We are a little over a week into the 2017 baseball season. If you’re playing fantasy baseball, you’re still trying to figure out your roster. Should I cut bait with Byron Buxton? Should I pick up someone who started out red hot?
We look at some players who started out hot, some who are struggling and maybe some guys who should be targeted in your free agent pool.
Before I begin, let’s go over the F/M/K terminology. The guys that I list under “F*ck” are guys that are currently hot and you need to pick them up. “Marry”, are guys that you need to stick with the whole season, even if they are struggling a bit. “Kill”, are guys that need to be dropped for better players in the free agent pool.
Mark Reynolds – Colorado Rockies – 65.3% owned – Reynolds has already hit four homers and has an average above .300. He is a very boom or bust player, so he isn’t a player to hold onto for the year. Also, newly-signed Ian Desmond is due to come off the disabled list in the next couple weeks. Reynolds should be a nice player to have until Desmond is ready.
Steven Souza Jr. – Tampa Bay Rays – 26.7% owned – Souza was once a well-regarded prospect, but has struggled to consistently hit for a contact. He is doing just that right now and has an OPS over 1.200 right now. I don’t think he can keep this up, but he could have a breakout year if he hits his way out of a possible platoon situation.
Chris Owings – Arizona Diamondbacks – 50.9% owned – The Shortstop position is top-heavy, so if you don’t have Carlos Correa or Corey Seager, you might be struggling to find a productive shortstop. Owings went undrafted in most leagues and is currently hitting .333, with a homer and four stolen bases. He could be worth a long-term roster spot if he keeps up this pace.
Jason Castro – Minnesota Twins – 27.6% owned – Catcher is another position that isn’t very deep. If you’re in a 12-team league, there are a couple teams that will struggle to find a productive, everyday catcher. If you own Gary Sanchez (who is currently on the disabled list), Castro would be a decent band aid.
Kendall Graveman – Oakland Athletics – 54.6% owned – He was a decent streamable starter last year. He changed his approach this season and is now heavily relying on his sinker ball. It has worked at the moment, but we all know that predictability eventually bites pitchers in the butt. It’s working right now and ride him while he’s hot.
Nomar Maraza – Texas Rangers – 85.6% owned – He is off to a hot start and is being swallowed up in all leagues. He’s worth a pick up right now. He’s in a high-octane offense and is a run scoring machine. He should score 90 runs and hit around 20 homers.
Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners – 33.8% owned – Haniger was a bit of a throw-in in the Jean Segura/Taijuan Walker trade, but is instantly paying off. He is scoring runs, hitting for average and has crushed three homers.
Gerardo Parra – Colorado Rockies – 23.6% owned – Just like Reynolds, Parra is filling in for an injured player. Parra is currently hitting .375 right now and is keeping the seat warm for David Dahl, who should be coming off the disabled list soon. If you’re in a pinch the next couple days and need a streamable outfielder, pick up Parra.
Greg Bird – New York Yankees – 53.2 % owned – Bird has struggled at the player so far and is currently dealing with an ankle injury and the flu. Chris Carter is the only first base option they have and Carter will struggle to hit consistently. He does have crazy power, but so does Bird. Both may end up in a timeshare, but Bird should end up with the lionshare of at-bats. I’d keep him on your team in the meantime.
Anthony Rendon – Washington Nationals – 85.3% owned – Rendon is off to a slow start. He is 3 for 26 with only one RBI. He sticks out like a sore thumb in what has been a very hot start for the Nationals as a whole. Rendon will bounce back, so don’t dump him like more than 6% of fantasy owners have done.
Francisco Liriano – Toronto Blue Jays – 24.0% owned – I don’t usually take a lot of stock in Spring Training numbers, but Liriano looked like a beast in March. He’s only pitched 1/3 of an inning this season, but gave up five runs. He will be worth keeping on your roster since he will get on a roll on a team with a good offense. He might be a good source of wins.
Jharel Cotton – Oakland Athletics – 30.3% owned – Cotton had a rough first start, but then he pitched seven innings with no earned runs in his second start. Some people are comparing his changeup to Pedro Martinez’s…which is huge praise. I think Cotton could have a breakout year. Keep him on your team for the time being.
Jose Reyes – New York Mets – 20.8% owned – Reyes had a solid year after being suspended and traded early last season. He is off to a 2 for 33 slow start, but should still end up hitting for a solid average and hit double-digit homers and steal double-digit bases. He is a really nice backup fantasy third baseman.
Neil Walker – New York Mets – 49.6% owned – I’m not sure who fantasy owners are picking up to replace Walker, but it’s crazy that people are already bailing on him. He hit .288 and hit 23 homers last season. He’s going to end the season with a good average with some solid power numbers for a middle infielder.
Dexter Fowler – St. Louis Cardinals – 83.8% owned – Fowler bounced around the league before making a name for himself on the Chicago Cubs. He got a nice payday to sign with the Cardinals, but is only hitting .161 to start the year. You have to hold onto him ’cause he will get plenty at-bats and time to live up to his contract.
Jason Heyward – Chicago Cubs – 34.9% owned – He looked like garbage late last season, but he worked the entire offseason on rehabbing his swing. He had success this Spring and he is hitting .292 early this season. I think he could be a nice backup outfielder with the possibility of being a starter at some point.
Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins – 52.3% owned – Buxton was once a prospect that was ranked above Kris Bryant. Buxton was never expected to be a stud fantasy player, but more of a better overall player with defense added into the equation. He is currently getting killed by Major League pitching. He’s striking out at an unreal rate. It’s time to cut bait with him who may end up in the minors again soon.
Jedd Gyorko – St. Louis Cardinals – 46.2% owned – Gyorko had a surprise season a year ago. I was bullish on him early in his career, but was letdown year after year. I don’t think Gyorko will get the same amount of at-bats on the Cardinals this season. He should be, at best, a streaming option.
Rajai Davis – Oakland Athletics – 46.3% owned – Davis is probably a nice source of steals, but only if he gets on base. I don’t see him as an everyday outfielder. He is better suited to be in a platoon, so his average will be hard to swallow. I think there are better sources of steals on the market.
Curtis Granderson – New York Mets – 68.6% owned – Granderson is in the twilight of his career. I think at this point there are better outfield options on the market. He may still hit 20-ish homers, but I think his average will float around .210 to .220.
Carlos Rodon – Chicago White Sox – 44.5% owned – Rodon was killed this Spring and then complained of biceps tightness. He started the year on the disabled list and is currently being re-evaluated. I wouldn’t want Rodon to vacate my open DL spot. He is an inconsistent young pitcher with a big arm. He will struggle with WHIP and won’t get many wins on the lowly White Sox.
Adam Ottavino – Colorado Rockies – 23.1% owned – For those fantasy owners that drafted Ottavino after missing out on Greg Holland, it’s time to drop him. Holland is off to an amazing start and has a stranglehold on the closer job. If your league has Holds as a category, keep Ottavino.
Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies – 77.5% owned – I have a ton of Rockies all over my F/M/K list this week. Gray was a sleeper pick to have a breakout season, but his inconsistency is a killer for me. He actually has better numbers at Coors Field, which is odd…and also another stat that shows how inconsistent he has been. He struggles when he has a favorable match-up on the road, but then faces someone who should light him up at Coors, but dominates that team. I don’t need that sort of headache.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.