Catcher - Featured site is DraftKings
Buster Posey (SF) - No surprise here, Buster Posey is our top catcher of the day on Monday. The Diamondbacks are starting light-throwing Josh Collmenter on Opening Day and while Posey is normally in the conversation as a viable player everyday, we typically favor him against lefties, not righties like Collmenter. However, given the sheer amount of aces going against other top catchers on Monday, it's difficult to find a better matchup to focus on for the day. Even though he's an automatic play against left-handed pitching, Posey is still above average against right-handed pitchers, posting a .357 wOBA with a 13% HR/FB ratio over the last 3 seasons. It's worth noting that Posey has hit more homeruns in April than any other month throughout his career (although he has hit the same number in September).
Yasmani Grandal (LAD) - Grandal struggled in Spring Training but his bat did show signs of life during the final few games of the exhibition season. He's not going to have a favorable spot in the batting order on opening day but Yasmani Grandal has favorable splits against right-handed pitchers and he'll get to face James Shields in his Padres debut in Dodger Stadium. Grandal has a chance to prove to the Padres that they gave up on him too soon despite the fact he failed to consistently hit while playing in San Diego. When he did it, however, he had great batted ball speed. According to ESPN's Homerun Tracker, Grandal averagea solid 104.1 MPH on his homeruns over the last 3 seasons and has tagged righties decently with a solid .173 ISO. He's quite cheap around the industry so he could prove to be nice salary relief if you don't want to spend big on the catcher position since there isn't a clear top option.
Brian McCann (NYY) - McCann is a quite a bit more expensive like Grandal but he's cheaper than Posey on DraftKings. The Yankees are traveling to Toronto to take on the right-handed Drew Hutchison. The Rogers Center isn't quite as homer friendly as Yankee stadium but it still ranks in the top-7 in baseball, which is a good thing because much of McCann's value will be tied to knocking one out. Hutchison gives up a decent amount of flyballs (45% flyball rate) while McCann simarly hits fly balls about 45% of the time. With a solid 13% HR/FB ratio, the circumstances ripe for some upside value.
NOTE: Victor Martinez qualifies at catcher on FanDuel but is not eligible on DraftKings. On FanDuel, V-Mart would be recommended as a top play considering his very strong .373 wOBA against right handed pitching (Tigers are on the road taking on Phil Hughes).
First Base- Featured site is FanDuel
Freddie Freeman (ATL) - The top play of the day is Freddie Freeman in a dream matchup against Henderson Alvarez. Freeman absolutely mashes right-handed pitching, evidenced by hid 28% line drive rate and super solid 406.4 average home run distance (ESPN). Pair that with a .388 wOBA versus righties and you're heading in the right direction. The only piece missing from the equation is how the opposing pitcher performs against hitters similr to Freeman. Luckily, Alvarez really struggles against against lefties and has allowed a .338 wOBA with just a 5.3% K%-BB% to lefty hitters over the last 3 years. Freeman is coming into the season on a high note after hitting .333/.418/.526 in Spring Training.
Jose Abreu (CWS) - There's a divide among season-long players about whether or not Jose Abreu's power surge last year was for real or just a mirage. Adding fuel to the fire was his somewhat quiet spring from a power perspective that saw him hit just one long ball yet still managing to hit an incredible .508/.516/.678 over 19 games. Abreu was incredible in his rookie season, particularly against right-handed pitching, in which he racked up an ISO of .250, wOBA of .394 along with a mind-boggling 25% HR/FB ratio. While this HR/FB ratio might be a little inflated, Abreu still had a batted ball speed of 104.3 MPH which is better than league average. On Monday, Abreu gets to face-off against fellow sophomore Yordano Ventura. The biggest weakness in Abreu's game is probably his lack of walks and relatively high strikeout rate but on a site like DraftKings, strikeouts are not a penalty for batters and FanDuel simply lumps in the negative effect with all other outs. He's going to be pricy but he's one of the best options on the day. A cheaper option from the same game is Adam LaRoche, who is almost just as good as Abreu with his .215 ISO and .364 wOBA vs RHP.
Adam Lind (MIL) - While he's priced much tighter on DraftKings, Adam Lind is an absolute steal on FanDuel for Monday. Lind has spent his entire career in Toronto but he has now moved on to Milwaukee where the team is planning to take advantage of his extreme right-handed splits and excellent fit in their ballpark. The Rogers Center was a great place to hit but Miller Park should fit Lind's left-handed batting profile extremely well. Over the last 3 seasons, Miller Park has allowed 39% more homeruns to left handed batters than the league average (Bill James 2015). Kyle Kendrick draws the start for Colorado on Monday and Vegas has already set the over/under for the game at 8.5 runs, the highest of the day. The key stats to know for Lind are his .202 ISO and .386wOBA versus right-handed pitching over the last 3 seasons. At the price of $2,800 on FanDuel, he's almost a must-play.
Ryan Zimmerman (WAS) - The beauty of daily fantasy sports is that you can select injury prone players without concern for long-term consequences. Zimmerman is an excellent example of this strategy and is an affordable $3,700 on Monday. Vegas is projecting Washington to score the 3rd most runs on the day and Zimmerman should be hitting near the middle of the batting order for the Nats against the 42-year old Bartolo Colon. Zimmerman has shown tremendous homerun distances on his dingers over the last 3 seasons with the average measurement coming in at 406.6 ft (ESPN) and has a respectable .801 OPS over that same time period.
Other Value Plays: Carlos Santana (CLE), Ike Davis (OAK), Logan Morrison (SEA)
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) - While it certainly won't be a popular pick thanks to the seemingly bad matchup, Goldschmidt deserves to be considered in large GPP contests because of his incredible splits against left-handed starting pitchers. With a wOBA that's over 100 points higher than league average at .438 and an ISO of .282, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Goldschmidt could put together a productive DFS day despite having to face Madison Bumgarner.
Second Base- Featured site is DraftKings
Robinson Cano (SEA) - Speaking of players who mash against a certain handed pitcher, Robinson Cano is a must play at second base today across the industry. With a 21% HR/FB ratio, .245 ISO, and .419wOBA against right-handed pitchers over the last 3 seasons, there's tremendous upside here when the Mariners take on Jared Weaver in Seattle. Don't forget the Mariners added Nelson Cruz this off-season to provide much-need protection to the middle of the M's lineup.
Brian Dozier (MIN) - Dozier's skillset plays in quite nicely with DraftKings scoring system and despite facing David Price, he actually matches up quite nicely. The majority of Dozier's power comes against left-handed pitching evidenced by a .224 ISO and .857 OPS against southpaws since he entered the league. Add that to a nice lineup spot along with heavy point rewards in DraftKings for power/speed combo and Dozier is a nice value at $4,000.
Ben Zobrist (OAK) - Playing in his first official game as an Athletic, Zobrist is an intriguing cheaper option on Monday. With an above average wOBA against right handed pitching, Zobrist has a nice matchup against the Rangers' new starter Yovani Gallardo. Zobrist had an absolutely scorching spring, racking up 15 RBI while slashing .327/.371/.527 for Oakland. He's expected to hit second this year and will be in a good position to return nice value, especially on sites like DraftKings that heavily rewards walks, doubles, and triples.
Scooter Gennett (MIL) - While there's not a tremendous amount of power here, Scooter Gennett does hit righties at an above average clip and hits plenty of line drives (26% line drive rate over the last 3 years off RHP). Milwaukee has the highest run total of any game on opening day so considering his low price point on DraftKings ($3,800), he's a low risk gamble that can easily be inserted into your lineup if you're going for a Brewers stack and hope he gets involved in the scoring. Gennett has averaged 7.0 FPPG on DraftKings vs RHP over the last 3 years.
Stephen Drew (NYY) - Almost identical to Gennett in terms of splits against right handed pitching, the Yankees also are one of the higher scoring teams of the day and Drew has a nice 25% line drive rate off righties. At a price that's generaly even cheaper than Gennett around the industry, Drew might be an even better value if you're looking for a cheap way to fill out your infield.
Third Base- Featured site is FanDuel
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - Hitting at home where he has amassed an impressive .404 wOBA over the last 3 seasons and facing Sonny Gray when he has crushed righties for a .383 wOBA creates a perfect storm of value for the Rangers big time power hitter. With Fielder returning to add protection in that lineup, I'm fully expecting a nice bounceback year from the slugger, especially since his batted ball speed on homeruns last season remained at an elite 104.6 MPH. He's worth the $4,200 on Opening Day.
Kyle Seager (SEA) - At just $3,700 on FanDuel, Kyle Seager is a nice value at a 3rd base position that's a little thin on Opening Day. Since 2012, Seager has posted a solid .186 ISO and .358 wOBA against right-handed pitchers while also managing an above average 12% HR/FB ratio. With quality matchups for teammates Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, Weaver is going to need to try to go after Seager, increasing his odds at getting a quality pitch to hit.
Other Value Play: Evan Longoria (TB)
Nick Castellanos (DET) - The Tigers visit the Twins on Opening Day and Nick Castellanos is sneaky cheap option that could return a nice value. Twins starter Phil Hughes has struggled against right handed hitters the last several years (opposing batters have an .849 OPS and .352 wOBA vs. him) while Castellanos has absolutely crushed the ball against right-handed pitchers when he makes contact (31% line drive rate which is roughly 11% higher than league average). At just $2,900 on FanDuel, he provides nice salary relief.
Shortstop- Featured site is DraftKings
Ian Desmond (WAS) - Two things stand out for me when it comes to Ian Desmond's matchup against the right-handed Bartolo Colon - his strikeouts and his homerun data. Desmond's biggest weakness in the daily game is the high amount of strikeout he racks up (while this doesn't directly affect DK scoring, it's still a missed opportunity). Luckily, Bartolo Colon has a below league average strikeout rate giving Desmond a better chance to make contact (just a 72% contact rate in 2015) because when Desmond does make contact it usually goes a long way. On the surface, Desmond isn't a prototypical power hitter with just a 33% flyball rate, but on those flyballs he has an elite 17% HR/FB rate with equally elite batted ball speed of 105.8 and homerun distance of 410 feet (ESPN). At $700 less Tulowitzki, Desmond is our top overall play when considering total value return.
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) - Not playing in Coors is always a hit to his value, especially when he's priced like he's playing at home, but Tulo is still an elite opton night in and night out. If you don't trust Desmond but still want to pay up for Tulo, it's hard to argue against a .224 ISO, .402 wOBA and 22% line drive rate against lefty starters. Just know that Kyle Lohse has been quite skilled at limiting big innings and the home run ball in recent years.
Jose Reyes (TOR) - At just $4,400, he's not a great value but he has the skillset to provide a nice return on DraftKings (averaging 6.1 FPPG since 2012). His mix of modest power and above average speed help provide the basis of his value, but most importantly, he's a switch hitter and Masahiro Tanaka actually struggles against right handed batters (relatively). Reyes has a .336 wOBA and 22% line drive rate against right handed pitchers.
Brad Miller (SEA) - Given a chance to prove he's still a worthy starting shortstop, Brad Miller was a man on a mission this spring when he hit .295/.385/.636 with 9 XBH including 2 homeruns and 8 RBI. A spot in the lineup in the bottom half hurts his overall upside but facing Jered Weaver isn't the worst matchup in the world for him since he has a slightly above average wOBA of.318 and elite batted ball speed on his HRs of 104.57 (ESPN).
Other values: Jimmy Rollins (LAD)
Outfield- Featured site is FanDuel
Mike Trout (LAA) - Mike Trout is our highest rated player in our model for Opening Day. Despite a seemingly tough matchup against Felix Hernandez, Trout has historically fared extremely well against not only right-handers but Felix Hernandez especially. Over a 49 at-bat sample, Trout is hitting .367/.389/.633 with 7 XBH and 11 RBI. Trout's incredible .417 wOBA and .257 ISO warrants his obscene $5,100 price tag.
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) - It doesn't matter who Giancarlo Stanton faces, the odds will likely almost always be in Stanton's favor. With an incredible 27% HR/FB rate, 107.5 avg batted ball speed, and 414 ft average HR distance, Stanton can hit homeruns off anyone, anywhere and at any time. At a $200 discount over Trout, his price might actually be justifiable.
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) - In just 59 at-bats, McCutchen has 17 hits including 9 XBH (4 homeruns) against Johnny Cueto. Playing in Cincinatti will likely only help his cause since he hits even better on the road than at home with a .393 wOBA and .209 ISO. Add that together when his excellent splits against right handed pitchers (23% line drive rate and equally impressive ISO and wOBA) and you understand why he's $4,900.
Bryce Harper (WAS) - Elite talent plus mediocre starting pitcher equals salivating DFSers. It's tough to find matchups like this on Opening Day when every team's ace takes the mound but that's exactly what we'll have when Harper faces off against Bartolo Colon. Harper has elite batted ball speed paired with a 23% line drive rate. His 19% HR/FB ratio is also among the league's highest. Vegas set the line close to 4 but I think that's being conservative.
Yoenis Cespedes / JD Martinez (DET) - While quite a bit more expensive on DraftKings, this Tigers duo remains in play for Monday on FanDuel As we've noted above, Phil Hughes struggles to contain right handed batters and Detroit is projected as the 2nd highest scoring team of the day. Both players will find homes in the middle of the Tiger's batting order with plenty of RBI opportunities. Both offer above average wOBA and HR/FB rates.
Shin-Soo-Choo (TEX) - At his current price point of $3,000 on FanDuel, Choo is a near must-play considering his very favorable matchup against the right-handed Sonny Gray. Choo has always performed better against right-handers and his wOBA of .394 is one of the best in the league. He also has a solid 22% line drive rate
Carlos Beltran (NYY) - Even as he ages, Beltran has yet to lose his power. Since 2012, he has averaged an ISO of .201 and an impressive .359 wOBA. Beltran is a switch hitter and will likely hit from the left hand side of plate since opposing pitcher, Drew Hutchison, allowed a .811 OPS and .347 wOBA vs lefties last season.
Seth Smith (SEA) - Perpetually inexpensive, the left-handed Seth Smith has great splits against right handed pitchers and will likely draw most of the starts against righties for the Mariners. Smith's power vanished a bit after a hot start last season but historically he has had above average power and finds ways to get on base, leading to a 3 year average wOBA of .345 against righties. At just $2,600 on FanDuel, he's a great punt play.
George Springer (HOU) - Playing anyone against Corey Kluber is a risky proposition, previously reserved only for Clayton Kershw. Springer, however, has too good of splits against right handers to ignore. Despite hitting just .242 against right handed pitching a season ago, Springer managed to post a great .251 ISO and solid .355 wOBA. On a day when there's no shortage of good outfield talent playing, his overall ownership levels will likely be down. This creates a nice opportunity for differentiation in tournaments.
Matt Kemp / Justin Upton (SD) - The Padres attempt to compete with their division rivals' top lefty arms will be tested on Opening Day. Matt Kemp and Justin Upton will likely have little to no ownership but each has good statistical data backing them to play. Based outfielder have elite ISOs, wOBAs, & HR/FB ratios vs LHP as well as above average line drive rates. On top of that, Kershaw's K%-BB%, while still elite, is actually 10% lower versus righties than lefties. It's a crazy play but if you're in one of the Opening Day tournaments with 50,000 of our closest friends, these are the types of plays you'll need to hit in order to take the entire crown.
Starting Pitcher- Featured site is DraftKings
Having a quality starting pitcher is essential to building a successful roster in DFS. As a result, most of our top picks are typically near the top of the salary ladder. Obviously if we find a value we'll pick it out but for the most part, you always want to buy the best starting pitcher you can afford.
Corey Kluber (CLE) - Facing the Astros, Kluber is the clear #1 starting pitcher in DFS on Opening Day. A year ago, the Houston Astros had the second highest strikeout percentage (23.8%) in the league while Kluber posted an impressive 28.3% strikeout rate himself. Kluber is successful by keeping batted balls on the ground (something he'll need to do in Houston) but the rebuilding Astros still lack the fire power to compete with a quality arm like Kluber. Regardless of price, he's the clear top choice but the fact that he's $2,600 cheaper than Kershaw on DraftKings makes it a no-brainer.
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) - If you build your lineup and have extra money, you can always go with the best pitcher in the game. The Padres added plenty of right-handed bats to test the likes of Kershaw and Bumgarner but Kershaw is so much better than the rest of the league that it doesn't even matter. A 31.9% strikeout rate last season paired with a 14.1% swinging strike rate is elite for most relievers, let alone a starting pitcher. Pitching at home offers him a slight advantage over Kluber but I don't think it's enough to justify the price difference.
Max Scherzer (NYM) - Nothing like a nice cushy welcome to the NL for Max Scherzer! Scherzer should be able to mow down the majority of the free-swinging Mets. Thanks to his high strikeout totals, Scherzer is rarely a candidate to earn the complete game bonus on DraftKings so it's useful to keep that in mind when salaries are closer between pitchers. Vegas has projected the Mets to score just over 3 runs in Monday's game. Given the price difference, I'd prefer Kluber over Scherzer.
David Price (DET) - Last season's strikeout king is the only pitcher who I would consider starting over Corey Kluber this week. Not only is his price lower than Kershaw or Scherzer, but unlike Kluber, Price gets the luxury of pitching at home against an equally offensive-anemic Twins team. Projected to score just 2.92 runs, Price is an excellent bet to capture a win and rack up a fair amount of strikeouts. The Twins had the 8th highest strikeout rate one year ago.
Other Plays: Johnny Cueto (CIN) - should rack up a lot of strikeouts but at just $200 less than Kluber, I'd prefer to spend my money there, especially considering the Pirates explosive outfield.
Sonny Gray (OAK) - If you're looking to go cheap, Sonny Gray dominated the injury-decimated Rangers last season to the tune of a 2.06 ERA over 43.2 innings pitched. With a wOBA vs LHB and RHB both below league after, Gray could be a fine value.