Even with a short week of games, there have been multiple injuries already in baseball so you may need some waiver wire pickups to help you kickstart your team. Here’s a quick look at some injury covers based on a 12-team format I’m using as a reference.
Kurt Suzuki – With Tyler Flowers placed on the DL with an oblique injury, Suzuki is set to get a bump in playing time early in 2018. Over his last 163 at-bats in 2017, Kurt hut .319 with 15 HRs and 31 RBI. I don’t expect as much production, but his swing could easily deliver top 12 catching value with a full-time starting job. The Braves had enough concern with Flowers injury to acquire Carlos Perez from the Angels for insurance.
Alex Avila – Based on power, Avila should be a viable option as a C2 in 12-team leagues. His batting average has risk due to his high K rate (31.9 in 2017 and 28.1 in his career), but his ability to take walks (14.0 percent in his career) does lower his overall at-bats reducing his risk in the BA category. He won’t play in many games vs. lefties forcing a Fantasy owner to micromanage him if possible. Take the upside in power and buy short covers when facing the Dodgers or any other teams with strength in left-hand pitching.
Adrian Gonzalez – After an injured 2017 season, Gonzalez will try to rebuild his career at age 35 with the Mets. He struggled in spring training (12-for-58 with one HRs and three RBI), but he does have a long resume of success in the majors. The Mets hit him fifth in the lineup to start the year, and he responded with three hits in seven at-bats with an RBI. If a Fantasy team has a weakness at first base, corner infield, or DH, I would add him to your bench to get a more extended look at him. Adrian drove in 90 or more runs from 2007 to 2016 with a 20 home run baseline at the very least. Pretty much free this week so don’t sleep at the wheel.
Luca Duda – I saw Duda go for $1 in multiple auctions last weekend in the high-stakes market, which is an excellent buy for a team looking to add backend power. After two games, he has two hits in seven at-bats with one HR and five RBI while batting cleanup for the Royals. Ride him while he’s hot and but the favorable slot in the batting order.
Neil Walker – The injury to Greg Bird will ensure that Walker is in the Yankees lineup a lot in 2018. His value in drafts was extremely low due to his late signing with New York. Neil could see playing time at 1B, 2B, 3B, and even DH with the Yankees having multiple injuries in the outfield to start the year. His swing should fit Yankee Stadium, and his approach at the plate may very well lead to a favorable slot in the batting order. Walker has 37 HRs and 104 RBI over the last two seasons despite only coming to the plate for 797 at-bats.
Brad Miller – I’m not ready to add Miller, but I’m keeping an eye on him. Tampa faced two tough lefties to start the year (Chris Sale and David Price), which led to one game on the bench. Brad hit cleanup on Saturday against a righty, which may be a sign of future upside. Miller didn’t play well in 2017, but he hit 30 HRs the previous season. I always expect more in batting average based on his minor league resume (.334). Still in his prime with a sweet swing if his mindset improves in 2018.
Matt Davidson – With three home runs and six RBI over his first seven at-bats in 2018, Davidson is going to popular pickup in the first waiver period. The White Sox have him hitting fourth, which is another reason to pay attention to his bat. Matt has plenty of power, but his long-term projection points to plenty of risk in batting average due to his K rate (37.3 in 2017). Ride him when he’s driving the ball over the fence and launch him back in the free agent pool when his Ks start to rise.
Matt Chapman – If a team is short power in shallow leagues, Chapman is the much better long-term free agent play at third base. He’ll start the year hitting lower in the batting order, but a surge in power will push him to the middle of the lineup. His swing has 40+ home run upside, but his batting average will most likely fall on the wrong side of .250.
Dansby Swanson – I have to say the Fantasy owner wanted no part of Swanson this draft season. At best, he was a token add in deep leagues in the reserve rounds. In 2016 between A, AA, and the majors, Dansby hit .281 with 88 runs, 12 HRs, 72 RBI, and 16 SBs. Last year he struggled in the majors (.232 with six HRs, 51 RBI, and three SBs over 488 at-bats, but it was his AAA a season in the majors. Swanson only has 38 career at-bats at AAA. He’s a former first pick overall in the 2015 MLB June Amateur Draft. Dansby has five hits in 14 at-bats in three games with two RBI. I expect a considerable improvement in 2018 and his price point should still be almost about free on the waiver wire. Possible 20/80/20 season with a neutral batting average.
Brandon Crawford – Over the last three seasons, Crawford has 47 HRs and 245 RBI. His skill set works better in deep leagues for a team that has coverage in speed and batting average. Brandon makes more sense in shallow leagues as only an injury replacement.
Matt Joyce – The A’s hit Joyce in the leadoff spot in the batting order in both games against RH pitching while grabbing some bench vs. a lefty. His opportunity and success in power (25 HRs) in 2017 should command some value as a manageable piece to a Fantasy team. His playing time works best as a rotational player on the bench for a Fantasy owner.
Preston Tucker – For the owners sitting on Ronald Acuna, it might make sense just to add Preston Tucker in April. Tucker has five hits in his first 12 at-bats with two RBI. He should be in the lineup on most nights until the Braves call up their next “franchise player.” Last season Preston hit .250 at AAA with 24 HRs and 96 RBI.
Nick Markakis – After three games, Nick has four hits in 12 at-bats with a home run and five RBI. He’s struggled with power for many years, but Nick is a veteran bat. He may be the first-week hot player in 2018 who turns in a surprising season for a Fantasy owner that’s willing to give him a short. At the very least, Nick will have value as an injury cover in deep leagues.
Josh Hader – Milwaukee has to give Hader a starting job by mid-May. The backend of the Brewers’ starting rotation has plenty up plenty of failure risk. Hader only threw 99.2 innings in 2017, so Milwaukee won’t push much beyond 150 innings this year. By starting him in the bullpen, they will gain more starting value in his arm later in the year. Over his first three innings, Josh has seven Ks and no runs allowed. Hader has the high upside arm Fantasy owners look for on the waiver wire. Excellent buy and hold if you can carry him for a month or so.
Tyler Skaggs – The Angels are going to win a lot of game in 2018. Skaggs always had the arm to produce winning results, but health has been a problem in his early career. In his first start of the year, Tyler didn’t allow a run over 6.1 innings with five Ks. His AFB (92.4) is below league average with plus curveball. His next step is regaining the value of his changeup. I like pitchers that pitch for winning teams, which makes Skaggs an excellent streaming option for a deep Fantasy pitching staff.
Tyler Glasnow – The Pirates will use Glasnow in the bullpen to start the year. His spring training stats weren’t impressive (7.31 ERA and .324 BAA) and Fantasy owners are scared to death with his poor results in the majors in 2017 (7.69 ERA and 2.02 WHIP). Hidden in his March data was two great outing to end the month (three runs over 8.1 innings with two walks and 12 Ks). Tyler is 19-6 in his career at AAA with a 1.95 ERA and 321 Ks over 245.0 innings. His struggles in the majors are tied to a huge walk rate (6.0 – 4.2 in the minors). I’m betting on the come here, and I’d like to have him on the bench on every team in 2018.
Hunter Strickland – His name will be easy to identify on the waiver wire thanks to two saves this week and a trip to the DL for Mark Melancon. Strickland has always had a fastball (97+ mph) to pitch in the 9th but walks hurt him in 2017 (4.3 per nine). The Giants hope to have Melancon back in a couple of weeks, but I don’t have the same confidence. Hunter has a lot to prove, but he could have the closing job for multiple weeks. The lingering hope of Melancon returning should keep the blind bidding down somewhat in check. Chasing saves on the waiver wire can be painful, but Strickland is sitting up on a tee for a Fantasy owner who is willing to swing for the fences.
Looking for some MLB DFS advice? Check out our package, featuring daily picks, live streams, podcasts, slack chat where our experts will answer your questions and of course our cash-winning optimizer!