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The first week of the season is officially over, so it's time to start trading assets! That actually may not be the best idea since we've yet to get a firm grasp on trends or values, although the start of the season could be the best time to acquire assets cheaply in some cases. Cutting bait on players bound to struggle can be equally as important, lest you find yourself in a hole that you can't dig your way out of thanks to a no-good, underperforming bum! They're all hard-working, quality ballplayers, sure, but some just don't have the decency to consider the fantasy community at large. The nerve.

Even at this early stage of the 2018 MLB season, scouting players who may be undervalued and re-assessing players who may be overvalued is a weekly exercise that you should pursue. Fortunately, I have you covered. Here are a few players who are good buy or sell candidates based on their current performance compared to ownership levels. This could mean scooping them off waivers if possible or actively seeking a trade to acquire or discard certain players in order to maximize value.

I will typically include one player at each key position group (infield, outfield, pitcher) but may sometimes be motivated to add an extra player or two. Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports.

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Underrated Players - Week 2

Matt Davidson (1B/3B, CHW) 73% owned

Sure, pick the guy who goes deep three times on Opening Day... This is no Tuffy Rhodes situation, I can assure you. I would be remiss not to mention that I advocated for Davidson on a couple of occasions last season, as he was barely owned, yet provided 26 HR in just 118 games. He's going to keep giving you power and won't sink your average quite like you think. There's no denying his plate discipline was abysmal last year, with a 37.2% K% that would have tied him with Chris Davis for the absolute worst among all hitters if he had enough at-bats to qualify, along with a subpar 4.3% BB%. He's already shown a lot more patience, reaching 21% of last year's walk total in just one week of play. If he can hit 35 or more home runs, then we can live with an average around .250, can't we? The power is legit, as our resident Statcast guru Rick Lucks pointed out months ago. Davidson's 15.4% Barrels/Batted Ball Events ranked ninth in the majors last year and is a key predictor of potential power breakouts. If he happens to be available or is dropped in the coming weeks, scoop him up quickly.

Jake Lamb (3B, ARI) 86% owned

I'm now officially tripling down on Lamb to start the season, but this will be the last time, I promise. Lamb is on the disabled list for a sprained AC joint, which may or may not resolve itself within 10 days. Even so, it's not likely to be a prolonged absence. Lamb's stock was already dropping in fantasy owners' collective minds once the humidor was announced and some are outright skeptical that he can repeat last year's numbers, even though they were very similar to 2016. While he'll never be a superior option for batting average, keep in mind that his plate discipline has improved each year. Something in the .270s is certainly possible, as he consistently hit over .300 in the minors and is far from Joey Gallo. Hey, he's already up to a .278 start this year over his first 20 plate appearances! If you've got an antsy Lamb owner in your league, it's time to try a lowball trade offer to see if he'll bite.

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB) 49% owned

The gold-gloved one is stuck in a horrible slump, going two-for-28 with two runs scored and no counting stats otherwise after seven games. Good. Hope that it lasts another few days and he gets dropped in your league if he isn't already available. The only question fantasy should have with Kiermaier is health. By all accounts he isn't fighting any nagging injuries, only the bitter cold up north, in unconventional ways. Once the team discovers its offense (he isn't the only Ray struggling, unsurprisingly), he could finally deliver on that promise of a 20/20 season and serve as a fine fifth outfielder or utility player.

Miles Mikolas (SP, STL) 44% owned

The stat line from his first start isn't a beautiful sight to behold, but he was more effective than it suggests. He struck out five in 5 2/3 innings while walking none. All four runs he allowed came via the long ball, which should be more controllable outside of Milwaukee. We don't have much MLB data to analyze on Mikolas, as his last stint with a Major League club was in 2014 with the Padres. He posted a 6.44 ERA in 10 starts while striking out less than 15% of batters faced. Blecch... He did have tremendous success in the Japanese Central League for three years and finds himself in a favorable situation, as the Cards have historically had success with reclamation projects at the pitcher position. There isn't a tantalizing ceiling here, but Mikolas could be a relatively low-risk option at the end of your rotation, especially if you need someone to tide you over in 14+ team leagues while MadBum is on the shelf.

 

Overrated Players - Week 2

Chris Davis (1B, BAL) 63% owned

I've advocated for slugging corner infielder Matt Davidson and slumping Kevin Kiermaier, so why pick on Davis when he fits both bills? The difference is that Davis is all but guaranteed to be an albatross on your batting average, having hit .196, .262, .221, and .215 over the last four seasons. Manager Buck Showalter put him in the leadoff spot because of his ability to draw walks, but unless you're in a league that uses OBP in place of AVG, that doesn't go very far. For a player completely dependent on power for fantasy value, it should be concerning that his fly ball rate dropped below 40% last year and is even lower so far this season. You're far better off replacing the homers he might provide with another player that actually helps in other areas. Davis was already dropped to the sixth spot in the lineup, which hurts his run-scoring potential, although he did respond with his first homer of the year. That pushes his average up to .111! He doesn't have much trade value at the moment, so Davis owners are advised to bench him until he shows signs of turning it around for a prolonged period of time.

Dexter Fowler (OF, STL) 52% owned

I'll start by saying this about Fowler - he had a great two years with the Cubs, he helped them to win their first World Series in over 100 years and nobody can take that away from him. Fast forward to 2018 and he's a good-not-great outfielder for fantasy purposes that brings more to the Cards clubhouse than the virtual one. He posted his career numbers as a 29-30-year old, earning a nice paycheck to join division rivals in St. Louis. You can blame injuries for last year's woes, but he was slumping well before any DL stint happened. He's a career .267 hitter who's only reached the .300 mark once, stole 20 bases once in the last eight years, and never reached 20 homers in a season. Again, unless your league counts OBP or BB/K as a scoring category, there isn't a high enough ceiling to allow him to occupy a starting lineup spot.

Aaron Sanchez (SP, TOR) 80% owned

A popular bounce back candidate, Sanchez's ratios were abysmal a year ago as he joined Rich Hill and teammate Marcus Stroman among others in the persistent blister club. Sanchez is sporting a 5.40 ERA and allowed 14 hits in his first 11 2/3 innings so far, but it's amazing he hasn't walked more than six batters. He's only thrown strikes on 57% of his pitches and isn't inducing grounders at the rate he would like. Sanchez pitches to contact and needs his sinker to work if he's going to be effective. Suddenly, he's started throwing a changeup at a 23% rate in lieu of his curveball, while his sinker usage keeps going down each year. It's forcing him to pitch lower in the zone, but not to good results early on.

His current heat map (left) shows a concerted effort to stay low, as opposed to his career year of 2016 (right) when he was able to live effectively in the zone because of the movement on his pitches.

It could be a matter of adjusting his pitch selection to prevent blisters or to try inducing more swings and misses, but the overall results aren't encouraging just yet. Six of his strikeouts have come on the change, but his bread and butter has been the sinker and that's not as effective as it used to be. He's already a liability in the strikeout category, averaging less than seven K/9 for his career, and the Jays don't figure to win a ton of games this year, so a 15-2 record is definitely not in the works. If his ERA and WHIP aren't immaculate, he's only hurting you.

 

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