FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Wednesday 6/12/19
Sometimes, you just don't have time to track the weather, check the splits, and wait for the batting order to be posted to build a full nine-man FanDuel MLB roster. It happens. But that no longer means you can't build some lineups, thanks to FanDuel's MLB 3-Man Challenge game style.
The premise is simple: build a three-player roster for a $7 salary cap, and only hits and RBI count toward netting FanDuel points. One player is your MVP, and his points are multiplied by 1.5, and you just need to roster players from at least two different teams. That more or less covers it, but you should familiarize yourself with the basic strategy for the new game style to help you in tonight's marquee 3-Man Challenge contest.
That being said, which options stand out at each price range for today's 3-Man Challenge slate?
Nelson Cruz - After Coors Field shaped the last couple 3-man slates, this one's a little underwhelming on top. The $3 tier is pretty shallow, but Nelson Cruz' power stands out in tonight's matchup with his former team and lefty Tommy Milone. Per Statcast data, 2019 has seen Cruz post his highest expected slugging percentage (.607), highest average exit velocity (94.9 miles per hour) and highest barrel rate (19.5%) of the last five years. Tommy Milone has been egregious against right-handed bats in recent years, allowing a .414 wOBA and 5.14 xFIP since 2017, so Cruz should have no trouble continuing to roll here.
Freddie Freeman - The Atlanta Braves' 5.19-run implied total is the highest on this slate as they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates and righty Mitch Keller, who has only one major league start under his belt. Keller wasn't nearly as bad as the 6 earned runs he allowed might suggest, but still that's not a very encouraging debut, and the Braves are no easy matchup, either. Freddie Freeman has jumped on right-handed pitchers for a .413 wOBA and .284 ISO over 221 plate appearances this season, and with wOBAs of at least .410 and ISOs of at least .290 against righties in two of his last three seasons, he's a threat to do some real damage against Keller.
Christian Yelich - When top-end options are thin, the flat 3-man pricing becomes especially relevant. Yelich leads all qualifying hitters in both wOBA (.476) and ISO (.415) across 263 plate appearances this season, but we still get him sharing the slate's top salary with 10 other hitters. His matchup is as tough as you'll find on this slate, taking on Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander, so that definitely does mean his floor is really low, with the potential to sink your whole lineup. The matchup should also drive his ownership down significantly, though, and getting the best hitter in baseball with low ownership on a four-game slate is always going to be a very interesting way to differentiate your lineup.
Nick Castellanos - The mid-tier is a lot more interesting than the top tier on this slate, and our models have Castellanos projected for a full fantasy point more than any of the $3 hitters. He's making some huge contact this year, with a 42.2% hard-hit, 13.9% soft-hit and 42.2% fly-ball rate, and he's sporting a .371 wOBA and .237 ISO on an even more impressive 51.5% hard-hit rate against southpaws. That should mean big things against the Kansas City Royals and Danny Duffy, who is struggling to the tune of a career-worst 4.96 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) in 2019 while posting a brutal 5.24 xFIP against right-handed bats.
C.J. Cron - Going back to the Minnesota Twins to take advantage of that matchup with Milone, Cron has our second-highest home run projection on the slate (0.27, behind only Nelson Cruz). Milone's egregious numbers against right-handed bats should put him in plenty of hot water against Cron, who has exploded for a .412 wOBA and .287 ISO in 229 plate appearances against southpaws since 2018. Cron is also sporting a career-high .539 expected slugging percentage on the year and getting him for only $2 tonight is a bargain.
Mitch Garver - Garver has made increasingly impressive contact in each of his major league seasons. His 32.3% hard-hit rate in 2017 was nothing to write home about, but he improved to a 40.5% hard-hit and 37.7% fly-ball rate last year, and he has opened 2019 with a 45.7% hard-hit and 48.6% fly-ball rate. His 92.1 mile-per-hour average exit velocity, 15.7% barrel rate and .502 expected slugging percentage are all career-highs. Once again, Milone's struggles with right-handed sticks take center stage on this slate, giving Garver a ton of upside.
Miguel Cabrera - Like Castellanos, Cabrera gets a great matchup with the platoon advantage against Duffy and the Royals. Miggy is on pace for one of the worst seasons of his career, with a .319 wOBA and only a .088 ISO over 243 plate appearances. That's certainly got something to do with his play declining as he gets older, but his 45.9% hard-hit and 12.4% soft-hit rates are nothing to scoff at. He's only turned 5.9% of his fly-balls into home runs, which is way down even from the 13.4% and 13.6% marks he posted in the last two season, so we can expect some improvements on the home run front as long as he keeps hitting the ball this hard. Another reason for his lack of production has been his lack of plate appearances against southpaws, with only 38 compared to 205 against righties. Even with his steep decline, he's still flexing a .405 wOBA on a 49.6% hard-hit rate against lefties since 2017.
Kyle Seager - On the other side of that Twins offense, the Seattle Mariners aren't in a terrible spot themselves. Yes, Jose Berrios has a terrific 3.14 ERA this season, but his 4.01 SIERA is a step back from the 3.80 he posted last year and isn't far off his 4.18 career average. Seager is making better contact than we've seen in a while, with his highest average exit velocity (92.5 miles per hour) of the last five years and career-best marks in both hard-hit rate (43.1%) and soft-hit rate (7.8%). The sample size is still small at only 76 plate appearances, but that contact is impressive enough to be really enticing at only $1.
Eric Thames - Like Yelich, playing Eric Thames is taking a huge gamble on some low-owned upside. His floor is essentially nothing (though his strikeout-happy ways don't burn you in this format), but even in a nightmare matchup, he's got a decent shot of going yard, and we give him the highest home run projection (0.21) among tonight's $1 bats. Since returning to the majors in 2017, Thames has racked up a .368 wOBA and .269 ISO on a 45.0% hard-hit and 43.4% fly-ball rate against right-handed pitching -- not exactly $1-type numbers. He's a risky play, but he should also prove to be highly contrarian.
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.