Buy or Sell - Underowned and Overowned Players for Week 7

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I'm not giving up yet on Jake Arrieta, who I may have hinted had a chance at winning another Cy Young award this season back in March. I am ready, however, to make amends to the Yankees after putting two of their players in the overrated section of my week 1 article in this series (although I was absolutely right about Greg Bird and pretty much accurate regarding Dellin Betances' value). Bronx Bombers aside, I will also recommend cutting bait on some big name players before it's too late.

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 7

Matt Holliday (1B/OF, NYY) 66% owned

There was a clear division of opinions regarding Holliday in the preseason. Some saw him as an injury-prone 37-year-old with a declining average, while others considered him a prime bounce back candidate with 20+ HR potential in Yankee Stadium. Those of us who drafted Holliday cheaply in multiple leagues are now being rewarded. He is currently slashing .286/.400/.538 with six homers and 19 RBI. He's shown the odd dichotomy of increasing both his walk and strikeout rates past career-high marks (16.4 BB% and 26.4 K%). This is because he's taking many more pitches, with a career-low 43.3% swing%. When he is swinging, he is being more productive and it now appears that landing in the middle of the Yankees lineup was a perfect fit. While he's mainly an outfielder, his first base eligibility makes him even more useful in leagues with CI spots. Despite his age, a professional hitter like Holliday shouldn't be overlooked any further.

Aaron Hicks (OF, NYY) 64% owned

The more surprising Yankee to generate newfound fantasy interest is Aaron Hicks, who was mainly known for his defense and cannon arm. Unlike Holliday, Hicks is 27 years old and just entering his prime. While a breakout season is certainly possible, let's start by looking at some eye-popping numbers that are bound to decline eventually. Hicks is posting a 20.4% BB% that is double his career average. Although he doesn't have enough AB to qualify, his .474 OBP would place him second in the majors behind Bryce Harper. Most shockingly, his .293 ISO places him in the top 25, ahead of hot-hitting sluggers like Nolan Arenado, Khris Davis, and Nelson Cruz. Will he sustain this over a full season? Probably not. Is it worth picking up or trading on the cheap for a young, former first-round pick in a high-scoring offense who has legit 20-20 potential? I'll go with a firm yes.

Alex Wood (SP, LAD) 52% owned

Although he is half-owned across all leagues at the time of this writing, that number will jump through the roof if he can make a successful start at Coors Field on Saturday. Wood has never been the most exciting pick, but he seemed like a great sleeper heading into 2016. Then, a sore left triceps robbed him of the second half. Practically forgotten about in 2017 fantasy drafts, Wood has now resurfaced in a big way, going 3-0 with a 2.73 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in five starts. The best part is that his strikeout rate is up to 31.2%, a number that has risen the last couple of years. His 2.69 SIERA supports these early returns, so it may be a great time to add him before it's too late. If he stumbles at Coors and a skeptical owner in your league drops him, don't be shy about using some FAAB $ to claim him.

 

Overrated Players - Week 7

DJ LeMahieu (2B, COL) 91% owned

Everyone slumps, even batting champs. However, with 154 plate appearances in the books, LeMahieu has done virtually nothing to help fantasy owners. A .261 average, one homer, 10 RBI and two steals are worse than many waiver wire options. To be fair, his .304 BABIP, although it seems high, is 45 points below his career average. Chances are his average will climb closer to the .300 mark, if not over it, by year's end. The question LeMahieu owners need to ask themselves is, "Is that enough?" He set a career high with 11 HR last season and only surpassed 20 SB once. If he doesn't reach base as often, he won't score 100 runs either. Ultimately, LeMahieu's 2016 may prove to be the outlier in a mostly mediocre career.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT) 96% owned

It's time to face some ugly truths. Cutch just isn't Cutch any more. We know last year saw a huge drop-off in average, down to .256, but it's getting worse (.210 as of May 12). His wOBA of .295 and wRC+ of 81 are simply subpar for any outfielder, much less a former MVP. His plate discipline isn't really any worse; in fact, his contact% is the highest it has been since 2013 and his SwStr% is lower than it has been since 2011. The problem is that he's hitting the ball on the ground more and making far less hard contact. At age 30, McCutchen isn't old enough to write off completely, as his power numbers should remain somewhat constant at 20-25 HR and 80-90 RBI, but it might be safe to say that's as much as we can expect.

Sonny Gray (SP, OAK) 63% owned

Gray was activated from the DL on May 2, giving hope to Gray owners hoping for a return to 2015 form. In the famous words of Admiral Akbar, "It's a trap!" His first start saw Gray give up three homers, totaling four runs in six innings. He was more effective in his second start, allowing one run, but only went 4 2/3 innings. A lat injury can linger or return easily for a pitcher. Noah Syndergaard's season has already been sabotaged this way. Holding Gray until he works his way into shape may seem wise, but even at his best, Gray is just league average in terms of strikeout and walk rates. It's unlikely he'll chalk up many wins in Oakland either. Gray is simply a mid-rotation arm if he even stays healthy. Worse case scenario, you're stuck with last year's version of Gray and an ERA of 5.69.

 

More Risers and Fallers

 

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