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Take Advantage of Your Competitors' Early Season Panic Attack

You are a savvy fantasy manager. You’re committed. Patient. You have the gumption to see a task to the end. You don’t have shaky nerves. You don’t run at the first sign of controversy. You lean in and charge forward. Unfortunately, or maybe I should say fortunately, not all fantasy players are created equal.

How long does it take for panic to settle in? Not long at all, especially when there is a fantasy championship, bragging rights, or even money on the line. Regardless of what people say, everyone gets a little concerned when looking at their lineup early in the year. There is a little bit of a letdown each day a player doesn’t perform up to their expectations. The experienced and steadfast fantasy manager will ride it out, knowing that the average statistics will be there at the end of the year. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone in your league has a steel stomach for such early struggles, seeing their team at the bottom of the standings.

So, how do we use that to our advantage? Well, we feed into it a little bit. We send an inquiry/offer into the availability of a player. We don’t need to explain why they should accept the deal, or elaborate on how the deal would benefit them. They already know their player isn’t performing well. You expounding on it doesn’t help; it actually gets an opposite reaction. If you’re bashing on them, why would you want them? Exactly. So, make sure you offer players of similar caliber that are doing better. Remember, you have to give something to get something. So, let’s look at a few players that might have squeamish owners squirming around in their seats. Let's feed that mental anguish beast.

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Is Panic Setting In On These Players?

It shouldn't be, but if another owner in your league is feeling antsy about any of these guys, they are prime players to target who are likely just a few games away from turning things around.

Mookie Betts (OF, BOS)

Drafted second overall in most drafts, Betts is currently slumping with only two homers, a .262 batting average and zero stolen bases. Ha.  We can’t even say that with a straight face. The whole Red Sox offense is stumbling right now. But, this early season moment might be one of the only opportunities (aside from injury) for you to purchase him. Obviously, the Betts owner should not be scrambling this early. But a trade that includes Christian Yelich and his robust stat line to start the year might raise an eyebrow.
*Update: Betts added a homer against the Blue Jays Tuesday.

Nolan Arenado (3B, COL)

Arenado has an average of 40HR and 126RBI annually over the last four years. A weak-stomached Arenado owner in your league will just look at the 0 HR. With every passing day, it's possible that the owner gets more and more frustrated. But maybe they are more interested in pulling out of the bottom of the barrel now rather than watching the team decline further and further. Arenado isn’t sexy and will often get overlooked because of the boring but reliable elite production he provides. He even gets downplayed because there is no speed in his game. Anthony Rendon and another top-50 player might get it done. At that cost, you better be good at the waiver wire to find more gems to restock.

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, CLE)

This manager drafted Ramirez in the first round but probably wasn’t too overly thrilled about it. Early season performance has done nothing to alleviate any of their concerns. Yes, Ramirez has three stolen bases, but he also has a .194 batting average with no homers. The offensive environment around him continues to flounder as well, providing nothing but frustration. The fact that the Indians made no moves to improve the offense is baffling. The unfortunate injury of his partner, Francisco Lindor, just exacerbates the issue. Now that you've read that beautiful description of hope and prosperity, why would you want to buy in on this? Every counting stat matters and Ramirez provides elite power and speed, pure and simple.

Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE)

How much resolve does the Lindor owner possess? How long can they last sweating it out? With each passing day, counting stat opportunities keep dwindling away. It’s possible you could rescue them. Obviously, you would have to be willing to take on the risk yourself, but signs are that Lindor is looking good in his recovery. I know, we've heard that before. Of course, would you ever expect any mama to say their baby is ugly? Nope. But, trust the system this time and your end-of-year standings will benefit.

Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS)

Maybe the expectations were too lofty. Maybe he was only drafted in the second round because of all the other guys who dropped in the rankings. No homers and one stolen base does not generate a lot of enthusiasm. This is what his owner is thinking. The hopes of “this might be the year” starts to give way to “the same old Benny,” which actually isn’t bad at all. If your league mate is thinking in this manner, then maybe Lorenzo Cain or similar might get the conversation started.
*Don’t try to come at me with offers though. I’m an old mule. When I put him in my bold predictions, it was basically stating “’til death do us part.”

Kris Bryant (3B/OF, CHC)

Every year we hope for Bryant to return to the performance in 2016 that gave us 39 homers with triple-digit runs and RBI. Each year, we receive less and less of the Bryant we hoped to see. He spent most of 2018 dealing with a shoulder injury and some even wonder whether it will be an issue again this year. These thoughts have to start creeping into the Bryant owners mind as the season slugs along, especially if he hardly improves from his one homer and .231 average. There are plenty of pressure points that a weak manager will apply to themselves that can wriggle Bryant from their grasp.


The Trade Bait You Can Dangle

These players are all perfectly fine to keep on your team for the whole season, but you can also use one of these hot starters to upgrade for one of the players in the above tier (i.e. Yelich for Arenado, Rendon for JRam, etc.).

Christian Yelich (OF, MIL)

He owns all the news to start the season. Power, speed and batting average wrapped into one. Just make sure you don’t trade a name for a name; ensure you’re getting the stats you like for your team.

Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD)

Power. Jaw-dropping power and proving it with seven homers and 18 RBI without sacrificing batting average (.455). Like Yelich, he is in a lineup that will generate plenty of runs.

Anthony Rendon (3B, WAS)

Consistency. Without Harper in the lineup, the Nationals might have a more cohesive atmosphere allowing them to play better. Thus far, Rendon has done just that, tallying 12 runs, four bombs, and a .433 average.

Javier Baez (2B/SS/3B, CHC)

He's exciting and is starting 2019 with production similar to 2018. He is showing off power and speed. He still likes to chase outside the zone, but he's making it work. With multi-positional eligibility in his favor as well, Baez could help fetch a pretty penny. It would be tough to give him up, but if it helps you improve, you can definitely shoot for the stars.

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF, PHI)

The move back to first suits him well. No defense to worry about anymore. He has three homers, 13 taters, and a .346 average that will allow owners to sleep easy at night. Those numbers are just the start of something special this year.


The Trade Bait You Really Shouldn't Dangle

Despite their hot starts and season-long potential, the below players are likely to return scowls, glares, and ridicule if you offer them for the slow-starting superstars.

Tim Beckham (2B/SS, SEA)

Beckham is having a great start to the year and one that he will tell his kids and grandkids for many years. Albeit with a couple of extra games played, it is still impressive to accumulate 13 runs, four homers, and a .400 batting average. However, the inclusion of this player to acquire any of the guys mentioned above might get you kicked out of the league.

Domingo Santana (OF, SEA)

A perfect sleeper pick that seemed to get more publicity than I wanted during the draft season — so I could get more shares. Take a second to appreciate that he was a Brewers cast-off but has five homers, 17 RBI, three stolen bases, and a .311 AVG. Very impressive and it is important to appreciate and applaud him for it. With that said, he still isn’t the same caliber of players as those above.

Maikel Franco (3B, PHI)

He is having a great start to the season hitting from the eighth spot in the lineup with three homers, 10 RBI, and a .320 batting average. However, just because Franco is dressing up as an elite player doesn’t make him one.

Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL)

Back from the land of the lost. Swanson has put his injury-filled 2018 behind him and currently has three homers to go with a .346/.471/.731 slash line. It is a great story, and he will rack up plenty of numbers in the potent Braves lineup if he can stay on the field. Enjoy the performance, but don’t expect others to believe he is a moonshot from undrafted to third round value.


One Last Note

Do not try to convince your league mates that any of the poor performers or even early-season studs will continue their efforts for the rest of the season. The stats above are exactly what they are at this point in time; they are not an indicator of what will happen in the future.

Bottom line: If you own any of the players mentioned above, or any other player that you spent a top-three round selection on, be patient. Go to your local market and buy some intestinal fortitude and wait it out. Don’t get antsy and do something ignorant. Such a move will likely lead you towards the bottom of the end-of-season standings instead of towards the top.

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