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MLB DFS Early Picks Breakdown (Thursday, Aug. 11th): Pay up For Dylan Cease?

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday features a 6-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET.

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MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Framber Valdez ($9,800) Houston Astros (-315) vs. Texas Rangers

Valdez is a fairly obvious top choice today, as his Astros host their in-state rivals. The Rangers are implied for under three runs, and the Astros are -315 favorites, giving Valdez the best Vegas data for any pitcher on the slate.

The drawback on Valdez is his somewhat limited strikeout upside. His strikeout rate for the season sits at just 21.3% — a roughly league average number — but not one we typically associated with a $10,000 pitcher. However, it’s a reasonably short slate, so the lack of higher upside options makes it a bit more tolerable today.

Valdez excels at run prevention. He holds a 2.87 ERA, and all his leading indicators are in the low threes at worst. The likeliest outcome is a very strong game from Valdez, but not a massive score.

He leads both THE BAT and the FantasyLabs projection systems in both median and ceiling on Thursday and should be the slate’s most popular pitcher.


MLB DFS Value Picks

Zach Plesac ($6,900) Cleveland Guardians (-167) at Detroit Tigers

Plesac has the good fortune of taking on the Tigers on Thursday. Not only are they the worst offense in baseball, but they also fired their general manager following last night’s game. The thesis behind playing Plesac today is simple: he’s somewhat cheap and with the best possible matchup.

Plesac’s numbers are nothing special on the season, with ERA and SIERA numbers in the mid-fours and a sub-20% strikeout rate. That’s enough that he should at least have a solid price-considered score against Detroit today, who are implied for just 3.8 runs.

Beyond the matchup, this game has the best pitching weather on the slate and is the second-best park for pitchers based on Park Factor.

He leads the FantasyLabs projections for Pts/Sal while trailing only Valdez in THE BAT.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Dylan Cease ($10,400) Chicago White Sox (-186) at Kansas City Royals

If pivoting to Cease from Valdez — who is expected to lead the slate in ownership — the extra $600 in salary buys you a ton of upside. Cease has been dominant this year, with a 32.8% strikeout rate that’s more than 10% higher than Valdez’s.

It’s also arguably a better matchup for Cease, with the Royals having a 92 wRC+ against right-handed pitching while the Rangers check in at 114 against lefties. While betting markets paint a picture of Valdez as the best option today, there’s a compelling case that it’s actually Cease.

Cease has scored at least 20 DraftKings points in his last six outings. It’s hard to come up with a reason why that should change today, especially with the best Park Factor for pitchers on the slate.

He trails only Valdez in both projection sets while checking in with a slate-leading 9.95 K Prediction.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the Colorado Rockies:

  • Charlie Blackmon (1) ($4,900)
  • Jose Iglesias (2) ($4,200)
  • Brendan Rodgers (3) ($4,700)
  • C.J. Cron (4) ($5,000)
  • Ryan McMahon (5) ($4,600)

The Rockies have scored 21 runs in the first two games of their home series against the Cardinals and now have arguably their easiest pitching matchup yet against Dakota Hudson ($5,500). Hudson has a 4.20 ERA, but his SIERA and xERA numbers are over five.

That discrepancy is primarily due to his unsustainably low 8.5% HR/FB ratio. That’s about three percent below the league average and well below what we expect from a game at Coors Field.

Colorado is fortunately very reasonably priced, as ownership has condensed around their opponents throughout the series. Both teams have implied totals above six on Thursday afternoon, with the Rockies at 6.1 just slightly behind the Cardinals at 6.2.

The Rockies should be popular today, but they’ll be hard to avoid. It’s a strong matchup in the thin air of Coors Field, so I’ll be sure to have some exposure in most of my lineups.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

One of the great features of being a FantasyLabs Pro member is the option to purchase additional items in the FantasyLabs Marketplace.

A new addition to our MLB projections is THE BAT from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals:

The other team playing at Coors is our other top projected stack. St. Louis leads the slate with their 6.2-run implied total this afternoon.

They’re facing German Marquez ($7,600) of the Rockies. Marquez has a 5.18 ERA but has been somewhat better than that number suggests. His xERA and SIERA are both in the mid-fours. He’s essentially the inverse of Hudson of the Cardinals, with most — if not all — of the discrepancy being explained by their home ball parks.

The Cardinals are a bit pricier than the Rockies today but feature better hitters overall. Deciding whether to spend the extra money on better hitters in a worse matchup is a key decision on today’s slate.

I’ll try to fit as many hitters from both teams as possible in my lineups. My priority will be the Rockies, though, thanks to the cheaper prices. Still, I’ll be sure to find room for some of the value plays on St. Louis.

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Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

A.J. Pollock ($3,700 DraftKings; $2,300 FanDuel) Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke)

Pollock is set to leadoff for the White Sox, who have a 4.4-run implied total on Thursday. They have a solid matchup with the Royals’ Zack Greinke ($5,700). Greinke has a 4.58 ERA and 5.42 xERA on the season and is clearly not the pitcher he once was.

Pollock is also having a down year, hitting just .235 with five home runs on the season. However, he’s still reasonably cheap, considering his spot in the order and the team’s implied total. If you’re trying to pack your lineup full of Coors Field hitters, saving salary in another location will be necessary.

Josh Naylor 1B ($4,100 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) Cleveland Guardians at Detroit Tigers (Garrett Hill)

Ownership should be very low on first basemen outside Coors Field, with both Cron and Goldschmidt holding excellent projections. However, Naylor is in a fantastic spot, largely thanks to the matchup with Garrett Hill ($6,200). Hill has an ERA over five through six starts this season, and his secondary numbers are even worse.

Naylor is hitting .269 with 14 home runs through 78 games, so the upside is there for him. Outside of the significantly pricier Jose Ramirez ($5,900 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel) and Amed Rosario ($4,900 DraftKings; $2,900 FanDuel), he has the best projections for Cleveland.

Jose Altuve 2B ($5,600 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (Cole Ragans)

The Astros are implied for 5.3 runs against the Rangers, who are handing the ball to Cole Ragans ($5,400). Ragans is a rookie lefty making just his second career start on Thursday. Coming into the year, he was the 21st best prospect on the Rangers, so it’s not as if he’s some phenom.

That’s good news for the Astros hitters, with Altuve as the best of the bunch. Besides his status as the leadoff hitter, he also has excellent platoon splits against southpaws. He’s hitting .330 off left-handed pitching this season and .325 for his career, and both numbers are well above his marks against right-handers.

While Altuve is expensive, that should keep his ownership down today. He’s an excellent pivot off Rockies and Cardinals for large-field tournaments.

The MLB Breakdown offers data-driven analysis using the FantasyLabs Tools and predictive metrics to highlight notable players.

Thursday features a 6-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

MLB DFS Pitching Picks

MLB DFS Stud Picks

Framber Valdez ($9,800) Houston Astros (-315) vs. Texas Rangers

Valdez is a fairly obvious top choice today, as his Astros host their in-state rivals. The Rangers are implied for under three runs, and the Astros are -315 favorites, giving Valdez the best Vegas data for any pitcher on the slate.

The drawback on Valdez is his somewhat limited strikeout upside. His strikeout rate for the season sits at just 21.3% — a roughly league average number — but not one we typically associated with a $10,000 pitcher. However, it’s a reasonably short slate, so the lack of higher upside options makes it a bit more tolerable today.

Valdez excels at run prevention. He holds a 2.87 ERA, and all his leading indicators are in the low threes at worst. The likeliest outcome is a very strong game from Valdez, but not a massive score.

He leads both THE BAT and the FantasyLabs projection systems in both median and ceiling on Thursday and should be the slate’s most popular pitcher.


MLB DFS Value Picks

Zach Plesac ($6,900) Cleveland Guardians (-167) at Detroit Tigers

Plesac has the good fortune of taking on the Tigers on Thursday. Not only are they the worst offense in baseball, but they also fired their general manager following last night’s game. The thesis behind playing Plesac today is simple: he’s somewhat cheap and with the best possible matchup.

Plesac’s numbers are nothing special on the season, with ERA and SIERA numbers in the mid-fours and a sub-20% strikeout rate. That’s enough that he should at least have a solid price-considered score against Detroit today, who are implied for just 3.8 runs.

Beyond the matchup, this game has the best pitching weather on the slate and is the second-best park for pitchers based on Park Factor.

He leads the FantasyLabs projections for Pts/Sal while trailing only Valdez in THE BAT.


MLB DFS GPP Picks

Dylan Cease ($10,400) Chicago White Sox (-186) at Kansas City Royals

If pivoting to Cease from Valdez — who is expected to lead the slate in ownership — the extra $600 in salary buys you a ton of upside. Cease has been dominant this year, with a 32.8% strikeout rate that’s more than 10% higher than Valdez’s.

It’s also arguably a better matchup for Cease, with the Royals having a 92 wRC+ against right-handed pitching while the Rangers check in at 114 against lefties. While betting markets paint a picture of Valdez as the best option today, there’s a compelling case that it’s actually Cease.

Cease has scored at least 20 DraftKings points in his last six outings. It’s hard to come up with a reason why that should change today, especially with the best Park Factor for pitchers on the slate.

He trails only Valdez in both projection sets while checking in with a slate-leading 9.95 K Prediction.

MLB DFS Hitters

Notable Stack

With the Lineup Builder, it’s easy to incorporate stacks into DFS rosters.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups.

The top DraftKings stack in the FantasyLabs MLB Tournament Model when generated by rating belongs to the Colorado Rockies:

  • Charlie Blackmon (1) ($4,900)
  • Jose Iglesias (2) ($4,200)
  • Brendan Rodgers (3) ($4,700)
  • C.J. Cron (4) ($5,000)
  • Ryan McMahon (5) ($4,600)

The Rockies have scored 21 runs in the first two games of their home series against the Cardinals and now have arguably their easiest pitching matchup yet against Dakota Hudson ($5,500). Hudson has a 4.20 ERA, but his SIERA and xERA numbers are over five.

That discrepancy is primarily due to his unsustainably low 8.5% HR/FB ratio. That’s about three percent below the league average and well below what we expect from a game at Coors Field.

Colorado is fortunately very reasonably priced, as ownership has condensed around their opponents throughout the series. Both teams have implied totals above six on Thursday afternoon, with the Rockies at 6.1 just slightly behind the Cardinals at 6.2.

The Rockies should be popular today, but they’ll be hard to avoid. It’s a strong matchup in the thin air of Coors Field, so I’ll be sure to have some exposure in most of my lineups.


Top Stacking Pick from THE BAT X

One of the great features of being a FantasyLabs Pro member is the option to purchase additional items in the FantasyLabs Marketplace.

A new addition to our MLB projections is THE BAT from Derek Carty of RotoGrinders. With this purchase, you can use his projections alone or create aggregate projections in our Player Models.

The top DraftKings stack from THE BAT when generated by ceiling belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals:

The other team playing at Coors is our other top projected stack. St. Louis leads the slate with their 6.2-run implied total this afternoon.

They’re facing German Marquez ($7,600) of the Rockies. Marquez has a 5.18 ERA but has been somewhat better than that number suggests. His xERA and SIERA are both in the mid-fours. He’s essentially the inverse of Hudson of the Cardinals, with most — if not all — of the discrepancy being explained by their home ball parks.

The Cardinals are a bit pricier than the Rockies today but feature better hitters overall. Deciding whether to spend the extra money on better hitters in a worse matchup is a key decision on today’s slate.

I’ll try to fit as many hitters from both teams as possible in my lineups. My priority will be the Rockies, though, thanks to the cheaper prices. Still, I’ll be sure to find room for some of the value plays on St. Louis.

Get Your First Deposit Matched Up to $100!

Sign up and deposit up to $100

Your deposit will be fully matched

New users only

Other MLB DFS Hitter Picks

A.J. Pollock ($3,700 DraftKings; $2,300 FanDuel) Chicago White Sox at Kansas City Royals (Zack Greinke)

Pollock is set to leadoff for the White Sox, who have a 4.4-run implied total on Thursday. They have a solid matchup with the Royals’ Zack Greinke ($5,700). Greinke has a 4.58 ERA and 5.42 xERA on the season and is clearly not the pitcher he once was.

Pollock is also having a down year, hitting just .235 with five home runs on the season. However, he’s still reasonably cheap, considering his spot in the order and the team’s implied total. If you’re trying to pack your lineup full of Coors Field hitters, saving salary in another location will be necessary.

Josh Naylor 1B ($4,100 DraftKings; $3,300 FanDuel) Cleveland Guardians at Detroit Tigers (Garrett Hill)

Ownership should be very low on first basemen outside Coors Field, with both Cron and Goldschmidt holding excellent projections. However, Naylor is in a fantastic spot, largely thanks to the matchup with Garrett Hill ($6,200). Hill has an ERA over five through six starts this season, and his secondary numbers are even worse.

Naylor is hitting .269 with 14 home runs through 78 games, so the upside is there for him. Outside of the significantly pricier Jose Ramirez ($5,900 DraftKings; $4,000 FanDuel) and Amed Rosario ($4,900 DraftKings; $2,900 FanDuel), he has the best projections for Cleveland.

Jose Altuve 2B ($5,600 DraftKings; $3,700 FanDuel) Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers (Cole Ragans)

The Astros are implied for 5.3 runs against the Rangers, who are handing the ball to Cole Ragans ($5,400). Ragans is a rookie lefty making just his second career start on Thursday. Coming into the year, he was the 21st best prospect on the Rangers, so it’s not as if he’s some phenom.

That’s good news for the Astros hitters, with Altuve as the best of the bunch. Besides his status as the leadoff hitter, he also has excellent platoon splits against southpaws. He’s hitting .330 off left-handed pitching this season and .325 for his career, and both numbers are well above his marks against right-handers.

While Altuve is expensive, that should keep his ownership down today. He’s an excellent pivot off Rockies and Cardinals for large-field tournaments.