MLB DFS Punt Plays For DraftKings and FanDuel (March 28)

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 Yordan Alvarez and Shohei Ohtani, 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 MLB DFS punt plays available on Thursday’s Opening Day MLB main slate, locking at 4:10 PM ET on DraftKings (eight games) and 3:05 PM ET on FanDuel (nine games).

MLB DFS Punt Plays Today – March 28

Frankie Montas – SP, CIN vs. WSH

MLB DFS DraftKings $6,300

MLB DFS FanDuel $7,500

With several aces on the mound today, I do not necessarily recommend punting at pitcher. That said, going for a cheap pitcher is a worthwhile strategy to flip the lineup build in large-field tournaments and get different. After sifting through the names at the bottom of the barrel for Thursday’s main slate, Frankie Montas stands out as the top DraftKings value play among pitchers in our projections and the fourth-best value on FanDuel.

Following arthroscopic shoulder surgery, Montas managed only one appearance in 2022, totaling 1 1/3 innings pitched. So, there are certainly a lot of unknowns surrounding the 31-year-old right now. Still, Montas has been a reliably solid pitcher throughout his eight-year MLB tenure. That includes a career 3.90 ERA and 3.87 xFIP, alongside an above-average 24.2% strikeout rate.

Montas had a rocky spring training overall, posting a 5.94 ERA across five outings. However, having hardly pitched since the 2022 campaign, there was bound to be some rust. Montas appeared to figure it out towards the end of the preseason, surrendering only three earned runs over his final two spring starts combined, totaling nine innings and 11 strikeouts. Further, Montas worked up to five innings in his final outing, so there should not be any noteworthy workload concerns heading into Opening Day.

Fortunately, Montas draws a very soft matchup with the Washington Nationals today. The Nationals posted a below-average 4.3 runs per game with a 92 wRC+ in 2023. Lane Thomas, CJ Abrams, and Keibert Ruiz headline the Washington lineup, but it’s an otherwise unremarkable group. The offseason additions of Joey Gallo, Nick Senzel, and Eddie Rosario will do little to boost the team’s offensive upside. By no means does this make Montas a safe play, but there is a path to success.

Jake Rogers – C, DET vs. CWS

MLB DFS DraftKings $3,400

MLB DFS FanDuel $2,400

Jake Rogers’ DraftKings price tag is pushing the boundary of what constitutes a punt play, but he is a strong value worth including in the conversation. Rogers is the second-highest graded value play on the DraftKings main slate and the fourth-highest on FanDuel. His 29.64% home run probability is the second-highest among all hitters on the slate, making Rogers’ fantasy appeal very apparent.

Rogers is fresh off a 21-home run campaign in 2023 that largely went under the radar. The success consisted of a .449 xSLG, 12% barrel rate, 45.6% hard-hit rate, and an elite 40.3% sweet-spot rate. He doesn’t hit for average or get on base at an impressive clip, and a 31.7% whiff rate adequately lays out Rogers’ downside, but a long ball is well within the range of outcomes today.

Among pitchers getting Opening Day nods around the league, Garrett Crochet is possibly the most unqualified. He has never started a game at the major league level and struggled across 13 bullpen appearances for the White Sox last season, accumulating a 6.48 xERA, 7.15 xFIP, and a weak 18.8% strikeout rate. Crucially, Crochet is left-handed, which is great news for Rogers, who is particularly potent against southpaw pitching, lighting them up to the tune of a career 135 wRC+ and .580 slugging percentage.

Michael A. Taylor – OF, PIT vs. MIA

MLB DFS DraftKings $2,500

We would be remiss not to discuss the top-rated value play on DraftKings. Michael A. Taylor is mysteriously not included on the FanDuel main slate, so feel free to ignore this section if you’re playing over there. Taylor’s game-to-game role with the Pittsburgh Pirates is unclear as we head into the season, though he figures to have at least a short-side platoon role against southpaws, which would place him in the starting lineup for Opening Day.

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Overall, Taylor is nothing exceptional at the plate, though he is coming off one of his strongest offensive seasons. Ignoring his uninspiring .278 on-base percentage – there is a reason his price is near the minimum –  the 33-year-old showcased some respectable pop in his bat last year, producing 21 home runs, a .433 xSLG, .223 ISO, and an exceptional 13.5% barrel rate. Taylor was particularly lethal against left-handed pitchers, posting a .602 slugging percentage and a 146 wRC+ across 112 plate appearances.

Taylor will square off against Jesus Luzardo on Thursday. Luzardo is certainly no slouch, coming fresh off a strong 2023 campaign featuring a 3.96 xERA and 3.72 xFIP. Despite the success, Luzardo did surrender some power, allowing a .410 xSLG, 89.5 MPH average exit velocity, and a generous 9.5% barrel rate. Right-handed bats were particularly problematic for him, generating a .430 slugging percentage against Luzardo in 2023, part of a .435 career mark. Look for Taylor to run into one here.


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