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A little extra flavor never hurts. Especially when puttin’ together a fantasy squad.
When I’m in the kitchen I make moves. If something aint selling, I take it off the menu. If a staff member isn’t doing their job, they’re gone. That’s how I run my fantasy teams.
Each week I will hit you with the players moving up the rankings that you NEED to know about. I don’t care if it is the No. 8 hitter on the Cubs or the No. 4 starter for the Astros. If they are producing, you’re gonna know about it.
Now that the sample sizes are starting to grow, we can start to see trends, whether positive or negative. However, in this column we are only talkin’ about the guys on the rise due to recent production or increased playing time. No one his perfect, so I might swing-and-miss from time to time, but that is the beauty of fantasy sports. Let’s get to it shall we?
Corey Dickerson, OF (COL)--With Carlos Gonzalez on the shelf with a broken finger, the door has opened for Dickerson to see regular at-bats while starting in the outfield for the Rockies. Through 97 at-bats thus far, Dickerson has slashed .340/.389/.639 with seven home runs and 17 RBI, making a strong case for fantasy consideration. He does have a tendency for swinging for the fences, owning a 25.7 percent strikeout rate, but he has managed to counter his downside in the walk department (9 BB). The Rockies are not sure whether or not Gonzalez will need more than the minimal two weeks before being able to return to the lineup, but until then Dickerson is a must-own player while receiving a golden opportunity pad his already growing fantasy status.
Josh Willingham, OF (MIN)--Since being activated from the disabled list on May 26, this Twins slugger has smacked four home runs with 11 RBI now slashing .320/.493/.600 through his first 50 at-bats. Granted, he is not known for hitting for average, but his power stroke is legit. Let’s not forget Willingham is just two years removed since finishing the 2012 season with 35 home runs, although it will take a miracle to achieve that goal after missing the majority of the season up to this point. The Twins have slotted three hitters ahead of Willingham of late with great on-base percentages, with the worst being Joe Mauer’s at .346, so more than likely he is going to be put in a high amount of RBI situations as the season progresses. As long as he can remain healthy for a good portion of the remainder of the season, 20 home runs is not out of the question considering he owns a 19.8 career AB/HR rate.
Denard Span, OF (WAS)--Span the man has been a beast atop the Nationals lineup of late, logging six multi-hit performances over his last 10 games, now sitting on a .283 average with 13 RBI, 35 runs scored and eight stolen bases. If he is able to keep up his current pace, we could be looking at production close to his career-best marks, back from his days as a must-own player as a member of the Twins. One of the main reasons for his recent success is his on-base percentage (.325 OBP), which is right on pace with what he has shown us over his three-year stay in the Nation’s Capital. As long as he can continue to get on base as a high clip and hold a stolen base percentage at or around 80 percent, there is no reason to believe he can’t log upwards of 90 runs and 25 stolen bases before it is all said and done.
Kendrys Morales, 1B (FA)--Although he has yet to sign with a big league club, now that this year’s draft is underway team’s will start to make a running for his services. Had he not carried a first-round pick price tag entering free-agency a move would have already been made, especially with all the injuries throughout the league up to this point. The frontrunners for his services right now include the Brewers, Yankees and Rangers all of which are in need of a power bat at either first base or as a designated hitter. No matter where he ends up, now is the time to stash him away, despite the fact he may need a week or two in the minors before being inserted into a MLB starting lineup. He is currently owned in less than 25 percent of leagues throughout the major providers so those in need of a power serge will want to acquire him now before it is too late.
Josh Harrison, 2B, 3B, OF (PIT)--Pirates fans may be anxiously awaiting the arrival of Gregor Polanco to the big league club, but Harrison has taken away some of the spotlight with his most recent performances. He is now 12-for-26 with five extra-base hits (1 HR) and three RBI over his last six games, now slashing .317/.349/.520 through his first 123 at-bats. What he also brings to the table is multiple-position eligibility, being able to be slotted all around the infield and outfield in most league formats. Despite his recent efforts, one has to consider the fact that Polanco is coming, which is going to factor into his at-bats long-term, although he should still get time in the infield, depending on the matchup. He is a solid player to add for short-term purposes at the very least, so those looking for a shake up will want to give this leadoff hitter a strong look while he is swinging a hot bat.
Collin McHugh, SP (HOU)--I am a man who admits my failures. Upon his return to the big leagues I wrote an article on how I believed he should not be added after a hot start. Well, now eight starts in, sitting 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, McHugh has really made me eat my words. He has now pitched back-to-back shutouts over his last 12.0 innings, logging 13 strikeouts and just two walks in that stretch, increasing his K:BB to 54:14 through 50.0 innings. Like his teammate Dallas Keuchel, McHugh continues to be owned fewer leagues than he should, but with an increasing ground ball-to-fly ball rate (0.78) his haters may start to sing a different tune as the season progresses. Even if he is unable to sustain his recent production, those in search of a bump in strikeouts will want to give McHugh a look in the upcoming days.
Henderson Alvarez, SP (MIA)--Alvarez logged his third straight shutout performance on Tuesday night, starting off the month of June with a complete-game victory over the Rays. He is now the sitting 3-3 on the season with a 2.62 ERA and 1.28 WHIP through 12 starts, having allowed just four home runs and 16 base on balls over his first 75.2 innings pitched. Although he doesn’t help much in the strikeout department (5.35 K/9), this inning-eating 24-year-old can sure help out the ratios stats enough to make him a solid fantasy contributor. He gave us a scare following his last start of May leaving the game early with arm tightness, but did not have to have his next scheduled start skipped or pushed back, with the injury practically disappearing over night. Although all three of his victories have come via complete-game shutouts, the Marlins offense should be able to provide him with more run support moving forward they continue to pile on the runs. Whether or not it results in a better record for Alvarez, the fact remains that he should be owned in a lot more than 20 percent of leagues throughout the major providers.
Chris Young, SP (SEA)--The backend of the Mariners starting rotation has been a mess this season, but Young sure has given his manager something to smile about in the early going. Through 10 starts, Young has pitched through the sixth inning or later in all but one trip to the mound, resulting in a 5-2 record with a 3.27 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Granted he has almost the same amount of walks (25) as he does strikeouts (30) over 63.1 innings, he has managed to keep his base runners to a minimum although sporting a rather low 0.35 ground ball-to-fly ball rate (10 HR allowed). Bottom line is this, clearly he needs to find a way to induce more ground balls if he wants to maintain his current pace, but playing his home games in one of the biggest ballparks in baseball sure can work in his factor on most occasions. Until the wheels fall off, which they may, Young can be of good assistance for those looking for aid in both the ERA and WHIP categories for the time being.
Eddie Butler, SP (COL)--With a whole in the Rockies starting rotation, the team has decided to promote Butler from Double-A to start on Friday against the Dodgers. Butler is considered a top 25 prospect by most, and posted a 2.49 ERA and 1.18 WHIP through 68.2 innings at the Double-A level in 2014. Although he was known for his high strikeout rate heading into the season, he has fanned just 40 batters thus far, which is something prospective fantasy owners will want to take into consideration if looking to add him this week. However, Even if he can’t get back to speed by way of the strikeout, he is expected to stick in the Rockies rotation regardless, following the ineffective start to the season from Franklin Morales. Those who like to speculate will want to add him as son as possible, considering he will be a top waiver wire add if he posted a good game in his major league debut.