FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Tuesday 6/25/19
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?
Freddie Freeman - On tonight's 3-Man slate there's the Atlanta Braves versus Chicago Cubs matchup at the top, then a big gap before we get to anyone else. This game has a 12-run over/under (thanks to some strong winds blowing out at Wrigley again), while the next-best on the slate is 10.0. The Braves and Cubs each have a 6-run implied total, and there are only two others on the slate above even 4.51. In a situation like this, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Freddie Freeman is a top play, especially while the Cubs are starting a righty in Adbert Alzolay. Per Baseball Savant Freeman sits in the 97th percentile of hitters in both expected wOBA and expected slugging percentage this season, and he has beat up on right-handed pitching for a .423 wOBA and .289 ISO.
Kris Bryant - On the other side of that game the Braves are starting a southpaw in Max Fried, making it difficult to ignore Kris Bryant. Bryant has mashed southpaws for an absurd .463 wOBA and .453 ISO in 2019, and while that comes over a small sample (63 plate appearances), even if we go back to 2017 (316 plate appearances) he has a .434 wOBA and .308 ISO in the split.
Ronald Acuna - Without the platoon advantage, Acuna may end up falling behind both Freeman and Bryant in ownership here, but you certainly shouldn't overlook him. His stolen base upside, which bolsters his fantasy value in usual formats, doesn't play in 3-Man contests. Still, he ranks a Freddie Freeman-esque 94th percentile in both expected wOBA and expected slugging percentage, and his 95th-percentile sprint speed helps him leg out those extra-base hits as much as it helps him swipe bags. Righty-versus-righty matchups aren't overly concerning for him, with a .365 wOBA and .222 ISO on a 44.5% hard-hit rate and 39.5% fly-ball rate in the split over his young career, so we can still feel good about firing him up in this spot.
Javier Baez - The next-most exciting right-handed bat in the Cubs lineup, after Bryant, Baez has been downright nasty against southpaws with a .445 wOBA and .404 ISO in 2019. Like Bryant, that comes with the small sample size caveat. Also like Bryant, he remains deadly if we expand our view, and since the start of 2017, we've seen Baez rake for a .392 wOBA and .290 ISO over 336 plate appearances against lefties. That production would put him in play at $3 in tonight's favorable conditions, so he's also nicely discounted here.
Nick Markakis - Markakis is on the other end of things from Baez here, as a guy who you usually wouldn't want to pay more than $1 for. This spot is good enough that he's still a strong option at $2 on Tuesday though. Chicago's Adbert Alzolay has only pitched one major league game, and while that was a good outing, he has yet to sustain much success at any level. He did turn in a 3.55 xFIP in Triple-A this year, but that was still only a 32-inning sample, and comes one year after he posted a 5.28 xFIP in 39 2/3 Triple-A innings in 2018. He's also fly-ball prone, allowing a 44.4% fly-ball rate in 2019 and 45.0% in 2018 at the Triple-A level, and that's a huge red flag in today's windy environment. Markakis isn't a huge fly-ball guy, though a 32.2% rate against righties since 2016 should be enough in this matchup. He's on pace for his second straight season with a wOBA north of .350 in the split, and he's an intriguing way to get exposure to this matchup at reduced ownership.
Yasmani Grandal - Finally going somewhere else, the Milwaukee Brewers aren't a bad way to pivot from Wrigley tonight, sitting third on the slate with a 5.62-run implied total as they take on southpaw Marco Gonzales and the Seattle Mariners. Gonzales' 5.16 SIERA is the 8th-worst among qualifying pitchers in 2019, and he's getting popped for a 42.2% fly-ball rate with only 14.2% soft-hits against right-handed hitters. The switch-hitting Grandal has 41.4% fly-balls and 49.2% hard-hits against left-handed hurlers since the start of 2018 (225 plate appearances), and that has translated to a stout .353 wOBA and .215 ISO.
Ryan Braun - Right back to that same spot (this is a really thin slate by usual 3-Man Challenge standards), Braun isn't having much success against lefties this year. He's being held back by an egregious .190 BABIP though (compared to a .327 career-average), so he stands to see regression improve his numbers significantly. His 45.5% hard-hit rate this year is terrific, and in a matchup this soft it should lead to a higher level of production than you'd typically expect from someone with a .327 wOBA and .192 ISO.
Kevin Kiermaier - Our models project Kiermaier for the highest fantasy score among $1 hitters by a good margin tonight, with his 12.0-point projection sitting 0.6 points ahead of Braun and 1.2 ahead of anyone else. That might not seem like a ton, but that's an edge of more than 10% over the third-best projection at $1. He's not doing anything special from the dish this year, though pairing only a .303 wOBA with a .179 does show some high-risk high-reward power that we like to see in this format, and he's smacked right-handed pitchers for a career-best 37.3% hard-hit rate with a career-low 19.0% soft-hit rate so far. A matchup with Minnesota Twins righty Kyle Gibson could also help him unlock some upside. Gibson has turned in a solid year so far, adding to the boom-or-bust nature of this spot, but he's still allowing a 37.6% hard-hit rate to left-handed hitters, putting him on pace for his fourth straight year allowing at least a .320 wOBA in the split.
Brian McCann - Thought I was going to let you get through the entire $1 tier without getting back to Wrigley Field? McCann is that third-best project $1 hitter I alluded to above, and he too gets the platoon advantage against Alzolay. The 35-year-old really struggled in 2018, but McCann has opened 2019 with a strong .364 wOBA and .214 ISO in 138 plate appearances against right-handed pitching. Those numbers are much more in line with what we've seen from him in the past, with wOBAs of .325, .334 and .323 and ISOs of .212, .181 and .198 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, respectively. This year's bounce-back doesn't look like its just good fortune either, as he's got his hard-hit rate in the split up to 42.1%, which is the highest he's ever posted in his 14 major league seasons.
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.