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One of the biggest differences between daily and weekly fantasy formats is that sinking feeling you get when one of your studs has a day off. It happens to everyone in weekly formats, but your rivals are getting a game advantage over you in daily settings. You can't carry a backup on your bench for every position either, as you usually want to dedicate at least some reserve slots to SPs.

My preferred solution to this problem is to roster a useful bench bat who might not be worth starting everyday, but offers competence and positional versatility when a better option has a day off. Derek Dietrich of the Miami Marlins fits this profile nicely, as does Josh Harrison of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Yahoo! ownership rates are provided below to give a rough suggestion of how available these players may be to you, but every league is different. It never hurts to check!

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Derek Dietrich (3B/OF, MIA) 15% Owned

Dietrich has a HR on the young season, but the sample size is still way too small to draw any significant conclusions from. He slashed .249/.334/.424 with 13 long balls in 464 PAs last year, a rather underwhelming line for fantasy purposes. He played mostly 3B (100 games), but added nine games at 1B and 2B plus four more in the outfield. He's primarily an outfielder this year, giving him a minimum of OF/3B eligibility in all formats.

Dietrich has league-average pop, so you're probably hoping for a homer whenever you plug him into your lineup. Last year's 40.7% FB% was rock solid, while his 10.2% HR/FB was a tick below league average. His average airborne exit velocity (90.1 mph) and rate of Brls/BBE (5.8%) were also slightly below league average, so Dietrich's pop is more of the compiler variety rather than natural ability. Still, 20 bombs are 20 bombs.

Dietrich also projects for a reasonable batting average. His 21.1% K% last year was almost perfectly league average, while his 8.5% SwStr% suggests some upside in that regard. His 29.9% chase rate is also average, making last year's 7.8% BB% a reasonable projection for 2018 as well. He's indifferent to the shift (.299 average without it last year, .296 with it), so he should post a roughly league average BABIP too.

If you're wondering why the heck somebody with no speed and average everything else should matter in fantasy, it boils down to his lineup slot. Dietrich has hit second in every game the Marlins have played thus far, giving him an ideal position to rack up runs scored and RBI. Miami's lineup isn't as good as it was last year, but a position in the heart of it is still better than being relegated to the periphery of a stronger team.

Dietrich is also highly available, so the vast majority of you can pick him up right now. His final line is probably something like .260 with 20 HR and more counting stats than you'd expect. Not great, but good enough to stop the bleeding whenever you need a spot starter.

Verdict: Champ

 

Josh Harrison (2B/3B, PIT) 49% Owned

If Harrison is available to you, he's a better option than Dietrich. He also has a homer in 2018 and slashed .272/.339/.432 with 16 big flies and 12 steals (four CS) a season ago. He primarily played 2B (82 games) and 3B (48), but mixed in enough time in the outfield (eight games) to gain eligibility there in more lenient formats.

Harrison's appeal is the ability to contribute in every category save OBP. Last year's .272 batting average was based on a .303 BABIP significantly below his career mark of .317. The problem was a sharp decline in his BABIP on ground balls (.217 vs. .256 career), but there was no corresponding decline in Harrison's speed (27.8 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed in both 2016 and 2017) or performance against the shift (.289 with and without it in 2017). He lost some exit velocity on the ground (77.6 mph vs. 81.3 mph in 2016, 82.2 mph in 2015), but that's low enough to project at least a small increase moving forward.

Harrison's raw speed is pretty good, so he could also steal more than he did last year (19 SB in 2016). His success rate was a strong 75% even last year, so double digit steals should be a floor. The upside is 25+.

Harrison's power potential is very comparable to Dietrich's. His 89.7 mph average airborne exit velocity and 2.7% percent rate of Brls/BBE were both very low last year, but he still managed to pull enough of his fly balls (21.3%) to post a reasonable HR/FB of 10%. More importantly, his 40.8% FB% last year gives him the volume of flies necessary to produce fantasy-useful power numbers despite lacking raw power.

Harrison has hit first or second in each Pirates game so far this season, giving him a batting order position conducive to runs scored. He may contribute RBI as well if he sticks in the second hole, but you can't count on that yet. Still, runs scored are nice when accompanied by power, speed, and batting average upside.

If your league cares about OBP, Harrison's value takes a hit. His SwStr% was solid last year (10.5%), but his 35.6% chase rate hampers his ability to draw a walk. He rarely struck out last year (16.6% K%) thanks to his extremely aggressive approach (52.7% Swing%), but it's much better for his batting average than his OBP.

It's nice to have a shot at every category you might need when Plan A isn't starting, making Harrison easy to work into your lineup on a semi-regular basis. He could even be a low-end starter if you have an injury to deal with.

Verdict: Champ

 

MoreĀ 2018 Player Outlooks





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