FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Sunday 7/18/21

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.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate.

Pitching Breakdown

Corbin Burnes ($11,200) has strong splits across the board, which helps against a middling matchup with the Cincinnati Reds. Since the sticky-stuff crackdown in early June, Burnes holds a slate-best called-strike-plus-whiff rate of 32.9% as well as a top-two SIERA (2.94). The Reds' active roster is an okay 13th in strikeout rate and 10th in wRC+. After adjusting for the Reds' active roster, Burnes rates out fourth on the slate in expected strikeout rate (27.1%).

So, while we can go to Burnes, there are other pitchers with better situations. That includes Zack Wheeler ($11,000) at home against the Miami Marlins, a team whose active roster is 26th in strikeout rate (26.1%) and 28th in wRC+ (88). Wheeler, meanwhile, has the lowest hard-hit rate allowed among main-slate starters and owns a 2.53 xFIP since June 3rd. Wheeler sits second in expected strikeout rate on the slate (27.7%) once adjusting for opponent. numberFire's model has Wheeler leading the slate in FanDuel points (42.7) and win probability (50.0%).

Max Scherzer ($10,200) draws the elite San Diego Padres offense and is rating out as an okay option overall once accounting for matchup and park factor. He's a risk/reward play, as he sits second in strikeout rate and called-strike-plus whiff rate since June 3rd, though once accounting for the Padres' active-roster strikeout rate, Scherzer ranks only fifth in expected strikeout rate (27.0%).

Sonny Gray ($8,600) is expected to start actually leads the slate in my expected strikeout rate metric, thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers' 25.9% active-roster strikeout rate. Gray's got a small recent sample, but it's been great (2.25 xFIP and 32.8% strikeout rate since June 3rd). Across 265 batters faced this season, Gray has amassed a 30.2% strikeout rate. He threw 7.0 innings on July 7th against the Kansas City Royals, striking out 7 and allowing 2 earned runs before visiting the injury list briefly. He's just not quite as likely as we should hope to get a win opposite Burnes (the Reds are +114).

With some high-salary, high-upside arms to roster, we should take caution not to get too antsy with the value options. That being said, JT Brubaker ($6,800) has some strong peripherals, including a slate-best walk rate and called-strike-plus-whiff rate that ranks fourth among these key arms since June 3rd despite his 0-5 record. The New York Mets rank 21st in active-roster strikeout rate, and the park is good for Brubaker at home.

Stacks to Target

Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins face the Detroit Tigers and Wily Peralta. The Twins ultimately boast the top implied total of the slate at 5.50 runs.

Peralta, whose 2.08 ERA since early June is quite a bit misleading, has a SIERA is 4.46, and his xFIP is 4.37. That comes with a 15.8% strikeout rate and just a 24.2% called-strike-plus-whiff rate. He also allows above-average hard contact at 36.4%.

The Twins, then, find themselves in a good spot against a weak starter and bullpen (Detroit's active-roster bullpen xFIP- is 114).

The projected top of the order is also pretty salary friendly: Luis Arraez ($2,500), Josh Donaldson ($3,100), Trevor Larnach ($2,600), Nelson Cruz ($3,700), Alex Kirilloff ($2,800), and Jorge Polanco ($2,900).

Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays are a high-strikeout team (29th in the Majors among active rosters) but are still a 103 in wRC+ (ranking 9th). And their opposing starter, Drew Smyly, is not a high-strikeout pitcher over the past two months. Over his last 134 batters faced, Smyly has an 18.7% strikeout rate with just a 25.3% called-strike-plus-whiff rate, marks that rank him 14th and 12th, respectively, among main-slate starters.

While Smyly is fourth in that span in ERA (2.27), he's 14th in both SIERA (4.92) and xFIP (5.03). The Rays' 4.52 implied run total makes sense then.

We should get to see righties Yandy Diaz ($2,900) and Randy Arozarena ($3,000) plus switch-hitters Wander Franco ($2,500) and Francisco Mejia ($2,000) in the top six alongside Austin Meadows ($3,200).

San Francisco Giants
There's a reason Wade LeBlanc's salary is just $5,500. LeBlanc has faced just 88 batters since early June, but the quick-to-stabilize stats are poor: he has an 11.4% strike out rate to rank last on the main slate, and it's paired with a 24.8% called-strike-plus-whiff rate.

LeBlanc's full-season strikeout rate is just 13.2%, and the called-strike-plus-whiff rate is only 25.1%, so the small sample isn't that misleading.

The St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen rates out weakest on the main slate, as well, in terms of active-roster xFIP-.

The last time the San Francisco Giants faced a lefty, their top of the order was Austin Slater ($2,300), Wilmer Flores ($2,500), Mike Yastrzemski ($3,300), Darin Ruf ($2,900), and Donovan Solano ($2,100). Point being: the salaries are low, so keep an eye on this order.