After a wild offseason that included a lockout, Major League Baseball is back this Thursday, and DraftKings is ready to roll with a seven-game special slate to get the season off to a strong start. Since there are so many games in the afternoon, the slate locks at 4:05 p.m. ET when the Mets open the season with a trip to D.C. to face the Nats.
All season long be sure to follow @dklive on Twitter for the latest lineup, injury and fantasy baseball analysis, and you can also download the DK Live app. To let me know what you think of my picks and find more of my content follow me on my Twitter handle, @ZT_Sports.
Let’s break down some of the top studs and values at each position to help you build your DraftKings Opening Day lineups.
Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals ($8,300) – It’s Opening Day, so there’s no shortage of ace starting pitchers to choose from. Bieber didn’t have a great Spring Training coming off of a season in which he was limited to just 16 starts by a shoulder strain, but he gets a juicy matchup against the Royals in Cleveland’s first game as the Guardians. Over the past three seasons, Bieber has posted an impressive 3.00 FIP, 1.06 WHIP, and 11.94 K/9 rate in 62 games. In 10 career starts against Kansas City, he has gone 4-0 with a 3.65 ERA and 74 strikeouts over 56 2⁄3 innings. His high strikeout rate gives him a very high ceiling in this favorable matchup.
Other Options – Yu Darvish ($9,500), Framber Valdez ($7,900)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels vs. Houston Astros ($7,000) – Ohtani is expected to be built up to around 90 pitches for this Opening Day start and brings great strikeout upside which helps cover for a less-than-ideal matchup against Houston. Last season, Ohtani looked sharp in his return to regularly pitching, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 3.52 FIP in 130 1⁄3 innings over 23 starts. He had a K/9 rate of 10.77, which is what gives him enough upside to be worth a look at only $7K on this slate.
Other Options – Adam Wainwright ($7,500), Madison Bumgarner ($5,900)
Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($4,200) – The 39-year-old veteran backstop has announced this will be his final season, but he was still a very productive fantasy option last year, hitting .252 with 11 home runs, a .118 ISO, a .305 wOBA and a 31.2% hard-hit rate. He got a late start to Spring Training, but his swing looked just fine as he went 4-for-10 with a double and a home run in his first four preseason games. Overall, the Cardinals’ lineup should be a good source of production against J.T. Brubaker ($7,500) and a thin Pirates bullpen.
Other Options – Gary Sánchez ($4,700), Travis d’Arnaud ($3,900)
Tyler Stephenson, Cincinnati Reds at Atlanta Braves ($3,300) – Stephenson appears to be poised to hit in the heart of the Reds lineup this season while splitting time at C, 1B and DH. While he looks to be set up in an everyday role this season, last year he crushed lefties with a .365 wOBA, .165 ISO and 33.9% hard-hit rate, so a matchup against lefty Max Fried ($9,000) should be a good one for him. He showed strong form this Spring Training as well, going 12-for-31 (.387) with four doubles.
Other Options – Daulton Varsho ($3,200), Tom Murphy ($2,900)
Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($5,300) – The Cardinals are going to be a recurring theme in these targets in this favorable spot against Pittsburgh. Goldschmidt has been crushing it all Spring Training, going 11-for-22 over his first 10 preseason games with four home runs. While Spring numbers can definitely be the result of randomness, his surge may also be tied to an equipment upgrade since he changed bats after visiting Baseball Performance Lab in Louisiana. Whatever works for him; Goldschmidt looks ready to build on his strong finish to last season.
Other Options – Pete Alonso ($4,800), Josh Bell ($4,600)
Bobby Bradley, Cleveland Guardians at Kansas City Royals ($3,900) – Bradley broke through in the Majors last year with 16 home runs in 74 games, posting a .237 ISO and .314 wOBA. He has a very high strikeout rate, but he has a ton of power upside when he connects. The left-handed batter is boom-or-bust, but there’s definitely upside to consider if you can’t pay up for an elite power bat.
Other Options – Albert Pujols ($3,300), Daniel Vogelbach ($2,400)
Ozzie Albies, Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds ($5,500) – It looks like Albies will end up batting fifth for Atlanta, but he should be a good fantasy option as the Braves begin their World Series title defense with a matchup against Tyler Mahle ($7,700) and the visiting Reds. Albies posted a career-high .229 ISO last year with a .336 wOBA and added 20 stolen bases. He was much better at home than on the road, and he and the Braves should be fired up to start the year with a boom.
Other Options – Tommy Edman ($5,800), Ketel Marte ($4,700)
Cesar Hernandez, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets ($2,900) – Hernandez and the Nationals look like good value plays since they won’t be facing off with Jacob deGrom or Max Scherzer, which was the expectation when salaries for this contest came out. Hernandez is expected to start the season as the Nats’ leadoff hitter after coming over from Chicago, and if he gets on base in front of Juan Soto ($5,000) and Nelson Cruz ($4,000), he should end up scoring plenty of runs. The switch-hitter is usually a little better against righties like Tylor Megill ($7,600), and is a solid option if he hits leadoff and you decide to go cheap at 2B.
Other Options – Adam Frazier ($3,500), Andrés Giménez ($3,100)
Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves vs. Cincinnati Reds ($5,400) – Riley’s breakthrough 2021 included an impressive 33 home runs, a .227 ISO, a .379 wOBA and a 135 wRC+. He provided key power in the heart of the lineup that powered Atlanta to the title. 30 of those 33 home runs came against right-handed pitchers, who he had a 36.8% hard-hit rate against, and those reverse splits should help him against Mahle in this matchup. While the lineup around him has changed a little, he has looked ready to pick up where he left off with a strong Spring Training and should provide plenty of power potential again this season.
Other Options – Nolan Arenado ($5,900), Manny Machado ($4,800)
Maikel Franco, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets ($2,500) – With Carter Kieboom (elbow) opening the season on the 60-day IL, Franco is expected to start the year as the Nats’ 3B after coming in on a minor league deal this offseason. He went 9-for-32 (.281) in Spring Training with a double and a pair of home runs. He has always had a little bit of power with an ISO over .170 in six straight seasons before struggling last season with the Orioles. As long as he makes the roster and is in the lineup as expected, he’s a solid value play with upside against Megill and the Mets.
Other Options – Ke’Bryan Hayes ($3,900), J.D. Davis ($2,600)
Francisco Lindor, New York Mets at Washington Nationals ($4,600) – After an underwhelming first season with the Mets, Lindor will anchor a rebuilt lineup this season. He finished the year strong with nine home runs in September, three of which came in 42 at-bats against left-handed pitching. He went 10-for-34 in Spring Training with four home runs as well and will look to start off a bounce-back season in this matchup against Patrick Corbin ($6,700), who allowed righties to post a .387 wOBA and tag him for 35 home runs last season.
Other Option – Adalberto Mondesi ($4,900)
Paul DeJong, St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates ($3,900) – After losing his starting job last season, DeJong won it back with a hot Spring Training. He went 10-for-23 with a pair of home runs this Spring. If you’re a believer in BvP, he has also gone 3-for-7 with a pair of home runs in his career against Brubaker, setting him up as a very solid sub-$4K play at SS. He tends to run red-hot and ice-cold, so ride him on his heater from Spring Training in this favorable spot.
Other Options – J.P. Crawford ($3,800), Kyle Farmer ($2,900)
Juan Soto, Washington Nationals vs. New York Mets ($5,000) – Soto is locked in as one of the top hitters in the game and has posted a .257 ISO, .416 wOBA and 159 wRC+ over the past three seasons. Scarily for the rest of the National League, he’s still just 23 years old. Last year, he feasted on righties with a .333 average, .239 ISO and 181 wRC+, so it makes sense to take advantage of his slightly lower price due to the deGrom/Scherzer expectations as he takes on Megill and the Mets.
Other Options – Mitch Haniger ($4,700), Marcell Ozuna ($4,300)
Wil Myers, San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks ($3,400) – In case the weather gets nasty in other places, it’s nice to have two late games where there are some value bats, including this indoor matchup at Chase Field. Myers hasn’t lived up to his hype or his contract, but he still is a solid bet against left-handed pitching. Last year, he hit .271 off of southpaws with a .178 ISO and .355 wOBA. Without Fernando Tatis Jr. (wrist), the Padres lineup lost quite a bit of thump but Myers should be in the middle of the order on Opening Day against Madison Bumgarner ($5,900), who he has a lot of experience against from their shared time in the NL West. Myers has gone 13-for-56 against MadBum in the past with six home runs and three doubles.
Other Options – Nelson Cruz ($4,000), David Peralta ($3,200), Jo Adell ($2,500)
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
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.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (IL/IN/MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org/chat (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-877-770-STOP (7867) (LA), 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), visit OPGR.org (OR), call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/LA/MI/NH/NJ/NY/OR/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.