Before we get into today's recommendations, it is important to remind everyone to understand your scoring format and the pricing of the individual players on the site you're playing. These vary from site to site and all daily sites price their players differently, which could make someone a must start on one site but not another. It is also important to double check starting lineups as news often breaks after this column is written. In the space below I will break down the best plays by position and make notes as to which type of formats to utilize players. If you are new to the daily fantasy baseball scene, there are daily fantasy websites which offer one day contests. These contests are mostly salary cap games where you can take any players you want as long as you stay under the cap and meet the positional requirements and all are points-based (not roto). Please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions regarding daily fantasy baseball.
Important Notes: Please be aware of how the site you play on deals with makeup games. I believe, but you should double check, that most sites are only counting the originally scheduled games. For example, the Dodgers-Orioles have a doubleheader today, and only the second game (the originally scheduled game) I believe will actually count towards your score. As a result, all my recommendations are based on the originally scheduled games, not the makeup games. Also please be aware that on Saturdays some sites completely separate early games from late games.
For the first time in a while, it doesn't look like rain will be too much of an issue today. However, weather patterns often change suddenly so make sure to double check closer to roster lock time.
If you can, it is a good idea to follow both me (https://twitter.com/leonem4444) and Drew (https://twitter.com/DrewDinkmeyer) on Twitter. We often post updated thoughts as lineup and weather information becomes known. For example, last night I suggested playing Jeff Baker on Twitter after I saw he was starting.
Best Value Play
Buster Posey (SF) - Posey is underpriced due to a slow start and has a really positive splits matchup today. He is facing LHP Clayton Richard who has allowed a .338 wOBA to RHB and 1.22 HR/9. On the flip side, Posey does a ton of damage against LHP posting a huge .467 wOBA since 2011. And that wOBA comes with a lot of power too as Posey's .309 ISO against LHP is 2.5 times greater than his ISO against RHP. He's a great value play on sites where he is slightly underpriced and a must play on those where he's actually cheap.
Cheap Value Plays
Alex Avila (DET) - This is a day game following a night game, so make sure Avila is in the lineup. He is facing Garrett Richards who has allowed a .370 wOBA to LHB as well as a 5 FIP and 25.5% LD rate in 46 IP. Meanwhile, Avila has hit .280/.379/.479 against RHP since 2011. With those splits working in Avila's favor and his cheap price on most sites, he makes for a solid value play.
AJ Ellis (LAD) - If Ellis starts the second game of the doubleheader today, I like him as a nice cheap play against Wei-Yin Chen. Ellis has a very solid .357 wOBA against LHP since 2011 with a surprising .185 ISO. Chen has struggled a bit against RHB allowing a .321 wOBA and 1.34 HR/9.
Rob Brantly (MIA) - In limited plate appearances (121), Brantly has shown some skill against RHB, posting an .825 OPS. He's hitting in a favorable ballpark today (Cincinnati) and facing Bronson Arroyo who has allowed a .365 wOBA and a whopping 1.83 HR/9 to LHB.
Although Salvador Perez and Matt Wieters do not have great batter-pitcher matchups, both are underpriced on the sites I checked and are hitting in favorable hitting ballparks today.
Joey Votto (CIN) - It's time for your weekly Wade Leblanc reverse splits reminder. Leblanc, despite being left handed, has allowed a .380 wOBA to LHB (74 inning sample size since 2010) and 1.34 HR/9. Votto's power has been a little light early on so his cap hit is at least manageable on most sites, and on those that price base on splits he is underpriced to the L/L matchup. It's also not like Votto can't handle LHP - posting a .402 wOBA since 2011 against LHP.
Paul Goldschmidt (ARZ) - Goldschmidt is likely expensive but might have the most upside of any batter in action today. He's in Coors against a LHP (Jorge de la Rosa), and Gold kills LHP (.308/.396/.595). De la Rosa hasn't been effective against RHB since 2010 with a .334 wOBA allowed and 1.28 HR/9.
Another great play is Prince Fielder facing Garrett Richards who has allowed a .379 wOBA (25.5 LD%); I just chose to list Votto and Goldschmidt because their prices was lower on the sites I checked.
Adam LaRoche (WAS) - Laroche is a really strong value play with some upside going up against Jeremy Hefner who gives up a ton of long balls to LHB (1.76 HR/9). LaRoche owns a .201 ISO against RHP since 2010.
Brandon Moss (OAK) - It's not a big sample size, but Moss in 280 PA's from last year on has a .410 wOBA against RHP with a whopping .329 ISO. He's fairly priced on the sites I checked and while opposing Jeremy Hellickson is good at home, he has allowed 1.30 HR/9 and a 5.16 FIP against LHB.
Adam Dunn (CHW) - Adam Dunn is off to a really slow start, but that brings his price down for a matchup against Vance Worley at home. Worley has been okay against LHB the last few years (.313 wOBA allowed), but there are signs that some of that could be a mirage (25.4 LD%, 6.4 HR/FB%). Meanwhile, Dunn has a .258 ISO against RHP last year. He's a bit of a boom or bust play, but given his price I'll probably take the chance as there's a decent probability he goes yard.
Lance Berkman (TEX) didn't strike me as underpriced where I checked but he has a positive matchup against Brandon Maurer who has struggled so far in his rookie season (9.95 ERA). In particular Maurer has allowed a ton of fly balls and line drives (48.1% and 22.2% respectively) to LHB which should spell trouble in Texas; look for Berkman to take advantage. Along these same lines, teammate Mitch Moreland makes for a very good cheap play on sites where he's near the minimum (.928 OPS at home last year against RHP).
Chase Utley (PHI) - This is a solid upside play as Utley looks rejuvenated this year and is facing Lance Lynn who has allowed a .366 wOBA to LHB and 1.36 HR/9. However, I prefer the top 1B today so will likely spend there and save at 2B playing one of the value plays below.
Jason Kipnis (CLE) - In his career Kipnis has a wOBA almost 70 points higher against RHP than he does LHP, and today he faces Phil Humber who has a .341 wOBA allowed to LHB with a 4.87 ERA.
Mark Ellis (LAD) - Ellis hits LHP well (.347 wOBA since 2010), is hitting in Camden Yards and should be second in the lineup tonight. He is low priced on most sites so makes for a solid, safe option if you are looking to spend on other positions.
Dustin Ackley (SEA) - Ackley is dirt cheap on a lot of sites due to his horrific start but he is in a positive hitting environment today (Texas) and facing a RHP in Nick Tepesch who is not overly dominant. Ackley had an OPS of about 80 points higher on the road last year and despite showing some odd reverse splits last year I like him to break out of his funk in this L/R matchup.
Marco Scutaro (SF) - Scutaro has a solid EYE (1.00) against LHP since 2011 and a solid .338 wOBA. Likely hitting second today against Clayton Richard (RHB hit .273/.336/.440 off of him since 2010), Scutaro is a good value play.
Jimmy Rollins (PHI) - As mentioned in yesterday's fix, Rollins is pretty underpriced across a few daily fantasy sites. He has a .343 wOBA against RHP since 2011 with a .179 ISO and is hitting at home today against Lance Lynn (.366 wOBA, 1.36 HR/9 allowed to LHB).
If You Can Afford
Troy Tulowtizki (COL) - Tulowitzki is by far the best fantasy SS ROS with Jose Reyes now down with an injury, so any time he is at home he is usually clear and away the best fantasy option at SS. Unfortunately he is priced that way, thus he falls under the if you can afford section and not the top play section. Once again the game in Coors Field today has the highest Vegas set total (9.5).
I really don't like many SS options, so I still have to mention Asdrubal Cabrera while he is cheap and has a good matchup, despite his very cold streak. Hey he did get on base twice last night with a double, though. Another guy I'd be willing to pay for is Elvis Andrus as I expect the Rangers to score today. All in all though I am really trying to play either Rollins or Tulowitzki.
Adrian Beltre (TEX) - It might seem like we repeat a lot of names but that's because guys tend to be underpriced in stretches. Beltre is one of those guys right now, and he is a real good value play any time he is home and not priced amongst the top 3B. He is facing Brandon Maurer who is off to a very rocky start, and in the past two years at home against RHP Beltre posted OPS's of .948 (2011) and 1.059 (2012).
Martin Prado (ARZ) - Prado is a strong play today in Coors Field against Jorge de la Rosa (.334 wOBA allowed to RHB). Prado has a .287 BA with a solid EYE (.93) against LHP since 2011, and will be hitting towards the top of the order in one of the higher expected scoring games of the day.
Mike Moustakas (KC) - Moustakas is dirt cheap on a lot of sites, and while I am down on him overall relative to the rest of the market, I understand using him today if you want to save some money. He is hitting in Fenway Park which is way more favorable to LH power than Moustakas' home park, and opposing pitcher Clay Buchholz is just mediocre against LHB (.311 wOBA and .92 HR/9 allowed).
Will Middlebrooks (BOS) - This recommendation is very site dependent as I've seen Middlebrooks range from cheap to middle of the pack to above middle of the pack in terms of pricing. If he's cheap on the site you play at, he's a good GPP play and a decent value play overall. Shields allows 1.13 HR/9 to RHB, and Middlebrooks in his career has a .222 ISO at home against RHP (124 plate appearances).
Bryce Harper (WAS) - Harper has hit RHP extremely well on his young career with a .299 BA and lots of power too (.241 ISO). As he continues to elevate the ball more as he develops, the power will only increase. He has a good matchup today against Jeremy Hefner who has allowed a .386 wOBA to LHB and 1.76 HR/9. Along with Paul Goldschmidt, Harper may have one of the highest hitter upsides on the day.
Best Value Play
Matt Kemp (LAD) - I will probably play Kemp everywhere due to his depressed price on most sites. On top of that he has a very good matchup for him. He is hitting in Camden Yards which is ranked 10 spots better than Kemp's homer park for offensive value according to parkfactors.com.
Other Value Plays
AJ Pollock (ARZ) - This recommendation is dependent on two things. First, Pollock's price varies a lot from the sites I've checked so I only like him on those where it is deflated obviously. Secondly, I think Pollock will hit leadoff today with Arizona facing a LHP but double check that this is the case.
Vernon Wells (NYY) - As I stated a couple of days ago, Wells' overall offensive value has been reduced dramatically the past couple of seasons but he still hits for power especially against LHP. He has looked comfortable at the plate so far this season (4 HR) and is hitting in Toronto, a park that Wells is both familiar with and enhances right handed power. He is facing a finesse pitcher in Mark Buehrle who has allowed a .327 wOBA to RHB since 2011.
Shin-Soo Choo (CIN) - This is a value play on sites that price splits as Choo's price is a lot lower in L/L matchups, but as I pointed out earlier opposing pitcher Wade Leblanc actually has reverse splits and is worse against LHB. Hitting leadoff at home for a Cinci team that is likely to put some runs up on the board, play Choo on these types of sites. You could also lump Jay Bruce into this category.
Justin Maxwell (HOU) - In 146 PA's Maxwell has hit lefties well (.380 wOBA, .234 ISO). He is facing Scott Kazmir today whose comeback is extremely admirable, but I'm still skeptical. In 120 IP against RHB since 2010, Kazmir has allowed .375 wOBA and 1.65 HR/9. Consider Maxwell a nice upside play today at not much of a cost.
Peter Bourjos (LAA) - Bourjos is still priced near the bottom of outfielders on some sites despite moving into the leadoff spot for the Angels. While he is at this price and that spot in the lineup, Bourjos will remain a solid value play today and particularly so today against the very hittable Rick Porcello.
David Murphy (TEX) - Murphy is off to a bit of a slow start but as I've already stated today, I don't expect opposing pitcher Brandon Maurer to fare well today and has been pretty bad against LHB. Murphy for his career has an .880 OPS and .220 ISO at home against RHB.
Andy Dirks (DET) - Dirks is priced very low and although his splits for his career are even, he developed a very positive split last year hitting .336 against RHP. Today he faces Garrett Richards who has yielded a .301 BA to LHB since 2010.
Other potential splits plays to take advantage of and are cheap are Domonic Brown and Laynce Nix against Lance Lynn and Matt Joyce against Jarrod Parker. An underpriced guy to keep your eye on is Giancarlo Stanton whose power should play real nice in Cincinnati.
Gio Gonzalez (WAS) - Look for Gonzalez to get back on track today as he faces the New York Mets who are in the bottom ten in MLB in terms of wOBA and K% since the beginning of 2012. Getting lit up in his past start has also dropped Gonzalez's price making him a really good option if you are playing in an early lock game.
Cliff Lee (PHI) - Lee is facing a very good hitting team in STL today, however if you are playing games that only include the late slate tonight, Lee is far and away the most talented SP in action which makes him worth paying up for on one SP sites and possibly even multiple SP sites.
Jarrod Parker (OAK) - While I like most of my Oakland pitchers at home, Parker is still pitching in a good pitching environment in Tampa Bay. More importantly, he is facing a Rays' team that has really struggled against RHP so far this season (.300 wOBA, 20.1 K%). Parker has really struggled this year but with the positive matchup and a cheap price I am willing to take the risk.
Bronson Arroyo (CIN) - Arroyo has one of the better chances at recording a win today with the Reds being by far the day's biggest favorites. For that reason I like him on sites where the win is weighted heavily, but win probability aside Arroyo doesn't carry too much risk today against a Miami team that has a laughably low .224 wOBA against RHP so far this season.
For the Gamblers at Heart
Tim Lincecum (SF) - Lincecum is a heavy favorite at home in a game with a low over/under. For that reason along with the fact that he is still getting strikeouts (8.44 K/9) means I am probably willing to take the chance on him on multiple SP sites today with a good matchup at home versus the Padres.
Scott Kazmir (CLE) - This is a gamble I am personally far less willing to take. I don't expect Kazmir to last long and he is a big risk. However the Astros strike out a ton, and Kazmir looked good over the Spring, so I understand those of you who want to take the risk.