Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Adam Duvall, Brandon Nimmo, Matthew Boyd (2021)
After two glorious weeks of baseball, filled with plenty of feel-good stories and a few letdowns, now is the time to drop your underperforming veterans and rush to add the hot-hitting, unheralded rookies! I’m kidding, of course, but after coming off of a 60 game sprint, where three weeks was a third of the season, fantasy managers would do well to remember we’re just barely scratching the surface of the 2021 season. So in simpler terms, don’t panic!
We’ve all seen players get off to an awful start, just to put up MVP-type numbers in the second half of the season. With all of the injuries piling up, though, and plenty of borderline players looking a bit overmatched (I’m looking at you, Willi Castro), it’s not a bad idea to consider making a change and adding some other undervalued player(s).
For those in need, I have scoured the waiver wire to help find you ample replacements. I’ve targeted overlooked players who are comically rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues (or close to it). More specifically, I’ve picked out guys who can strongly help out in at least one of the 10 main categories.
Last week’s picks are making me look oh-so-good at the moment. Randal Grichuk, Ty France, Akil Baddoo, Yusei Kikuchi, Dane Dunning, and Luis Arraez have all shot up dramatically in ownership since last week’s post, and for good reason. These players should never have been rostered by so few managers, to begin with, and are paying off for the ones who drafted them or added them quickly off the wire. While most of these guys are no longer available, luckily for you, there are still plenty of un-rostered diamonds in the rough!
I’ll continue to put out a similar piece each week, so follow me as we venture through the season together. And make sure to check back often if you’re lacking in one or two statistical categories.
Phillip Evans (3B – PIT): 27%
Luis Arraez is still available in 53% of leagues, and if you’re sorely lacking in batting average, he’s likely your best bet. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice a hint of BA for some power, Phillip Evans is the player to add. Evans’ bat has been extremely hot through the first few weeks of the season (.342/.444/.632). He got off to a similar start last season (359/.444/.487) until he suffered a broken jaw after colliding with Gregory Polanco. In his final two years of Triple-A, Evans also produced, so his continued success at the major league level shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. He can play all over the field, so I think he’ll stick around even after Ke’Bryan Hayes returns.
Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM): 36%
Starting the year off right, Nimmo has been as hot as anyone at the plate. Over the first eight games, Nimmo hit for a ridiculous .464 average with a .583 OBP. As long as the Mets leadoff hitter stays healthy and continues to get on base (as he’s done over his entire career – .395 OBP), Nimmo is a lock for 90 runs scored this season.
Brian Anderson (3B/OF – MIA): 30%
Anderson is still batting in the middle of the order for the Marlins despite a slow start. Last year’s team leader in RBIs now has four over his last three games. With the players hitting in front of him, Anderson should continue to have plenty of RBI opportunities throughout the season. I originally projected him to finish with 24 home runs and 90 steaks, and I’m sticking to it. He also started slow last season, so don’t make too much of the subpar start.
- Zach McKinstry (15%) is on fire for the Dodgers right now (11 RBIs), but fully healthy, Los Angeles will have a tough time keeping his bat regularly in the lineup.
Myles Straw (SS/OF – HOU): 23%
Straw is still the man to add if you need steals. He has stolen 19 career bases with just 235 at-bats. He already has three to start the season and has only struck out four times over 41 plate appearances. Rostered in only a quarter of leagues, no other player available is going to get you more bags. He has zero power to speak of, but as long as Dusty Baker continues to pencil his name into the lineup, Straw could easily take you from eighth in the stolen bases category to third.
- Tim Locastro (11%) is also a short-term option while Ketel Marte is out and could even continue to start after he returns.
Adam Duvall (OF – MIA): 25%
He may lower your batting average a bit, but no player rostered in less than 50% of leagues offers more pop than Adam Duvall. After a slow start, Duvall reminded everyone just what he can do on Tuesday night when he crushed two deep homers, his second and third of the week. He hit 16 long balls last season in under 200 at-bats and looks as though he has picked up right where he left off. If you have the room and lack power, pick up Duvall and start him versus lefties in daily leagues or favorable weekly matchups.
- Hunter Dozier (30%) is another strong option and could easily put up 25 home runs (with a better average than Duvall) now that he’s finally healthy. A return to 2019 numbers would be a welcome sight to Kansas City fans and fantasy managers.
- Evan Longoria (27%) is also a candidate to boost your home run totals. Long term, I’d rather have Dozier, or if dingers are truly what you’re after, Duvall is the way to go. If you have room, though, you could ride Longoria’s hot streak, but the slugging veteran hasn’t been a reliable source for consistent production in years.
Yimi Garcia (RP – MIA): 45%
Dating back to the beginning of last season, Garcia has allowed two runs over 21.1 innings. After a couple of atrocious Anthony Bass appearances, the Fish appear to be ready to move on, with Garcia earning the latest save. He’s averaged over a K per inning spanning the last three years and has consistently had a WHIP well under one. Pick up Garcia now if he’s still available.
Matthew Boyd (SP – Det): 53%
The real Matthew Boyd has finally arrived. Boyd has always had electric stuff, but the results have rarely been favorable. After a horrendous 2020, most fantasy players were hesitant to draft the Tigers’ ace despite his above-average strikeout potential. Well, those willing to give him one last chance were rewarded with a very solid start to the season.
Over his first three starts (19.1 innings), Boyd produced a 1.86 ERA, a 1.09 WHIP and earned two wins. Perhaps even more impressively, after approaching the top of the leaderboard annually in home runs allowed, Boyd hasn’t given up a single one. He’s upped his changeup usage, which has largely kept hitters off-balance, leading to much weaker contact. With this slight variation in pitch selection, Boyd may just be able to keep it up.
He has always been capable of pitching deep into games, and with a revamped offense, the Tigers’ hurler could record at least 10 more wins. The teams he beat weren’t exactly pushovers either. Boyd should be started in all leagues for Sunday’s start in Oakland.
Tejay Antone (SP/RP – CIN): 23%
If you’re looking to boost your K totals without hurting your ERA or WHIP, look no further than Tejay Antone. Rumored to have earned a rotation spot in spring for the Reds depleted rotation, management chose to keep Antone in the bullpen, a spot he thrived in last season. So far in three games, he’s pitched 6.2 innings, given up zero runs, and struck out nine. He’s also only allowed four runners to reach base. Pick him up now to boost your pitching numbers across the board and avoid the rush if he’s ever moved into the starting rotation.
Jakob Junis (SP/RP – KCR): 12%
I’m one of the few experts buying in on the 2021 version of Jake Junis. Incorporating his newfound cutter to complement his plus slider, Junis has already shown in a very small sample size just how tough he’s going to be to hit this year. After two scoreless relief appearances, Junis was given the chance to open a game in Cleveland. Originally projected to pitch two or maybe three innings, Junis was so efficient, management let him go a full five. He only allowed one hit and two walks while striking out six. Junis was just as unhittable in spring when he tossed seven innings of one-run ball and struck out 10 while only allowing two base runners.
Even if he only lasts a few innings per start for now or is used more in a hybrid-type role, I’m willing to take the chance on Junis. Judging by his new compliment to his pitching repertoire and his willingness to pretty much ditch his 2-seamer (always his worst offering), I believe he’ll eventually throw deeper into games and will continue to put up above-average numbers.
Update: Junis pitched well against Toronto last night, limiting them to two runs over five innings to bring his ERA on the season to 1.50.
Michael Kopech (SP – CHW): 48%
Kopech has been relegated to bullpen duty to start the season where he’s been basically unhittable. Over 7.2 innings so far, Kopech has allowed two hits and three walks while striking out a whopping 13 batters. He was rumored to be an option to start Monday for Carlos Rodon (illness) had he not pitched the day before, so he could eventually join the rotation.
While he could ultimately be stretched out to five innings, similar to Antone, fantasy managers will gladly take the overall contribution. Even if he gives up the occasional homer on a 100 mph fastball down the middle, his WHIP will very likely stay below 1.00, so add him now before he’s long gone.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy baseball, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Baseball Tools as you navigate your season. From our Lineup Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – that allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Austin Lowell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Austin, check out his archive.