MLB DFS Punt Plays For DraftKings and FanDuel (April 18)

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 Rafael Devers and Adolis Garcia, 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 three-game MLB main slate, locking at 1:10 PM ET on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

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MLB DFS Punt Plays Today – April 18

Colt Keith – 2B, DET vs. TEX

MLB DFS DraftKings: $2,600

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,500

Colt Keith was featured on this list yesterday, and with only three games on Thursday’s main slate, he will again stand out as a preferred value play. Through 17 games, the 22-year-old owns a weak .197/.258/.213 slash line. The sample size isn’t enough to draw big conclusions, especially when you consider his outstanding 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.

Keith will square off against another heralded prospect, Jack Leiter. Leiter will be making his major-league debut today, and there is considerable hype surrounding him. He was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft class and flashed exciting stuff in Double-A and Triple-A. That said, Leiter is far from a finished product. He posted a 5.19 ERA across 85 innings pitched last season, down from a 5.54 ERA over 92 2/3 innings in 2022. Notably, Leiter has surrendered 1.5 home runs per nine innings throughout his entire minor-league career.

Griffin Canning – SP, LAA vs. TB

MLB DFS DraftKings: $6,800

MLB DFS FanDuel: $7,000

Pitching options are very light on this three-game set, and Griffin Canning is my favorite way to chase a discount. The 27-year-old is off to a horrible start this season, surrendering a 6.72 xERA and 5.17 xFIP through three outings. It’s a negligible sample size, and he’s historically a fairly reliable arm. Canning posted a 3.82 xFIP across 24 appearances last season, down from a 4.43 career xFIP. While the occasional long ball has been a problem, Canning’s success includes a strong 25.9% strikeout rate, 29.1% whiff rate, and a 6.7% walk rate. In his current form, he’s risky, but Canning is the second-highest-graded value play among pitchers today.

Canning will take on the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. Their offense is off to a lukewarm start to the season, plating 4.3 runs per game through their first 19 contests. That includes a middling 101 wRC+ against right-handed pitchers, alongside a .368 slugging percentage and a .302 wOBA.

Josh Smith – 3B/SS, TEX vs. DET

MLB DFS DraftKings: $3,100

MLB DFS FanDuel: $2,700

Josh Smith has been a surprise breakout during Josh Jung’s absence from the Texas Rangers lineup. The 26-year-old is slashing .319/.418/.404 with a 136 wRC+. He has never offered much in terms of power-hitting, but Smith owns some encouraging batted-ball metrics. Those numbers include a .297 xBA, .426 xSLG, 89.2 MPH average exit velocity, and a 40% sweet-spot rate. With multi-positional eligibility and a 2.1 points-per-dollar valuation, Smith is a worthwhile value play today.

It’s been a struggle for Kenta Maeda early on in 2024. Through three starts, he sports a 5.10 xERA and 4.99 xFIP. It may just be too small a sample size, but it could be symptomatic of a 36-year-old pitcher on his decline. Opposing hitters have touched up Maeda to the tune of a .486 xSLG, .263 xBA, and an 8.5% barrel rate.

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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