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Back and ready to start a fourth season of deep dumpster diving, otherwise known as perusing the waiver wire. We’ll adjust for at least the first couple of weeks by raising the ceiling to 25 percent rather than the standard 20 percent we’ve all become accustomed to:
*Gerardo Parra, OF, Rockies: Parra is benefiting from the absence of a regular, David Dahl (ribs). Parra had six hits in his first 11 ABs with a homer and four RBIs, and he looks to be a candidate to rebound from an abysmal 2016 slash line of .253/.271/.399. He’s owned in just under 15 percent of polled leagues and he does have 1B eligibility in a handful of those leagues. Dahl isn’t expected back until early May and if Parra can build off his strong start, he’ll eventually add stolen bases to his arsenal. He’s a Rockies player, so run with Parra as long as possible.
*Sandy Leon, C, Red Sox: Picking up from last season’s .310/.369/.476 line, Leon recorded five hits in his first 12 trips to the plate with a homer, three ribbies and two runs scored. Leon may be the classic example of a catcher whose hitting skills took time to develop while his glove was major league ready. The guess is that Fantasy owners are hesitant to go all-in with Leon, which may explain why he’s owned in only 21 percent of polled leagues. His 23.3 percent strikeout rate from last season may have also indicated a sense of fluke from him, but Leon could emerge as a Top-20 player at a position sorely lacking in depth.
*Corey Dickerson, OF, Rays: Despite hitting 24 homers last season, Dickerson was still considered a disappointment after moving from the Rockies. Much of his misery stemmed from his allergies to walks (six percent walk rate) and a 24.5 percent whiff rate. Dickerson started the season with just one hit in his first six ABs but followed up with three straight multi-hit games entering Saturday’s play. Whether the Dickerson of 2014 (.312-24-74 with eight steals) resurfaces remains in question, yet he can expect a climb from his 24 percent ownership in polled leagues if the power is consistent and he can at least approach his 7.7 percent walk rate from what some thought was the start of a solid run.
*Chris Owings, SS/OF, Diamondbacks: Middle infield eligibility is a beautiful thing. Long a regular on this list, Owings keeps teasing with his potential and is doing so thus far with a pair of multi-hit games and a pair of steals. That "Next Paul Molitor" tag fell off Owings a long time ago, yet the early trend of improved line drive rate and walk rate are encouraging enough for deeper league owners seeking an upgrade at MI should kick around Owings’ tires, especially if the stolen bases are also trending. Owned in 22 percent of polled leagues, Owings has some sleeper potential brewing.
*Alex Cobb, SP, Rays: A high-risk move of the Jeff Hardy variety, Cobb’s 2017 debut found its mark by holding the Yankees to a run on four hits over 5.2 innings en route to a victory on Wednesday. Cobb may be starting to put some distance from the Tommy John surgery that cost him the 2015 season and most of last year and should be worthy enough to consider in AL-only formats. However, there are enough owners in mixed leagues (around 19 percent, in fact) that are taking the plunge. Don’t expect Cobb to emerge as a 200-inning workhorse, but he’ll have value, especially if he’s able to limit the walks.
*Lance Lynn, SP, Cardinals: The NL version of Cobb, Lynn was also effective in his first start this season, holding the Cubs to two runs over 5.1 innings on Thursday. Unfortunately, the bullpen squandered his chance at a win. Lynn’s ownership in polled leagues is approaching the 25 percent ceiling despite a dip in strikeout rate. His value should remain strong if the walk rate and increased usage of both a slider and changeup start to show fruition.
*Bartolo Colon, SP, Braves: He can still go, as his six innings of work against his former Mets teammates on Wednesday indicated. Father Time is eventually going to walk down Colon, but why not enjoy the ride that 17 percent of polled league owners are already enjoying? Besides the age factor, the 43-year-old won’t have the benefit of an elite bullpen he had with the Mets, so that might lead to pause for some considering Colon. For now, he’s still pretty useful in both NL-only and mixed formats.
*Danny Valencia, 3B/OF, Mariners: Still killing lefties at a productive rate, Valencia’s improvement against those of the right-handed persuasion enabled the M’s to send Dan Vogelbach to the minors (for now). Valencia entered Saturday’s play with just a .150 average, but he’ll eventually settle into being the .275-caliber hitter he’s become over the past three seasons while also enhancing his versatility once he becomes eligible at first in the next few weeks. Valencia is owned in 14 percent of polled leagues and is probably a hot stretch away from seeing that ownership rise.