Everything you’ll need to stay above the payline in today’s DFS MLB Cash Games!
…And we’re back!
Welcome to Opening Day 2021, everybody. I hope that each of you have enjoyed the offseason and have been keeping safe during the ongoing pandemic. But today begins a brand-new season for us not only as baseball fans, DFS players and Elite Mafia members but as a collective.
Opening Day has always represented a newfound hope. Another chance to be optimistic about the year ahead. An opportunity to right all of the wrongs from the previous year. Growing up in Chicago, we always had a phrase, “Hope Spring is eternal.” That was a veiled way of admitting that both of our teams were going to suck, but before the season started, we could still be motivated and optimistic.
You see, this is going to be a gigantic year for us at Elite Fantasy. Although our crew did an amazing job in doing everything we could to keep up with the shortened 2020 MLB season, it just wasn’t the same. But as I sit here writing my first DFS MLB Cash Game intro of the year, we all have reason to be hopeful of the season ahead. I’ve spent most of the last three months preparing for this day. Those of you who were with us for the NFL season know that when I have time to prepare, real good things tend to happen.
Daily fantasy baseball hasn’t changed all that much over the last year. A great majority of our opponents are still going to use garbage projections and lineup optimizers to build their lineups. They will rely on Las Vegas to tell them who and where to invest. We will still see lineup trains occupying way too many entries, even in the single-entry contests. So, we’ll continue to stay ahead of the lineup trains and thus stay in the money night after glorious night.
So let me officially welcome you to DFS MLB 2021!!
If you are new to the #EliteMafia, let me start by thanking you for your trust in us this season. If you are a long-time subscriber here, you already know the deal. We are going to fight, scrap and work every single day to make sure that all of you make profits in the 2021 MLB season. The veterans of the Elite Mafia know what to expect. But for those who need a quick refresher, here is the plan for this DFS MLB season:
Cash Game Breakdown – The article you are currently reading.
DFS MLB Lineup Coach – Daily LIVE coaching session assisting with all aspects of DFS MLB.
DFS MLB Cheatsheet – A quick guide to the top plays at each position and salary level.
GPP Writeup – Using experience, game theory & advanced stats to uncover low-owned stars.
Core 4 Livestream – Daily Livestream that covers all DFS sports featuring guests from throughout the Elite Sports Network
So, what is new? Well, the tables within this article are optimized for your researching pleasure. The data alone is worth well over $1200 if you were to purchase separately. You would also have to sort through it all yourself each and every day instead of us presenting it to you. Also, our brand new DFS MLB Lineup Coach is here six days a week (not Sundays) to help you research, build and maintain winning lineups. One of our analysts will be in chat every single day to help guide you toward the payline. PLEASE take full advantage of this time as this is the only place in the world where you can get a proven winning DFS player helping you achieve your goals in a one-on-one setting. I urge you to challenge us each and every day to give you the tools to become and remain a winning player.
In case you are new or just forgot because it has been a while since we’ve had an MLB season, we have a ton of great tools for you here at Elite Fantasy.
Be Sure to Bookmark:
Thursday, April 1st
Now that you are familiar with everything we are doing this DFS MLB season, let’s turn our attention to the Opening Day slate. As usual, the two DFS powerhouses – FanDuel and DraftKings – have wasted no time in having two different main slates today. FanDuel has included the Blue Jays/Yankees & Indians/Tigers games on their main slate, while DraftKings chose to leave them off and just have the nine games beginning at 2:10pm ET. For the purposes of this article, we are only focused on the main slate today. Really, that will be our focus every day, honestly, so if you are an early slate player, rarely will I have plays in here for you. We will be bringing back our Early Bird writeup, however, for those of you who do love to dive into those early slates, so don’t worry.
With so many aces on the mound today, there are plenty of great pitching choices here. The key to our cash game builds today will be what value bats are we most confident in, and will those cheap bats allow us to pay all of the way up to the top for a Bieber, Cole or Darvish?
If you have heard any of my preseason thoughts on fantasy baseball this year or any of our DFS MLB strategy sessions on the SiriusXM show, you are well aware that I would like to pay down at pitcher if possible. But please remember that we don’t have to pay down if we indeed love our value bats on a given slate. I don’t think we will ever have as many value bats as we do here today. I’m quite surprised at the lack of awareness by these DFS sites in terms of their pricing here on Opening Day. But we play the hand that we are dealt, and as you will read below, I’m quite confident in our build today.
Alright, enough of the foreplay and pregame generalities. It is time to step up to the plate and take that swing that for some of us has been two full years in the making. It’s time to PLAY BALL!
Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees – Chilly and overcast with winds blowing out to right field at 15-18 MPH. A slight boost for LHH in an already friendly Yankee Stadium.
Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers – Cold with temperatures below freezing at first pitch. It will be cloudy with winds at 15 MPH blowing out to straight center field. Wind chill will be in the mid-20’s, a boost for pitchers.
Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox – Rain early in Boston so the field could be wet. Game time temps will be in the mid-40’s with overcast skies and a crosswind blowing toward Pesky’s Pole at 13-16 MPH.
For more info and updated forecast, please check out our MLB Weather Center.
- San Diego Padres: -230
- Chicago Cubs: -210
- Colorado Rockies: -195
- Cleveland Indians: -190
- New York Yankees: -175
Highest Run Expectancy
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 6.33
- Colorado Rockies: 5.50
- Chicago Cubs: 5.33
- Boston Red Sox: 5.23
- Kansas City Royals: 4.96
- San Diego Padres: 4.52
Lowest Run Expectancy
- Philadelphia Phillies: 3.12
- St. Louis Cardinals: 3.38
- Detroit Tigers: 3.44
- Milwaukee Brewers: 3.61
- Miami Marlins: 3.68
- Toronto Blue Jays: 3.71
Today’s Best Pitchers
The Best (FanDuel/DraftKings)
1) Shane Bieber, RHP, Indians ($11,500/$XXX) – The Biebs isn’t available on DK because they didn’t include the first two games in their main slate, but if by chance you play the early slate there, Bieber would top my list, as well. While I think his 2020 numbers have a lot of noise in them, we can’t deny how dominant he was in those 12 starts. The addition of a cut fastball and less four-seam use proved to be a winning formula for the young right-hander in 2020. Bieber was 2-0 with 21 strikeouts in 14.2 innings and had a 0.68 WHIP against the Tigers last season. Newsflash: The Tigers aren’t any better here in 2021 as they hit just .226 (4th worst) with a .282 wOBA (3rd worst) in Spring Training while striking out 30.9% of the time (5th worst). He’s going to dominate in this matchup, and the Indians, despite losing star SS Francisco Lindor this offseason, are still the fourth-biggest favorites on the board for Opening Day.
2) Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Rays ($10,000/$8800) – Perhaps my favorite name of a pitch ever, Glasnow is now throwing a “slutter,” which is a mix of his slider and a cutter. He is using the pitch in place of his circle change that caused forearm issues for him last year after just 11 starts. Sure enough, Glasnow rang up a crazy 27 strikeouts in just 14.2 innings this spring, the highest K% of any pitcher with over 12 IP. The Marlins overperformed in 2020 and are indeed difficult to strikeout. But their lineup is extremely right-handed, and Glasnow’s new pitch mix is lethal against RHH. It’s a little riskier on FD, where his price is over five digits, and I am a little concerned with the win potential. But on DK, he is significantly underpriced.
3) Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Cubs ($9100/$7700) – If you just want a nice, simple, steady performer on the hill at a reasonable price on this Opening Day, Hendricks is likely your man. While most of the MLB talking heads (including myself) are projecting a demise for the Cubs this season, their lineup still packs a punch and has destroyed Chad Kuhl over the years (.398 wOBA). In 13.2 innings against the Pirates last season, Henricks surrendered just three runs and generating nine strikeouts. Hendricks is what we call a “cash game pitcher.” He isn’t going to rack up double-digit strikeouts in most outings, but he keeps the ball down, goes deep into games (since Joe Maddon left) and limits damage. Our resident weatherman, Ted Schuster, tells me that the weather at Wrigley Field is as miserable as you can imagine. The wind is blowing in, and the wind chill will be around 26 degrees at gametime.
4) Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins ($8500/$6500) – Remember when I told you that I was “a little concerned with the win potential” for Tyler Glasnow? That is because my game model is showing a closer matchup here than what Vegas seems to believe. Alcantara draws the Opening Day start here because of his sensational Spring Training performance. The 25-year-old right-hander was 1-0 with a 1.33 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 27 strikeouts in 20.1 innings this Spring. Remember that the Rays lose the benefit of the DH for this series and are playing at the third most favorable ballpark for runs and second most favorable for HR’s over the last two seasons. Alcantara has done well against this Rays lineup, limiting them to a .214 average and just four extra-base hits.
5) Nathan Eovaldi, RHP, Red Sox ($8100/$6300) – For those (like me) who weren’t paying close attention last season, Eovaldi put together a fine season going 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 9.7 K/9 over his nine starts and 48.1 innings. The Red Sox coaching staff ironed out his repertoire, eliminating his struggling slider in favor of more cutters. While the cut fastball didn’t provide good results itself (.367 wOBA), it did help his four-seam fastball and specifically his curveball play up big time. Meanwhile, the Orioles are one of the youngest teams in MLB and are full of free swingers who posted the fourth-lowest OBP (.680) this Spring. With wet grass, chilly temperatures and a severe cross-wind that will benefit his curveball, this is one of the better pay-down options for us in this slate.
Pitchers to Target Against
1) Chad Kuhl, RHP, Pirates – 19.0% HR/FB%, 38.5% hard contact rate in 2020, .361 career wOBA vs. LHH.
2) German Marquez, RHP, Rockies – 37.4% hard contact rate against in 2020, .296/.345/.414, 5.68 ERA, .330 wOBA, 45.8% hard contact rate in Coors Field in 2020.
3) Kyle Gibson, RHP, Rangers – 26.7% HR/FB%, 1.60 HR/9, 37.7% hard contact rate against, just 9.0 swinging strike rate in 2020.
We have a brand new stolen base target tool on the site. I strongly recommend looking it over in order to find a value play or to properly assess how likely a player is to steal tonight. (click on link above)
Hot Streaks (Hottest Hitters at Each Position)
Last seven days of Spring Training
C – Willians Astudillo, Twins – .444/.444/1.222, 2 HR, 3 RBI
1B – C.J. Cron, Rockies – .500/.600/1.375, 2 HR
2B – Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox – .333/.385/.833, 2 HR, 2 RBI
3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates – .364/.364/.636, 1 HR, 0 K
SS – Willy Adames, Rays – .545/.545/.1.455, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 1 2B
OF – Bryce Harper, Phillies – .500/.643/1.200, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 2 K
OF – Joc Pederson, Cubs – .571/.571/2.000, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 2B
OF – Austin Hays, Orioles – .455/.538/.1.273, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 SB
Batter vs. Pitcher
C – Roberto Perez (CLE), JT Realmuto (PHI), Travis d’Arnaud (ATL)
1B – Jay Bruce (NYY), Anthony Rizzo (CHC), Freddie Freeman (ATL), Carlos Santana (KC)
2B – Ozzie Albies (ATL), Tommy Edman (STL), Garrett Hampson (COL), Adam Frazier (PIT)
3B – Kris Bryant (CHC), Austin Riley (ATL), Manny Machado (SD), Jose Ramirez (CLE)
SS – Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD), Asdrubal Cabrera (ARI), Eugenio Suarez (CIN)
OF – J.D. Martinez (BOS), Christian Yelich (MIL), Jason Heyward (CHC), Gregory Polanco (PIT), Bryce Harper (PHI), Marcell Ozuna (ATL), Wil Myers (SD), David Peralta (ARI), Kole Calhoun (ARI), Charlie Blackmon (COL), AJ Pollock (LAD), Jesse Winker (CIN), Jarrod Dyson (KC)
For more, visit our BvP Matchup Page!
Overall Hitter Rankings
- Willson Contreras, Cubs ($2900/$5000)
- Will Smith, Dodgers ($3500/$4600)
- Salvador Perez, Royals ($3600/$5200)
- JT Realmuto, Phillies ($3200/$5500)
- Mitch Garver ($2200/$4200)/Willians Astudillo, Twins ($2100/$2800)
Notes: Easily the worst position in DFS MLB day in and day out. Today, we either use one of the three best hitting backstops in baseball, or we pay down a tiny bit to get exposure to Coors Field with Will Smith. The wildcard here is whoever gets the start for the Twins. Mitch Garver sat out with a bruised hand over last weekend but is expected to be good to go on Opening Day. Of course, if our boy “La Tortuga” Willians Astudillo is in there, he would become a very solid value option for us in this spot.
- C.J. Cron, Rockies ($3800/$3800)
- Anthony Rizzo, Cubs ($3300/$4800)
- Freddie Freeman, Braves ($4200/$5400)
- Carlos Santana, Royals ($2800/$3600)
- Bobby Dalbec, Red Sox ($2700/$4000)
Notes: If CJ Cron isn’t 100% owned on DK, we will thereby know that many of our DFS counterparts have not done any research at all heading into the 2021 season. Rizzo is a bit riskier than I would normally like in cash games, but he is an on-base machine who is a matchup nightmare for Pirates starter Chad Kuhl. The value here is Red Sox 1B Bobby Dalbec, who hit eight HR in 80 AB last season and continued that pace this Spring where he drilled another seven in just 47 AB’s. He crushes LHP and draws the homer-prone lefty John Means today.
- Keston Hiura, Brewers ($3100/$4700)
- Gavin Lux, Dodgers ($3000/$3800)
- Enrique Hernandez, Red Sox ($2700/$3000)
- Tommy Edman, Cardinals ($2800/$4200)
- Adam Frazier, Pirates ($2500/$3400)
Notes: There are a lot of quality options at 2B today, but none that jump off of the page. Hiura is a good value on FanDuel and is hitting in the middle of the Brewers lineup. Lux will hit at the bottom of the Dodgers order, but being on the road at Coors evens that out. Kike Hernandez destroys LHP and will likely hit leadoff for the Red Sox today against John Means. Both Edman and Frazier are going to hit leadoff and get on base multiple times for a value.
- Justin Turner, Dodgers ($3500/$4700)
- Manny Machado, Padres ($4000/$5700)
- Josh Donaldson, Twins ($3100/$4500)
- Kris Bryant, Cubs ($3300/$5000)
- Ke’Bryan Hayes, Pirates ($2800/$4400)
Notes: Justin Turner is a career .356/.422/.546 hitter at Coors Field and isn’t priced up nearly enough for this matchup. Donaldson will be quite under-owned here, but he hits .417/.481/.542 at Miller Park or whatever the heck they are calling that ballpark now. Kris Bryant has had a lousy Spring but has a good history against Chad Kuhl and this Pirates bullpen. Ke’Bryan Hayes is an overrated hitter as a prospect, but he’s red hot to start the season and is a good lowball hitter for a righty, which is a perfect hot zone matchup against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks.
- Corey Seager, Dodgers ($4500/$5600)
- Eugenio Suarez, Reds ($3200/$4000)
- Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox ($3600/$5400)
- Gleyber Torres, Yankees ($3100/$XXX)
- Fernando Tatis, Padres ($4300/$5700)
Notes: It’s just not a good idea to pay down at SS today because there are just too many lethal bats that could crush your soul. Depending on how many other Coors bats you use, fading Seager for Suarez at shortstop is a fine idea. Tatis is going to be a lot higher owned than what he should be, based on name recognition alone.
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers ($4800/$5900)
- Joc Pederson, Cubs ($2700/$3400)
- Christian Yelich, Brewers ($4100/$5600)
- Joey Gallo, Rangers ($3500/$3600)
- Whit Merrifield, Royals ($3300/$5200)
- Austin Meadows, Rays ($3400/$3600)
- Jesse Winker, Reds ($2800/$4000)
- Andrew Benintendi, Royals ($2700/$4000)
- Aaron Judge, Yankees ($4000/$XXX)
- Hunter Renfroe, Red Sox ($2800/$3200)
Notes: There is plenty of value in the OF today. I definitely want to get a piece of Coors Field and also would like to attack Kyle Gibson and the tragically bad Rangers bullpen. Joc Pederson is red hot coming out of Spring Training, where he hit 8 HR and drove in 19 runs. This is a tremendous matchup against Chad Kuhl for him and the rest of these Cubs bats today.
DFS MLB Core 4
FANDUEL CORE 4
P – Kyle Hendricks, Cubs ($9100)
3B – Justin Turner, Dodgers ($3500)
SS – Corey Seager, Dodgers ($4500)
OF – Joc Pederson, Cubs ($2700)
DRAFTKINGS CORE 4
SP1 – Kyle Hendricks, Cubs ($7700)
1B – C.J. Cron, Rockies ($3800)
3B – Justin Turner, Dodgers ($4700)
SS – Corey Seager, Dodgers ($5600)