MLB DFS Punt Plays For DraftKings and FanDuel (April 17)

A safe and balanced lineup does not bring the same energy as a gutsy, stars-and-scrubs-type build. In order for us to roster aspirational names like Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mookie Betts, we will need to take some shots at the underbellies of the batting order, colloquially referred to as the “punt plays.” This is why we are introducing our MLB DFS Punt Plays series to do just that.

A quality MLB DFS punt play is not only cheap to roster but crucially carries an upside worth pursuing. In baseball, that often translates into an inconsistent batter with power-hitting or stolen base potential. Or it could be a volatile pitcher offering strikeout upside and the ability to pitch deep into ballgames. Whatever the reason, there is enough rationale to believe that punt plays exceed the value of their price tag and recognizing a great punt play is critical to success in MLB DFS.

This article will highlight the top punt plays available on Wednesday’s 11-game MLB main slate, locking at 1:05 PM ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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MLB DFS Punt Plays Today – April 17

Colt Keith – 3B, DET vs. TEX

MLB DFS DraftKings: $2,600

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,500

The results haven’t been there yet for Colt Keith, but there is a hidden upside worth pursuing. Through 16 games, the 22-year-old owns a weak .193/.258/.211 slash line. The sample size is too brief to write him off, especially when you consider his prolific minor-league numbers. Keith generated a .932 OPS across 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season, up from a .914 OPS in 2022. He’s the second-ranked prospect in the Detroit Tigers farm system, and the No. 21 ranked prospect in all of baseball, per MLB Pipeline. His impressive profile is headlined by a 60-grade hit tool alongside elite 60-grade power.

Dane Dunning’s 4.50 ERA looks decent enough on the surface, but the advanced metrics are ugly. As a jumping-off point, he sports a 6.58 xERA. His 12% walk rate is certainly a contributing factor, but the batted-ball metrics are even more concerning. Dunning has surrendered a .516 xSLG alongside similarly atrocious numbers, like a 15.2% barrel rate, 54.3% hard-hit rate, and a 93.6 MPH average exit velocity.

Jonatan Clase – OF, SEA vs. CIN

MLB DFS DraftKings: $2,200

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,000

Jonatan Clase isn’t among the most touted prospects, but he is coming off a historic 2023 season. Across 129 games, Clase produced 20 home runs and 79 stolen bases, the first 20-70 season since minor-league stat tracking began in 1961. Now two games deep into his MLB career, the 21-year-old brings a strong hit tool, above-average power, and absolutely elite speed. Clase has hit safely in both games since being promoted and figures to see regular playing for the foreseeable future, with Dominic Canzone on the injured list.

Andrew Abbott is a promising young pitcher. I won’t try to manipulate his numbers into making him a preferred pitcher to target against in DFS, but he is more vulnerable than his 2.60 ERA suggests. Abbott sports a disappointing 4.96 xFIP on the season, up from a 4.56 xFIP during his rookie campaign last year. Though he has done a fine job limiting hard contact through three games this season, that was not the case over a much larger sample size in 2023. Abbott surrendered a 42.5% hard-hit rate, 9.5% barrel rate, and a 91.2 MPH average exit velocity. Right-handed hitters slugged .463 against him.

Steven Matz – SP, STL vs. OAK

MLB DFS DraftKings: $6,700

MLB DFS FanDuel: $7,300

The rationale is quite simple. Steven Matz is pitching against the Oakland Athletics, possibly the worst lineup in baseball. They score just 2.7 runs per game so far this season. The struggles include a 79 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, alongside a league-worst 32.1% strikeout rate. We are at the point where pretty much any pitcher against the Athletics is a viable DFS play.

Matz is off to a strong start this season. He owns a 1.80 ERA through three outings, though the underlying numbers do suggest some regression. Matz sports a middling 4.29 xFIP, up from a 3.96 xFIP last season and a 3.95 career mark. He’s not striking out many hitters yet, though he owns a respectable 22.3% career strikeout rate that he’ll likely approach going forward. Regardless, Matz is at his best when consistently inducing weak contact, and that’s exactly what he is doing, allowing only a 2% barrel rate and a 32% hard-hit rate to opposing hitters. Matz’s ceiling isn’t as high as the top arms on this slate, though he carries a 1.9 points-per-dollar valuation and is among the top-graded pitcher value options on this slate.

Editor Note: If you’re looking for the best MLB DFS picks daily, we got you. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something with more of a gambling tilt, our friends over at OddsShopper can get you going by teaching you how to bet on home runs.

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