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MLB DFS Tournament Strategy & Home Run Picks Today 4/16/22

Terry McBride



The best MLB DFS tournament picks today, home run rankings & fantasy baseball analysis for DraftKings & FanDuel lineups

Saturday’s six-game MLB DFS main slate brings a handful of mid-rotation starters to the mound, including a former ace making his second start back from a two-year absence, a good pitcher who never reached the heights that gamers falsely remember him ascending to who is making the same return, and a breakout pitcher from last year who is working to prove himself as a current ace-caliber option but may be limited by a pitch count. The board also includes a Coors Field game with a pumped-up run total and two lousy pitchers and a few targetable spots for stacking. With six games from which to draw stacks and starters, there are plenty of combinations available to build unique premium lineups, and some of baseball’s best individual offensive weapons are in play with the Yankees, Angels, Astros, and Dodgers all on the slate. Using the Top Stacks and Top Pitchers tools is the best approach to finding the right combinations of bats and arms to unlock the top of tournament standings for MLB DFS on DraftKings and FanDuel tonight.

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Best MLB DFS Tournament Strategy & Picks Today

Top Home Run Options

Home runs are the holy grail when making MLB DFS picks. Finding the right combination of sluggers who will knock one, or better two, out of the park to drive in the teammates you stack with them is critical to winning GPPs. Identifying the likely home run hitters is trickier than just looking at the big names. Using a model of my design, based on a blend of several predictive statistics for the batter-pitcher matchup, I will give each team one of the top choices. However, it will not always be the absolute top-ranked player, particularly when there is an obvious star in that spot every day.

Home Run Ratings

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Scale: 5-10 Average; 10-20 Good; 20-25 Very Good; 25+ Great

Baltimore Orioles: Anthony Santander — 9.21

Chicago Cubs: Seiya Suzuki — 5.73

Cincinnati Reds: Aristides Aquino — 7.45

Colorado Rockies: C.J. Cron — 11.96

Houston Astros: Jose Altuve — 5.68

Los Angeles Angels: Anthony Rendon — 7.07

Los Angeles Dodgers: Freddie Freeman — 11.39

Milwaukee Brewers: Hunter Renfroe — 11.74

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton — 13.71

Seattle Mariners: Jarred Kelenic — 13.42

St. Louis Cardinals: Paul Goldschmidt — 5.73

Texas Rangers: Corey Seager — 16.07

Power Index

This is intended to capture the full range of home run upside for each team. It is not meant as a stack ranking and does not account for pricing or popularity — only home run potential. The first column is the average rating for the full projected lineup and the second is for the top six hitters in the projected lineup.

MLB DFS Weather Update: Postponements & Risk Assessment

None of tonight’s games are facing a postponement threat, there is rain in the forecast in Seattle but that park has a retractable roof to protect it from the elements. Hitting conditions are average and similar across the league, none of the parks stand out from a weather perspective, but Coors Field remains a mile above sea level.

MLB DFS Picks Today: Pitchers, Best Stacks & Low-Owned Plays

This section will feature a few standout MLB DFS spots and teams to look at for potential plays on DraftKings and FanDuel. Ensure to check out the Awesemo MLB DFS Ownership Projections for critical updates and monitor the top stacks tool throughout the day for changes.

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On the Hill

The Saturday main slate features an interesting mix of starting pitchers. Justin Verlander will be making his second start back after a two-year absence following late-career Tommy John surgery, as will Noah Syndergaard, who never ascended to nearly the heights that were reached by Verlander in their respective careers. With the Verlander’s Astros facing the tough Mariners and Syndergaard’s Angels taking on the revamped Rangers lineup, neither pitcher is entirely safe, though Verlander is pulling in a strong projection and should be able to find a good number of strikeouts. Dodgers starter Julio Urias is facing some serious questions in his second start of the season. Urias looked limited with extremely diminished velocity in lasting just two innings in his first start of the season. That game was in Coors Field, so typically it would not be a factor, but the drop from a 94.1 mph average velocity on his fastball to just 91.4 in the first start is cause for alarm. The shaky pitching board continues with Steven Matz and Jameson Taillon, and the word for the sensation that you felt upon reading that is “bleh.” Neither starter can remotely be referred to as reliable, though they both have talent and upside in the right spot. The matchup for Taillon looks better, he will face the Orioles in Baltimore while Matz is dealing with the Brewers. The rest of the board is difficult to recommend, Reds rookie Hunter Greene is an intriguing arm, but the matchup against the Dodgers should probably be avoided and he is the best of the rest. Sticking with the top of the board and getting different with bats is highly recommended on today’s MLB DFS slate.

A number of early questions were answered in Justin Verlander’s first start of the season. The veteran righty faced 20 hitters over the course of a five-inning appearance, striking out seven and walking three while yielding just a solo home run and two base hits. Verlander threw 80 pitches in the outing after stretching out to 77 at the end of Spring Training, he should see slightly more leash today in a start against the Mariners. Seattle’s active roster was 27th in baseball with a 25% strikeout rate against righties last season, Verlander has a strong chance to lead the slate in strikeouts tonight. The Mariners created runs seven percent worse than average last year and they had a 3.21% home run rate against righties, the 16th and 14th best marks in baseball respectively. Their .157 collective ISO in the split was baseball’s 21st-best out of 30 teams. Seattle is a developing ballclub, they can be expected to outperform last year’s numbers in the power department, but the strikeout upside is apparent and Verlander has the tools to capitalize. In his last full season, the Astros superstar starter had a 35.4% strikeout rate with a 5.0% walk rate over 223 innings. He was also spectacular in limiting premium contact that season, when hitters were able to connect they still only managed to generate a 31.1% hard-hit percentage and a 6.8% barrel rate. Verlander is not without question marks, but he projects as the top option on both sites, he is worth the inflated popularity and price tag in a wide range of DraftKings and FanDuel lineups on a slate with limited options.

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Noah Syndergaard has a good but not elite 26.2% strikeout rate for his career. It is important to keep perspective when remembering who this pitcher was prior to his injuries. The flamethrowing nature of his stuff never fully translated into massive strikeout totals, Syndergaard topped out at a strong 29.3% rate, but that was in 2016. Syndergaard threw 197.2 innings in his last full season in 2019, compiling a 24.5% strikeout rate with a 6.1% walk rate. Syndergaard has always been an effective pitcher, he had a 4.28 ERA that season but his underlying 3.83 xFIP was somewhat better and his 3.33 xERA was sharp as ever. At his height, Syndergaard put up a 2.60 ERA with a 2.67 xFIP in that outstanding 2016, while he will likely never reach those heights again, there is still strong upside and a mid-range expectation of strikeouts for the Norse god brought low. Syndergaard is facing a Rangers active roster that did not stitch together a strong year against righties last season overall. The combined numbers for the active roster show a team that had just a .150 collective ISO, 26th in the league, a 3.03% home run rate, 23rd, and an ugly 86 WRC+, the 24th-best mark for run creation. The Rangers did limit strikeouts to 23.5% in the split, which put them exactly in the middle of the league in 15th. The Rangers are another team that has been off to a good start offensively, it remains to be seen if they can buck the trends that these hitters had through all of last year overall though, rostering shares of Syndergaard is worthwhile in this spot, but he is efficiently owned and properly priced. The Rangers are also drawing inflated power metrics against Syndergaard, despite the righty’s propensity for limiting home runs throughout his career. In his first start of the season, Syndergaard faced 20 hitters over 5.1 innings, walking two and striking out just one, but also allowing just two hits and no runs to an excellent Astros lineup. This is another pitcher with clear MLB DFS point-scoring upside but also quite a few question marks.

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After throwing only 57 pitches in an ugly first start of the year at Coors Field, Julio Urias will be looking to get his season correctly launched in a home start against the depleted Reds. Urias’ velocity was way down in his first start, something that is potentially alarming despite the pitcher’s protestation of perfect health. Urias was sharp through all of last season, throwing by far a career-high 185.2 innings. That was more than double Urias’ previous innings highpoint, he would not be the first pitcher to return from an increased workload with some wear and tear. Assuming a workload in line with the 85 or so pitches expected for most of the options on the board, Urias would be firmly in play. The lefty had a 26.2% strikeout rate in last season’s breakout, and he walked a mere 5.1% of hitters. Urias generated an 11.2% swinging-strike rate and he allowed just a 5.3% barrel rate and limited hard hits to a spectacular 30.3% with just 86 mph of exit velocity on the average. The Reds’ active roster created runs 20% worse than average against southpaws last season, the 27th-best in baseball, and they were not much better in other offensive areas in the split. The team compiled a .153 ISO and a 3.03% home run rate, the 23rd and 21st ranked marks in the split, and they struck out at a 21st-ranked 23.6% against lefties. Urias is drawing the slightest amount of positive leverage on the DraftKing slate, making him a fine option for starters shares. On the blue site, his projected popularity is only half his probability of success, making him a good target for those who believe he will see at least five innings and 80 pitches.

Yankees righty Jameson Taillon is popular on the DraftKings MLB DFS slate, where he costs just $7,000, and he is expensive at $8,600 and limited popularity on the FanDuel slate. Taillon spent last season making the return that Verlander and Syndergaard are attempting this year, and he put together a reasonably effective season over 29 starts. The recovered righty is looking to build on 144.1 innings of 23.2% strikeout ball that saw him compile a 4.69 xFIP and a 1.21 WHIP. Taillon allowed a 40.2% hard-hit percentage with an 8.2% barrel rate and 88.9 mph of exit velocity on the average, not ideal marks for the AL East, but not tragic either. The righty had an encouraging 12.2% swinging-strike rate but a below-average 27% CSW% last season, but on the right day he has nearly elite swing-and-miss stuff. Taillon draws an Orioles active roster that had a 24.9% strikeout rate in the split against righties last season, tying for 25th with his own Yankees lineup in the statistic. Baltimore created runs 15% worse than average and had just a .156 ISO against righties last season, they are not a fearsome lineup in the split, but Taillon will have to be careful with a few capable hitters. Taillon comes as the third-ranked option on DraftKings by the probability of finishing as one of the two highest-scoring pitchers, he is worth getting to as a high-end SP2 option despite a popularity projection that outpaces his probability of success. Taillon also ranks third on FanDuel, where his inflated price tag is keeping the public somewhat at bay. His popularity is exactly level with his probability of success in the most recent update of the Top Pitchers Tool, making Taillon a fair target for FanDuel MLB DFS lineups tonight.

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Coors Field

We have been playing the leverage game with Coors Field over the past few days. When both teams were the chalk du jour we went thin, when they were less publicly popular last night with good pitchers taking the mound, it made sense to press the advantage with some bats. Tonight the public appears to be returning to Colorado to grab shares of both offenses, the Rockies are the top-ranked stack on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but the field is projected for aggressive ownership. The Cubs are in second on both sites, while they will be extremely popular as well they land at slightly positive leverage on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Both teams owe apologies to the pitchers they are sending to the mounds tonight, or possibly to team fans. The Cubs will have 31-year-old Mark Leiter Jr. taking the mound, the son of the lesser Leiter brother is also the lesser of his generation, his cousin Jack is a highly regarded 21-year-old prospect. Mark Leiter Jr. has 114 innings on his Major League resume, pitching to a 5.53 ERA with a 4.37 xFIP and a 20.5% strikeout rate. That skinny rate looks downright obese next to the 15.7% rate at which opposing starter Antonio Senzatela struck out hitters over his 156.2 innings in 28 starts last season. The righty had a 1.34 WHIP and he allowed a 42.7% hard-hit rate despite just a 5.9% barrel rate. Senzatela generated just an 8.6% swinging-strike rate with a 25% CSW% last year. The Cubs and Rockies will both be putting the ball in play frequently this evening, both offenses are worthwhile in a popularity vacuum, but it is difficult to roster the Rockies in unique combinations with every hitter owned in the 20-30% range. The Cubs are owned from the mid-teens into the low 20%s, but they are also difficult to reach for at this popularity. Considering an undercut, while still including both teams in a pool of lineups, is always a fair approach to Coors Field when it checks in at this much popularity, but these are very targetable pitchers and this game will be the major inflection point of the night.

St. Louis Cardinals

The visiting Cardinals are a positively leveraged stack on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. St. Louis has started the season with a fairly hot offense, the heavily right-handed lineup will be facing righty Adrian Houser, who had just a 17.5% strikeout rate with a 4.31 xFIP and a 1.28 WHIP last year. Houser was the weak point in the Brewers’ excellent staff, he generated just a 7.2% swinging-strike rate and had an awful 23.3% CSW% over 142.1 innings, but he was effective at limiting quality contact. Houser held opposing hitters to just a five percent barrel rate with a 1.4-degree average launch angle and a 35.6% hard-hit percentage, inducing a strong 59% ground ball rate. The Cardinals lineup features several excellent power bats in the middle and they are surrounded by capable hitters. Dylan Carlson is yet to get his season in gear, but he is a strong correlation option atop the lineup who created runs 13% better than average in 619 plate appearances with a .343 on-base percentage last year. Carlson leads into an excellent trio of Paul GoldschmidtTyler O’Neill, and Nolan Arenado that rivals any three-man stack in baseball. Arenado is off to a scorching .435/.500/1.087 start with four home runs and a hilariously high .652 ISO. Any of Corey DickersonPaul DeJongHarrison Bader, and Yadier Molina are fine from the middle of the lineup as needed, and Tommy Edman is interesting as a wraparound option. Edman has been mentioned in this space several times this season after being a useful piece for MLB DFS and season-long fantasy baseball last year. He had just a .308 on-base percentage but still swiped 30 bases in his 691 plate appearances hitting mostly in the leadoff spot. Edman drops to ninth in the order to serve as a secondary leadoff man through most of the game, he is excellent at putting the ball in play to capitalize on his speed. Edman struck out just 13.7% of the time last year but walked at just a 5.5% rate. The 26-year-old is showing strides early on this season, he has made just 23 plate appearances so this is meaningless data, but it is good to see a 13% walk rate and three home runs in the early numbers, scouts have long suspected there could be dormant power in Edman’s bat, he hit 11 home runs last year, if he manages 20 this season he will be an elite fantasy baseball asset all year.

New York Yankees

Yes, this can be a frustrating team to roster for MLB DFS purposes, but any understanding of the modern game reveals the true quality in this ridiculously talented lineup. The Yankees wield an offense that is properly balanced on both sides of the plate for the first time in several seasons, which should make them more effective from day to day on its own. That the lineup in question includes star-caliber talent in nearly every position is an embarrassment of riches that only this ballclub could put together. When they fail to hit home runs, as they have in all but a couple of games early in the season, this team can fail in big ways, but the gargantuan upside is typically worth chasing. In a matchup against Tyler Wells, New York stands out on the top stacks board. The team comes at a price, but there is limited ownership on many of the top options, they are positively leveraged on DraftKings and while the team total is slightly negatively leveraged on FanDuel much of it is in the ownership above 20% on the top-two hitters in the lineup.

Josh Donaldson leads off the projected batting order and he comes at 24.6% popularity on the FanDuel slate and a 16.5% mark on DraftKings, making him the most popular Yankees bat on the blue site and the second-most on DraftKings. Donaldson hit 26 home runs in 543 plate appearances last season and he hit 37 in 659 plate appearances in 2019. The short 2020 season saw him play just 28 games, he hit six home runs in 102 plate appearances. Donaldson is an elite power bat, he has a career 20.1% strikeout rate and a 12.6% walk rate with a .366 on-base percentage, which is what lands him in the leadoff spot for this team. At just $3,200, Donaldson is an easy FanDuel option, but skipping him is also a simple way to make a stack immediately different, he is a quality choice on DraftKings despite the individual popularity.

Yankees superstar Aaron Judge famously did not reach an agreement on a contract extension with the team prior to Opening Day, leaving the 39 home run hitter in limbo and with something to prove this season. Judge had a .287/.373/.544 triple-slash with a .256 ISO while creating runs 48% better than average over 633 plate appearances last season, he is one of baseball’s elite hitters. The outfielder struck out at a 25% clip but walked in 11.8% of his plate appearances and he had outstanding contact marks, a theme that continues through most of the Yankees lineup. Judge had a 17.6% barrel rate and a 57.9% hard-hit percentage last season, he is an outstanding option for a home run and/or a big MLB DFS score today.

Left-handed first baseman Anthony Rizzo was somehow regarded as just a consolation prize in free agency this season. Rizzo posted a .248/.344/.440 triple-slash with 22 home runs in 576 plate appearances between the Cubs and Yankees last year, and he has four seasons of 30 or more home runs on his resume. While Rizzo has not reached the 30-mark since 2017, he still hit 25 home runs in 2018 and 27 in 2019, and he has maintained his ability to limit strikeouts and draw walks. Rizzo had just a 15.1% strikeout rate last season, defying the model on which this team is put together and making him the long-sought-after option who can put a ball in play with quality for the Yankees. Rizzo is the first low-owned Yankees bat, he is inexpensive for his talent and projected for just single-digit ownership across the industry.

Giancarlo Stanton was mostly healthy last year, turning in 579 plate appearances and even managing to play the outfield from time to time. The powerful slugger had a .273/.354/.516 triple-slash and he hit 35 home runs with a .243 ISO while creating runs 37% better than average. That people question the value of the superstar outfielder is absurd, when he is in the lineup Stanton is as good a power bat as anyone in the league. He made ridiculous contact last year, putting up a 15.7% barrel rate and a 55.6% hard-hit percentage, the third hitter out of four who had better than a 15% barrel rate and more than 50% hard-hits last year. Stanton will be at the same mid-teens popularity as Judge and Donaldson on DraftKings, while his 13.7% projected ownership on FanDuel is far lower than those two are landing on the blue site, making him a quality option for differentiation.

Infielder DJ Lemahieu is off to a .280/.379/.480 start to his season, in what should be a return to form after a blip last year. LeMahieu has long had one of the premium hit tools in the game, his career triple-slash has a robust front-end at .300/.356/.422 and he added power in the Bronx over the first few seasons. LeMahieu hit just 10 home runs and had a .094 ISO last year though, making him a difficult bat to roster for much of the year. That output has left a bad taste with MLB DFS gamers, the infielder is projected for low single-digits ownership on both sites, he can be deployed far more aggressively than that in this spot and he makes an excellent option for differentiation regardless of where he hits in the lineup.

Joey Gallo is still better than you probably think. The three-true-outcomes mold of a hitter slugged 38 home runs with a .199/.351/.458 triple-slash last year while creating runs 23% better than average. He struck out in 34.6% of his plate appearances, there is no getting around the swing-and-miss potential, but the contact remains elite with an 18.5% barrel rate and he has one of the very best batting eyes in baseball, drawing an 18.5% walk rate last season. Gallo may not be a traditional baseball fan’s idea of a good hitter, but he is far too cheap on FanDuel and far too unpopular on DraftKings, where he should be a part of far more Yankees stacks than his 8.6% DraftKings mark.

Gleyber Torres famously hit a high percentage of his career home runs against this weak AL East opponent, taking advantage of the league’s scheduling system, before falling completely off a cliff for power over the last two-plus years. Torres went from 38 home runs in 604 plate appearances in 2019 to just three in his 160 tries in 2020 and nine in 516 chances in 2021. The second baseman is in a show-me season for New York, he is cheap with multi-position eligibility on FanDuel, but he will be at 16.6% popularity at the back of the lineup. On DraftKings, Torres is just a 6.3% popularity play at a $4,100 price, making him more interesting. The infielder had a limited 7.8% barrel rate and a 35.7% hard-hit percentage last year, he was reasonably good at limiting strikeouts, with just a 20.2% rate, but he needs to drive the ball better than his .107 ISO and create runs better than six percent below average going forward.

Outfielder Aaron Hicks hits from both sides of the plate and plays a strong center field when his health and the flexibility of the Yankees lineup allows. Hicks has always been a strong bat, he is known for seeing a high number of pitches in the average plate appearance and he has a quality .331 career on-base percentage. Hicks hit 27 home runs for New York in 2018, the one time he has seen more than 500 plate appearances in his injury-riddled career. Hicks saw just under 600 plate appearances the next three seasons combined, hitting 22 home runs over that stretch. He is off to a good .300/.417/.450 start with one home run and a .150 ISO so far this year. Hicks can be deployed in the backend of Yankees’ stacks and he makes for an interesting wraparound consideration at low ownership.

If he is in the lineup, Kyle Higashioka is always an underrated power bat at the catcher position. Higashioka is pulling in a nine percent ownership projection where the position is required on DraftKings. The catcher is off to a slow start after his scorching Spring, but he backs up the short Spring sample with the 15.6% barrel rate and 46.7% hard-hit percentage that he put up in 211 plate appearances last year. Higashioka turned that premium contact into 10 home runs and a .207 ISO in the limited sample last season, he has more of a regular job this year and he will win a slate or two in Yankees stacks before the season is done.

Home Run Prediction Today: Corey Seager — Texas Rangers

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Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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