FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Monday 6/24/19
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?
Aaron Judge - Judge has certainly struggled since returning from his two-month layoff, but a quick look at the Statcast data shows he's been making some strong contact (exit velocity of at least 89.5 miles per hour on four of his six batted balls since returning), so that looks to just be a run-of-the-mill quiet three games. He's one of the most powerful hitters in baseball (first among hitters with at least 50 batted balls in average exit velocity this season), and his nightly upside is hard to match. He shouldn't have much trouble unleashing that upside tonight either, taking on Toronto Blue Jays righty Aaron Sanchez, who has managed just a 5.43 SIERA in 2019.
Francisco Lindor - The Kansas City Royals are starting righty Brad Keller tonight, and that means you're going to want exposure to the Cleveland Indians' offense. Only 4 of the 84 qualifying pitchers this season have turned in a SIERA worse than Keller's 5.41, and his 4.7% strikeout-minus-walk rate is the third-worst among those 84. Francisco Lindor has a career-high .365 wOBA to go with a .239 ISO on a 46.5% hard-hit rate against righties this season, positioning him really well to take advantage of this matchup.
Gary Sanchez - The only $4 hitter on the slate, Sanchez wouldn't be in consideration on some slates, but the value is strong enough today that the $1 difference isn't too concerning. The matchup with Aaron Sanchez gives him a nice boost, too, and the New York Yankees' 6.30-run implied total is the slate's highest. Same-sided matchups are no trouble for Gary Sanchez, with a .391 wOBA and .359 ISO over 188 plate appearances in the split this season, bringing him to a career .271 ISO on a 38.6% hard-hit rate and 39.1% fly-ball rate against righties.
Jose Ramirez - Back to Cleveland, Jose Ramirez seems to be making his way out of his early-season funk, which is no surprise considering it came over a fairly small sample and with an unsustainably-low BABIP on some strong contact numbers. Even in this down year, he's cracked right-handed hurlers for 37.9% hard-hits and 46.7% fly-balls, and while his stolen base upside doesn't come into play in this format, hitting hard fly-balls is always going to be a recipe for big fantasy potential, especially in a matchup like tonight's against Keller.
Michael Conforto - After a down year in 2018, Conforto has bounced back with a .365 wOBA and .240 ISO on a 35.9% hard-hit rate and 41.6% fly-ball rate over just under 300 plate appearances in 2019. As usual he's looking particularly dangerous against righties, jumping to a .394 wOBA and .277 ISO over 211 plate appearances in the split. That's easy to like tonight against Philadelphia Phillies righty Zach Eflin, who has a weak 5.04 xFIP against left-handed hitters on the year.
Whit Merrifield - Our models project Merrifield for the fourth-best fantasy score on the slate, putting him ahead of 11 of the 13 players that are priced above him. He's no killer from the dish, but he's a consistent option, ranking 22nd among qualifying hitters in batting average this season, with a .302 mark that is right in line with last year's .304. His power can be lacking, but with a .353 wOBA and .197 ISO, he's not completely without some pop. He brings that consistency into a pretty good matchup, as well, with Cleveland starting Adam Plutko -- owner of a 4.69 SIERA over 5 games in 2019 (and 4.93 over his 24 career games in the majors).
Lourdes Gurriel - For as much upside as the Yankees' offense boasts today, they will also be starting CC Sabathia on the mound, leaving the Blue Jays' lineup offering some nice upside, as well. The 38-year-old Sabathia has struggled to the tune of a career-worst 4.79 SIERA in 2019, and his batted-ball numbers are especially concerning. This is only the second time in his career he's allowed more fly-balls than ground-balls, with a 42.2% fly-ball rate that tops his previous career-high of 39.8%. He's also giving up 43.9% hard-hits, which is 11.2 percentage points more than we've ever seen from him. Gurriel has the power to make CC pay for those struggles, rocking southpaws for a .374 wOBA and .244 ISO over 129 plate appearances in his young major league career. Gurriel has our third-highest home run projection among all hitters tonight, which is obviously pretty appealing at $1.
Jake Bauers - Only one spot behind Gurriel in those home run projections, Bauers is a great way to get cheap exposure to Cleveland. He gets the platoon advantage against Keller, and while he's struggling overall this season (.296 wOBA and .159 ISO), he has no shortage of power against righties. He's made 468 career plate appearances in the split, rocking righties for a 39.8% hard-hit rate and 36.5% fly-ball rate. Projected for 0.24 home runs at only $1, the ability to pair Bauers and Gurriel means you don't need to feel too compelled to spend your full $7 tonight, and that's also why we can afford to be less price-sensitive in paying up for Gary Sanchez, too.
Jackie Bradley - A more contrarian option, Jackie Bradley's boom-or-bust fantasy appeal becomes interesting in this format, where we're far more concerned with finding upside than in locking in a safe floor. JBJ is striking out over 25% of the time for his second straight season, and his .300 wOBA is pretty weak. His wOBA jumps to .316 (with a .176 ISO) against right-handed pitching, though, and that's a split that has seen him post a .336 wOBA and .209 ISO on both 37.4% hard-hits and fly-balls since 2015. A matchup with Lucas Giolito is scary, no doubt, but that should also help keep Bradley's ownership incredibly low. Even in his breakout 2019 season, Giolito is still giving up 46.0% fly-balls to left-handed bats. Even if we remove the huge number of infield pop-ups included in that sample, his fly-ball rate sits at 37.0%, giving Bradley some room to flex that power. We project him for the second-highest fantasy score among Monday's $1 bats.
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.