tag.
OF: Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.1k)
Kemp is a “wait and see” option, as it’s unknown if he’ll even be in the lineup tonight. His order is another question mark. However, if Kemp is starting tonight and hitting in a solid spot, he looks like an elite value play.
Not only is Kemp too good of a talent to be this cheap, but he offers nasty splits against southpaws and will be facing a beatable arm in Ty Blach that gave up 17 homers and a .295 BA to righty batters in 2017. I love the matchup and the price, while Kemp obviously opens the door to me stacking other elite mashers. Just make sure he’s actually starting before locking him into your FanDuel lineup.
Util: Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies ($3.7k)
George Springer is also on my radar, but I’m taking some risks at pitcher, catcher and OF tonight. I can’t get too greedy. Instead of trying to force certain positions, I’ll settle on Hoskins, who is one of my favorite mashers on the board.
He was red hot to close last year and he obviously should be a big name for DFS gamers to target again in 2018. Julio Teheran is in theory a potentially difficult matchup, but Hoskins was nasty against right-handed pitching last year (0.421 wOBA, .333 ISO!). He wasn’t bad against Julio in limited duty (2 for 6, 1 2B, 1 RBI), either, while Teheran had his toughest times against the right side of the plate last year.
Hoskins is virtually matchup proof and he carries double-dong upside, so I see this as a considerably value. He’s a heck of a way to close out this lineup – one that truly is taking just three gambles.
It all starts with Chase Anderson. If he goes into Petco Park and struggles, this team is shot. Fading Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and the top arms is a fun GPP move, but it doesn’t always work. The stud bats don’t always deliver, either, but if Anderson hangs 40+ fantasy points like I think he can, I like my chances with the rest of this lineup.
Like these MLB DFS picks or have some of your own to share? Let me hear about it in the comments below. Either way, I wish you luck on day one of the 2018 daily fantasy baseball season!