FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Monday 9/6/21

Can we find the salary to build around the Blue Jays? Or will we be forced into value stacks?

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 projections and 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

Some big arms are loaded up for Labor Day's main slate.

The early returns on Chris Sale ($10,700), who has the slate's highest salary, are quite promising. Sale has thrown 89, 71, 80, and 95 pitches thus far (resulting in 5.0, 5.0, 5.1, and 6.0 innings pitched, respectively). His performance has earned him a 3-0 record and a 2.53 ERA that is supported well with the underlying data: a 3.33 SIERA, a 2.39 xFIP, a 22.2% hard-hit rate, and a 27.9% strikeout rate. All of those rank third or better among main-slate arms. Sale draws a Tampa Bay Rays offense that does rank 3rd in wRC+ among active rosters but is also 23rd in strikeout rate (24.3%). numberFire's model projects Sale fourth in FanDuel points behind two pitchers facing off against one another and someone else we'll touch on in a second.

The game between the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies has an over/under of 7.5, so we would ideally want to target the pitchers in it. Perhaps the biggest issue on the slate is that Brandon Woodruff ($10,500) and Zack Wheeler ($10,200) face off against each other, shrinking the win odds of each of these studs.

Wheeler leads the slate in SIERA (3.23) and xFIP (2.91) with Woodruff close behind (3.31 and 3.04, respectively). The matchups are just middling, with the Brewers' active roster sitting 19th in wRC+ and the Phillies ranking 17th. They're each rating out with identical expected strikeout rates of 26.2% once factoring in opponent numbers, and both of those are top-three rates on the slate.

Taking a stand on either side could go a long way toward securing an elite outing with a win, but numberFire gives Woodruff a 33% chance to get a win, and for Wheeler, the number is 36%. Ultimately, Wheeler is still numberFire's top projected arm.

Among main-slate starters, Sonny Gray ($9,200) brings with him top-four marks in walk rate (8.9%) strikeout rate (27.4%), called-strike-plus-whiff rate (30.2%), xFIP (3.61), and SIERA (3.81). The Chicago Cubs own the worst active-roster strikeout rate in the Majors (26.3%), and that combines to give Gray the highest expected strikeout rate (26.8%) in my model for the day.

He joins the three $10,000-plus pitchers with a top-four projection based on numberFire's model, which also grants him the highest expected win odds (45%) on the slate.

Tarik Skubal ($8,900) has allowed a lot of hard contact (38.7%) and a lot of fly balls (42.4%), but a matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates (30th in wRC+ among active rosters) in the pitcher-friendly PNC Park makes Skubal appealing.

He has struck out 26.4% of opposing batters (568 this season), which pairs well with a middling strikeout tendency for Pittsburgh (23.4%, ranking 14th among active rosters). numberFire projects Skubal for 25.6 FanDuel points, sixth-most on the slate.

Stacks to Target

Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays will meet Jameson Taillon, a pitcher who ranks second-worst in fly-ball rate (47.1%) allowed among main-slate starters and who boasts a weak 3.95 expected ERA and a 4.59 xFIP -- numbers that conflict with an 8-5 record.

The Blue Jays own an active-roster wRC+ of 112, second-best, and their strikeout rate (20.8%) also is second-best among MLB teams. The New York Yankees' bullpen is definitely a drawback here, as they combined for an xFIP- of 89, but it's never a bad thing to get some exposure to the Jays' bats when possible.

With the high-salaried pitchers, the Blue Jays are difficult to stack, which could make them a nice tournament pivot that we pair with Gray or Skubal and another value stack.

The top of the lineup is all projecting out well: George Springer ($4,000), Marcus Semien ($4,200), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($4,500), Bo Bichette ($4,000), and Teoscar Hernandez ($4,000).

New York Mets
The New York Mets definitely fit the criteria of a poor offense (94 wRC+ among their active roster, ranking them 20th) that strikes out plenty (24.4%, ranking 24th) that we can simply consider due to the overall matchup.

They'll be facing Patrick Corbin, who has put forth a 6.26 ERA, which -- sure -- isn't nearly as bad as he has performed. However, it's also not a ton better by the underlying metrics: 5.92 expected ERA, 4.40 xFIP, and 4.65 SIERA.

Corbin also isn't generating a lot of swings and misses (his 26.6% called-strike-plus-whiff rate is 11th among main slate starters), and he's also getting tagged rather often. He's allowed a 36.5% hard-hit rate.

The Mets, then, should be able to take advantage to some degree in a plus park for hitters and while getting a bullpen that has a cumulative 115 xFIP- (ranking tied for 29th in the bigs).

The salary for the Mets is rather digestible with Jonathan Villar ($2,900) likely leading off before we get to Francisco Lindor ($3,500) and Pete Alonso ($3,500). Value options could emerge near the top of the order, too, so keep an eye out for the Mets' lineup drop.

Baltimore Orioles & Kansas City Royals
The Orioles/Kansas City Royals game has an over/under of 10.5, and the moneyline is even on both sides (-108). That gives them identical run totals of 5.25 to lead the slate.

Against Kris Bubic, the Baltimore Orioles are granted a matchup with a pitcher with a 4.85 SIERA and a 5.77 expected ERA (not that his ERA of 5.16 is hiding anything to begin with). Bubic awards a free pass to 11.9% of batters this year and doesn't make up for it with strikeouts (20.8%) or whiffs (27.0% called-strike-plus-whiff rate).

The Orioles will also face a slightly subpar bullpen (105 xFIP-), and all of this boosts their middling active-roster stats (101 wRC+) in a park that slightly favors hitters to pitchers. Some sub-$3,000 options should make the top six, including Austin Hays ($2,800), Ramon Urias ($2,400), Jorge Mateo ($2,600), or Pedro Severino ($2,400) to go with the more established names.

Royals will face Zac Lowther, who has faced 44 batters at the Major League level, and has allowed a 48.1% hard-hit rate and an expected ERA of 9.18.

The top of this order should bring even more value: Whit Merrifield ($3,300), Salvador Perez ($3,500), Carlos Santana ($2,700), and Andrew Benintendi ($2,700).