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FanDuel MLB DFS Picks – May 17th

Last night’s daily fantasy baseball lineup didn’t deliver. The Yankees/Nats game got rained out just as I’d feared and that shrunk the player pool considerably. I don’t think rolling with Chris Sale was necessarily a bad idea (he still got 42 fantasy points), but Justin Verlander was more contrarian and ended up being the vastly superior play.

That wasn’t a crippling gaffe, though. My bats are what held me back, as J.T. Realmuto donged but nobody else really caught fire. Everyone at least got on the board (which is often a feat of it’s own), but no other hitter topped 10 fantasy points.

It just wasn’t in the cards, but Thursday night could be better with a bigger nine-game MLB DFS slate to work with. There is far less weather concern, too, so for the most part it should be open season. Let’s dive in:

SP: Jeff Samardzija – San Francisco Giants ($5.9k)

Make no mistake about it, The Shark is a big risk tonight. He’s the cheapest pitching option on the slate due to his 2018 struggles and he’s facing a highly capable Colorado Rockies offense. He’s notorious for giving up loads of contact, too, while he’s coughed up 5+ runs in three of his last four starts.

None of that sounds encouraging, but Samardzija is still a talented arm who can make batters miss when he’s dialed in. He’s also in a solid spot at home, where he posted his best numbers a year ago. You always hear that “positive regression” talk and I think this is one of those situations where you consider buying into it.

Colorado is dangerous, but they do a lot of their best work against beatable southpaws. This offense ranks 29th in batting average against righties and just 20th in home runs. Now they’re on the road (where they’ve racked up the second most Ks in the majors) in a true pitcher’s park.

The Rockies really are only going to wreck The Shark if they dong the ball and I don’t think this is the spot that happens.

I don’t think The Shark gets a shutout here, but the other pitching options don’t give me much of a choice. I’m left seriously considering the likes of Kevin Gausman or paying a premium for Cole Hamels and Tyler Skaggs. I’m just not feeling that, while landing a severely under-priced Shark opens up salary for all of the bats I covet.

This is a risk, but this is why we play GPPs at FanDuel. If you want a safe arm, this probably isn’t the slate for you. If you want the illusion of a safe arm, consider paying up for Skaggs or Hamels. If you want an intermediate value, David Price and Chad Kuhl are both under $8k and are worth a look.

C/1B: Matt Olson – Oakland Athletics ($2.9k)

Olson is just too cheap. His K rate is up and home runs are down, but he’s still hitting the ball hard and will face a very beatable righty in Aaron Sanchez. Not only does Olsen mash right-handed pitching (.333 ISO), but Sanchez is a high contact pitcher that is arguably due for a blasting.

2B: Rougned Odor – Texas Rangers ($2.6k)

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced stack in an awesome spot tonight, look no further than the Rangers. They go up against James Shields, who has been better than expected at times this year, but can still get blown up.

Texas has a lot of power and it largely comes from the left side of the plate. It just so happens that’s where Shields struggles the most, allowing a collective .356 wOBA and .223 ISO. Shields is quite hittable and has been giving up a 41% fly ball rate over the past year.

The Rangers as a whole have the ability to turn his outing into a disaster and Odor’s .207 ISO versus righties is party of that. He is one of the least reliable bats in baseball, but he’s a nice price and in as good of a spot as you can find. I’m willing to roll the dice here, especially since the expensive 2B options don’t have enviable matchups or feel a bit over-priced.

3B: Josh Donaldson – Toronto Blue Jays ($4k)

Kris Bryant is the top 3B option on the board, but for $900 less I can get Donaldson, who is about as talented and in DFS circles can be just as imposing. He hasn’t been fully himself this year, but he can still chip in the long ball and has a favorable matchup against Andrew Triggs.

Triggs is far from trash, but he does give up some contact and Donaldson’s .252 ISO versus righties is worth attacking in this spot. I also like Rafael Devers against Kevin Gausman if you’re looking to save some cash at 3B tonight.

SS: Manny Machado – Baltimore Orioles ($4.9k)

David Price isn’t a guy I’m about to stack against, but I don’t mind paying a premium for a hopefully low-owned Machado. Price has not been elite for a while and he can still be had by talented power. Machado also destroys southpaws (.267 ISO) and he has had some big games at Fenway Park, so I’m all for aiming high here tonight.

I also don’t hate the idea of diving down a bit at SS and if I do that Paul DeJong feels like a pretty nice value.

OF: Nicholas Castellanos – Detroit Tigers ($3.6k)

Castellanos was sick earlier this week, but he should be ready to let his nasty .291 ISO versus southpaws rock tonight against Marco Gonzalez. Gonzalez is quite hittable from either side of the plate, but he gives up more hard contact to righties. This feels like a great spot for Castellanos to launch one (or two).

OF: Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers ($3.4k)

I also am feeling Gallo here, while you can line up all the Rangers you want against Shields. I’m stopping at a two-man stack tonight, but Gallo’s .323 ISO versus right-handed pitching is rather alluring.

As I touched on, Shields gives up a ton of contact and specifically has issues against quality lefty power. Shields could be in trouble tonight.

OF: Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels ($3.4k)

I initially wanted to pay up for Mike Trout, but if FanDuel is going to keep pricing a seemingly just as dangerous Ohtani at $1.3k less, I won’t be missing out. Ohtani has been a fiend in every regard in his rookie season and I can’t bypass his sick .389 ISO against righties.

Ohtani is at home against Chris Archer, who is forever known for two things; making batters miss and giving up hard contact. Archer is not a guy to stack against, but Ohtani crushes righties and Archer has most of his troubles against left-handed bats. Ohtani is in a great spot tonight and will probably be low-owned.

Util: Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs ($4.3k)

I could cap this thing off with a number of viable bats. Charlie Blackmon is a fine one-off against my pitcher, you can pivot to fellow Cubs hitter Kyle Schwarber or you can force Rhys Hoskins into the utility spot.

I’ll finish with Rizzo, as he gives me a powerful lefty in SunTrust Park. I don’t want to stack against talented Braves rookie Mike Soroka, but he’s in an impossible spot trying to stifle the visiting Cubs. Whether they wreck him or not, Rizzo carries nice power (.208 ISO) to the table and is in a great setting to pay off in a big way.

Ultimately, the pitching is just awful on this slate so I think the best play is to just find a cheap guy you can stomach. Maybe that’s just rolling with the chalk in Chad Kuhl (vs Padres) or hoping David Price (vs. Orioles) is a steal. I’m game for either of them, but prefer a full punt with The Shark to finish this slate.

That allows me to get all the bats I really love and if you want even more, you can always punt under Olson and/or Odor to get even pricier hitters.

Either way, this makes for a really fun tournament team and one that carries monster upside if The Shark can avoid a meltdown.

I can understand you wanting to make a pivot at the pitcher spot, but hopefully there are enough useful MLB DFS picks here to help you profit tonight at FanDuel. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you luck!

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