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NL-Only and AL-Only Waiver Wire for Week 18

Welcome back to the NL-only and AL-only pickups column. Each week, I'll look at five players who are under 15% rostered in Yahoo! leagues and who can be considered as options to add in deep-league formats, such as 15-teamers or AL or NL-only leagues.

I'll also include a recommendation for what to do with each player on your roster. And lastly, I'll take a look at some of my picks from the previous week to see how they're performing.

Without further ado, let's get into it.

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Jose Iglesias - SS, Angels

7% rostered
Recommended move: Add for a few weeks 

Iglesias has been a solid hitter this season, as he has been a plus in the batting average department with a .285/.313/.406 triple slash for a roughly league-average 98 wRC+ mark. He's been doing much better as of late though, with a .333/.368/.472 slash line in the month of July, while also netting two stolen bases.

His profile won't come with much power, but Iglesias has been one of the quieter contributors in baseball lately, and he is a solid option at shortstop, where he should contribute a little bit of everything. He hits in the middle of the Angels' order as well, which is one of the better overall offenses in the league, so he should get plenty of opportunities to drive in some of the team's more prolific hitters. Overall, although the profile isn't overly glamorous, Iglesias looks like a good deep-league option at shortstop.

 

John Nogowski - 1B, Pirates

5% rostered
Recommended move: Add for a few weeks

Nogowski has been relevant on the fantasy landscape, as he is turning into something of a cult hero in Pittsburgh. He has been recommended here before, and while he has cooled off at the plate compared to his hot start upon arriving in Pittsburgh, he is still playing well, with a 112 wRC+ in the last week, which is not super far off from his overall 120 wRC+ for the year. Speaking of the last week, Nogowski was pretty productive in terms of getting counting stats, with one home run, five runs scored, and six runs batted in last week.

He continues to be a middle-of-the-order option for the Pirates, so those strong counting stats should be pretty common for him going forward. He's been hitting fourth or fifth for the team since he's been called up, and he continues to play well, so it seems like he'll stick around in that spot for a while still. Among deep league options in the National League at first base, Nogowski looks to be among the better options right now.

 

Ji-Man Choi - 1B, Rays

3% rostered
Recommended move: Add for the long haul 

Another first base option, this time it's Choi in the American League. Choi has dealt with a myriad of injuries this season, but has been healthy and playing mostly every day for the Rays and playing well since mid-June. Things have been considerably better for him in July with a .269/.397/.500 triple slash, which equates to a 154 wRC+. With numbers like that, it seems odd that Choi has been rostered at such a low rate, but the injuries and emergencies of other options, combined with him being a first base-only option, likely caused many managers to forget or ignore him this season, but he shouldn't be ignored for much longer.

Choi has been a solid hitter for a while now, and this season hasn't been any different. The Statcast metrics are still encouraging when it comes to Choi, with a 45% hard-hit rate, which would be a career-high, along with a 10% barrel rate, which is a marked improvement over last season's 3.4% rate, and more in line with his career norms. Also important is that Choi's groundball rate of 34.3% is much lower than league-average, and also the lowest of his career, which does suggest that Choi should hit for some decent power.

It's maybe not the best week to pick up Choi, however, as the Rays face two lefty starters in their series against the Yankees, another one in their next series against the Red Sox, and then onto Seattle, where they have a lefty-heavy rotation. Choi isn't exactly in a platoon (although that could change once the trade deadline passes), but he does hit worse against lefties, with a career 71 wRC+ against lefties, so that should be kept in mind. Whether it's an add and stash for this week or not, Choi is hitting too well right now to be ignored like this in the fantasy landscape, and should be picked up if in need of a first base option.

 

Adam Engel - OF, White Sox

2% rostered
Recommended move: Add for a few weeks 

Engel probably isn't the type of hitter that would be expected to be a super-relevant fantasy option, but similar to Choi, Engel is hitting too well right now to be ignored, at least in deeper formats. He doesn't have much of a sample this season, but in just 74 plate appearances this season, he has a .262/.338/.538 slash line, and since being activated from the injured list on July 7th, he's hit even better .278/.357/.528 for a 141 wRC+, and importantly, with two stolen bases in that stretch.

While the impressive batting line isn't likely to stick to this extent, if he can be a league-average hitter or better while providing good speed, he'll be a very useful fantasy option. Another relevant thing when evaluating Engel thus far, has been that he's but down his strikeout rate from his previous highs of around 30% to 17.6% so far this year. It remains to be seen if that will last, but it is a good sign right now, and perhaps that means he can be a good option in the batting average area, as well. The matchups for this week are also quite good for the White Sox, as they face off against a weak Royals staff and a depleted Cleveland staff, so good results should perhaps be expected.

Playing time is something to watch though with Engel, as the White Sox recently welcomed Eloy Jimenez back to the lineup, and Luis Robert is on a rehab assignment too. Playing time could dry up for Engel soon enough, so don't pick him up expecting it to be a long-term option.

 

Luis Guillorme - 2B/3B/SS, Mets

1% rostered
Recommended move: Add for this week

Guillorme is recommended this week in part because of the more favorable matchups for the Mets this week, as the team faces off against a weaker Braves staff and then get a series against Cincinnati. But, Guillorme is also playing well, which helps things as well.

For the year, he has a 119 wRC+ on the back of a .300/.408/.355 slash line. The power is laughably low, but the .300 batting average would definitely look nice in many fantasy lineups, as he has done a good job of filling in for the injured Francisco Lindor. He's done particularly well since mid-July, and even showing some more power with a .379/.438/.552 slash line since July 11th. Probably don't expect that recent power increase to hold up, but he should continue to be a good batting average option going forward. With triple eligibility as well, he should be a good plug-and-play option wherever he's needed on a particular day.

 

Reviewing Last Week's Picks

At the end of each week's post, I'll review what happened with last week's picks and offer a suggestion for them in the future.

Michael Taylor (OF, KCR)

Last week: 6% rostered. This week: 6% rostered. 

Taylor was hitting well coming into last week, but he definitely cooled off, as he hit just .211/.238/.211, which definitely didn't help out much. Taylor has been hot and cold throughout the season, but has mostly been cold, and after a brief hot streak, looks to be back to the type of player he's been for most of the year. This looks like a drop.

Current recommendation: Drop. 

Harrison Bader (OF, STL) 

Last week: 3% rostered. This week: 34% rostered. 

Bader's roster rate was definitely too low last week, and after another great week of play with a ridiculous .481/.517/.815 slash line, his roster rate rightfully spiked up big time. It's been a great season for Bader when he's been healthy. As long as he's healthy, he's staying on your fantasy team.

Current recommendation: Hold. 

Oscar Mercado (OF, CLE) 

Last week: 3% rostered. This week: 1% rostered. 

Mercado was recommended last week due to the team facing a string of lefty starters, which suggested favorable matchups for Mercado. It didn't quite work out that way as he posted just a 60 wRC+ last week, with not much help in terms of the counting stats. He should continue to be a platoon player going forward, so keep an eye out perhaps for another week of lefty-heavy matchups, but right now, there's little reason to roster Mercado.

Current recommendation: Drop. 

Nicky Lopez (2B/SS, KCR)  

Last week: 3% rostered. This week: 4% rostered. 

Lopez continues to be a solid, underrated option. He had yet another strong week with a .385/.467/.538 slash line, and he's running a 127 wRC+ since the start of June. He flies under the radar due to high batting average profile with little else, but he's stable at least. Keep plugging him into your lineups.

Current recommendation: Hold.  

LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B/OF, SFG) 

Last week: 1% rostered. This week: 19%

It's safe to say that Wade has now fully arrived on the fantasy landscape, as he turned heads last week with a splendid .360/.429/1.040 triple-slash (274 wRC+), the highlight of which being a two home run performance on Sunday that very well could have won some managers their weeks. While he was recommended last week due to the Giants facing so many righty starters, that isn't the case for them this week, and they do have some tough matchups against the Dodgers and Astros, so a repeat of last week doesn't seem super likely. However, Wade Jr. is simply hitting too well right now to drop, even with the weaker matchups. Maybe bench him this week, but the series next week against the Diamondbacks certainly looks juicy.

Current recommendation: Hold. 



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