FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Opening Day

Thursday marks the first of many MLB daily fantasy slates to come, and 2023 has all the makings of a unique campaign due to a myriad of rule changes. How much these changes will affect DFS remains to be seen, but this could be a season where jumping on early trends might be even more important than in past years. The festivities get going on FanDuel at 1:05 pm ET with an 11-game main slate.

Our daily helper is available every day to analyze FanDuel's main slate and help give you a starting point when you're building lineups. Be sure to also incorporate our great tools into your research process. Whether you're looking for daily projections, the latest starting lineups and weather, or batting and pitching heat maps to find the best matchups -- we've got you covered!

Let's check out the top options on today's main slate.

Pitching Breakdown

Opening Day is always extremely tricky from a DFS perspective, and that's especially the case when it comes to choosing our pitchers. Not only do we need to whittle down a plethora of bonafide aces, but we also have to keep track of which ones could have iffy pitch counts to begin the year.

With all that in mind, we can honestly make a case for everyone cracking $10,000 -- they're just that much strong pitching. But if we're going to knock anyone out of our player pool straight away, it's Jacob deGrom and Sandy Alcantara.

While deGrom would normally leap off the page at $10,800, he's expected to go roughly 75 pitches on Thursday after getting a late start in spring training. Given deGrom's recent injury history and the $185-million contract he signed this offseason, it's pretty safe to assume the Rangers will be very careful with their investment. Maybe he would be worth the risk on another slate, but with the bevy of aces at our disposal, it's hard to see five innings of deGrom outscoring the field.

As for Alcantara, he was a beast in 2022 and won the NL Cy Young in a landslide -- but he also logged just a 23.4% strikeout rate. Although he was still a stellar play in fantasy because of his sheer volume of innings -- he logged a league-best six complete games -- we're unlikely to see that kind of workload on Opening Day.

That leaves us five pitchers with five-figure salaries, and any of Corbin Burnes ($11,000), Gerrit Cole ($10,900), Max Scherzer ($10,700), Aaron Nola ($10,600), and Shane McClanahan ($10,400) are viable.

Cole checks a lot of boxes. He ranks second on the slate behind deGrom in 2022 strikeout rate (32.4%) and SIERA (2.77), and after going 84 pitches in his final spring tune-up, he should see close to a full workload. The Giants have one of the lowest implied totals on the board (3.12), and their active roster was a solid matchup for punchouts last season (23.3% strikeout rate).

Scherzer is perhaps the safest option from a pitch count perspective. He went 100 pitches in his last outing, so he should be pretty much fully unleashed right out of the gate. Mad Max doesn't appear to be slowing down after posting a 2.88 SIERA, 30.6% strikeout rate, and 4.2% walk rate last season, and the Marlins come in with a 3.13 implied total.

McClanahan gets one of the best matchups against a Tigers team we often attacked last year. Detroit isn't projected to be much better in 2023, and they have a slate-low 2.89 implied total. While McClanahan faded down the stretch in 2022, he still managed to put up a fantastic 2.82 SIERA, 30.3% strikeout rate, 5.9% walk rate, and 50.2% ground-ball rate. Perhaps the only concern here is that Tampa Bay isn't afraid to pull the cord early with their pitchers, so he could see a lower pitch count compared to Cole or Scherzer.

If you're looking to save a little cash, then Blake Snell ($9,500) and Hunter Greene ($9,100) are appealing mid-range options. Snell is ever the wild card, but he can explode for double-digit strikeouts here and there, and the Rockies are notoriously weak on the road.

Greene might be the best overall value of the slate, though. While his 4.44 ERA wasn't anything to write home about in 2022, underneath it was a 3.33 SIERA and 30.9% strikeout rate, and he regularly hits 100 mph. Like Snell, walks can be an issue for Greene (9.0% walk rate), but we'll take this kind of firepower any day at this salary. The Pirates should be a lower-tier offense again, and their active roster handed out a 24.4% strikeout rate to righties last season.

Although Greene saw a reduced workload in his most recent start, he went five innings earlier this spring and there doesn't seem to be any indication of a strict pitch count, so we should feel reasonably safe projecting him somewhere between 80 and 90 pitches.

Given how much quality pitching is out there, Opening Day probably isn't the slate to dip into the sub-$9,000 options, particularly with Greene being barely above that threshold. We should also see roster percentages fairly spread out, so it wouldn't be surprising if no single pitcher is all that chalky in GPPs.

Hitting Breakdown

With temperatures being cooler this time of year, implied totals are pretty low across the board, but we do have three teams that come in above 4.50 implied runs: the Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, and Atlanta Braves.

Beginning with the Red Sox, they'll face Kyle Gibson and the Orioles in their home opener. Gibson got rocked for a 5.05 ERA last season, and while ERA estimators were much kinder, he produced a middling 20.1% strikeout rate and recorded the lowest ground-ball rate of his career (45.9%). Boston's left-handed batters will especially enjoy this matchup, as Gibson had a 4.66 xFIP, 16.8% strikeout rate, and 8.4% walk rate in the split.

We could see four lefties batting in the top six for the Sox between Rafael Devers ($3,900), Alex Verdugo ($3,000), Masataka Yoshida ($2,900), and Triston Casas ($2,700). Verdugo doesn't bring much in the power department, but he's projected to bat leadoff ahead of Devers, so he should still have plenty of upside in stacks. We don't know what kind of MLB player Yoshida will be, but he was an on-base machine in Japan and absolutely crushed it in the World Baseball Classic.

While temperatures might drop into the 40s in Boston, hitter-friendly Fenway Park should help keep the offense afloat.

Moving onto the Twins, they'll take their hacks against Zack Greinke in Kansas City. Greinke still managed to produce a 3.68 ERA in 2022, but the underlying numbers were poor, as he recorded a mere 4.84 SIERA and 12.5% strikeout rate. Considering he posted a 41.3% ground-ball rate, he was lucky to allow just 0.92 home runs per nine innings, and a below-average 8.2% homer-to-fly-ball rate backs that notion.

Both sides of the plate should be able to get in on the fun, with Byron Buxton ($3,500) and Carlos Correa ($3,000) being the clear standouts. We could see Joey Gallo ($2,400) and Max Kepler ($2,500) also crack the top four batting slots, though, giving us a pair of value lefties. Greinke produced a dismal 8.7% strikeout rate versus left-handed sticks, so Gallo should have a far greater chance of utilizing his power in spite of his whiff-happy approach.

We see a familiar face opposite Atlanta, and that's left-hander Patrick Corbin, who was a frequent visitor of this space last season. Corbin has struggled in each of the last three seasons, and his days of being a quality big league starter continue to fade further in the rearview mirror. In 2022, righties knocked him around for 1.79 home runs per nine innings, and he had a below-average strikeout rate against righties and lefties alike.

This will be a frightening matchup for the veteran southpaw against what should be one of the league's top offenses again. Ronald Acuna ($3,900) and Austin Riley ($3,600) are elite spend-up options, but we can also find plenty of thump from guys like Sean Murphy ($2,900) and Marcell Ozuna ($2,500) without breaking the bank. Lefty Matt Olson ($3,700) has consistently performed well in same-sided matchups throughout his career, so feel free to include him in stacks, as well.

Finally, for a potential contrarian stack, the Cincinnati Reds might be one to consider. The Reds aren't expected to be anything special this year, but they have a sneaky high implied total (4.45) and play in the best hitter's park outside of Coors Field

They're up against Mitch Keller, who was pretty much a league-average hurler in 2022, putting together a 4.18 SIERA, 20.1% strikeout rate, and 8.7% walk rate. Other than a decent ground-ball rate (49.0%), there just isn't a whole lot here to scare us.

Best of all, Cincinnati's bats are low-salaried from top to bottom. Guys like Jonathan India ($3,200) and Wil Myers ($2,600) are coming off down years but are reasonable bets to bounce back in 2023, whereas lefties Jake Fraley ($2,600) and TJ Friedl ($2,500) are both projected to hit double digits in dingers and stolen bases this season. Catcher Tyler Stephenson ($2,700) is a potential breakout candidate following an injury-shortened 2022.