Jonas Goes Waiver Wire Hunting

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My last column was all about small sample sizes and how we shouldn’t overreact in any way to such an early season.  I covered how the best fantasy players are able to utilize peak performance from streaky players then trade them away while their value is high for more dependable players.   We’re getting to that tricky part of the year where the stats are starting to matter.  June 1st is usually the date for me where I start actually paying attention to statistics like batting average and on base percentage for hitters and ERA and WHIP for pitchers.  We’re still 3 weeks away from this faithful day, so there’s plenty of time but the wise fantasy manager can see the Day of Judgment on the horizon and they are planning accordingly.

The best way to improve your team at this time is by using the waiver wire.  Whether it’s nabbing a slumping slugger who was recently dropped or watching the minor leagues in an attempt to lay a claim to the league’s next blossoming star, the savvy manager competes by making constant moves to update his or her roster.  Since I usually play in a points league with an innings limit, I like to draft an ace and a solid #2 guy then pretty much stream pitchers based on matchups throughout the rest of the year.  Since my innings are limited, I like to pitch early and often for the first few months before the weather hits up and balls start to fly out of the park more.  Once I’ve used up a good chunk of my innings, I like to look to deal guys who have a history of flaming out in the second half for reliable hitting.  It’s a method that, as I mentioned last week, hasn’t won for me yet, but I compete for the title pretty much every year.

Let’s look at 5 guys who you should be picking up or thinking about picking up in the next few weeks as backup plans for guys who may not be producing 2 months into the season:

Players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! leagues who you SHOULD own:

Alex Guerrero – 37% owned

What are you waiting for?!  This guy should be owned close to 90%.  He’s a well-known prospect, he has playing time now and he may be eligible at 3B soon.  He’s shown no signs of slowing down with a double and a homer over the weekend.  Don’t expect this production to continue, but even half of this would be valuable, especially for a rookie!  I expect big things from him in the years to come.

Marlon Byrd – 45% owned

Byrd has been a very productive player the last few years when you contrast his production with his value.  He has 6 homers this year already and he’s prone to very hot streaks.  He’s the kind of guy you want on the bench to sub for your typical starting OF who may be sitting or on the DL.  He shouldn’t be owned in 90% of leagues, but definitely more than 45%!  Probably more like 75%.  Pick him up if your OF is shaky.

Joe Panik – 8% owned

Here’s a guy who hasn’t been talked about at all this year and he’s been pretty productive for a light-hitting Giants team at a scarce position.  He is not a top 10 2B, but he could finish in the top 15.  He figures to delivery steady numbers day in and day out with never too bad or too good of a stretch throughout the season.  He should be owned in about 40% of leagues right now.

Players owned in more than 50% of Yahoo! leagues who you SHOULD NOT own:

Elvis Andrus – 79% owned

There was a time – oh about 2-3 years ago, where Elvis was considered to be one of the up and coming shortstop stars that everyone wanted.  He hit for a solid average and stole 30-40 bags pretty much every year.  But the guy is a different player the last 2 years.  He’s just not hitting the ball squarely anymore.  His on base percentage is hovering just around .300 which is awful for a guy whose value depends on being on base.  Drop him.  You won’t regret it.

Brandon Moss – 74% owned

Even when Moss was slugging for the A’s in 2013-14, he always had a crappy average and low RBI totals for the amount of doubles and homers he was capable of.  Since the half point of last year up to now, he has been a below-average player in a position with an abundance of talent.  A .280 OBP is just not going to cut it for an OF.  He will hit 25 homers so he has value still in a roto-league, but don’t expect anything like you got in 2013 and the first half of 2014.

Kendrys Morales – 77% owned

Sure, he may be hot at the moment but it’s all a mirage.  He hasn’t been useful in fantasy leagues for longer than 2 weeks since he hurt himself a few years back while celebrating a walk-off homer.  He’s good for some pop off the bench when he’s hot but if you haven’t had him in your lineup the last 2-3 weeks, you might have already missed out.  Drop this guy and get Byrd, who projects to be a much more valuable backup masher for fantasy teams.

Players you SHOULD give up on:

Alex Cobb – 57% owned

Give it up.  He’s done.  As sad as it is to say, you have to accept these words of wisdom.  He won’t play until halfway through next year and given his injury history, he’s no safe bet then, either.  He won’t be viable again until 2017 so he’s not even valuable in dynasty leagues.  Cut bait with the Cobb and hope for brighter days in a few years.  His ownership should be at 0%.

Drew Smyly – 65% owned

See above.

Danny Duffy – 45% owned

There comes a certain time in every man’s life where he just has to give up on a fantasy player that he’s loved since his call up to the bigs but who hasn’t produced quite as expected.  I’ve had high hopes for Duffy for a while now and, although he’s capable of showing signs of brilliance in any given start, he’s just not going to be able to put it together yet.  He needs a change of scenery.  Until then, just give up on the chase and let him be someone else’s problem.

Players you SHOULD NOT give up on:

Matt Shoemaker – 60% owned

Don’t give up yet!  This guy still has a tidy 31 K to 7 BB ratio in 31 innings.  He’s been getting a little unlucky and has faced some tough opponents.  I still project him for a 3.40-3.60 ERA, 12 Wins and a 1.25 WHIP.  He’s a serviceable guy who projects to be a solid 4-5 fantasy starter for the next 5-10 years.

Alex Wood – 91% owned

Owners are holding tight to this guy and I can’t blame them – they likely paid a premium price to obtain him during the draft.  So far, it hasn’t worked out.  But, like Shoemaker above, he has had some tough matchups and not the best of luck.  He is not going to be as good as he looked last year, but owners waiting for a bounce back will be rewarded.   He’s not worth much on the trade market right now so you might as well hold onto him and, if you so desire, trade him as soon as he strings together 2-3 good starts.

Phil Hughes – 74% owned

OK – it’s looking bad.  Real bad.  But remember last year?  He was looking awful as well early and really hit his groove right around this time en route to a solid season.  He’s too good of a pitcher pitching in too good of a park not to be useful.  He will bounce back and pull off a stretch of 2 months of top level pitching before falling back into a late slump.  Take advantage and use him for June and trade him before the end of July.