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

Matt LaMarca gives his top studs and value plays at each position for Sunday’s fantasy baseball slate on DraftKings, which starts at 1:05 p.m. ET.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The second half of the MLB season is officially underway, and we have a 10-game main slate starting at 1:05 p.m. ET on DraftKings.

Let’s go position-by-position and break down everything you’ll need to know to set your lineups.

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Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies vs. Miami Marlins ($9,500) – Sunday is an interesting slate for the stud pitchers. Wheeler, Corbin Burnes ($10,000) and Max Scherzer ($9,800) all seem underpriced, but none of those options really stand out from a Vegas perspective. All three pitchers own an opponent implied team total of at least 3.5 runs, which is pretty pedestrian for pitchers of their caliber.

That said, Wheeler clearly has the best matchup of the trio. He’s taking on the Marlins, who have been mediocre against right-handed pitching this season. They rank 18th in wRC+ in that split, and they also own the sixth-highest strikeout rate. Burnes and Scherzer are facing the Reds and Padres respectively, so I’ll take the slight discount with Wheeler.

Other Options – Corbin Burnes ($10,000), Max Scherzer ($9,800)


Hyun-Jin Ryu, Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers ($7,600) – The top Vegas data on the slate actually belongs to Ryu. He leads all pitchers with an opponent implied team total of 3.0 runs, and he’s also a massive -245 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook. Historically, pitchers with comparable Vegas data and salaries have averaged 18.3 DKFP per game, making Ryu an excellent value.

Other Options – Taijuan Walker ($8,600), Joe Musgrove ($7,900)

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $222K Bat Flip [$50K to 1st]



Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles ($5,000) – The Royals are taking on Matt Harvey ($4,800) on Sunday, and I honestly feel bad for him at this point. He clearly doesn’t have the stuff required to pitch in the major leagues anymore, but the Orioles keep running him out there every five days. You would think they have a better option in the minor leagues – Harvey has pitched to a 7.70 ERA through 18 starts – but they continue to let him take a beating.

Perez was very impressive in the Home Run Derby on Monday, and he’ll have a chance to launch another ball over the fence in this matchup. The Royals are currently implied for 5.5 runs, which is the second-highest mark on the slate.

Other Options – J.T. Realmuto ($5,400)


Ryan Jeffers, Minnesota Twins @ Detroit Tigers ($3,500) – The Twins lead the slate with an implied team total of 5.6 runs, which is more than enough to make Jeffers viable. They’re taking on Tigers right-hander Wily Peralta ($6,300), who is a major regression candidate over the second half of the year. He’s survived thanks to a minuscule .176 BABIP through his first 26 innings in 2021, and he allows a ton of balls to be put in play. He’s managed just 5.54 strikeouts per nine innings this season, so his luck will turn if more balls start finding the grass.

Other Options – Pedro Severino ($3,000), Danny Jansen ($2,300)



Yandy Diaz, Tampa Bay Rays @ Atlanta Braves ($4,800) – Diaz has turned into a quality major leaguer for the Rays, and he’s historically been at his best against left-handed pitchers. He’ll be facing a lefty on Sunday in Drew Smyly ($6,900), and Diaz has posted a 115 wRC+ in those matchups this season. He’s been even better against southpaws for his career – he owns a 124 wRC+ against left-handers dating back to 2017 – so he has the potential to get to Smyly on Sunday.

Other Options – Carlos Santana ($5,300), Darin Ruf ($5,000)


Alex Kirilloff, Minnesota Twins @ Detroit Tigers ($3,500) – Kirilloff entered the season as the Twins’ top prospect, and he’s held his own in his first taste of big-league action. He’ll be on the positive side of his splits Sunday vs. Peralta, who has pitched to a 6.17 FIP against left-handed batters this season. That makes him an elite target in the heart of the Twins’ lineup.

Other Options – Ryan Mountcastle ($3,800), Miguel Cabrera ($2,700)



Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals @ Baltimore Orioles ($5,000) – Most of the Royals’ lineup is going to be in play vs. Harvey, and Merrifield is arguably their best hitter. His batting numbers are a bit down this season, but he’s made up for it from a fantasy perspective thanks to 24 steals. Stolen bases can often be overlooked in DFS. Steals continue to be way down – only three players have stolen at least 20 bases this season – but Merrifield leads the league in that department. That gives him the ability to provide fantasy value in multiple ways, which is very appealing.

Other Options – Marcus Semien ($5,700), Ozzie Albies ($4,900)


Domingo Leyba, Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals ($2,300) – The Royals will deservedly get most of the attention in this matchup, but the Orioles have plenty of appeal of their own. They’re taking on Carlos Hernandez ($4,000), who will be making his first start at the major league level. He’s been impressive for 21 2/3 innings out of the bullpen this season, but it seems like he’ll be limited to around four innings. He’s only pitched more than three innings in two of his 12 appearances this season, so it will likely be a bullpen game for the Royals.

Bullpen games are all the rage in 2021, but it’s not necessarily a good thing for the Royals. They own the seventh-worst bullpen ERA this season, and their bullpen has allowed the second-most homers. Asking five or six different pitchers to complete a game is always risky, and Leyba is a cheap way to get some exposure to the Orioles.

Other Options – Jean Segura ($3,800), Alcides Escobar ($3,300)



Josh Donaldson, Minnesota Twins @ Detroit Tigers ($5,300) – It seems like Donaldson will inevitably be traded before the deadline, and he continues to get the job done at 35 years old. He’s posted a 126 wRC+ this season, and his .384 xwOBA is his highest mark since 2017.

Other Options – Yoan Moncada ($5,200), Wilmer Flores ($4,400)


Luis Arraez, Minnesota Twins @ Detroit Tigers ($3,500) – Arraez is obviously not the same power threat as Donaldson, but he might be the better pure value for the Twins. He’s cheaper, expected to bat leadoff, and will be on the positive side of his splits vs. Peralta. He’s an extremely safe investment for cash games at just $3,500.

Other Options – Jeimer Candelario ($4,000), Hunter Dozier ($3,300)



Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays @ Texas Rangers ($5,500) – Bichette has had an excellent season for the Blue Jays, and he’s been especially potent against left-handed pitchers. He’s posted a 160 wRC+ against southpaws this season, and he’ll be facing a left-hander on Sunday in Kolby Allard ($6,200).

Other Options – Wander Franco ($4,900), Dansby Swanson ($4,400)


Isaac Paredes, Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins ($3,100) – Paredes has struggled to start his MLB career, but he projects as a solid hitter in the long term. He entered the year as the Tigers’ No. 7 prospect, per FanGraphs, and they unsurprisingly have one of the best farm systems at the moment. Paredes has also held his own against southpaws this year, while J.A. Happ ($6,700) has struggled against right-handed batters.

Other Options – Ramon Urias ($2,800), Taylor Walls ($2,500)



Cedric Mullins, Baltimore Orioles @ Kansas City Royals ($4,500) – I’m not sure the general public realizes just how good of a season Mullins is having. He’s posted a 154 wRC+, and he’s also displayed a nice combination of power and speed with 16 homers and 16 steals. He’s underpriced in this matchup against the Royals’ bullpen.

Other Options – Nelson Cruz ($5,800), Andrew Benintendi ($4,200)


Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals vs. Baltimore Orioles ($2,700) – Soler has regressed badly after leading the American League with 48 homers in 2019, but I’m willing to roll the dice with him in this matchup vs. Harvey. He still has the potential to hit the long ball, even if he hasn’t displayed it much this season.

Other Options – Trevor Larnach ($3,800), Austin Hays ($2,900)

Set your DraftKings fantasy baseball lineups here: MLB $222K Bat Flip [$50K to 1st]

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) 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.

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