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Fantasy Baseball Picks: Top DraftKings MLB DFS Targets, Values for July 23

Zach Thompson provides his top studs and value plays at each position for Thursday’s two-game Opening Day fantasy baseball slate, which starts on July 23 at 7:08 p.m. ET.

The Major League Baseball regular season is ready to get underway after a delay of almost four months. Opening Day is Thursday, July 23, and features a two-game schedule which is available as the first fantasy baseball contest of the MLB regular season on DraftKings.

The defending champion Washington Nationals will start the season off with a matchup against the power-hitting Yankees at 7:08 p.m. ET followed at 10:08 p.m. ET by a marquee matchup from the West Coast as the Dodgers host the Giants at Chavez Ravine. Make sure to get your lineup set for this first DFS slate of the season!

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Editor’s note: Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw (back stiffness) has been placed on the injured list and will not start tonight vs. the Giants. P Dustin May will start in place of Kershaw.


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Curious about when major leagues and events will return? Check out our DraftKings Sports Calendar for the latest updates.


Starting Pitcher

Stud

Gerrit Cole, NYY at WAS, $10,000 — Cole should be ready to roll for his Yankees debut. He worked up to 84 pitches in intrasquad action, so don’t worry about the fact that he’s expected to sit out the exhibition games before the season starts. Cole was dominant last year with the Astros, averaging 29.9 DKFP per start over his 38 games and going 24-6 with 373 strikeouts in 249 innings. He’s exactly the kind of high-strikeout rate pitcher you want to target when you pay up for an ace and the fact that he’s on the road is actually a good thing since Nationals Park is more pitcher-friendly than Yankee Stadium.

Other Option — Max Scherzer ($8,600)

Value

Editor’s note: Dodgers SP Clayton Kershaw (back stiffness) has been placed on the injured list and will not start tonight vs. the Giants. P Dustin May will start in place of Kershaw.

Clayton Kershaw, LAD vs. SF, $7,700 — Kershaw is 5-1 with a 1.05 ERA on Opening Day in his career, but he lost his streak of Opening Day starts when he started last season on the IL. He was announced as the starter for the original opener March 26 against the Giants, and manager Dave Roberts said Kershaw will still get the call in this delayed start to the season. Kershaw wasn’t quite as dominant last season but still went 16-6 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. He still averaged over a strikeout-per-inning with 194 in his 184 23 innings spread over 29 starts. He gets a favorable matchup against the Giants and is actually relatively affordable under $8K.

Other Option — Johnny Cueto ($5,000)


Catcher

Stud

Will Smith, LAD vs. SF, $4,200 — Smith had a rough postseason but the 25-year-old showed plenty of promise during the 2019 season and should be set up for most of the work behind the plate for the Dodgers in 2020. He hit .253 in his 54 games with 15 homers, 42 RBI and a .908 OPS. He faded a bit in September, hitting just .175 with a .582 OPS but should be refreshed and ready to go against Cueto in the opener. The Dodgers have one of the best matchups on this limited slate, making them an attractive stack and Smith is a good place to start building it.

Other Option — Gary Sánchez ($4,400)

Value

Kurt Suzuki, WAS vs. NYY, $4,100 — The Nationals brought back Suzuki for a second tenure with the team before last season and the veteran came through with a .264 average, 17 home runs and an .809 OPS in his 85 games. He was a big part of the team’s postseason run after battling injury and will likely get the nod over Yan Gomes ($3,500) to start on Opening Day. Whichever Nats catcher starts will be the better option among the cheap backstops if you can’t afford Smith or Sánchez.

Other Options — Tyler Heineman ($3,400)


First Base

Stud

Eric Thames, WAS vs. NYY, $4,500 — With Ryan Zimmerman opting out, Howie Kendrick ($4,400) delayed and a DH in play for all NL teams, there should be plenty of work for Thames in his first year in Washington. He made a successful return to the Majors from Korea over the past three seasons in Milwaukee and signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Nats this offseason. He swatted 25 home runs last season while hitting a respectable .247 with an .851 OPS. He’s just 2-for-14 against Cole in their previous meetings, although one of those two hits was a home run.

Other Option — Max Muncy ($4,600)

Value

Luke Voit, NYY at WAS, $4,200 — Voit dropped some weight during quarantine and has looked much improved defensively according to reports out of the Yankees’ Summer Camp. He hit a career-high 21 home runs last season, his first full year with the Yankees, and also contributed a .263 average, 62 RBI and an .842 OPS. He’s a bit like Thames in that he can be boom-or-bust player, but the power production should be there for the 29-year-old if he can stay healthy and establish himself as the everyday first baseman in the Bronx.


Second Base

Stud

Gleyber Torres, NYY at WAS, $4,300 — Torres crushed 38 home runs last year and hit a healthy .278 with 90 RBI and a .871 OPS. He definitely enjoyed hitting in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium but didn’t suffer much of a reduction in production on the road either. He’s still just 23 years old as the season starts and is truly one of the emerging talents in the Majors. He should be set up for a stellar abbreviated season if he stays healthy.

Other Option — Gavin Lux ($4,000)

Value

Wilmer Flores, SF at LAD, $3,800 — The former Diamondback and Met signed a two-year deal with the Giants this offseason and should find ways to be involved in most games, especially with the DH now in the NL. Flores is known for his effectiveness hitting left-handed pitchers and new Giants manager Gabe Kapler typically leaned heavily on those splits during his time with the Phillies. Flores hit .337 with a .982 OPS against lefties last season in Arizona and is 5-for-16 (.313) with a home run in his previous career meetings with lefty Clayton Kershaw, who Flores will face if he gets the start on Opening Day. Flores should get more playing time early in the year with both Evan Longoria (oblique) and Brandon Belt (heel) dealing with injuries.

Other Option — Asdrúbal Cabrera ($3,900)


Third Base

Stud

Justin Turner, LAD vs. SF, $4,100 — Turner is another hitter who should benefit from the DH coming to the NL, which will likely lock him into the No. 3 spot in the Dodgers lineup on a daily basis. Despite battling some injuries last season, he hit .290 with 24 home runs and an .881 OPS. His numbers weren’t quite as impressive as his previous few years, but he still appears to have plenty left in the tank. Since he and Cueto have been in the NL West so long, they have an extensive track record and Turner has gone 11-for-31 with three doubles and a home run against the Giants’ scheduled starter.

Value

Starlin Castro, WAS vs. NYY, $3,700 — Castro joined the Nationals this offseason after spending the past two seasons in Miami. He actually had pretty good numbers with the Fish last season, playing all 162 games and hitting .270 with 22 home runs and a .736 OPS. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story, though, since he made some major in-season adjustments and was excellent in the second half with a .302 average, 16 homers and an .892 OPS after the All-Star break. If the Nationals get the version of Castro that he showed in the second half of the year, he should be a fixture in the heart of the Washington lineup while starting at second base (although he’s 3B-eligible on this slate). Castro is also 6-for-17 (.353) in his career against Cole.

Other Option — Pablo Sandoval ($3,500)


Shortstop

Stud

Trea Turner, WAS vs. NYY, $5,100 — Even in a tough matchup with Cole, Turner is always worth a look since he brings so much upside in many different ways. Last season, he averaged 9.9 DKFP per contest while hitting .298 in his 122 games. He had 19 home runs for the second straight season and had a very solid .850 OPS along with 35 stolen bases. There has been some discussion about moving Turner down in the lineup to give him more RBI opportunities and to take better advantage of his power but wherever he hits, he should again be an elite fantasy SS.

Other Options — Corey Seager ($4,400)

Value

Mauricio Dubón, SF at LAD, $3,100 — Dubón is a highly regarded prospect that the Giants acquired from Milwaukee for Drew Pomeranz last season. Dubón was tearing up the Cactus League before the quarantine layoff and is expected to get most of his work in CF while moving around to fill needs as a “super-utility” option for the Giants. He hit .274 in his 28 games with the Giants last season with four homers and three stolen bases. If he’s in the Opening Day lineup due to injury or in his new CF spot he’ll be a solid value against Kershaw, especially since he has had very good success against lefties throughout his rise to the Majors.

Other Option — Carter Kieboom ($3,700)


Outfield

Stud

Mookie Betts, LAD vs SF, $4,900 — Mookie will be making his Dodgers debut against Cueto and the Giants and will do his best to make a good first impression. He finished last season with an average of 10.3 DKFP per contest thanks to 29 home runs, 97 RBI, a .295 average and a .915 OPS. With a stacked lineup behind him and a good matchup against Cueto, look for Betts to get off to a hot start with his new team.

Other Option — Cody Bellinger ($5,100), Giancarlo Stanton ($4,600)

Value

Aaron Hicks, NYY at WAS, $4,200 — Hicks is looking to be one of the first players to undergo Tommy John surgery and not even miss a single game for his team. The surgery took place after the ALCS last fall and he says he’ll be ready to roll when the season starts. The 30-year-old was limited to just 59 games last season but still has some power and speed to offer the Yankees in addition to his great defense in CF. If Hicks is at the top of the Yankees’ stacked lineup, he should be able to pile up counting stats in a hurry while also offering a nice power/speed blend that will give him lots of upside.

Other Option — Mike Yastrzemski ($4,000), Victor Robles ($3,700)

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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 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.