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RotoWire & FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship – Week 1

It's time for another season of the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship, in which we RotoWire experts compete against one another while you, our users, get to enjoy a tourney of your own in which you can win $5,000 in extra cash prizes, free subscriptions and the distinctly badass title of RotoWire Baseball Champion!

Every Friday from April 8 to July 15, FanDuel will run a $10, multi-entry contest exclusively for RotoWire users – all you have to do to money is finish in the top half – that's not so hard, right? Finish in the top 10 in any week and you'll get a ticket to the championship round, which takes place July 22.

After last year's disappointing tournament for me personally (with a few bright, shining moments), I'm ready to get this thing started on the right foot. So let's get into it. But first, some useful info.

Helpful Contest Links

Now let's help you prepare for Week 1!

Strategy Tip

RotoWire subscribers have exclusive access to a number of tools that can help you put together a winning lineup – from batter vs. pitcher stats to our automated Lineup Optimizer to the article content we put out on a daily basis. Like our cave-dwelling ancestors, you must learn to use the available tools to make fire, slay woolly mammoths for food and bone huts, and craft the perfect FanDuel lineup.

Value Picks

SPErvin Santana, Minnesota Twins @ Kansas City Royals

FanDuel Price: $6,900

After rain shortened his first start of 2016 to just two innings, Santana will look to restart his season with a flourish in Kansas City, where he spent a successful 2013 campaign. Big Erv has friendly career numbers at Kauffman Stadium (a 3.62 ERA in 26 career starts) and faces a Royals team that hasn't really gotten the bats going. As long as he can stay away from Eric Hosmer, who's given him a lot of problems in his career, Santana's in good position to return a profit as the eighth-cheapest pitcher on the board. Keep in mind that FanDuel doesn't dock pitchers for putting men on base, so Santana's occasionally high-WHIP ways shouldn't hurt him, and with the promising-but-unreliable Yordano Ventura on the other side, this is a winnable road matchup.

3BEvan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays @ Baltimore Orioles

FanDuel Price: $3,000

I'm not much of a Longoria fan these days – for season-long leagues, his numbers don't match his name brand – but there's a word for what he's done to O's starter Chris Tillman in his career: domination. Over just 49 at-bats, Longoria has 10 – yes, 10! – extra-base hits, including six homers. That's part of a broader campaign of destruction that he's put up against the Orioles – 29 homers in 125 career games. Yeah, that'll do. Longo's also off to a decent start in 2016, having smacked a couple doubles among his five hits in 17 season-opening at-bats. And that pleasantly low price lets you fit plenty of other star power into the ol' lineup.

OFYasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers @ San Francisco Giants

FanDuel Price: $3,700

Sticking with my theme of taking hitters on the road in this season-opening lineup, Puig has looked absolutely electric to open the season – how does 8-for-15 with two triples and a homer strike you? I see no reason that run of success should come to an end against the latter-day version of Matt Cain, who at this point in his career is nothing more than a relatively soft-tossing, error-prone bottom-of-the-rotation body. You'll need to check the weather report as this game approaches to make sure they'll get it in, but it looks optimistic enough as I write this.

Sleeper

OF Randal Grichuk, St. Louis Cardinals @ Atlanta Braves

FanDuel Price: $2,400

With six strikeouts in 10 at-bats to start the year, Grichuk hasn't exactly offered inspiration to current or potential fantasy owners, but better times could be ahead in Friday's matchup against the sad-sack Braves, who are rolling out sophomore righty Matt Wisler – a guy who lacks swing-and-miss stuff and has also been prone to giving up the long ball, Grichuk's specialty. A day out of the lineup followed by a team off day, not to mention the plus matchup, could be just what Grichuk needs to get his bat going in 2016. And for the price, there's not a lot of risk here.

High Risk, High Reward

1BPaul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs

FanDuel Price: $4,900

Ah, finally a guy playing at home. It's rarely a bad day to roll out Goldschmidt, especially in the hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field (although he doesn't discriminate – the guy hits everywhere). Coming off his first season with an OPS over 1.000 (not to mention 21 steals as the cherry on top), Goldy is the consensus No. 1 first baseman in fantasy, and he should prove it here in a matchup against a Cubs team that he's hit extremely well in his career. The 28-year-old is a career .370/.482/.685 hitter in 25 games against the boys from Wrigley, including a small-sample 3-for-8 performance (including a double and a homer) against Friday's opposing starter, Jason Hammel.

An honorable mention goes to Edwin Encarnacion, who's got numbers against Boston starter Joe Kelly and comes in at $4,100, third-most-expensive among first basemen.

Steer Clear

OF Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

FanDuel Price: $3,100

Sure, he's coming off a two-homer game, he's hitting .500 and the price looks friendly, but Bruce has a brutal lefty-on-lefty matchup in this one against Francisco Liriano, who's struck him out seven times in 24 at-bats while allowing just four hits (one was a homer, at least). Although Bruce saw his power numbers surge back to something approaching normal levels last year, he also hit .226, while only four of his 26 homers came against lefties (against whom he had a devilish .666 OPS). He's started this year off 2-for-2 against lefties – want to bet on that continuing? With a slate this big, you don't need to take a risk like this.