When looking at “bargains” on FanDuel, we'll typically focus on hitters who are $3,200 or lower. In general, we'll only highlight players at the top end of that scale if they have star potential.
The weather appears willing to cooperate today. The Tigers game will be cold while the Reds game may have a hour delay on the front end.
Please note, these player picks were organized early in the day. For MLB contests, always check lineups and weather closer to game time. Rain, wind, or unexpected managerial decisions could open up additional sources of value. Be sure to keep an eye on the MLB Headlines and Injuries desk.
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Onto the bargain plays...
1 – Chris Tillman – SP – Baltimore (FanDuel Price: $7,000)
To be entirely honest, I'm not a big Chris Tillman fan, and I won't be using him in my personal lineups. That said, among the bargain pitchers, he has the easiest path to a big DFS performance tonight. His velocity was up 1.5 mph in his two inning season debut (cut short by weather). In that outing, he punched out five Twins. Those whiffs all came via his new actually fast fastball.
A matchup against the Rays at Camden Yards can be viewed as a positive and a negative. The Rays are slightly strikeout prone which they combat with an extremely aggressive approach at the plate. Aggression tends to produce high variance outcomes. Tillman probably won't record a big strikeout total tonight, but he may pitch deep into the game. The O's need him to, they have a pseudo-bullpen game planned tomorrow with Mike Wright making a start.
2 – Francisco Cervelli – C – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
The Pirates have handed Cervelli the fifth spot in the batting order. While he isn't a true power threat, he has enough pop to sneak one out of Great American Band Box. Mostly, this pick is about managing floor. It's good to have high upside guys like Chris Davis in your lineup, and it's even better if you can supplement those picks with players who are very likely to produce some value.
With Cervelli's spot in the lineup, he can help via multiple hits, run production, or even just a couple walks. The matchup against Alfredo Simon shouldn't be a challenge.
3 – John Jaso – 1B – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $2,600)
Albert Pujols at $2,800 may be the smarter bargain play today. I recommended him yesterday so humor me as I highlight a different player.
Like Cervelli, Jaso has enough power to take advantage of a small ballpark. Unlike Cervelli, Jaso has the platoon advantage against Simon. The splits gave Simon the fits last season – lefties hit .282/.352/.509. The Pirates leadoff man is a great platoon hitter with the ability to hit for average, draw walks, and score multiple runs in a game. While he's no Paul Goldschmidt, you have to love the tiny price. Once Simon is out of the game, Jaso can take advantage of a terrible bullpen.
4 – Joe Panik – 2B – San Francisco (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
Another high floor, low ceiling pick, the Giants number two guy has a solid matchup against Ross Stripling and a weary Dodgers bullpen. Stripling is a classic use case for a four or five inning start, but the Dodgers entire middle relief crew worked yesterday in support of Alex Wood. Panik should have another shot at five plate appearances against beatable pitching.
5 – Jake Lamb – 3B – Arizona (FanDuel Price: $2,400)
We can't only subsist on high floor players. Lamb offers power upside at homer friendly Chase Field. With much of the league playing in chilly conditions, Chase Field is one of the best places for April home runs. Lamb, 25, has the raw potential for a power outbreak. He was off to a good start last season before an injury short circuited his season. Once again, he's mashing in the early going while showing good plate discipline. Jason Hammel will work around the zone, giving Lamb a chance to lay into one.
6 – Addison Russell – SS – Chicago (FanDuel Price: 2,400)
Russell will be an fascinating player to watch this year. Cubs stacks will be very common, but Russell may be overlooked since he hits down in the order. As the Brits say, we'll have to suck it and see (they do actually say this). The elite shortstop has all kinds of breakout potential. Plenty of players possess potential, actually accessing it is another matter.
I expect him to learn to prey on weaker pitchers this year while scuffling against higher quality arms. Fortunately, D'Backs starter Robbie Ray leans towards the weak end of the spectrum. Arizona's middle relievers are also exploitable.
7 – Corey Dickerson – OF – Tampa Bay (FanDuel Price: $3,200)
FanDuel's pricing has not been very responsive in the early going. Dickerson, the Rays cleanup hitter versus right-handed pitching, already has two home runs on the season. Camden Yards is ridiculously friendly to left-handed power. As we discussed earlier, Tillman does have some bust potential. This isn't an automatic start. The O's have a tough bullpen especially at the back end.
8 – Kole Calhoun – OF – Texas (FanDuel Price: $3,000)
In the Angels lone start against a righty, Calhoun hit fifth. There's a chance he'll bat second which would make him a better bargain. While Angels Stadium is a pitcher friendly park, Rangers starter A.J. Griffin has proven homer prone at a comparable pitcher's haven. The fly ball pitcher has a career 1.47 HR/9. He's a soft tosser who thrives on infield flies.
Calhoun generally stays on top of the ball which should help him to square up Griffin's offerings. While the Rangers have an elite bullpen on paper, it's been a disaster in the first week.
9 – Joc Pederson – OF – Los Angeles (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
Here's where we reach for upside and ignore the steep downside. Pederson is opposed by formerly good starter Matt Cain. I am not putting any money on a Cain rebound. Even though this game is at the best ball park for pitchers, I expect another high scoring affair. Yesterday, Pederson proved he has the power to leave AT&T Park. He could also make use of the spacious gaps. The risk you ask? He's struck out at a 41 percent rate.
10 – Alex Gordon – OF – KAN (FanDuel Price: $2,500)
Gordon hasn't done much through his first two games. It's hard to really blame him for tepid results against Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. Today, he's opposed by an actual hittable pitcher – Ervin Santana. Sweet Erv has serious platoon issues. With the game in Kansas City, it's hard to count on home runs. Instead, hope for a multi-hit game. If Kansas can chase Santana early, they'll get at the soft underbelly of the Twins bullpen.