After two weeks, we're starting to get a sense of which players had a couple of good games early on and who is legitimately off to a hot start in 2017. I'm all in on the Reds at the moment, but since I've already advocated for Eugenio Suarez and Jose Peraza plenty, I'll look for some other names here.
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.
Early in the season, my values will be based more on ADP than performance due to small sample size. I will include at least one player at each key position group (Infield, Outfield, Starter, Reliever). Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Underrated Players - Week 3
Brandon Phillips (2B, ATL) 23% owned
The Reds had been trying to trade Phillips for years and fantasy owners had gotten into the habit of ignoring him outright since 2014 when he had a disappointing showing. All he did was hit .294 and .291 the last two seasons with double-digit totals in homers and steals, along with 60+ runs and RBI. At age 35, his best years are well behind him, but Phillips still retains a fairly high floor. We don't know what Atlanta's new stadium will be like for hitters just yet, but it's unlikely to be as hitter-friendly as the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. That shouldn't stop Phillips from posting strong OBP numbers and contributing across multiple categories as usual. He's already got an 0.67 BB/K, which would be the best of his career by far. He hasn't gone deep yet, but seeing him near the top of the stolen base leaders with three in just two weeks is a very good sign. Phillips is a great MI option in 12+ team leagues and should be added in all such leagues.
Marcell Ozuna (OF, MIA) 89% owned
When you see Marcell Ozuna's name at the top of the leaderboard for RBI with 16, you may think this is a great time to sell high. Not so fast, my friend. Ozuna was an All-Star last season based on the strength of his outstanding first half in which he hit .307 with 17 HR, 47 RBI, and 52 R. He wasn't nearly the same in the second half, hitting almost 100 points lower with just six homers the rest of the way. Despite logging 607 at-bats and never seeing the DL, he may have been bothered by a nagging wrist injury, according to reports. Ozuna's hot hand shouldn't be dismissed - if anything this may be the time to field offers from an Ozuna owner who thinks he's netting a profit by unloading him.
Gerrit Cole (SP, PIT) 96% owned
It's funny how quickly some people were ready to write off Cole after one rough start at Fenway Park. It was an ugly game to be sure, as he gave up five ER in five innings on Opening Day, striking out just two batters. After the first inning of his next start, the Twitter world seemed ready to outright Cole back to Indianapolis, when he allowed two runs, including a homer to Dansby Swanson. He settled down to earn a quality start, if not a victory. His third start went even better, as he held the defending champion Cubs (I'll never get used to saying that) to two runs, six hits and one walk over six IP. He's never been an elite strikeout pitcher, but he can get to 200 over the course of a full season and he's shown a characteristically low BB/9 (2.12) as usual. Put out some feelers for Cole because his stock won't get much lower than it is at the moment, considering he's the #1 arm on a fairly good team.
Cam Bedrosian (RP, LAA) - 74% owned
If not for Mike Scioscia's stubbornness, Bedrock would have been a top-15 closer candidate before the season even started. Skepticism over Bedrosian's role has kept his ownership just below three-fourths, but we have to take the long-term approach when evaluating this situation. Huston Street has no business pitching in the ninth inning these days. He is yet to recover from a Grade 1 lat strain and even when he returns he will have to prove that last year's horrible ratios (6.45 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 1.17 K/BB) were an aberration. Bedrosian, by contrast, has been flawless in his three appearances this season and has raised last year's 31.5% K% up to 41.7%. When all is said and done, Bedrosian should outperform many mid-tier closers that were drafted several rounds earlier.
Overrated Players - Week 3
Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, CHC) 87% owned
To be clear, I am a big fan of Baez as a player and a person, just not in fantasy. On any other team, Baez would have a chance to show off his power, along with the accompanying strikeouts, on a regular basis. In Chicago, he is simply a utility player that sees about two AB per game. The bottom line is that his upside is limited to his power potential and he won't possibly hit as many as 20 HR in his current role. He's a .243 hitter in the majors, he whiffs on nearly 30% of his at-bats and he's only stolen as many as 20 bases once in his career, which came in Single-A. To think that he was taken before Jake Lamb and a full 150 picks before Eugenio Suarez or Yangeris Solarte in NFBC drafts should make you realize that the big market bias affects us all, and not for the better.
Joc Pederson (OF, LAD) 83% owned
Last week, I compared Pederson unfavorably to Nomar Mazara in an effort to show how Mazara would provide better value in every category other than homers. Pederson went off in an Opening Day rout of the Padres, jacking his first homer early on and driving in five. Since then, he has one RBI in eight games and more strikeouts (eight) than hits (five). Pederson isn't quite Chris Carter, but he does remind one of Rob Deer far too often, providing barely more than double the RBI total per home run. His current .250 average is higher than he's hit during his Major League tenure, so there isn't much more to look forward to. If you can keep him as a third or fourth outfielder in a deep league and offset his low average with the rest of your squad, by all means keep him. If you'd rather get more bang for your buck across other categories, you might want to deal him to another owner who still thinks his best is yet to come.
Zack Greinke (SP, ARI) 97% owned
I've been selling Greinke since Spring Training and will continue to do so. Greinke's first couple starts had his owners breathing a sigh of relief and many proclaiming last year was just an outlier. Then, he slipped in his showdown against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, allowing five ER in five innings. It's true that Greinke's velocity is down at least half a mile per hour and he wasn't even clocked as high as 90 in the spring. His slider has seen an even bigger dip at four MPH less than 2015, before he came to the desert. Here's visual proof, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:
That alone may not be enough to avoid him, but the fact that opposing hitters keep making higher contact rates and Chase Field seems to be the new Coors should be.
Joaquin Benoit (RP, PHI) 49% owned
Few people expected that the 36-year old Benoit would be one of the hottest adds in the early part of season. In one of my leagues, someone went so far as to spend $40 of FAAB to acquire him (a keeper league no less!). As it turns out, the Phillies decided to bequeath the closer role to Benoit rather than young flamethrower Hector Neris once Jeanmar Gomez imploded. The problem is that Benoit won't be good for more than two months of value, max. The club is likely trying to increase the reliever's value in order to get a better return once he is flipped before the trade deadline. Neris should then take over permanently. Even so, you should temper expectations with what Benoit can deliver. He has delivered better ratios in the later years of his career, but be warned that he walked 4.5 per nine innings last season and is on his fourth team in three season for a reason.