Buy or Sell - Underowned and Overowned Players for Week 6

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It seems that Thames Fever has been replaced by Marwin Mania! In the same way I chose not to go into detail on Eric Thames, I won't regurgitate what has been said about Marwin Gonzalez on numerous waiver wire and streamer posts already. My simple advice: grab him if you can, then sell quickly. Moving on to this week, there are some younger players that are starting to show signs of breaking out while others just haven't figured it out yet (and won't).

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 include one player at each key position group (Infield, Outfield, Pitcher). Ownership levels are taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports.

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Underrated Players - Week 6

Tim Beckham (1B/2B/SS, TB) - 27% owned

By the time we hit the All-Star break, I may have mentioned every single position player the Rays have in this column. They are sitting dead even at .500 as a club, but offensively the Rays are overachieving in a way that might just keep up all season long. The Rays are 11th in homers, 14th in runs and around the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, which is far higher than predicted during spring training. Beckham earned his starting job thanks to the Logan Forsythe trade which moved Brad Miller to 2B. The former top overall pick just may be having a breakout year. He barely had a full season's worth of at-bats entering 2017, but in that time he did keep an above-average 3.6% HR% and he's been increasing his fly ball rate every season. The power could very well be legit, even though he never hit more than 16 in the minors. Beckham's physical tools have never been questioned, but it may be that he's just a late bloomer. At age 27, Beckham is making the most of his opportunity to start and could be a better version of Marcus Semien. The fact he is eligible at nearly every infield position just drives home his value in all mixed leagues of 12 or more teams.

Michael Conforto (OF, NYM) - 73% owned

At nearly 3/4 ownership across Yahoo, Conforto isn't vastly underowned but some managers are still hesitant to get on board. I've even heard some very knowledgeable analysts on SiriusXM's Fantasy Radio go so far as to say Conforto isn't worth owning at all! (Not @RealTalkRaph - he's a Mets fan.) While it's true Conforto doesn't hit lefties well (.141 average in 71 Major League at-bats), his value when he's in the lineup is undeniable. In all, he's hitting .357 with seven HR and 18 RBI over 23 games. Yoenis Cespedes is still on the DL and Curtis Granderson is off to a horrible start, so it's not inconceivable that Conforto will continue to get some chances against LHP in the immediate future. Of course, Conforto started out like a ball of fire last April, only to hit the skids immediately thereafter. I'm betting on the talent right now and buying while the price is still relatively low because so many people are still wary of him.

Eduardo Rodriguez (SP, BOS) - 53% owned

It took a little longer than impatient Red Sox fans now used to winning would like, but it appears Ed-Rod is figuring things out. Rodriguez was stellar against the Cubs, striking out nine in six innings of one-run ball. This came a week after shutting out the Orioles for six IP and whiffing seven batters. The main knock against him right now is the short outings, as he's yet to stretch beyond six frames. He did so five times in 20 starts last season, so it won't be a common occurrence to see him go deeper into games, but the Red Sox bullpen and offense should secure him a fair amount of wins. Regardless of that, Rodriguez is valuable right now for one main reason: strikeouts. He's at a 32.6% K% and striking out almost 13 batters per nine innings. That may not be sustainable, considering his average was closer to the mid-20s in the minors, but if he can keep it around 27 or 28 percent, you have a great waiver wire add to your rotation. Beware some regression in ratios due to a strand rate of almost 90%, but the counting stats should still pique your interest.

 

Overrated Players - Week 6

Starlin Castro (2B, NYY) - 78% owned

We've seen this movie before. Castro has been as hot as any middle infielder lately, hitting .354 with a pair of homers, six RBI and 10 runs scored in the last two weeks. Here's the problem: Castro is a career .321 hitter in the first month of the season, but that number falls off to .262 in May and then .256 in June and July. The power and speed totals also fall off gradually until they hit a low in July. He is a classic sell-high candidate who could fade out as the season progresses, as pointed out by our own @hayudi18. Castro may draw attention from your leaguemates due to his big market presence and the relative lack of pop at second base right now. See if you can swing a deal for a struggling player like Jason Kipnis or DJ LeMahieu if possible.

Jackie Bradley Jr. (OF, BOS) - 81% owned

Bradley's value is in the dumps right now, so it isn't the ideal time to sell. That is, unless you can find an owner who thinks he's buying low and offers you another quality third outfielder in return, such as Kole Calhoun or Avisail Garcia, who I believe will return good value most of the season. I've never been a believer in Bradley for fantasy purposes and that seems to be justified as we've seen in 2017. His impressive 29-game hitting streak made him a fantasy darling for a while last season, but he somehow ended the year with a pedestrian .267 average in spite of that feat. The truth is, Bradley is simply a streaky hitter prone to long stretches of success or, in this case, inadequacy. He's got a miserable .247 wOBA and his swinging strike rate is up to 13.8%, which is a career high. Eventually, Bradley may be worth scooping off the waiver wire or adding as a throw-in from another trade, but don't make the mistake of thinking now is that time.

Jerad Eickhoff (SP, PHI) - 74% owned

For some reason, the Phillies' pitching staff gets a lot more credit than it deserves. Maybe the expectation was that Nola, Velasquez, and Eickhoff were going to become the next Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz, but that definitely won't be the case this season. Unlike his counterparts, Eickhoff doesn't pack quite the same strikeout punch at 8.25 K/9. His typically low walk rate has jumped up to 3.25 BB/9 this year and his 4.55 xFIP supports the fact that he isn't pitching as well as his ratios suggest. In fact, it could get worse once more balls start leaving the yard. His fly ball rate has climbed eight points over last year and is now above league-average at 47.1%. Meanwhile, his 6.1% HR/FB is half of what it was in 2016. Unless he starts keeping the ball on the ground more, Eickhoff may be giving up more big innings in the future. At best, Eickhoff was a fourth or fifth starter in mixed leagues anyway, but those expecting a future star waiting to break out will be sorely disappointed when his ERA continues to climb as it has since his rookie season.

 

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