The purpose of this article is to outline potential popular selections at every position, then give some sneaky pivot plays with lower ownership rates for tournament consideration. Essentially, it’s your traditional tournament picks segment with an emphasis on getting away from those groupthink selections of the day.
In other words, I’m playing devil’s advocate in going against the grain. Hopefully, this will help find some lower-owned pivot plays to accompany the popular, well-aligned picks in your FanDuel lineups.
We are focusing on the main slate starting at 7:05 ET.
Pivot: Jon Gray – Colorado (FanDuel Price: $6,600)
Most DFS enthusiasts remember Jon Gray as a strikeout machine and subsequent fantasy force last season. Injuries have limited him to just five starts through the first half of 2017, but his last two appearances were very encouraging. Gray notched two wins while allowing a total of four earned runs over 11.2 innings with 15 strikeouts despite pitching in two of the most hitter-friendly environments (at Arizona, vs Cincy). Taking on the Mets in New York gives him a reasonable matchup in a much better ballpark for those taking the bump. Earning a victory may be difficult while going head-to-head with Jacob deGrom, but Gray has enough strikeout upside to garner consideration at this salary.
Pivot: Wilson Ramos – Tampa Bay (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
Ramos made his season debut on June 24, so he may not be entrenched in many people’s fantasy radar quite yet. The veteran backstop wasted no time picking up his productive ways with three homers and nine RBI over his past six starts. I really like the Rays as a somewhat underrated stack against Ricky Nolasco and his .353 wOBA 1.77 HR/9 split vs RHB. Needless to say, this is not the last Tampa hitter with a featured spot.
Pivot: Matt Carpenter – St. Louis (FanDuel Price: $3,800)
Gerrit Cole has struggled mightily against lefties this season (.367 wOBA 2.38 HR/9), and Carpenter holds some nice career numbers against him. Despite that, the higher-than-usual salary along with a discouraging park factor will likely leave Carp with a tame ownership rate. The Cardinal slugger doesn’t have the same power profile as the aforementioned popular picks, but that doesn’t mean you should sleep on him.
Pivot: Whit Merrifield – Kansas City (FanDuel Price: $3,100)
The Royals offense ranked among the league’s worst to begin the season. However, they have been on a nice little run as of late, and Merrifield continues to serve as the catalyst. He’ll hold the platoon advantage over mediocre Texas LHP Martin Perez, and the speedy leadoff hitter is always capable of multiple hits, steals, and runs.
Pivot: Evan Longoria – Tampa Bay (FanDuel Price: $3,100)
Longoria follows the same path outlined earlier with teammate Wilson Ramos. Both may be slightly underrated within this Tampa stack, but I’m really liking the matchup against Ricky Nolasco’s .353 wOBA 1.77 HR/9 split vs RHB. You can throw in Steven Souza, Logan Morrison, and Corey Dickerson (maybe even Mallex Smith) when building multiple tournament lineups.
Pivot: Stephen Drew – Washington (FanDuel Price: $2,100)
Sure, Stephen Drew isn’t an exciting fantasy play, but he’s near minimum salary with a pretty good situation. He’ll step into hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark against mediocre RHP Tim Adleman … On top of that, the shortstop position is surprisingly sparse considering a full 15-game slate, so you have room to deviate from the norm.
Pivot 1: Odubel Herrera – Philadelphia (FanDuel Price: $2,200)
Herrera was pegged as a trendy sleeper in preseason fantasy drafts. With upside in power, speed, and batting average, there was certainly a lot to like. However, Odubel was miserable throughout most of the season’s first half, resulting in a near-minimum price designation. Perhaps the combination of an extended rest and playing in Milwaukee’s hitter-friendly park against RHP Zach Davies (.333 wOBA 1.29 HR/9 vs LHB) will ignite the Philly outfielder’s potential.
Pivot 2: Max Kepler – Minnesota (FanDuel Price: $2,800)
Max Kepler would be a much better fantasy asset if he didn’t play half of his games at Target Field. He constantly smokes line drives off the annoyingly tall wall in right-center field. Those patented liners would likely land as homeruns in Houston’s Minute Maid Park, which profiles nicely to left-handed power. Astros RHP Charlie Morton has been steady this season, but it’s not out of the question that Kepler could get ahold of one.