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MLB Daily Fantasy Helper: Friday 9/1/17

On a day with no clear-cut top arm, Gerrit Cole is one of the safest on tonight's FanDuel main slate.

The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.

While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.

In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy looking team to put up some big point totals. We've also got our Solo Shot Podcast, which breaks down the MLB daily fantasy slate each day. Here's today's episode.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today.

Pitchers to Target

Gerrit Cole ($9,100 on FanDuel): Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw only 75 pitches tonight, and as much as we love him -- particularly against the San Diego Padres -- he isn't worth his $12,100 price tag. So where do we turn? Gerrit Cole has quietly had a solid second half, posting a 3.68 SIERA, 24.7% strikeout rate, 5.4% walk rate, and 27.0% hard-hit rate -- numbers quite similar to his strong 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Cincinnati Reds have one of the lowest implied team totals on the board (3.62), and get a negative park shift away from the Great American Ball Park. Cole is one of tonight's safer plays, but the question is whether you'll want to go cheaper with some nice hitting spots, including a game in Coors.

Jimmy Nelson ($8,500): Outside of Kershaw, Jimmy Nelson has the best season-long numbers on the slate. There's a lot to like in seeing that 3.45 SIERA, 26.6% strikeout rate and 6.3% walk rate, plus he gets plenty of ground balls. The Washington Nationals aren't as intimidating without Bryce Harper, but they do have Trea Turner back, who could wreck havoc on the base paths. Nelson historically struggles with stolen bases, and has allowed 15 this season. Still, Nelson has the goods to overcome that hurdle, plus he saves you a nice $600 off Cole.

Blake Snell ($7,300): Can we trust Blake Snell? That's tough to say, but the talented southpaw has cut his walk rate down to 6.9% over his last seven starts, and might be finally harnessing his control at the major league level. The punchouts have been average this season, but he posted a 24.4% rate in 2016, and flashed that upside in his two most recent starts with a 28.8% rate. He faces a weak Chicago White Sox team, and could be a sneaky value with no clear-cut top pitching play. Kevin Gausman, Mike Clevinger and Luis Castillo all have tournament appeal as well.

Hitters to Target

High-Priced Hitters

Mike Trout ($4,800): Mike Trout escapes the confines of Angel Stadium for a nice park upgrade in Arlington against Cole Hamels. Even with a Coors game, there's a strong argument to put Trout at the top of your wishlist. This season against righties, Hamels has just a 14.8% strikeout rate, while allowing a 35.9% hard-hit rate. That's unlikely to hold up well against Trout and his career .402 wOBA against southpaws. The Los Angeles Angels have a 5.29 implied team total.

Charlie Blackmon ($5,000): Of course, that doesn't mean we don't like us some Coors as well, with the Colorado Rockies (6.04) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (5.96) both showing the highest implied team totals on the board. For the Rockies, the usual suspects apply in Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. If you can only get one, Blackmon is your guy, as he'll lead off, has the platoon advantage, and might even snag a stolen base against Taijuan Walker, who doesn't hold baserunners well.

Nelson Cruz ($4,100): Sean Manaea's strikeouts have completely evaporated, down to a pitiful 7.5% rate over his last five starts. Enter Nelson Cruz, who should feast on this juicy matchup against a lefty. His exploits against southpaws are well-documented, and he hasn't disappointed this year with a 42.0% hard-hit rate and 42.0% fly-ball rate.

Value Hitters

Brandon Moss ($2,200): Let's hope we get a Brandon Moss sighting tonight, because he remains a great, cheap source of power in the right matchups. Dating back to last season, Dillon Gee has a 5.63 ERA, 4.91 xFIP, and 17.3% strikeout rate as a starter. As a bonus, Moss has been crushing the ball lately, with a 42.9% hard-hit rate over the last 30 days. Salvador Perez is also a nice value at catcher.

Greg Bird ($2,300): We don't always like to punt at a power-rich position like first base, but it might be tempting to give Greg Bird a whirl against Doug Fister. Bird has now homered in two straight games, and is showing some of that talent we were hoping to see earlier this season. He struggles with strikeouts, but that shouldn't be an issue versus Fister, who only has a 14.5% strikeout rate against lefties since the start of last year. He's also allowed a 38.1% hard-hit rate over that span, so it's a prime spot for Bird to continue his dinger streak.

Evan Longoria ($2,900): If you're paying down at the hot corner, Evan Longoria is a nice way to get exposure to the Tampa Bay Rays against Reynaldo Lopez. Lopez is a talented prospect, but hasn't gotten it together at the major league level -- he has a career 5.30 ERA and 4.63 SIERA over 54 1/3 innings. In two starts this season, he's particularly struggled with walks (15.2% rate), which could lead to an abbreviated outing, and the poor White Sox bullpen is always a welcome sight. The Rays have an appealing 4.96 implied team total.

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