Taking a 3-1 series lead into Thursday, the Atlanta Braves now have a chance to wrap up the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5. The single-game slate will lock at 8:08pm ET.
For those unfamiliar with the single-game daily fantasy baseball format, scoring is identical to its full roster cousin, except you only roster hitters, and lineups consist of five flex spots. The one twist? One of the five roster spots is your designated "MVP," who receives 2-times his total fantasy points, along with a "STAR" slot that gets 1.5-times the points. Naturally, it's crucial that you choose your MVP and STAR carefully if you want to be at the top of the leaderboards when it's all said and done.
On that note, let's highlight some of the top options for today's FanDuel single-game slate.
As has been the case for much of this series, the Dodgers are the favorites in Game 5, but given the way this series has gone, that edge appears thin at best. With an over/under of just 8.0 runs, the implied totals shake out at 4.28-3.72 in favor of Los Angeles.
Max Fried will start for Atlanta tonight, and he's performed well in his two 2021 postseason outings. Meanwhile, Los Angeles hasn't officially announced a starter, but they're expected to roll with a bullpen game.
Fried has thrown back-to-back quality starts this postseason, allowing just 2 earned runs over 12 innings with 14 strikeouts and no walks. That's definitely a positive sign for tonight, and he was rock-solid in the regular season with a 3.76 SIERA, 23.7% strikeout rate, 6.1% walk rate, and 51.8% ground-ball rate.
It's tough to predict how the Dodgers will play things -- particularly with their season on the line -- but Corey Knebel seems like the most likely candidate to open the game. All of their other top relievers should be available, though, so the Braves could have their work cut out for them.
Truthfully, you might need to throw matchups out the window in this one, as there are no easy answers here. The left-handed Fried is predictably tough on lefties, but he's no slouch versus righties, too. While his regular-season strikeout rate was just 22.7% in the split, he still owned a 3.47 xFIP while allowing a 52.9% ground-ball rate and 24.6% hard-hit rate.
And on the other side, the Dodgers will be mixing and matching their bullpen all night, making it hard to predict, though it's worth noting that their group is predominantly right-handed.
By now you're pretty familiar with both sides, so you could consider looking at who's been playing well in these playoffs and who hasn't. For the Dodgers, guys like Mookie Betts ($9,500), Corey Seager ($8,500), Will Smith ($7,000), Chris Taylor ($7,000), and Cody Bellinger ($6,000) have all had their moments, and each one has at least one dinger to their name.
Meanwhile, Trea Turner ($7,500) has notably struggled, slashing a miserable .182/.182/.227 this postseason. He could be a good contrarian option at MVP.
For the Braves, Freddie Freeman ($7,500), Eddie Rosario ($6,500), and Joc Pederson ($6,000) have all been standouts with multiple home runs, and it can't hurt that they ought to own the platoon advantage against most anyone the Dodgers throw at them. Austin Riley ($9,000) and Adam Duvall ($5,500) have also played well, and I wouldn't doubt Ozzie Albies ($8,000), who's on a seven-game hit streak.
Travis d'Arnaud ($5,000) and Dansby Swanson ($5,000) have been much quieter at the plate, though Swanson has shown signs of life the past few games. They should bat at the bottom of the order against what should be a right-handed opener, so they should see low roster percentages and could be ways to differentiate if you envision an Atlanta onslaught.