RotoWire Baseball Championship – 1st Qualifier

Welcome to the 2018 Major League Baseball season and also another edition of the RotoWire/FanDuel Fantasy Baseball Championship.

This is the first of six qualifiers that will run from April 4 through June 13, giving you six opportunities to land a spot in the championship round, which takes place on June 27 – where you’ll compete for an extra $2,000 in cash prizes plus RotoWire subscriptions. If you finish in the top-25 on the overall leaderboard, you are as good as in the championship contest. Inquiring minds can learn more by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the experts will compete against each other for a separate championship. We will keep track of the results here and come back before each contest to see how you fared against the experts.

When it comes to DFS strategy, why not take advantage of some of RotoWire’s gifts this season? Use tools like the lineup optimizer in conjunction with our daily lineups and weather reports in order to take home the gold. As of this morning, there was a chance of rain in the Seattle at San Francisco game.

For the first contest, it will be a short schedule with only five games in the contest. The highest scoring games could be  Toronto against the White Sox along with Milwaukee against St. Louis as Vegas has the over/under for both games at nine runs.

In terms of changes to FanDuel, if you haven’t played a baseball contest yet the most noticeable is that FanDuel has combined the catcher and first base into one spot. Good move on their part. The catching position continues to be one of the shallowest offensive positions in the majors. It has been going downhill the last few years and this could be a continuing future trend as the best hitters shy away from playing behind the plate especially after being drafted i.e Kyle Schwarber.

Value Picks

P Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners at San Francisco Giants

FanDuel Price: $7,500

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Many felt that King Felix would be ready to descend this season with his days as King starting to elude him. But Hernandez was impressive in his first outing of the season, a 2-1, victory over Cleveland going 5.1 innings, allowing only two hits and striking out four. San Francisco is struggling out of the game and Hernandez has pitched well in the past against the Giants.

P Jhouyls Chacin, Milwaukee Brewers versus St. Louis Cardinals

FanDuel Price: $6,000

Buyers beware of this pick. Chacin has some conflicting numbers, but his next to cheapest pitcher on the slate (the cheapest being White Sox hurler Carson Fulmer at $5,800). On the positive, Chacin was 9-3 while posting a 1.79 ERA across 16 starts at home last season. On the negative, he is 0-5 with a 5.10 ERA against the Cardinals in six games in his career. But it is a short slate tonight so there are slim pickings. If you choose Chacin, you can get high priced bats like Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado along with Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson.

SS Tim Anderson, Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

FanDuel Price: $2,800

This might be the breakout year for the Chicago White Sox shortstop. He started the season with two home runs and added another on Tuesday. Also, Anderson has very well against the Blue Jays, a .292 batting average with three home runs and a .854 OPS against the Blue Jays. He is also hitting .333 at the Rogers Centre.

C Welington Castillo, Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

FanDuel Price: $2,700

There’s no doubt most of the season you will be choosing a first baseman over a catcher for the new C/1b slot on FanDuel, but if you plan on picking some pricey players you are going to have to go scrubs somewhere on your lineup. I really liked Castillo as a low-price catcher in season-long and he so far in the early going has not disappointed.

1B Eric Thames, Milwaukee Brewers versus St. Louis Cardinals

FanDuel Price: $3,000

Thames has mainly been the odd man out in the Brewers configuration with all the acquisitions in the offseason so there is no guarantee he will be in the lineup. Thames has a good history, although it is a small sample against Cards’ pitcher Carlos Martinez with a 1.117 OPS against him and a home run in 10 at-bats.

2b Jonathan Villar, Milwaukee Brewers versus St. Louis Cardinals

FanDuel Price: $2,500

Villar is looking to rebound after a disappointing 2017 season. He has been considered one of the players to bounce back this season. In the early going the results are mixed. Villar though has had good results against Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez with a .346 batting average along with an OPS of .897 in 23 at bats.

High Risk/High Reward

3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres

FanDuel Price: $4,500

Yeah it’s Petco, but the Padres have changed some of the height of the wall so the 2018 Petco might not be like the previous versions. Arenado hit a pair of home runs with eight RBI last season and a 1.083 OPS at Petco. He has eight home runs and 22 RBI in his career at Petco. He is even better against Padres starter Clayton Richard with a 1.667 OPS and 10 hits in 16 at-bats.

OF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies at San Diego Padres

FanDuel Price: $4,900

It might be chalk, but Blackmon has started out red hot and Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard has not fared well against the Rockies. It could be a night of stars and scrubs where you can fill out around Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

C/1B Justin Smoak, Toronto Blue Jays versus Chicago White Sox

FanDuel Price: $3,600

Smoak has come out on fire (last time I use that and overused). As of last year, he finally realized his potential after falling short with Seattle and smacking 38 home runs and 90 RBI. He has not stopped so far with a pair of home runs and nine RBI along with an OPS of 1.234 in the first six games. Last season Smoak hit three homes runs and six RBI in only six games.

Steer Clear

P Sean Manaea, Oakland A’s versus Texas Rangers

FanDuel Price: $8,300

With the short slate Manaea is not only the second highest priced pitcher, but also the second highest price player overall. While Manaea started with a quality first start, his history against Texas has not been good as the Rangers have hit .333 against Manaea with a .833 OPS.