FanDuel MLB 3-Man Challenge Helper: Monday 6/17/19
Sometimes, you just don't have time to track the weather, check the splits, and wait for the batting order to be posted to build a full nine-man FanDuel MLB roster. It happens. But that no longer means you can't build some lineups, thanks to FanDuel's MLB 3-Man Challenge game style.
The premise is simple: build a three-player roster for a $7 salary cap, and only hits and RBI count toward netting FanDuel points. One player is your MVP, and his points are multiplied by 1.5, and you just need to roster players from at least two different teams. That more or less covers it, but you should familiarize yourself with the basic strategy for the new game style to help you in tonight's marquee 3-Man Challenge contest.
That being said, which options stand out at each price range for today's 3-Man Challenge slate?
J.D. Martinez - This projects to be one of the lower-scoring 3-Man slates we've seen since the inception of the format. Only one team has an implied total over five runs, and with fewer dreamy matchups or Coors Field-type park factor boosts we can put more weight on hitters' individual numbers. J.D. Martinez is one of the most consistently-powerful hitters in the majors, and he ranks in the top 4% in expected slugging percentage for the fourth straight season, also ranking in the top 7% in both barrel rate and average exit velocity. Jose Berrios isn't a pushover on the mound, but his 35.0% hard-hit rate and 39.0% fly-ball rate allowed this year leave plenty of room for Martinez to show off his power.
Ronald Acuna - The Atlanta Braves' 4.89-run implied total ranks third on this slate as they go up against Zack Wheeler and the New York Mets. Wheeler has a solid 3.91 skill-interactive ERA (SIERA) on the year, suggesting he's not been nearly as bad as his 4.87 ERA makes it look, but still he's forcing the lowest soft-hit rate (17.8%) of his career while his 30.8% hard-hit rate sits as his second-highest. Ronald Acuna has jumped on right-handed pitchers for a .368 wOBA and .220 ISO on a 44.2% hard-hit and 38.5% fly-ball rate over his young major league career, so while the tough matchup gives him a low floor, he's another guy who offers plenty of upside. Our models project him for the highest fantasy score on the slate.
Jorge Polanco - The Minnesota Twins are the lone team implied for north of 5 runs (5.30) that I alluded to earlier, and they're up against Boston Red Sox righty Rick Porcello. Porcello isn't typically a terrible pitcher (the trend that makes this 3-Man slate look like it will be unusually low-scoring), but he's having some real struggles in 2019, with a career-worst 4.83 SIERA over 14 games. The switch-hitting Polanco has rocked righties for a .425 wOBA and .277 ISO on 41.2% hard-hits and 49.7% fly-balls over 223 plate appearances this season. He's the best bet to take full advantage of one of the slate's best matchups.
Carlos Santana - We have Santana projected for the second-highest fantasy score on the slate, and that means his $2 price-tag should catch your eye right away. Texas Rangers righty Lance Lynn has a long history of struggling against left-handed bats, and his poor 4.73 xFIP in that split in 2019 is actually a strong mark by his usual standards, with no xFIP better than 5.10 in the last three years. Another switch-hitter, Santana has hit right-handed hurlers for a big .401 wOBA over 200 plate appearances this season, and since 2016 he shows a .363 wOBA and .236 ISO in the split.
Max Kepler - Back to the Twins, Kepler too gets the platoon advantage against Porcello, who has allowed an especially egregious 5.93 xFIP to the 168 left-handed sticks he's faced this year. Kepler's .390 wOBA and .311 ISO against righties this year are both career-highs, and they come over a pretty solid 211 plate appearance sample. Even if we go back to include the last couple of seasons, his .343 wOBA and .221 ISO since 2017 show more than enough power to take advantage of this spot. We project him for 0.22 home runs, which is just ahead of Santana for the highest home run projection for any hitter cheaper than $3 tonight.
C.J. Cron - Cron doesn't get the platoon advantage, but he still brings plenty of pop in same-sided matchups. He's up above 40% in both hard-hit and fly-ball rate against righties this season (189 plate appearances), and if we expand the sample back to include the 2018 season he shows some inconsistency (.329 wOBA) but no shortage of power (.233 ISO) in the split. His plate discipline isn't anything special, with a 6.2% walk rate and 24.5% strikeout rate, but that's something we don't need to worry about nearly as much in this format, where power is king.
Jason Castro - One more time with the Twins, they offer plenty of appeal no matter what pricing tier you want to get exposure at. With Castro we get to once again salivate at that 5.93 xFIP Porcello has against lefty bats, and he's more than capable of taking advantage. He had a down year in 2018, but Castro is up to a .383 wOBA and .341 ISO over 100 plate appearances against righties in 2019, bringing him to a .316 wOBA and solid .182 ISO on 40.2% hard-hits in the split since joining the Twins in 2017 (469 plate appearances).
Robinson Cano - The Mets are one of the least appealing offenses on the slate, but it's not all bad. Robinson Cano, is priced at the bottom while he draws the platoon advantage, and even against Mike Soroka there's some reason to be intrigued by this spot. For as nasty as Soroka has been to open 2019, he's far less scary for left-handed bats, allowing a .284 wOBA and 3.73 xFIP compared to a .204 wOBA and 3.52 xFIP against righties. The 36-year-old Cano is also still showing solid power against right-handed hurlers, with a hard-hit rate of 43.6%, bringing him to a .359 wOBA and .195 ISO on 41.8% hard-hits since 2017. We project him for the highest fantasy score of any $1 bat tonight.
Jake Bauers - We have Bauers projected just 0.1 fantasy points behind Cano, with a 50% better home run projection as well. As I outlined for Santana, Lynn makes for a great matchup for Cleveland's left-handed bats tonight, and Bauers is a good bet to join in the fun. He's super inconsistent, with only a .303 wOBA over his first two major league seasons, but against right-handed pitching that improves to a .314, which comes on a 38.7% hard-hit rate.
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.