Fantasy sports connoisseurs know only too well the importance of finding, and most importantly, acquiring value to help their respective teams throughout the season. Whether you are someone who is into fantasy baseball or fantasy football, the importance remains the same. For fantasy baseball, the season is a marathon. Understanding this will help you to develop a keen sense for finding season-long value. Below are my favorite value players early on in the fantasy season to go pick-up.
Dansby Swanson, SS, ATL (ESPN: 47.9%, +28.6; Yahoo: 53%, +38%)
Swanson was the No.4 overall ranked prospect heading into the 2016 season and was supposed to be the next big-time star. Unfortunately, after a hot start in his first time in the show, Swanson has struggled. In 2017, Swanson slashed a disappointing .232/.312/.324 with just 6 HR and 51 RBI in 144 games (551 plate appearances).
However, in 2018, Swanson is off to an excellent start slashing .348/.375/.565 with 1 HR and 8 RBI through his first 11 games (48 plate appearances). As Swanson is someone who is owned in less than half of all ESPN leagues, and barely more than half of Yahoo leagues, if you’re looking for an offensive pick-me-up, target Dansby Swanson.
Jed Lowrie, 2B, OAK (ESPN: 31.1%, +26.1; Yahoo: 34%, +27)
To say that Jed Lowrie has been a journeyman feels like an understatement. Throughout his career, Lowrie has been very consistent. Last season, in 153 games (645 plate-appearances), Lowrie slashed .277/.360/.448 with 14 HR and 69 RBI.
This season, through the first 13 games (59 plate-appearances), Lowrie sees the ball well. He is currently slashing .333/.390/.556 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. Unfortunately, he is striking out at a 20.8% rate, yet this should not deter you from adding him if you are in need of middle infield help.
Colin Moran, 1B, PIT (ESPN: 24.6%, +20.7; Yahoo: 16%, +11)
Moran, who came up through the Houston Astros system, was one piece of the team’s trades in acquiring former Pirates ace Gerrit Cole this past off-season. In his first ten games of the 2018 season for the Pirates, Moran has started on an absolute tear. He is slashing .343/.425/.486 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Many have found a comparable connection of Moran to that of former Pittsburgh slugger Andy LaRoche.
If you are looking for a low-risk first base option, look no further than Colin Moran.
David Peralta, OF, ARI (ESPN: 62.9%, +6.6; Yahoo: 59%, +4)
It can be challenging to assess fantasy value of outfielders just because it is a very replaceable position. That being said, David Peralta is a guy to keep an eye on moving forward. Since making his big league debut for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Peralta has found himself as a consistent producer.
The start of 2018 has proven no different for David Peralta. Through his first handful of games, he is slashing .316/.409/.500 with 2 HR and 6 RBI. Similar to Lowrie, Peralta is striking out at a considerably high rate of 22.7%. It should be noted, however, that he does have a BABIP of .385, which is his batting average of balls in play.
Again, the outfield position in fantasy baseball can be something of sorts to navigate to find the best value. However, David Peralta should bring a team some acceptable value, which makes him worthy of an add.
Mike Foltynewicz, SP, ATL (ESPN: 33.3%, +13; Yahoo: 35%, +9)
Foltynewicz is currently the No.2 starter in the Atlanta Braves rotation. Since pitching is such a big part of fantasy baseball, there is nobody of value who could be a better target than Foltynewicz. He has had three impressive starts to open up the new season, including multiple respectable starts vs. the Nationals.
This season through three starts, “Folty” as his teammates call him, is 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA. What seemingly sticks out with Foltynewicz is his 26.9 strikeout percentage. Thus far that number is a career-high. Obviously, it is incredibly early. However, his strikeout percentage is something positive to watch.
If you are someone who enjoys the strategy of “poaching pitchers” there is a decent shot you will be able to land him.
Trevor Williams, SP, PIT (ESPN: 19.7%, +7.2; Yahoo: 26%, +15)
Don’t look now, but Trevor Williams is off to a fantastic start to begin his 2018 campaign. Slotting in as the No.3 starter for the Pirates, Williams has won each of his first three starts, compiling a minute 1.56 ERA in the process. Williams earned his third win in as many starts after the Chicago Cubs failed to hit him hard in Wrigley Field last week.
Regarding flash, that is not who Trevor Williams represents. However, Williams has brought a comfortable level of consistency to what has been an excellent start for the Pirates (10-4).
Williams does not have overpowering stuff, as his strikeout rate continues to be relatively low. He possesses a career 17.9% strikeout percentage. As he is just 25 years old, expect Trevor Williams to be a staple for the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation moving forward, looking to continue his success.
Keynan Middleton, RP, LAA (ESPN: 21%, +13.7; Yahoo: 53%, +15)
The presumed closer for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is Keynan Middleton, moving forward. If you have never heard of this guy, join the club.
Middleton was drafted by the Angels all the way back in 2013, making his first appearance in the show last season. He finished 6-1 with a 3.86 ERA in sixty-four games.
Looking forward, Middleton has somewhat struggled despite his incredibly low 1.04 ERA. He has a 4.15 BB/9, and a percentage of runners left on base at a whopping 90.9%. It should signal that Middleton has don’t a great job at keeping runners stranded. However, this is something which you would love to see much, much lower.
As saves are a part of the majority of fantasy baseball leagues, it is essential that Middleton securely remain in that role, as his fantasy value flatlines in any other situation. If not an immediate pickup, Middleton is still someone who should be on everyone’s radar. ESPN shows his ownership rate as far lower than Yahoo, so don’t hesitate to take a chance on him.