RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 14

Where does the time go? Not only is the season at its halfway point, but there are also just two weeks left for RotoWire readers to qualify for the championship round of the 2016 RWBC tournament. The top-10 from each event are entered into the finale on July 22nd, which carries a $5,000 prize pool. There are plenty of other goodies to be won along the way, so don’t miss the opportunity to grab your share. Full contest rules can be found here.

Freshman Hooper Hype: Josh Jackson and Harry Giles

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be breaking down some of the most and hyped freshman entering the NCAA in the 2016-17 season, as well as providing readers with the best mixtape video I’ve found of each. Today, I’ll start with the consensus top-2 players recruited this year: Josh Jackson, a shooting guard headed to Bill Self’s already impressive Kansas squad, and power forward Harry Giles, a very important part of Duke’s newest powerhouse recruiting class.

Friday Fantasy Pickup: Dee Gordon, 2B, Marlins

Gordon was suspended 80 games in late April after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. He is still four weeks away from returning, but his ownership levels will rapidly increase as we close in on his return date of July 28. The rare opportunity to pick up a player of his caliber is one that, regardless of your roster situation, is too good to pass up.

There’s little doubt that, upon his activation, he will immediately jump back into the top tier of second baseman. The 28-year-old speedster will return with 61 games remaining on the Marlins’ schedule. Throughout his five-year career, Gordon has averaged one stolen base every 2.5 games — which puts him among the all-time best baserunners in that regard. Using these numbers, last season’s stolen-base champion is good for nearly 25 swipes between his return date and the end of the regular season. He’s got the green light practically every time he’s on base, and Gordon will be plenty motivated to try and surpass even this high projection.

RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 13

Some 240 years ago, a group of no-nonsense, wig-headed renegades declared themselves free of tyranny and oppression from their over-bearing government mark the brith of this great nation. Many will take this long weekend to celebrate with family and friends. You’ll eat BBQ, drink beer and and do like The Simpsons told us “celebrate the independence your country by blowing up a small part of it.” But what summer weekend would be complete without also mixing in a little MLB action.

Friday you have yet another chance to earn yourself a spot in the 2016 Rotowire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship with your weekly chance to qualify for the Championship round to be held on July 22. A top-10 finish in the weekly contest will earn you a ticket for the big dance.

Rotowire Expert Competition

Brian Pelowski put together a 200-point effort in the week 12 competition to top the field. A 41.1-point performance from James Loney along with solid nights from Mookie Betts, Manny Machado and Nolan Arrenado helped him best the field.

With three weeks left to go in the overall competition, Josh Fathollahi has put nearly 100 points between himself and the next best performer as he looks to finish out strong and wrap up the 15-week expert competition. Derek VanRiper and Andrew Par remain within striking distance, but there is very little margin for error.

Here’s how the top-11 for the year shakes out. Why top-11? Because everyone knows it just gives a much more complete picture than presenting just the top-10.

  1. Josh Fathollahi (jashfath) – 1651.8
  2. Derek VanRiper (rotowiredvr) – 1566
  3. Andrew Parr (aparr013) – 1561.1
  4. Aaron Quinn (aaronq) – 1519
  5. James Seltzer (schweppy23) – 1513.2
  6. Scott Jenstad (oaktownsj) – 1513.1
  7. Ken Crites (kencrw) – 1512.3
  8. Ronny Mor (ronnymor2) – 1507.3
  9. Jake Letarski (rotojakeski) – 1506.7
  10. AJ Scholz (bcswimmer10) -1503.7
  11. Brett Goldhammer (bretskyball) – 1480.10

Also, be sure to continue to keep tabs on the race with the full leaderboard.

Daily Strategy

Many think the DFS game takes hours and hours of prep work each and every day. And yes, having the time to thoroughly research the matchups, lineups and players can be time consuming. The great news, however, is that we’ve already done the work for you. My DFS routine has three simple steps. First, identify a solid slate — I don’t like playing with too many staggered starts given FanDuel’s lineup lock policy. Next, find your pitcher. Since you’re only starting one, just pony up the cash. And finally, plug that pitcher into RotoWire’s Daily MLB Lineup Oprtimizer and let the magic of the interwebs find you some value. Sure, there’s always room for tweaks, but really, the heavy lifting is already done. It’s as simple as that.

Value Plays

SP Jason Hammel Chicago Cubs @ New York Mets

Fanduel Price: $8,800

For a few years now, Jason Hammel has remained one of the more underrated starters in the game. Since 2014, he’s quietly posted a 3.40 ERA, 1.12 WHIP while racking up 8.3 K/9. These are top-30 type starter numbers in the fantasy game but he’s rarely recognized as having ace-type upside. Hammel is in the midst of his best season as a pro, holding a 2.58 ERA and 1.08 WHIP through his first 15 starts this season. Despite a recent dip in strikeouts, he’s remained effective and  gets a solid matchup Friday against a Mets offense that ranks in the bottom third in the league against right-handed pitching. Take the plunge.

SS Jonathan Villar Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

Fanduel Price: $3,300

He remains one of the biggest breakout bats of the 2016 season, bringing an overall .299/.380/.430 line into Friday’s action. Villar has done his best work against left-handed pitching, posting a .321 average with 18 runs scored  in 81 at-bats against southpaws this season. He’ll get lefty Jaime Garcia on Friday and makes a solid investment with some power/speed upside at an affordable price.

OF Ryan Braun Milwaukee Brewers @ St. Louis Cardinals

Fanduel Price: $3,800

Sticking with a little Brew-crew mini-stack, lets turn our attention Ryan Braun who enters the game riding an 11-game hitting streak over which time he’s put together a .409/.458/.705 line with a couple of homers, eight runs scored, eight RBI and a steal. Braun’s body has been anything but durable in the recent past, but he’s clearly feeling good right now and, hey, we only care about today!

High Risk/High Reward

1B Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants

Fanduel Price: $3,900

Goldy’s .350/.432/.563 performance in June made everyone forget about his sluggish start of the season. He remains one of the top true hitters in baseball and certainly warrants being one of the pricier bats in his lineup. A Friday showdown with Johnny Cueto may give some potential owners pause about inserting the big slugger into their lineup, but Goldy has done solid work when given the chance against Cueto, notching six hits in 16 at-bats with a home run. Of course, Cueto is capable of dominating just about every time he takes the bump, so risk remains.

Steer Clear

SP Johnny Cueto San Francisco Giants @ Arizona Diamondbacks

Fanduel Price: $10,700

Cueto is the unquestioned top pitcher going on Friday, but the Diamondbacks at Chase Field is a tough draw and the ace is coming off his worst start of the season. I wouldn’t necessarily run from this matchup, but I would certainly be wary of making the investment.

Thursday Fantasy Pickup: Kendrys Morales, DH, Royals

Coming off a 22-homer, 106-RBI season at age 32, Morales certainly looked like he had plenty in the tank heading into this season. Most of the first two months of the 2016 campaign appeared to dispel that notion however, as the veteran’s average sat at .191 as recently as June 5.  Morales awoke from his slumber at that point and hasn’t looked back. He’s raised his average 64 points since that date, while hitting safely in 15 of 18 games over that span. That stretch includes a pair of three-hit and four-hit efforts, along with four homers, four doubles and 16 RBI.

Morales sports one of baseball’s hottest bats over the last five games in particular, during which he’s hit .650 (13-for-20) with a double, two homers, five RBI and five runs. The month of June has seen him generate a .386/.440/.590 line overall, salvaging a season that looked beyond repair at one point. While the majority of Morales’ offensive numbers are still in rehabilitative mode, they’re firmly on the road back to getting in line with his career averages. His strikeout rate remains a tad on the elevated side for his standards, as his current 19.2 percent figure is his highest since 2012, but his hard contact rate is encouragingly up to 37.9 percent, which matches his previous career high with the Angels in 2009. He’s held on to some favorable spots in the heart of the Royals’ order as well despite his struggles, as Morales has hit either third (once), cleanup or fifth in 57 of the 71 games he’s appeared in.

Given his track record and ascension back towards his solid career numbers, he currently makes for an appealing option in virtually any format.

Other Recent Recommendations: Dae-Ho Lee, Tyler Anderson, Seung Hwan Oh, Justin Bour, Daniel Mengden

Wednesday Fantasy Pickup: Dae-Ho Lee, 1B, Mariners

The Mariners brought Lee into the fold in February with a one-year, $4 million dollar deal, and he won the platoon job at first base with a strong all-around performance in spring training. The towering infielder/DH started the season in the aforementioned time share with fellow newcomer Adam Lind, but the right-handed hitting Lee has progressively carved out additional playing time.

He entered June with a respectable .267/.313/.547 season line, but has picked things up considerably this month. With the calendar about to flip to July, Lee boasts a .314/.360/.471 line over 70 at-bats this month, which has brought his season average up 23 points overall to .290. He rattled off four consecutive multi-hit efforts to start June and has multiple hits in his last two contests as part of a modest three-game hitting streak.