FanDuel Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Sunday 7/11/21

Is Brandon Woodruff a must-play at pitcher, or are there better options at lower salaries? And which stacks are in the best position to produce?

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 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

The slate is big with 11 games, which means plenty of opportunities for value bats. That makes Brandon Woodruff ($11,200) appealing against the Cincinnati Reds. Woodruff leads the slate in SIERA (3.14), xFIP (2.91), and strikeout rate (30.7%) while also ranking top-three in hard-hit rate allowed (26.5%) and called-strike-plus-whiff rate (30.4%). The Reds' active roster has a fine 103 wRC+ -- not enough to worry too much. Woodruff leads the slate in expected strikeout rate based on his personal K-rate and his opponent's.

Framber Valdez ($10,200) boasts the top ground-ball and fly-ball rates on the board among all starters and sits top-three in both xFIP (3.18) and SIERA (3.28). The New York Yankees' active roster is 19th in strikeout rate at 23.9% with a tinge-below-average 99 wRC+.

Jose Berrios ($9,900) draws the high-strikeout Detroit Tigers, whose active roster strikes out at a 26.8% rate (the highest mark in the MLB). Berrios sits sixth in both strikeout rate (25.7%) and called-strike-plus-whiff rate (29.5%). In total, Berrios rates out third in expected strikeout rate based on his splits and the matchup behind Woodruff and Nick Pivetta ($8,000).

Some other arms have a pretty easy case to be made, as well, including Chris Bassitt ($9,700) against the Texas Rangers and Robbie Ray ($10,400) against the Tampa Bay Rays, yet Woodruff is a clear cut above, and Berrios is the secondary preference.

If we jump down in salary, it's looking like Ian Anderson ($8,300) with the most appeal. Anderson is not without his own flaws -- he ranks 11th on the slate in strikeout rate (24.4%), 13th in walk rate (8.8%), and 12th in called-strike-plus-whiff rate (27.5%) -- but faces the weak Miami Marlins. Miami ranks last in the MLB in expected wOBA, and their active roster is 25th in strikeout rate (26.0%) and 24th in wRC+ (89). The matchup vaults Anderson into eighth on the slate in expected strikeout rate.

Stacks to Target

Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox will be the next test for Spenser Watkins, who earned a win in his first career start back on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. Watkins notched a 1.80 ERA in that game but a 4.17 FIP and actually walked more batters (3) than he struck out (2). It's a small sample, of course, but the quickly stabilizing stats such as called-strike-plus-whiff rate aren't looking great yet (just 19.6%). In total, Watkins has accumulated a 6.51 SIERA over 23 batters faced, making the 1.50 ERA very misleading.

The White Sox themselves have an active-roster wRC+ of 111 and should combine for the lowest expected strikeout rate based on the starting pitcher they're facing across all teams on the slate. They also have the highest implied run total (5.92) by a solid margin.

The bats are really not even that unaffordable, either, for a primary stack. We should get Tim Anderson ($3,500), Yoan Moncada ($2,800), Jose Abreu ($3,600), and Brian Goodwin ($3,100) leading the way. If going with someone other than Woodruff, it's easy to get here on the 11-game slate.

Houston Astros
The Houston Astros got obliterated by Gerrit Cole yesterday but now face Jameson Taillon. On the season, Taillon has a middling called-strike-plus-whiff rate of 28.2%, and the Astros' active roster has the lowest strikeout rate in the Majors. That puts Taillon in the bottom-three in expected strikeout rate among today's starters.

Houston itself has claim to a top-five expected slugging percentage and the best expected wOBA in the MLB.

The high salaries for Jose Altuve ($4,200), Michael Brantley ($3,600), Yuli Gurriel ($3,100), and Yordan Alvarez ($4,100) combined with the 3-hit, 12-strikeout showing yesterday could bump down the 'Stros from a popularity standpoint.

Toronto Blue Jays
Since the sticky stuff conversation came up, we've seen Rich Hill fall from a 26.4% strikeout rate and 3.93 FIP to a 20.7% strikeout rate and a 5.66 FIP.

The Blue Jays rank sixth in expected wOBA this season and have an active-roster wRC+ of 115, which is second-best in the Majors. They also strike out at the fourth-lowest rate (22.0%). In total, Hill's strikeout projections should be middling.

It's a high-salaried stack at the top with Marcus Semien ($3,900), Bo Bichette ($3,600), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ($4,400), and George Springer ($3,700), but with the tepid 4.39 implied run total, maybe they are going to be slept on.

Minnesota Twins
I'll throw in another stack here because of the salaries for the three already mentioned. The Minnesota Twins have a strong 5.33 implied run total against Wily Peralta tonight.

Peralta's 14th on the slate in SIERA despite sitting 3rd in ERA, and he's only 18th in called-strike-plus-whiff rate and in hard-hit rate allowed.

Luis Arraez ($2,500), Josh Donaldson ($3,100), and Nelson Cruz ($3,700) should be joined by Alex Kirilloff ($2,800) or Trevor Larnach ($2,600) in the top four of the order, but this stack will help us allocate more salary to pitcher.