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Digging Deeper: NL-Only Waiver Report for Week 10


Every week in baseball, a significant player will hit the disabled list, slip into a slump, or get traded out of a good spot. How fantasy owners adapt to these situations can make or break the season as a whole. One lousy add might not hurt the long-term standing of a team, but failing to take advantage of breakouts or impact bats before others sure can.

The primary challenge of playing in an NL or AL-only league is often the lack of options regarding adding and subtracting players when needed. In mixed leagues, the players on the waiver wire are usually starting for an NL-only staff. So then how does one wade through the names of players that even regular fantasy players have never heard of, and that often will not even start for their teams, to begin with? That is where this series comes in.

Instead of owners spending time digging the waiver wire of 0% owned players, this article will give owners a player at each position to fill the gap, or at the least, keep an eye on to add or stash. Not all of these players will replace that injury, but offer the best option off the scrap heap. Often the players advocated for here are long shots due to the nature of shallow leagues. No quick fixes, but some upside that could turn into much more. With that, onto the Island of Misfit Fantasy Toys. Note: all FAAB bids assume a $1000 budget.

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C - Andrew Knapp (C, PHI)

1% owned, FAAB $8

An afterthought in most fantasy leagues, this Philly catcher has been hiding in a reserve role to start the year. Even when playing time is limited behind J.T. Realmuto, Knapp has managed t0 appear in 29 games for the team. The obvious downside, and why he is there on the wire, is the .174 batting line. Add in only one homer, and Knapp looks to be on the verge of a demotion in real life. Still a decent glove, Knapp is clearly in the plans for the time being.

The reason to buy in on Knapp, and why owners hope he gets another week at least, is the .345 OBP. Add in a .241 BABIP, and there is room to grow in the rate numbers. As to the power, owners should not expect much with a league average exit velocity. Still, the team context should support underlying run support, and with the right match-up, Knapp will get some pitches as pitchers avoid other bats. For now, he is a player with some positive regression to bank on, but a question regarding long term viability. Add on the cheap or avoid the position this week.

 

1B - Josh Naylor (1B, SD)

1% owned, FAAB $9

Naylor is not the safest pick in terms of playing time or development, but he does have the highest ceiling of any of the players on this list. A bit a of a loose cannon in terms of interactions with teammates and situations, Naylor will be a player to watch at the very least. The tools are there, with some scouts still reporting the hit tool as a 60 or 70, but the production has not been there in spades. His brother is catching with Cleveland, and the Naylor brothers have shown that they known how to hit so far in their pro careers.

Over the past two years, and at the highest levels of the minors, Naylor has pushed the season batting average closer to .300. The concern is that the power is not there to play at first, with a career-high 17 homer season at Double-A in 2018. Still, the hit tool is there, and he can play much like Eric Hosmer, his current block at first. The glove might not be there, but that is not holding him back at first compared to other positions. Expect Naylor to be a DH during interleague games, with some chances off the bat late to boot. Still, this is a sneaky bat with impact upside if he can hit. A cheap add, Naylor can be a flash in the pan for fantasy owners in need of a bat.

 

2B - Daniel Descalso (1B/2B/3B, CHC)

1% owned, FAAB $6

Descalso is still a confusing player this late in the year. While he offers the positional flexibility to sit on most benches for fantasy owners, some weeks he has been a clear starting option after solid games. Still, with other down weeks, Descalso has been too streaky to trust, but a pain to ignore in terms of what he has offered in a limited sample. The best role is as a clear injury replacement just to guarantee the playing time, but for now, Descalso plays best in daily leagues.

Through 51 games he has two homers but has also scored 17 runs. Add in 14 RBI, and from the counting side, Descalso is Ian Desmond without the power upside. The batting average sits at .198, but he does hit better on the road, with a .246 line. All of his power has also come away from Chicago as well, so use him in those spots for the best value. For now, Descalso is a player to own, but do not expect the production to be any more regular. When the Cubs score runs, and he gets on base, Descalso can offer real value.

 

3B - Todd Frazier (3B, NYM)

1% owned, FAAB $11

Frazier seems to be another one of those players will not go away. Even when the fantasy, and baseball, community write him off, Frazier is back in the team with some critical hits. So far, in 35 games, he is slashing .250/.311/.411 with four homers and 13 runs. Currently hitting in the six spot, Frazier will have chances to drive in runs, and the power to deal with relievers effectively. A veteran bat with concerns about bat speed at the plate, Frazier seems like the best option at third moving forward for the declining Mets.

The good news for fantasy owners is that the underlying numbers like what Frazier is doing so far, and can expect the batting line to stay much the same. Over a full year, it will drop closer to .240, but the power should still be there. The Hard Hit % is down a bit from career norms, but still sits in the mid-30s. In general, owners in need of a third baseman should be looking to Frazier for playing time and a hitting floor. As the Mets play, so will Frazier, and with the team expecting to compete the rest of the way, this is a bat that they need to produce.

 

SS - Orlando Arcia (SS, MIL)

6% owned, FAAB $28

A higher ownership rate this week at the spot than usual, Arcia is a bit of a surprise to see at 6%. After a slow start to the year Arcia has picked it up, posting a .264/.333/.428 slash with eight homers and two steals so far. Add in the 26 runs scored with 25 RBI, and Arcia is looking more like the prospect that many envisioned. While he might never be a .300 hitter, the power and overall offensive upside makes the gamble worth it for fantasy owners.

Currently hitting at the bottom of the team, there is a cap on how much value Arcia can bring. Still, if he can keep the current hot streak, the Brewers might be interested in moving him up the order. The good news is that Arcia is hitting the ball a bit harder this year, and has double his launch angle. While that is still topping out at 7.2, any change that can be traced to the improvement is a credit to Arcia and the team. For now, Arcia is too good to be free on the wire with the power upside and overall offensive profile. A clear start at short, Arcia is a steal at MI.

 

OF - Matt Kemp (OF, NYM)

3% owned, FAAB $9

Why not? Without being too blunt, this is as good a reason as any for an injury replacement. For now, Kemp will be a bat with some history, and while past his prime, the hard skills do add some value. Expect him to play mostly as a bat off the bench, with some chances in the field, but will get plate appearances with runners on base. Even after being cut earlier this year, and losing out on the nice park that is Great American, owners should not worry about the impact of the change. With the Mets, there are still good parks to play in, and a chance to return to the peak of 2018 due to team need.

So far, in 60 plate appearances, Kemp is slashing .200/.210/.283 with one homer and five RBI. A more accurate picture for owners is to look back to last season when his expected batting average sitting at .278 complimented by an xSLG of .528. Even in limited times, the power value is there with increased contact. An easy cut if he does not turn it around, Kemp can play like an OF3 if the rest of the team can start to produce.

 

OF - Mike Yastrzemski (OF, SF)

2% owned, FAAB $12

A former 14th round pick by the Orioles, Yastrzemski switched teams this offseason and has walked into playing time with San Francisco. Over his first 29 ABs he has eight hits, and with seven runs scored, is finding his pace quickly. While he has a bit of pop, in the minors, the best season numbers were in the high-teens for gross homer numbers. With Oracle Park, owners are looking at 12 or so homer pace over a full year from Yastrzemski. With a .341 career OBP line from the minors, he can get on base, so there is a floor for owners to target even without the power.

While a small sample size, the exit velocity is below league-average so far. With a 21.3 launch angle, there might be some increased power due to loft, but without the bat speed, expect Yastrzemski will live on singles. The expected numbers hint at a low batting line, but solid slugging and OBP numbers. Therefore, avoid in batting average leagues, but target in other formats. For now, the floor is high, but the ceiling will be left to be seen.

 

OF - Ben Gamel (OF, MIL)

1% owned, FAAB $18

Much like Colin Moran, as long as owners continue to ignore Gamel in 2019, they can expect to read about him here every few weeks. Appearing in 54 games, Gamel is slashing .255/.344/.401 with four homers and a steal. While owners can expect the hit tool to carry the profile, there is enough power to expect 15 homers over a full season as well. Add in the park factors, and Gamel is set to be a doubles machine, with the power to overcome his lack of speed. Without the necessary speed to carry the hit tool alone, Gamel is finally in the hitting context to play up in fantasy leagues.

Even more, the .257 xBA offers some hope that Gamel can keep this pace up. Other good signs are the exit velocity being up to 91.1 from 88.7 last season. The launch angle is also up, so the power rate might still increase further. Playing in both left and center, the glove will keep him in the Majors, with the ability to play all fields. Gamel is set to succeed in Milwaukee, and owners need to buy him before others catch on.

 

SP - Jon Duplantier (SP/RP, ARI)

4% owned, FAAB $19

After appearing earlier this year out of the pen, Duplantier looks to be back with a chance to start for Arizona. With three strong offerings, he seems to have all the working of a starter, but without the elite stuff to be an ace in the future. The key will be the changeup, and if this can flash up, a fourth pitch could change the floor. In six games with Arizona so far, Duplantier has posted a 3.14 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. If this can continue, owners are looking at a solid prospect, with the team context to play right now.

The interest will be if he sticks in the rotation. As the team is hanging in contention, the role will be determined by an innings limit and effectiveness. While there is no stated limit, with the age and career path, expect the team to look to hold him back when they can. Still, if he can make 20 starts, then fantasy owners can be happy with the production. A better scenario is to stay in the pen, and perhaps move to a multi-inning role. Duplantier is a safe prospect, which limits some of his value, but trades that for safety. This is a clear buy this week for the upside alone.

 

RP - Vince Velasquez (SP/RP, PHI)

5% owned, FAAB $17

To be honest, the Velasquez move to the pen was a bit of a surprise. Not only was Velasquez pitching well enough to stay in the rotation prior to the injury, but Cole Irvin had not been playing well enough to stick around on his own merit. Still, the issue has been the command, and he took the loss on Sunday out of the pen on the back of a few walks. With the inflated WHIP numbers, the stock is clearly down from draft season projections for this starter. Red flags on the home run rate add to the disappointment with the 2019 return so far.

The saving grace for Velasquez owners this year has been the K rate, as he is striking out close to 24% of opposing hitters. The stuff still plays, and with that rate in the rotation, owners can expect some more value after the move. Not an option for saves, he works best as a Ks and ratio play. There are some wins with the context, but for now, this is a stash and hold for more value down the road.

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