Each week, we will be looking at players who are rostered in fewer than 15% of leagues (according to Fantasy Pros as of Sunday afternoon). Typically, 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 every week. I’ll do my best to highlight players from multiple positions as well each week.
We are now three weeks into the fantasy season, and it seems like with the number of injuries, postponed (and subsequently rescheduled) games, the need to look deep into your league’s waiver wire increases. Let’s look back at last week’s list first before getting into the sleepers for this week.
Wilmer Flores is still available in the majority of leagues (11% rostered) and had another solid week with two more homers and a .280 average. He’s probably not a player you need to race to the wire to add but know that if you need a fill-in, he’s out there. Jake Cronenworth is still a name to watch as he was in the lineup for all but one of the Padres games this past week (and he still pinch-hit in that one game). It seems that the Friars plan on continuing to find ways to get him into the lineup because he played every infield position this week. He batted .238 this week and had a .333 OBP, but since he is still available in 90% of leagues, you can probably afford to be patient with adding him.
Dominic Smith and Austin Slater became top adds this past week and are now rostered in over 30% of leagues. Smith hit a home run in four straight games as he looks to be a part of the Mets everyday lineup now and is worth adding in all formats where available. Slater missed a couple of games with an arm injury and returned to the Giants lineup on Saturday but was held out again on Sunday. He was starting to heat up before this and is worth monitoring, although if he continues to miss games, he’s not worth rostering.
Edwin Rios and Adam Engel were listed last week as speculative adds. I said that Rios was worth watching in the event of an injury in the Dodgers lineup, but now he has a hamstring injury as well. Engel only started two games for the White Sox this week and didn’t even appear in their doubleheader against the Cardinals on Sunday. Unless one of the Sox starters is hurt, he won’t be worth rostering but is someone to keep an eye on if there is an injury. I recommended Matt Kemp as the Rockies had a six-game homestand, but he did not deliver the goods, batting .125 this past week (he’s not recommended moving forward).
Randal Grichuk, OF, TOR (12%)
One of the nice things about doing this list is finding players who you didn’t expect to be worthy of fantasy relevance, and that is how I feel about Randal Grichuk. After Sunday’s action (in which he went 4 for 8 with a home run and double), his average is up to .320, OPS .853, and wRC+ 139. He’s always been a patient hitter, with a career O-Swing% of 35.7 and SwStr% of 14.2, but he’s even more so this year with numbers of 28.4% and 10.1% in those respective categories. As a result, he has nearly doubled his walk rate from the last few years while lowering his strikeout rate. This may not translate to standard 5×5 leagues but if you have walks or OBP as a category or are in a points league Grichuk might be able to help you out. Even in standard leagues, the .320 average is definitely worth a look.
Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B, LAA (11%)
I wanted to highlight La Stella back in week one. However, he was above the 15% threshold at that time. Now that he’s only rostered in 11% of leagues, I’d like to recommend him since he is a player that can provide value. He’s never going to provide you with power, but he is a low strikeout, high contact hitter who is drawing walks at the highest rate of his career (13.9%). Since the start of August, he is hitting .324 with a 151 wRC+. He has 14 hits in his last 15 games to go along with eight walks and seven runs, he’s usually a steady performer, and while the numbers don’t jump out, he can help you out in multiple categories.
Willy Adames, SS, TBR (11%)
Every week I look at players rostered below 15%, and I see Willy Adames and think, no, he’s not worth exploring. Yet, every week his name is among those interesting players that I finally decided his .284/.377/.522 triple slash and 149 wRC+ were worth considering. Adames has made his career in the big leagues based on his defense, and while his 105 wRC+ is, well, average and about all a team could ask for from a defensive wizard, it’s not something that gets you excited as a fantasy baseball manager. The other fear with Adames is that Wander Franco is waiting in the wings to take over his job. Willy is having an interesting season in that his walk rate and strikeout rate have both increased, and so has his power (.239 ISO). While, certainly, I’m not too fond of the strikeouts, his ISO is seventh among all shortstops. This could all be the result of luck though, as his BABIP is .436 (fourth in the league), which is about 100 points higher than his career average.
Mike Tauchman, OF, NYY (10%)
Tauchman didn’t make it into last week’s list, but I tweeted that I was going to be keeping an eye on him, and that was before Aaron Judge’s injury. Now that Judge is out until at least Saturday, Tauchman becomes a priority add. Even when Judge returns, the Yankees’ hand might be forced if Tauchman continues to put up the kind of numbers he has been, which is only a .357/.413/.476 triple slash and 149 wRC+ this season. He lacks the power (zero home runs, .132 ISO) and might be benefiting from his .481 BABIP, but he makes decent zone contact (85.2%) and is patient outside the zone (28.6 O-Swing%). It might come down to the Yankees playing the hot hand between him and Clint Frazier.
Rio Ruiz, 1B/3B, BAL (7%)
I wrote about Ruiz two weeks ago, and I’m surprised he is still this widely available (although he missed about a week’s worth of action due to a shoulder injury). His Barrel % is in the 83rd percentile, while his ISO is second among all third basemen in the league, and his Brls/BBE is 5th among third basemen. I’d be interested to see if he can continue this power output as he is already halfway to his home run total today from last year.
Nick Ahmed, SS, ARI (7%)
I’ve seen Nick Ahmed put together streaks like this before, hitting .440/.500/.640 in his last seven games. He seems to have been more patient at the plate with a 29.8 O-Swing% and 9.7 SwStr% (both improvements on his career average). His RBI are the second-most this month among all shortstops, and Ahmed is fifth in average for his position this month as well. He’s a name to consider if you are a Bo Bichette owner that might need a replacement or if you are lacking in the middle infield.
Mike Ford, 1B, NYY (1%)
Yes, another Yankee this week has emerged as a popular deep league add and will undoubtedly get more attention after his 2-for-3 game with a home run on Sunday night against the Red Sox. Ford only has 39 plate appearances so far, and while he is only batting .194 after Sunday, he has two home runs with 10 RBI. Considering all of the injuries the Yankees are dealing with right now, he and Tauchman are going to be popular on the wire this week for Judge, Stanton, and LeMahieu managers. Ford did have 12 long balls in 50 games last year, good for a .301 ISO, so if you are hurting for power due to the injuries from one of the players mentioned earlier, then he might be your guy.
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter and @justinparadisdesigns on Instagram)