FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Friday 9/17/21

The beauty of daily fantasy baseball is that the top targets are different each and every day. Whether it's the right-handed catcher who destroys left-handed pitching or the mid-range hurler facing a depleted lineup, you're not going to find yourself using the same assets time after time.

While this breaks up the monotony, it can make it hard to decide which players are primed to succeed on a given day. We can help bridge that gap.

In addition to our custom optimal lineups, you can check out our projections and batting and pitching heat maps, which show the pieces in the best spot to succeed on that slate. Put on the finishing touches with our games and lineups page to see who's hitting where and what the weather looks like, and you'll have yourself a snazzy-looking team to put up some big point totals.

If you need help getting started on that trek, here are some of the top options on the board today. We'll be focusing exclusively on the main slate.

Pitching Breakdown

There are four guys in their own tier tonight in my eyes -- Zack Wheeler ($10,700 on FanDuel), Dylan Cease ($8,600), Walker Buehler ($9,900) and Logan Webb ($9,500).

Our model gives Wheeler the edge, projecting him for 36.7 FanDuel points, which is 2.5 clear of the pack, but Cease, Webb and Buehler are plenty viable, as well. You can make a strong case for any of them, but I'm going to focus on Wheeler and Cease.

Wheeler is taking on the New York Mets, who carry the slate's third-lowest implied total (3.57). The Mets are swinging it well of late, but Wheeler has been outstanding this season. Over 195 1/3 frames, he's pitched to a 3.21 SIERA, 28.9% strikeout rate, 5.4% walk rate, and 12.4% swinging-strike rate. The dude checks every box and is capable of a slate-high score each time he takes the bump. He's posted 51 and 55 FanDuel points in his last two starts and dropped a 70-piece on the Mets the last time he faced them.

Cease has enticing upside, an easy-to-stomach salary, and gets a soft matchup with the Texas Rangers. While Texas has been better lately, they still rate out as one of the league's worst offenses and have been handed an attackable 3.66 implied total for this one. With a 31.1% strikeout rate and 14.6% swinging-strike rate, Cease has the punchout upside we crave. His bugaboo is a lack of efficiency, as he's completed six innings just three times in his past seven starts despite going at least 92 pitches in six of those appearances. Cease could tap into his elite upside in this spot, and he's the top point-per-dollar play, according to our numbers.

Buehler and Webb deserve at least quick mentions -- as does Chris Sale ($10,000).

Buehler is on the road at the Cincinnati Reds. Cincy's 3.79 implied total is only the ninth-lowest on the slate, but we know the deal with Buehler. He's been remarkably consistent pretty much all campaign. With Cease $1,300 lower in salary, Buehler may not be all that popular.

You can say the same for Webb, who is at home against the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta's 3.31 implied total is a slate-low clip, and Webb has put up a 25.9% strikeout rate and 2.77 xFIP in the second half. I prefer him to Buehler, but I side with Cease and Wheeler over either of these two.

As for Sale, the matchup is a good one against the Baltimore Orioles, but I'm not super into him at his lofty salary. This is Sale's first start off the COVID list, and the Boston Red Sox were already handling him carefully off his Tommy John surgery, keeping him under 90 pitches in all but one start this season.

Stacks to Target

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers are my favorite stack of the night. Not only do they boast a juicy 5.33 implied total, but the Brewers have no bats over $3,600 and just three who are more than $3,000, making them a great fit alongside the high-salary ace of your choosing. We can't say the same for the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, and Boston Red Sox -- four of the other top stacking options.

Milwaukee is taking on Zach Davies, who sports a 5.33 SIERA and 17.2% strikeout rate. Righties have a .362 wOBA against him, while lefties have put up a .357 wOBA, so we have a lot of flexibility with Milwaukee stacks.

Kolten Wong ($3,500), Eduardo Escobar ($3,600) and Christian Yelich ($3,500) are projected to occupy the first three spots in the lineup. Escobar owns a .351 wOBA since coming to the Brew Crew and has a 46.5% fly-ball rate in the second half.

Omar Narvaez ($2,400) is s stellar point-per-dollar play as he's recorded a .359 wOBA against righties and will likely hit fourth. Dan Vogelbach ($2,300) is another appealing low-salary play, and Luis Urias ($2,600) is a handy piece as a player who is eligible at three positions.

Avisail Garcia ($3,000) is iffy with a back injury, but if he's in there, he's worth a look. He's mashed in the second half to the tune of a .391 wOBA and 43.6% hard-hit rate.

Boston Red Sox

Boston's 6.32 implied total puts them in their own tier tonight, and while they're not easy to get to -- especially if you're using Wheeler -- the Red Sox could go wild against Keegan Akin. As a lefty, Akin has struggled to a .361 wOBA, 45.1% fly-ball rate and 18.1% strikeout rate against righties. He's also allowed a 42.4% fly-ball rate and .362 wOBA to left-handed bats in a smaller sample.

Whenever Boston is up against a lefty, Enrique Hernandez ($3,400), Xander Bogaerts ($3,700), Hunter Renfroe ($3,800) and J.D. Martinez ($3,900) offer mouth-watering upside. Hernandez is a core play for me. He's got a modest salary and will likely be atop the lineup. But the other three are smashing options, as well, if you have the coin.

Going by our projections, the top Boston bats today are lefties Kyle Schwarber ($3,600) and Rafael Devers ($4,000). Given the $4,000 salary and the lefty-lefty matchup, Devers might not be as popular as he should be, and he's posted a decent .332 wOBA in this split.

Bobby Dalbec ($3,100) can give you some cap relief and has registered a .355 wOBA with the platoon advantage. In September, he's got a 42.9% hard-hit rate and 50.0% fly-ball rate.

Tampa Bay Rays

Similar to Milwaukee, the Tampa Bay Rays can give you upside without breaking the bank.

Tampa is taking on Casey Mize, and they're showing a 4.99 implied total. Mize has a mere 18.9% strikeout rate and has been tagged by lefties for a .361 wOBA and 2.31 jacks per nine. That's where I'll focus. Also, Mize has been kept on a short leash of late, throwing 48 and 34 pitches in his past two starts, so we should see a lot of a Detroit Tigers bullpen that holds the fourth-worst SIERA over the last 30 days (4.85).

Brandon Lowe ($3,500) and Austin Meadows ($3,300) are outstanding building blocks to Rays stacks or they can be their own two-man pairing. Against right-handers, Lowe has racked up a .388 wOBA and 46.5% fly-ball rate while Meadows carries a .356 wOBA and 54.2% fly-ball rate in the split.

Ji-Man Choi ($2,500) Is a low-salary way to get a piece of a lefty in this lineup, although he's a pinch-hit risk if he sees a southpaw at any point. Joey Wendle ($2,500) is another value lefty who is a fine dart throw if he starts.

Even though I'll be honed in on Tampa's left-handed hitters, righties Nelson Cruz ($3,900), Yandy Diaz ($2,800) and Randy Arozarena ($3,600) are certainly in play as they'll likely get a few plate appearances against Detroit's 'pen.