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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Targets, Values for August 18

Zach Thompson gives his top studs and value plays for Thursday’s fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings.

Major League Baseball has a split schedule this Thursday with six afternoon games getting us ready for the main DraftKings slate, which gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET and features the five games set to take place under the lights. Just two of the matchups are divisional games, and the Nationals close out the slate by visiting former teammate Juan Soto ($6,100) in his new home in San Diego in the one late game from the West Coast.

To keep up with pregame lineups and player news, install the DK Live app and follow DK Live on Twitter (@dklive). I’m also on Twitter (@ZT_Sports), where you can keep up with all my picks as the season continues.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $200K Relay Throw [$50K to 1st]

For up-to-the-minute news, analysis and lineups, download the DK Live app. You also can follow DK Live on Twitter @dklive.



Jacob deGrom, New York Mets at Atlanta Braves ($10,300) – He’s the most expensive pitcher on the slate, but deGrom is still a very attractive play despite a difficult matchup with the Braves. We’ve only gotten to see deGrom for 16 23 innings this season due to injury, but he has dazzled when available. He has a 1.62 ERA, 0.72 FIP and a total of 28 strikeouts after posting over 35 DKFP in each of his two most recent starts. He faced the Braves in one of those outings and threw 5 23 no-hit innings before allowing a two-run homer but still finishing with 35.6 DKFP. He still has only thrown 76 pitches in each of his past two outings, so his ceiling could be even higher once he can go deeper into games. While his health is still a big-picture question, his dominance when healthy is definite, so it makes sense to build around him as your ace on this limited slate Thursday.

Other Options – Shane McClanahan ($9,700), Yu Darvish ($9,000)


Frankie Montas, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($7,300) – In the only other divisional game, the Yankees start a four-game home set against the Blue Jays by sending their big trade deadline acquisition Montas to the mound for his Yankees home debut. He got blasted in St. Louis and finished with -6.7 DKFP in his first appearance for New York but bounced back with a better showing in Fenway, where he posted 10.5 DKFP against the Red Sox. Montas is 4-9 on the year but most of that is from his time in Oakland, and his other numbers show he’s been pretty solid with a 3.59 ERA, 3.53 FIP and 9.19 K/9. He showed a high ceiling with a strong June and will look to get his footing and help the Yankees build on a dramatic win Wednesday night. The lower tier of pitchers is all high-risk, but Montas brings the most upside of the group.

Other Option – Josh Winckowski ($7,100)



Manny Machado, San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals ($5,800) – Even with only 10 teams on the slate, 3B has several elite options. Machado is the strongest play, though, in a great matchup against Aníbal Sánchez ($5,500), who he is 8-for-17 (.471) against in his career with four home runs. Machado has also been scorching hot lately with eight straight multi-hit games and an average of 16.1 DKFP per contest over that span. Machado is hitting .414 (24-for-58) over his past 14 games with three home runs, 15 RBIs, a .499 wOBA and a 229 wRC+. While Soto is sure to get a lot of deserved attention against his former team, it’s Machado who makes sense as a fantasy stud to build your lineup around.


Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($4,200) – Torres led off the first two games of the series against the Rays with DJ LeMahieu ($4,800; toe) sidelined, and the move seems to have jump-started his bat, as he went 5-for-13 (.385) in the three-game set with his 17th home run of the year and a .431 wOBA. He will likely slot lower in the order if LeMahieu returns against José Berríos ($6,700), but Torres remains a relatively inexpensive way to get part of the Yankees’ lineup in what should be a good spot against Berríos, who has a 15.26 ERA and 11.72 FIP over his two most recent starts.

Other Options – Anthony Rizzo ($5,100), Xander Bogaerts ($4,300)


Vinnie Pasquantino, Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays ($2,300) – The Royals have some exciting young bats who have been fun to follow this season, including 24-year-old Pasquantino, who has really started heating up in August. He already has five home runs this month and is 21-for-55 (.382) with four doubles and a .483 wOBA. The Rays are expected to recall righty Luis Patiño ($6,700) for the start on Thursday, which gives Pasquantino a huge upgrade over facing lefty Shane McClanahan as initially thought. All eight of his home runs in the Majors have come against righties, and the matchup upgrade along with his great form provides a high ceiling at this low salary.


Christian Arroyo, Boston Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates ($2,000) – Arroyo offers great value at the minimum salary as he continues to start every day at 2B in the absence of Trevor Story (wrist). Since returning from his own IL stint on July 30, Arroyo has gone 23-for-59 (.390) with five doubles, a triple, a home run and a .427 wOBA. He has hit safely in 10 of his past 11 games and had three hits and 19 DKFP Wednesday night to power the Red Sox to their third straight win. Even without a ton of power potential, his production is definitely worth a punt play to pay up in other places.

Other Options – Luke Voit ($3,700), Isiah Kiner-Falefa ($3,200), C.J. Abrams ($2,400)



Aaron Judge, New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays ($6,000) – Judge hasn’t homered in five games, which seems like an extremely long draught for the slugger, showing just how dominant he has been this year. He has gone 6-for-15 (.400) with a home run in his career against Berríos and has amazing home splits with a .381 ISO and .446 wOBA this year at Yankee Stadium. Since the All-Star break, he still has a .506 ISO and .547 wOBA. The Rays were very careful with him in their three-game series, but I expect him to get back in the groove this weekend against Toronto, who he has averaged 9.4 DKFP against in 12 games this season.


Bryan Reynolds, Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Red Sox, ($4,100) – Reynolds tends to fly a little under the radar since he plays for the Pirates, but he has been a nice mid-range contributor for much of the season. He is hitting only .259 on the year but does have a .350 wOBA and 18 home runs. He has been especially good in his past 14 games, going 17-for-52 (.327) with three doubles, three home runs, a .231 ISO and .430 wOBA. He doesn’t get a lot of support from the rest of the lineup, but he should be in a good matchup to turn in solid production at just over $4K against Josh Winckowski ($7,100), who tends to pitch to a lot of contact.

Other Options – George Springer ($5,200), Tommy Pham ($4,800)


Harold Ramírez, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Kansas City Royals ($3,500) – Ramírez returned to the Rays on Tuesday after missing just about a month with a thumb injury. He didn’t take long to jump back into action and hit his fifth homer of the season on Wednesday. He’s hitting a solid .325 on the season with a .359 wOBA but has been even better since June 1 with a .373 average and .407 wOBA. He always seems to come up with a way to contribute and is a very nice value play in the middle of a lineup that should be in a good matchup Thursday (more below in stacks).


Alex Verdugo, Boston Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,000) – Verdugo has also been heating up this summer and has become the Red Sox’ regular cleanup hitter. He picked up three more hits on Wednesday night and has gone 17-for-38 (.447) over his past 11 games with eight doubles and a home run boosting him to a .539 wOBA. He and Arroyo have been the keys to the Red Sox offense lately but have remained affordable options coming into this favorable matchup against JT Brubaker ($6,300).

Other Options – Andrew Benintendi ($3,900), David Peralta ($3,100), Hunter Dozier ($2,700)


San Diego Padres vs. Washington Nationals – The Padres only managed one win in their three-game set in Miami, but they should be set up for a strong homestand against Washington and Cleveland over the next week. They’ll start it with a great matchup against Anibál Sánchez, who they just faced last week. Sánchez was lucky to escape allowing just three runs in five innings since he allowed six hits, three walks and a 47.1% hard-hit rate. All season, he has been hit hard with a 7.20 ERA, 7.48 FIP and 10 home runs allowed in just 30 innings. Machado, Soto, Brandon Drury ($5,600) and Josh Bell ($4,700) are all solid power options, and don't forget about Jurickson Profar ($4,500) and Jake Cronenworth ($4,600), who had the big grand slam in Wednesday’s win. There aren’t really any great value steals in the Friars’ lineup, so it makes sense to mix them in with either some cheap Red Sox (highlighted above) or some cheap Rays (highlighted below).

Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals – The Rays continue to fly mostly under the radar but have put together another strong season that has them right in the middle of the Wild Card race. The Royals haven’t announced a starter with Brad Keller ($6,000) demoted to the bullpen, but Carlos Hernández ($5,300), Max Castillo ($7,100) or a bullpen game would all end up as good opportunities for the Rays. What makes them a good stack to consider is that they are very affordable with only Brandon Lowe ($4,900) and Randy Arozarena ($4,700) priced over $4K. You can add in Harold Ramírez (highlighted above), Yandy Diaz ($4,000), David Peralta ($3,100) and Ji-Man Choi ($3,200) and cheaply stack the top half of their lineup in what should be a place for them to pile up runs as they look to get back on track after losing Wednesday on a walk-off grand slam in New York.

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $200K Relay Throw [$50K to 1st]

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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