FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Friday 7/5/19

Josh Donaldson is still showing plenty of power in 2019, and he's nice and cheap in a plus matchup tonight. Who else should you target on Friday's 3-Man Challenge slate?

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?

$4 Tier

Freddie Freeman - I don't love paying up to $4 tonight because of the strength of the $3 tier, but we'd be remiss not to at least look at Freddie Freeman here. As of this writing, there's still no over/under on tonight's game between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers, but as things stand on Friday morning, the Atlanta Braves have this 3-Man slate's highest implied total by a huge margin. Their mark of 5.68 runs crushes the next highest of 4.78. The Miami Marlins are starting a weak righty in Jordan Yamamoto (4.96 SIERA to open his Major League career), and Freeman has mashed righties for a .417 wOBA and .287 ISO over 301 plate appearances this season -- his third time in the last four years with at least a .410 wOBA and .285 ISO in the split.

$3 Tier

J.D. Martinez - The real reason I'm not keen on spending for Freeman is that even at the same price tag I'd prefer to play J.D. Martinez here. The Tigers are expected to start southpaw Gregory Soto, who has a career 6.33 xFIP in the Majors and 4.67 in Triple-A over small 20-ish innings in each, and Martinez is no stranger to mashing with the platoon advantage. Since 2017, he's obliterated lefties for a .470 wOBA and .379 ISO over 331 plate appearances.

Ronald Acuna - Back to the Braves, Acuna may not have the platoon advantage like Freeman does, but he doesn't exactly struggle in same-sided matchups, either, with a career .367 wOBA and .223 ISO. Jordan Yamamoto has only given us four Major League games of data, but he never even pitched at the Triple-A level, so his poor peripherals aren't exactly surprising, and this matchup is nice and soft for the Braves' offense. Our models actually project Acuna slightly ahead of Freeman, as well, and if you're looking to pair a Braves bat with Martinez, Freeman is not a possibility, making Acuna particularly interesting.

$2 Tier

Mookie Betts - Betts doesn't have the power that Martinez does, and his production profile doesn't fit this format as well, but at only $2 with the platoon advantage, he's tough to ignore. He's having a down year in 2019 for sure, but he's only gotten 97 plate appearances with the platoon advantage, and he's suffering from a .232 BABIP in the split. With a career-average .377 wOBA and .219 ISO against southpaws and a plus matchup against Soto and the Tigers, he has no shortage of upside.

Josh Donaldson - Back to the Braves -- the upside on this slate is pretty concentrated to a couple offenses, in case that hasn't already become clear -- Donaldson's another guy who brings serious upside despite the righty-versus-righty spot. Even on the decline at 33 years old, he's sporting a .359 wOBA and .237 ISO in 2019, which includes a .370 wOBA and .257 ISO in his 273 plate appearances against righties. Betts is the only $2 hitter our models have projected ahead of Donaldson, and Donaldson's 0.24 projected home runs are the third-most for any hitter in action tonight.

$1 Tier

Dominic Smith - Finally getting away from those top two offenses, Dominic Smith produces just like you want to see from a cheap hitter in this format. He strikes out a bunch (27.2% career rate) and doesn't walk a ton (7.5% career rate), but he offers plenty of power. He's played three big league seasons, never posting an ISO lower than .200 with a career-average .213. He's also been a terror in 2019 so far, posting a .407 wOBA and .252 ISO. Add in the platoon advantage tonight against Philadelphia Phillies righty Vincent Velasquez, and his upside is tough to ignore at $1.

Robinson Cano - Smith's teammate is in a similarly good spot against Velasquez, who has a shaky career 4.35 xFIP against left-handed bats. Robinson Cano has struggled to the tune of a .280 wOBA this year, but he's only sporting a .283 BABIP compared to his .318 career average and is crushing a 41.3% hard-hit rate, so we can expect some improvements to his production moving forward. He has an especially strong 44.3% hard-hit rate against right-handed pitching, giving him plenty of upside as a likely lower-owned pivot from Smith.

Victor Reyes - The Tigers' offense isn't likely to be a popular one here, with a middling 4.51-run implied total, but lefty Eduardo Rodriguez shouldn't scare you off this spot. Rodriguez has good strikeout (24.3%) and walk (7.4%) numbers, but he's also only got a mediocre 4.31 xFIP against right-handed bats. The switch-hitting Reyes hasn't produced much at the Major League level this year, but he's also only made 14 plate appearances. He showed some upside in Triple-A this year (.179 ISO), and our models like his chances of knocking an extra-base hit or two tonight, projecting him for 0.22 doubles (tied for 21st on the slate).

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.