MLB DFS Picks: FanDuel Plays and Strategy for Opening Day

MLB DFS Picks: FanDuel Plays and Strategy for Opening Day

This article is part of our FanDuel MLB series.

I've mostly been covering NBA at RotoWire the last few years but I'm excited to get back into MLB. Fantasy baseball is actually my favorite sport to play, and that obviously includes DFS. Something about all the statistics we get for baseball makes MLB DFS the best out there, and I can't wait to write FanDuel articles every Thursday and DraftKings articles every Monday. Opening Day is always one of the most challenging slates of the year. I say that because nearly every team is sending their ace to the mound, but I'll get into that more later on! 


Corbin Burnes, BAL vs. LAA ($10,200)

Burnes was one of the best additions of the offseason, joining one of the best teams in the AL. The former Cy Young winner has been one of the best pitchers since 2020, posting a 2.86 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in that span. He's also one of the league leaders with a 33 percent K rate, averaging 34 FanDuel points per game last year. The Angels were an average offense last season, but they possess one of the worst lineups after parting ways with Shohei Ohtani, especially since they were 26th in K rate last year. Look for CB to thrive in this pitcher's park all season, entering this matchup as a -190 favorite. 

Pablo Lopez, MIN at KC ($9,700)

Lopez was quietly one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball last year, averaging 37.5 FanDuel points per game. There's only one pitcher on this slate with a higher average, but Lopez is sixth in salary. That correlation is hard to understand, particularly since he faces one of the worst offenses in baseball. The Royals ranked 26th in wOBA, 28th in OBP and 25th in OPS last season. That was on full display when Lopez threw a shutout in his last matchup with KC, en route to 73 FanDuel points! 

Cole Ragans, KC vs. MIN ($8,800)

Many people have Ragans pegged for a 2024 breakout, and it's easy to understand why when looking at his late-season surge in 2023. The left-hander posted a 2.70 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 rate over his final 11 starts last year. That makes Ragans one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he's not being priced like it. A home matchup with Minnesota only adds to his value because Ragans was even better at home last year in spacious Kauffman Stadium. 

Top Targets

Freddie Freeman ($4,000) vs. Miles Mikolas

There aren't many big-name bats I love with all of the studs taking the mound, but Freeman is my favorite play out there. The Dodgers first baseman played at an MVP level last year, providing a .331 AVG, .410 OBP and .977 OPS. He also averaged nearly 14 FanDuel points per game and always rocks righties. Over the last two years, Freeman has a .419 OBP and .959 OPS with the platoon advantage in his favor. Not to mention, Mikolas is a soft-tosser coming off one of his worst years, posting a 4.78 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. 

Elly De La Cruz ($3,400) vs. Josiah Gray

Gray is one of the few subpar pitchers taking the mound Opening Day, and I definitely want to get some exposure against him. I'll dive into his numbers more below, but De La Cruz is the best fantasy option in Cincy. The sophomore was the leading scorer in fantasy through the opening month of his rookie season, averaging 12 FanDuel points per game in total last year. He had that absurd average despite a nightmarish slump to end the year, but I love that EDLC did most of his damage against right-handers. 

Bargain Bats

Ryan Mountcastle ($3,200) vs. Patrick Sandoval

The Orioles are also one of my favorite stacks out there. I'll also dive into Sandoval's numbers below, but Mountcastle is the best value bat among Baltimore's Opening Day lineup. When Mountcastle matched up with lefties last year, he provided a .398 OBP, .655 SLG and 1.052 OPS. Those are some of the best splits in baseball, and it's hard to believe he's barely cracking $3K against a subpar southpaw. 

Mark Canha ($2,600) vs. Garrett Crochet

Crochet is the lowest-salaried pitcher on this slate, and for good reason. The problem is that Detroit is one of the most challenging teams to stack, possessing one of the worst lineups in baseball. With that said, they're facing a lefty pitcher who's only thrown 12.2 big-league innings since 2021, which makes Canha an intriguing option for the Tigers. Canha had a .361 OBP and .826 OPS against southpaws last year and should be in the heart of this lineup, or possibly even leading off 

Stacks to Consider

Baltimore Orioles vs. Sandoval: Adley Rutschman ($3,700), Anthony Santander ($3,500), Mountcastle ($3,200), Austin Hays ($2,800)

The Orioles are my pick to come out of the AL East, and this scary lineup is a major reason why. Baltimore finished seventh in total runs last year, but they're expected to be even better this year. That's terrifying for a pitcher like Sandoval, who had a 4.11 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in a nightmarish 2023 season. He also allowed 11 baserunners the one time he faced the Orioles, and this stack could do even more damage if they get to the Halos' bad bullpen as well. 

I already talked about Mountcastle's exploits against lefties, but the rest of these guys are also strong plays. Santander leads the team with 59 homers over the last two years, falling just shy of a .500 SLG against lefties. Hays is the sneaky option because he's always in the heart of the O's lineup against lefties, posting a .786 OPS against them last season.  

Cincinnati Reds vs. Gray: De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion-Strand ($3,000), Jeimer Candelario ($2,900), Jake Fraley ($2,600)

Cincy is going to be a popular stack many times this season, but any team might be against Gray. The Nats righty has one of the worst home run rates in the league since his promotion in 2021, posting a 4.64 ERA and 1.40 WHIP since then. That's truly horrifying in Great American Ball Park because that place has been a hitter's haven for the last decade, ranked second in park factor last year. 

All of that makes the Reds a remarkable stack because many of these guys are way too cheap. I already discussed De La Cruz, but Encarnacion-Strand is one of the best values on the board. The first baseman had a .404 OBP, .645 SLG and 1.049 OPS between Double-A and Triple-A over the last two years. That power is expected to play beautifully in GABP, especially at just $3K. Candelario is also expected to be in the heart of this lineup, totaling a .813 OPS against righties last year. The final piece is Fraley, who has with a .353 OBP, .480 SLG and .833 OPS against right-handers over the last three seasons.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Joel Bartilotta plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: Joelbartilotta Yahoo: Joelbartilotta.
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Joel Bartilotta
Joel has 20 years of Fantasy experience, and can recall riding a young Daunte Culpepper to a championship in the 2003-04 season in his inaugural fantasy year. He covers NBA, NFL, daily fantasy, EPL, and MLB for RotoWire.
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