With Opening Day about a week away, let’s take a look at some early values on DraftKings and FanDuel. While this does put us in a bit on an awkward spot in terms of guessing who’s starting, we have a good idea of what hitters we want to use. Our goal here is to spot value and exploit it. Releasing players’ salaries this early should allow us to take advantage of some sloppy pricing and create a dominant lineup.
Let’s start by eliminating some bats that we want to fade and the pitchers they’ll be facing. This list includes The Tampa Bay Rays (J. Verlander), Miami Marlins (Gray, Freeland or Marquez), New York Mets (Scherzer), Washington Nationals (deGrom), Minnesota Twins (Kluber) and Arizona Diamondbacks (Buehler or Hill). Not only do all of these offenses have some major weaknesses, but they’re also likely to struggle against these elite arms. What adds to the fade is the fact that all of these games are being played in pitcher-friendly parks. That knocks out about a quarter of the field, so let’s get started with some bats in Texas.
Kris Bryant, CHC at TEX
FanDuel ($3,800) DraftKings ($5,400)
This FanDuel price made my mouth water a little bit, as Bryant is in a perfect situation to succeed. The first big positive is this ballpark, as Globe Life Field ranked as the top-hitting park in the majors last season, Yes, there were more runs scored in Texas than in Coors Field. That makes this one of the most stackable games on the slate, with Bryant being the centerpiece to our stack. Facing Mike Minor is probably the biggest reason we want to use Bryant. While the slugging third basemen had a down season by his standards last year, he absolutely abused left-handed pitching. In fact, Bryant posted an absurd 1.138 OPS against southpaws last season. That’s all you can ask for in this ballpark, as we expect Bryant’s FanDuel price to get closer to his DraftKings price after a big opening weekend.
Elvis Andrus, TEX vs. CHC
FanDuel ($2,800) DraftKings ($3,300)
My first inclination when looking at this slate was to target Jon Lester in Globe Life Park. That simply has disaster written all over it, as Lester is not the same pitcher he once was. The thing that threw me off was the fact that the Rangers lineup is full of lefties. While I expect some of the lefties to still get the job done, Andrus appears to be in the best spot to succeed. One major reason why is Lester’s inability to keep players off the base paths, as he allows the most stolen bases in the majors over the past decade. That’s especially beneficial for a player like Andrus, who averages about 27 steals per season hitting at the top of the Rangers batting order. Facing a lefty at home is a huge bonus too, as Andrus posted an .816 OPS at Globe Life and a .726 OPS against lefties last year. Those OPS numbers are well above his season average and he should have no problem getting on base against a pitcher who posted a 4.43 xFIP and 1.31 WHIP last season. All this is good news for Andrus but his price is simply too cheap. Players like Freddy Galvis and Nick Ahmed are in the same range as Andrus and it seems like a strong possibility that we’ll see his price rise over time.
Justin Smoak/Kendrys Morales, TOR vs. DET
Smoak ($3,200) Morales: ($2,800)
While there are no DraftKings prices released on these guys yet, they could make for a sneaky two-man stack. The main thing we want to do here is stack against Jordan Zimmerman. This is a guy who has posted a 5.24 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over the last three seasons. Those are nightmarish numbers from an Opening Day starter and he could struggle against the middle of this order in a tough ballpark. Rogers Centre actually surrendered the eighth-most home runs in the majors last season and that’s something Zimmerman has been struggling with mightily. In fact, Zimmerman posted an ugly 1.63 HR/9 rate two seasons ago and followed that up with a ghastly 1.92 HR/9 rate last year. That should benefit an undervalued bat like Smoak, who hit 20 home runs against righties last season while posting an .867 OPS. Morales was also much better against right-handers, as he hit 18 of his 21 homers against righties while establishing an .861 OPS. Many people may look at these guys and look right past them but you should never overlook any middle-of-the-order bats against a gas can like Zimmerman. It’s strange to see Smoak this cheap in such a great matchup, as he’s priced around guys like C.J. Cron, Brandon Belt and Ryan Zimmerman. Those players have to face Kluber, Scherzer and deGrom, so Smoak is obviously due for a price increase whenever he faces weak right-handers.
Byron Buxton, MIN vs. CLE
FanDuel ($2,300) DraftKings ($3,400)
Ok, this is one guy that we’re not necessarily going to use for this series against the Indians but is way underpriced. Buxton is being priced like the guy who couldn’t crack a .200 average last season but he’s showing in spring training that he’s worked on some things. In fact, Buxton is 13-of-29 so far in spring training while collecting four home runs, three doubles, 13 RBI and three steals. That makes him arguably the best player at spring training, as he was once the top prospect in baseball. He’s shown glimpses in the majors too, as he accumulated 26 homers and 39 steals in 760 at-bats between 2016-17. If the Twins truly trust Buxton and put him at the top of their batting order like some expect, he could be the best value in DFS until his price gets closer to $4,000. Using him against strikeout machines like Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Carols Carrasco is a tough sell but this is a guy who could become a huge value when he gets out of these nightmarish matchups.
I've been playing fantasy sports since I was 12, which means I've been playing for over half of my life. I love DFS and season-long formats and have been writing for nearly a decade. I started my writing career at RotoWire and currently write for FantasyPros, Rotoballer, Razzball and DFSR. I cover NBA, MLB and NFL and follow all major sports. I generally cover primarily DFS but I also do game previews, recaps, player write-ups, injury updates etc.