Stay focused!!! I know we’re all giddy to eventually dive into NFL DFS and various Fantasy football drafts, but the 8/23 DFS Hitting Picks and Stacks are set for you to make plenty of the long green.
There are 14 games awaiting, with all but Nationals-Cubs being played under the lights, highlighted by a Yankees-Dodgers series that will feel like an October tease. There’s not a monster stack here, but there’s a couple worth considering.
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8/22 DFS Hitting Catcher
Christian Vazquez, BOS at SD
DK ($3,800), FD ($2,700)
Vazquez brings a 1.007 OPS over the past week to Petco Park. While his plate discipline is questionable on the road (.309 OBP), it’s more than made up for by Vazquez’s .509 slugging percentage and .818 OPS in away games, as Vazquez has swatted 10 of his 18 homers away from Fenway. The .202 Isolated Power and 33.9% hard contact rate — both career highs — are continuing to hold up, as his .862 OPS this month is marked improvement over the .778 OPS he produced in July. He gets a good matchup in rookie hurler Chris Paddack, who leads the league with a 70.1 strikeout rate, but has a 43.1% hard contact rate that has made him suspect to brutality at times.
8/23 DFS Hitting First Baseman
Carlos Santana, CLE vs. KC
DK ($4,600), FD ($3,700)
Few have mauled pitchers in the manner Santana has over the past two weeks, as he’s gone on a .364/.485/.745 (1.230 OPS) with six homers, 16 RBI and 17 runs scored. He borders on Must-Start as he’s worn out Royals pitching to the tune of .292/.460/.542 (1.002 OPS) with three homers, 10 runs scored and 15 walks. Santana’s 17% walk rate and 14.8% strikeout rate pairs well against the Royals’ pitching staff, which is 23rd in walks allowed and 27th in Ks from their hurlers.
Santana’s damage to pitchers is more impressive considering he has just a 16.1% line drive rate and a modest 36.8% fly ball rate. The 43.8% hard contact rate is loud when adding his patience at the plate.
8/23 DFS Hitting Second Baseman
Keston Hiura, MIL vs. ARI
DK ($4,800), FD ($3,600)
Yeesh, that 30.5% strikeout rate. Yet if you can live with the whiffs, you’ll take the upside of Hiura, who has scored seven runs and produced five extra base hits (all doubles) in the past week. Hiura has shaken off the lack of plate discipline with a .414 BABIP along with a .267 Isolated Power that is better than expected at this stage. You have to like the balance that comes from his batted ball rates, as he’s spraying line drives (24.5%) and getting the ball in the air (40.3%) while delivering a solid 43.4% hard contact rate and a 40.9% medium contact rate.
Hiura has thrived well against Diamondbacks pitching, going .389/.389/.667 in 18 at-bats. He’ll get the inconsistent Merrill Kelly on the mound for Arizona, which should translate into a good Friday for Hiura.
8/23 DFS Hitting Third Baseman
Mike Moustakas, MIL vs. ARI
DK ($4,100), FD ($3,800)
Bah Gawd! Are we playing our hand when it comes to an 8/23 DFS Hitting and Stacks Stack? Well…um….maybe. Moustakas has hit the D’Backs well this season, going .313/.389/.688 (1.077 OPS) with a homer and five RBI in 16 at-bats. He’s also coming into Friday having homered four times in the past week along with 11 RBI and a 1.550 OPS. Moustakas is riding the wave of a career year in Isolated Power (.269) with a 19.3% HR/FB rate that has bolstered those totals.
Both he and Hiura should thrive against Merrill Kelly, who has a .329 OBA this month. Kelly has a 5.40 ERA in August despite allowing just one run in his last outing.
8/23 DFS Hitting Shortstop
Tim Anderson, CWS vs. TEX
DK ($4,800), FD ($3,100)
Anderson has quietly produced a heck of a breakout season, one that has seen him hit .433 over the past week along with scoring at least one run in seven of his last eight games. That he’s competing for the A.L. batting title despite a 2.6% walk rate is one of the more befuddling things you’ll see this season, but Anderson is living large due in part to a .391 BABIP and the ability to spray the hell of out the ball throughout the field.
He’s still a good play against Rangers ace Lance Lynn, as Anderson has hit Texas pitching to a .462/.462/.779 slash with a homer and five ribbies this season.
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8/23 DFS Hitting Outfielder
Michael Brantley, HOU vs. LAA
DK ($5,300), FD ($4,000)
Let’s try to forget the fact he’s hitting .440-2-4 over the past week. Instead, look at how he’s owned Angels pitching this season. The 8/23 DFS Hitting and Stacks MVP, Brantley has a .484/.515/1.000 (1.515 OPS) with four homers, nine RBI and 12 runs scored. Career year? Damn straight it is, as Brantley sports a .206 Isolated Power and .345 BABIP along with a 14% HR/FB%. The Angels have yet to decide who will get the start, but seriously, is it going to matter to Brantley?
8/23 DFS Hitting Outfielder
Aristides Aquino, CIN at PIT
DK ($5,400), FD ($4,300)
He’s looked human over the past week, hitting just .174, but he’s quietly improved his plate discipline to a 9.3% walk rate. The freakish .507 Isolated Power is still there, while his 44.9% hard contact rate has cooled off. For all the uncertainty about using him, Pirates starter Mitch Keller’s 4.22 BB/9 and 8.86 ERA are tempting enough to use Aquino with the bet that Keller will continue to let hitters pound him with a .977 OPS and 29% line drive rate. It’s an expensive play, but I’m willing to suggest rolling the dice on Aquino paying off.
8/23 DFS Hitting Outfielder
Willie Calhoun, TEX vs. CWS
DK ($4,800), FD ($3,700)
Don’t count on Calhoun going hitless against White Sox hurler Dylan Cease tonight. Calhoun has three homers over the past week, which makes his bat attractive to Cease’s pitching, as the rookie has allowed 10 homers over 44 innings. Calhoun’s 43.6% fly ball rate will play well in gopher-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. as will a 52.3% pull rate when it comes to assaulting the foul pole in right field. He is also a more potent away hitter, producing a .939 OPS outside of Arlington.
8/23 DFS Hitting Stacks
8/23 Hitting Stack of the Night: Houston Astros: Brantley is the anchor of an H-Town stack, with Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman (1.253 OPS, four homers, 12 RBI versus the Angels) a pair of monster options. You’d have to choose between two of the three, but Jake Marisnick, who is hitting .455 with an 1.174 OPS against the Angels, is cheap enough to add in the outfield, allowing you to spend elsewhere.
8/23 Hitting Stack Runner-Up: Milwaukee Brewers: Hiura and Moustakas are the beginning of a stack that would include Ryan Braun, who has a pair of homers over the past week with a suddenly revived Lorenzo Cain (.462 over the last week). The makings are there for a very potent stack that appears ready to make some serious cake.
8/23 Hitting Stack to Consider: Cincinnati Reds: Aquino is expensive but utility man Josh VanMeter (.364 the past week) should be a good add at a reasonable price. Eugenio Suarez has gone deep against the Pirates, while Nick Senzel has hit .462 versus the Bucs. Had Joey Votto not gone on the DL, the Reds might have been Stack of the Night.
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Brandon C. Williams has covered Fantasy Sports since 2013 when he was selected as a finalist for the FSWA Newcomer of the Year. He is an award-winning writer/editor who has been in sports media for 30 years, having worked with likes of the Houston Chronicle, Fox Sports Net, CBSSports.com, Rivals.com and RotoExperts.com. Brandon is a Fantasy Content writer for the Canadian Football League and will begin his second season as a Fantasy Football Columnist for the Associated Press.