Every week from now until the end of the season, we will be looking at players who are rostered in fewer than 15% of leagues (according to Fantasy Pros as of Sunday afternoon). Normally, these would be players to consider mostly in deeper leagues, but in 2020 we know nothing is normal so there is a good chance you will have to look deep into the waiver wire in your leagues to fill your lineups on a weekly basis. I’ll do my best to highlight players from multiple positions as well each week.
With two full weeks of fantasy play in the books, the search for deep sleepers becomes more challenging and this is especially the case in a shortened season with no minor league play to properly prepare many prospects to make the jump to the bigs. There are quite a few interesting names though even as rosters were cut down to 28 players this past week. Before looking at this week’s list, I wanted to review some of the players from last week. Looking at the 7 players I highlighted in the previous column, Nico Hoerner and Rio Ruiz are still the ones I find the most appealing, but they have been hampered by postponed games (Hoerner) and injury (Ruiz)—but both are still available in most leagues and are worth a look. Max Stassi is the lone player who graduated from this list, as he is now rostered above the 15% threshold, he’s taking advantage of his opportunities and is worth adding if you need catching help still.
Wilmer Flores, 1B/2B, SFG (12%)
Flores seems to have found a regular role on an otherwise lackluster Giants offense, with a 133 wRC+, .315 xwOBA to support his .204 ISO and 3 home runs. He has always been a high contact, low walk guy, and he’s continuing that this year as his walk percentage is near the bottom of the league while his K% and Contact rank near the top.
Matt Kemp, OF, COL (9%)
Kemp signed with the Rockies at the start of Summer Camp and seems to have benefited from having his home games in Denver with his wRC+ being about 40 points higher at home. As with any Rockies bat, I’d be careful with starting him on the road but if you are in need of a plugin outfielder in your lineup he might be worth a look (and they are scheduled for a six-game homestand this upcoming week).
Jake Cronenworth, 1B/2B/SS, SDP (6%)
The Padres rookie has done nothing but rake since his big league debut on July 26th, sporting a .357/.379/.821 triple-slash to go along with a 228 wRC+ and a .510 xwOBA. Also, seven of his 10 hits so far have gone for extra bases. Cronenworth was notable last season as also he pitched 7.1 innings in for the Durham Bulls while with the Rays. He was sent to the Padres along with Tommy Pham in the offseason and has primarily played first base while Eric Hosmer was out of the lineup. As Kevin Acee of the San Diego Tribune reported, it sounds like the Padres plan to shift him to a utility role for now with Hosmer back in order to keep in in the lineup. Out of all the players on the list this week, Cronenworth is the one I am most interested in.
Dominic Smith, 1B/OF, NYM (3%)
Since Yoenis Cespedes opted out of the season last Sunday, Smith has seen action in all but one of the Mets’ games, with a .235/.333/.529 triple-slash along with a 137 wRC+ during that stretch. The power has never been in question for Smith, as he ranks in the top ten in Brls/BBE%, and is top twenty in Brls/PA%, but you are going to have to deal with the strikeouts and low batting average. Still, if he can take advantage of the playing time and your lineup lacks power he is worth a bench add in deep leagues.
Edwin Rios, 1B, LAD (1%)
I am realistic that Rios is not going to see significant playing time with the Dodgers without an injury, but I wanted to highlight him nonetheless because he has impressed in limited action. In 17 plate appearances as of Sunday, he has three home runs to go along with an absurd .625 ISO and 218 wRC+. He doesn’t have enough appearances to qualify but he also has a 24.3 Barrel %. Rios is worth monitoring because if a spot in the Dodgers lineup opens up he could see increased playing time.
Adam Engel, OF, CWS (1%)
Engel has appeared in 11 games so far for the Pale Sox and has produced a .613 SLG and 175 wRC+. He’s been primarily known as a defense-first outfielder throughout his career, but might be able to earn more time in the lineup if he can keep up his offensive output. His .290 ISO is impressive, and his .323 average is something that stands out so far, but he does not draw many walks (only a 3% BB% and .364 OBP) and his Contact% is below average (72.9%). He seems to be making the most of his contact in the zone though with a Z-Contact of 91.7%. If one of the White Sox starters were to miss any time he would be worth considering.
Austin Slater, 1B/OF, SFG (1%)
Austin Slater is another bright spot in the Giants lineup with his .300/.417/.567 triple slash and .179 wRC+. He walked, stole a base, and scored a run in Sunday’s game, to follow up his two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw on Saturday to add to his impressive start to the season. He has played primarily in the outfield this season but also has 1B eligibility in most formats (plus the RF/LF eligibility) and should be part of the everyday lineup for the Giants this season.