It’s that fun time of year where Opening Day has kicked off and the fantasy juices are flowing. For the most part, you need to remind yourself not to overreact to small sample sizes. You should trust your offseason research as a full year of data is certainly worth more than 4-5 games. All that said, there are some players now available on the waiver wire due to injury. Some of these same names are being held in some leagues, but could be had for a song under the right circumstances . There’s also a few guys, both owned and available, that can be added or targeted as a buy-low.
DL guys to trade for
Madison Bumgarner: Not too much to say about this one. Bumgarner is a bonafide ace and has been great for a long time. He just had surgery to repair his hand. It stinks that you’ll have to wait 6-8 weeks to get him back but he can likely be had for a discount. I had a late draft and was able to get him in a dynasty league for under $20 – not to shabby for a stud pitcher who is only 28-years old. I actually like that he got a year off from wear and tear on his arm last season. If there ever was a buy-low opportunity it’s now.
- I would be open to trading someone like Luke Weaver or Marcus Stroman.
Jeff Samardzija: Bumgarner’s teammate is somewhat divisive in fantasy circles as his inconsistency has burnt some players badly enough that they don’t want to go back to the well. The report on his injury is just that it’s a pec strain and he’s already throwing again. I still like “Shark” as a compiler type pick who will likely be top 30-40 even if he’s not as exciting as sexier picks. He may even be available in your league as over 20% of teams dropped him in ESPN and almost as many in Yahoo leagues.
- I would be open to trading someone like Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, or Tanner Roark.
Gregory Polanco: This is as much of a hunch as anything, but I just have a feeling about Polanco this year. There’s plenty of reasons to make an argument against him, but I just feel like this is the year he finally puts it all together over a full season. A solid second half of 2015 gave us hope that carried through the first half of 2016 before falling off, and then he struggled with injuries in the second half last season. Polanco has an elite pedigree, and with Cutch gone it just feels like he and Josh Bell might be ready to step up and take the reigns of that young Pirates team. If we did bold predictions then I would’ve been tempted to call Polanco a top 15-20 outfielder in 2018.
Polanco is owned in about 90% of both Yahoo and ESPN leagues but shouldn’t be too hard to pry away given his overall ADP. I would try to get him as a “put over” piece in what would otherwise be a 50-50 trade. For example, I recently traded Aaron Nola and Brett Gardner for Zack Greinke and Gregory Polanco. It’s worth mentioning that this was before Greinke struck out 9 and the owner was panicking a bit about injury.
DL Guys potentially being dropped
Carlos Rodon: I love going for post-hype style breakouts, and it can be even sneakier if they’re on the DL to start the year. Rodon was once considered a top-10 prospect in baseball, and if you’ve ever seen his breaking stuff then you know why. Rodon is coming up on 400 IP, which is prime breakout territory for young arms. He won’t be back until June, but I think he’s worth the stash based on upside and long-term viability in keeper and dynasty leagues. He’s owned in just 5% of ESPN leagues and 9% of Yahoo leagues.
Eduardo Rodriguez: I’ve waxed poetic about Eduardo in the past and I still love him, maybe even more than I like Rodon (even when both are healthy). He’s a filthy lefty on a team that may well be the best in baseball. Boston has an elite outfield defense, offense, and bullpen. What more could a starting pitcher want? E-Rod will also be back a good bit sooner than Rodon and is coming off of a non-arm injury. This is an easy pickup for me and he’s owned in under 20% of Yahoo and ESPN leagues.
Jason Vargas: This is more of a deeper league pickup as I’m far from a Vargas fan. He’s not nearly as good as the other guys on the list above nor is he as good as we saw in the first half of 2017, but he’s not as bad as he was in the second half either. I think the Mets could be sneaky good this year and the division shouldn’t be that great outside of the Nats. I think Vargas is a good bet to give you some innings.He is supposed to be back as sometime this month and is worth adding in very deep roto leagues and of course NL Only formats. He’s only owned at 13% in Yahoo and 5% in ESPN.
Ian Kinsler: Finally another bat! I was big on Ian Kinsler coming into the year. Last year seemed like a BABIP fluke, and batting in front of Mike trout can help cure that kind of malady. Some early season injury problems have caused him to be dropped in a good number of leagues – over 10% of ESPN leagues have dropped him in the last few days and he’s down to 76% owned in Yahoo as well. If he is not on waivers I would check the asking price from the current owners. Even though he’s getting old, I still think there’s top-6 potential at second base.
Michael Brantley: I’ve long been a fanboy for Brantley; my love for him helped me see Mookie Betts coming a few years ago as I adore players who make a lot of contact. Brantley has been oft-injured the last two years or so, but he’s still generally pretty good when he does play. He gives you a little bit of everything and should still have a premier slot in a stacked Cleveland lineup. I’d stash him wherever I could, and it’s worth remembering that his approach and elite contact skills make him more valuable in points leagues. He’s owned in under 25% of ESPN leagues and just shy of 40% of Yahoo leagues so he’s pretty available, but maybe not for long.
Guys that might be getting overlooked
Scooter Gennett: I was SHOCKED when I saw that Gennett was only owned in 44% of ESPN leagues – he’s owned at a much more appropriate of 80% on Yahoo, but the hot start might catch him up in those aforementioned ESPN leagues. I’m starting to really buy in on Gennett and think he should be owned in basically all formats until he gives us a reason not to be, especially after last season’s breakout.
Cesar Hernandez: I’ve always liked Hernandez as he has a decent OBP guy (.370+ in 2 straight years). He’s been undervalued because of that Phillies stink on him coming into 2018. I was a little spooked with all the Kingery hype and the extension, but it’s becoming clear to me that Franco and others might have more to fear than Hernandez as he appears to have locked down the leadoff spot. Hernandez is a threat for 100 runs with his OBP skills in addition to having the likes of Santana and Hoskins behind him for a full year.
Hernandez is an easy add for me and he’s widely available in both ESPN and Yahoo – owned in just 48% in Yahoo and a mere 26% in ESPN. Go get this guy, especially in OBP leagues and leagues that use a MI slot.
Matt Davidson: He will likely be a popular add after a 3 homer explosion. Davidson was on my radar last year in deeper leagues as he is also a good defender. Defense rarely matters in fantasy, but it can keep you on the field. In deep leagues, you often just need playing time. Even if Davidson slumps I don’t anticipate him going anywhere. Davidson is owned in 62% and 67% of ESPN and Yahoo respectively so not easily accessible. Still, keep an eye on him, especially if he slumps. Some owners might be quick to drop him so be ready to capitalize on that.
Derek Dietrich: Dietrich is largely overlooked because he’s not that good, plus the Marlins are supposed to be terrible this year. Dietrich is a solid real world player and has been batting in the top 2 slots of the Marlins order early on. That has value even when lineups are not as vaunted as the Yanks or Red Sox. Dietrich should also pick up multi-position eligibility in the next few weeks. Third base and outfield are deep, but it never hurts to have a flexible guy on your team. He should be a slight positive in batting average and can give you some decent run scoring opportunity.
This is more of a deep league pickup but I found myself owning him in two of my deeper leagues where I just needed some every day play. He’s available almost everywhere with an ownership under 10% universally.
Hope you enjoyed that mix of adds and buy-lows. Should be something for folks of all league sizes. Go get em and try to take advantage of some early league oversites and overreactions.
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