Top Fantasy Players You Want On Your Teams This Year

at 1:33 pm | By

By Anna Paone

bryce harper

Credit: Keeton Gale/Shutterstock

With daily fantasy sports, you have to keep on top of that day’s rankings. Fortunately, many ancillary sites exist for this, in addition to your site of choice for playing your daily fantasy games. As we know, anything can happen from day to day in any sport, especially in the wild 162-game season of baseball, so the long-term safe fantasy bets may not necessarily be your risk of choice every day. You’ll also want to keep in mind AL- or NL-only settings, and which players are doing better in these versus in league-to-league matchups.

Let’s look at baseball’s FanDuel rankings for May 17 as an example. Keep in mind that it’s a Thursday, and many teams might be off. On RotoGrinders, I was surprised to see Mikie Mahtook in first for batters with a 4.52 Pt/$/K (projection/salary/1000) projection. He was also expected to score 9.95 points via FanDuel’s system. As an NL fan playing the long game in my own league, I didn’t know much about the Tigers outfielder, formerly with the Rays and recently called up from Triple-A. At the moment, the 28-year-old only has a .182 batting average, but he had two RBIs on May 13. He’s also a great value salary-wise, and is cheaper on FanDuel than on DraftKings. On a gut level–maybe not always the most helpful during fantasy, but still–I see a journeyman eager to prove himself at The Show. Let’s hope he keeps up those ribeyes.

The Grandyman was next–Curtis Granderson. His average in his last year with my beloved Mets was .228, but I was a big fan of his–he’s a veteran and a good leader in the clubhouse. Still, that doesn’t always translate into fantasy stats, and at 37, I was impressed he was so high up. But he has the “platoon advantage” against his pitching matchup for the day–he’s facing a pitcher, Oakland’s Andrew Triggs, with an opposing dominant hand. He’s got respectable .432 OBP. He’s a whopping -1200 cheaper on FanDuel than he is on SeatGeek–a deal, if you ask me. And he’s expected to score 10.99 points tonight in Toronto.

You get the idea with batters–it’s all about comprehensive stats, opponents, and value, (almost) like in a regular game. Now let’s look at pitchers. First up is St. Louis’ Luke Weaver, pitching against the second-place Phillies. I enjoyed looking at the Vegas-style stats here–his line was -143. I’m no betting expert, but from my experience playing basic cover-the-spread games, I know that’s good. Vegas also projected that St. Louis would score 4.6 runs. Maybe not a slugfest, but definitely good enough for a team with strong pitching to acquit itself. In the final analysis, he was expected to “score” 34.38 points (though I can’t quite wrap my mind around the idea of a pitcher “scoring”). On May 11 he went five scoreless–and if you’re not following the Cardinals, you can find information like this with an easy click on fantasy sites. On this occasion, he did need 92 pitches over five innings, although that seems about standard now.

Next up, we have veteran David Price. The Red Sox hurler is a little more expensive than Weaver and some of his counterparts, but he’s still a good bet with 33.64 points and a 4.55 Pt/$/K. He’s struggled of late with carpal tunnel syndrome. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a pretty bad diagnosis for a pitcher. It also means he’s only had two starts this season. But he still struck out six in his last start on May 12, and got the win with a solid 5.1 IP. It’s all very what-have-you-done-for-me-lately.

Where are some other big-name players? Well, for pitchers, they may not be starting any given day–the whole five-day rest thing and all. This gives you a good chance to take some risks and learn more about the lesser-known starters (not that David Price is lesser-known!), especially on Thursdays and Wednesdays. You’ll also see below that you have to take into account their salary and value, which can, depending on how you’re playing, make a big name less attractive.

As for some A-list position players, Mike Trout has got a $4.7K salary on FanDuel. His Angels are currently projected for 4.2 runs in Vegas, and 12.24 points in fantasy. His Pt/$/K, however, is 2.6, taking into account his salary. For me as a baseball viewer, that was a bit of an adjustment–figuring out value as well as results, and I know I’d catch this Trout if I could. But that’s what real GMs and front offices are doing every day.

Speaking of the Angels–and who isn’t, these days?–Shohei Ohtani, listed in his outfielder capacity, faces Chris Archer of the Rays. He’s got a nice -1200 salary differential and is expected to score 9.3 fantasy points, but only has a 2.74 Pt/$/K. Perhaps a little risky. But if I’m not fretting about his value as part of my team, I’m happy to stay up late on a Thursday night on the East Coast and watch the historic one-two punch of Trout and Ohtani.

Don’t forget to take into account the weather, which can take a huge toll on daily fantasy! You can either find this info on your preferred fantasy website, or, if you’re really into it, add some baseball cities to the weather alerts on your iPhone. Can’t hurt to check, right? And if you’re getting into daily fantasy, you’re probably reading extensively on different games, anyway!

On May 17, there were no NBA games, and we’re in the thick of the playoffs right now. The next game sees the Celtics and LeBron–I mean the Cavs–face off on Saturday, May 21. But remember to check back on Saturday morning, as NBA projections are also listed every day when there is a game.