- Fantasy Football 2015: Week 1 Takeaways - Sep 17, 2015
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A massive 14-game slate offers a distraction from the NFL Draft if you hate everything about it. And if that’s the case, well, shame on you. It’s an interesting slate, though, as there are really only two true aces to choose from tonight, but there are a ton of elite hitters.
Let’s break it all down, and remember to play at DraftKings. There’s always something going on.
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-Clearly, there are two elite options to choose from tonight, but in cash games, I think I’d prefer Matt Harvey, as he squares off against Max Scherzer. Because two very good pitchers are on the mound, this game current has a low total of six, so a ton of runs aren’t expected to be scored in this one. Not many arms have the upside of Harvey, who currently ranks 6th in the majors in strikeout percentage (29.0%). He’s also averaging 1.18 strikeouts per inning, and in four starts, hasn’t struck out less than seven batters. Washington, meanwhile, is striking out 8.39 times per game this season, which ranks 25th in the league. They are also batting just .236 as a team this year, which puts them among the bottom-seven in baseball to this point.
-Staying in the same game, Scherzer is also obviously in play against the Mets. He eats a ton of innings, is averaging almost eight strikeouts over his first four starts, and while the Mets are playing well, they still aren’t exactly the most potent offense in the majors. The thumb doesn’t appear to be a problem, so feel safe rolling out Scherzer in your lineups, though, I’d probably take Harvey’s upside over him.
-If you’re looking to save some coin at pitching, I definitely like Anthony DeSclafani of the Reds, who has pitched very, very well. It’s early, but he actually ranks first in the National League in ERA (1.04), and while that will surely change, I still like him against the Braves offense, who are probably playing better than they are capable of. Speaking of regression, I expect this offense to regress and DeSclafani allows to you pay up for some elite hitters.
–Jose Abreu is the most expensive first baseman on DraftKings, but I still love his potential for tonight. The White Sox face a relatively soft-tossing Kyle Gibson, who doesn’t strike anyone out and gets hit hard by both lefties and righties. He’s surrendered 12 runs through his first four starts, while Abreu is hitting .327 with four home runs and 14 RBI against right-handed arms on the young season. I like a White Sox stack in some tournaments tonight, and it all starts with their best player, Jose Abreu.
-Until his price goes back up to where it belongs, I’ll be playing Adrian Gonzalez a ton. He’s currently the 10th-most expensive first baseman on the board, despite ranking third in the NL in batting average (.383), 1st in HR (8), 3rd in RBI (19) and 3rd in runs scored (19). I like his matchup tonight against Rubby De La Rosa, who has allowed four home runs thus far, while sporting a near 13 percent HR/FB ratio dating back to last season. Three of the four homers De La Rosa has surrendered this year have come from left-handed bats, while sporting a .327 average and a .428 wOBA. Don’t be surprised if Gonzo continues to rake this evening.
-If you’re looking for value, Ike Davis is a very interesting play, mainly because opposing pitcher, Colby Lewis, is really not good at throwing baseballs. This is one of the game’s most extreme fly-ball pitchers, sporting a 50 percent fly-ball rate this year, and a 43 percent rate for his career. Last season, Lewis allowed 25 home runs, which put him inside the bottom-10 in baseball, and he’s already allowed three dongs to open the season. Over the last three seasons, left-handed bats are hitting .295 with 22 home runs against Lewis, and if there’s one thing Davis can do, it’s hit the ball out of the ballpark.
–Jose Altuve is the hottest hitter in baseball, folks. He’s recorded at least two hits in nine-straight games, and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak. There have only been three instances this year where Altuve failed to get a hit, giving him one of the highest floors in fantasy. A guy who is getting on base 40 percent of the time and has swiped nine bases already is easily the top second baseman on the day, and potentially everyday from here on out. This game has an 8.5 over/under, and Houston is playing well, riding a seven-game winning streak.
-If you want to save a bit more, I really love Dee Gordon, who is always in play when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. Jerome Williams is on the mound for the Phillies, who never really threw hard in the first place, but now his fastball velocity is down to around 88 mph, which bodes well for Gordon on the basepaths. Assuming he gets on base a few times, he should easily be able to steal a few bags on Williams. And at the plate, I still like the matchup. Williams is surrendering a .343 batting average against lefties, while Gordon leads the entire MLB in average this season.
-Finally, if you’re REALLY looking to save, consider Neil Walker of the Pirates. He hasn’t been having monster games, but he’s capable of one, and has at least one hit in nine of his last 10 outings. Also, if you’re a believer in batter versus pitcher, Walker has seen plenty of success against Lance Lynn, batting 10-for-31 (.323) with three doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBI during his career.
–Matt Carpenter is stupid-good at baseball. Batting .372 with four home runs, 14 RBI, .438 OBP and 13 (!) doubles, Carpenter has been one of the best players in the league thus far. He’s such a smart hitter, only swinging at 19 percent of pitches landing outside of the strike zone. The league average is closer to 30 percent. 10 walks, 11 strikeouts allows him to get on base a ton, which has helped him led the NL in runs scored (21). The guy is essentially a lock for two hits every night.
–Evan Longoria is another guy I like at the corner. He’s seeing the ball well, and driving it better than ever, sporting a line drive rate of 24.6 percent. He now heads to Baltimore, seeing a nice ballpark shift, and again, batter vs pitcher is a fluid concept, but if you believe in it, Longoria is batting .389 with six home runs in 36 plate appearances against Chris Tillman in his career.
-Marcus Semien is off to a fantastic start this year, and has five multi-hit games over his last 10 outings. Batting .284 with three homers, 10 RBI and three steals, he’s doing a bit of everything, and again, the Colby Lewis factor is in full effect here. I may actually like Semien over Troy Tulowitzki for tonight.
-Hanley Ramirez might be my top overall hitter of the night. CC Sabathia is no bueno nowadays, and right-handed bats have decimated him as of late. Last year, Sabathia allowed a .321 batting average, .401 wOBA and a .356 OBP against righties, and so far this year, they are batting .345 with three home runs. Hanley absolutely dominated the month of April, batting .293 with 10 home runs and 22 RBI. When healthy, he’s one of the best players we have in this league, and Sabathia’s fastball velocity is severely down, coming in at just 89.4 mph. This game has an over/under close to nine, and Hanley is a tremendous bet to go yard tonight.
-If Hanley is my one in the outfield, Giancarlo Stanton is my 1A. Jerome Williams isn’t very good, and doesn’t have very good stuff. He’s already allowed four home runs on the year, and Stanton is the best power hitter in baseball. You do the math.
-Finally, a mid-tier play I really like is Alex Gordon, who is on absolute fire. Over his last 10 games, he’s recorded 14 hits, three home runs, three doubles and nine RBI for the Royals, who are also one of the hottest offenses in baseball. I like them as a sneaky stack tonight against a fill-in pitcher in Kyle Lobstein.
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