Fantasy Baseball Category Analysis: Week 1 (2021)
The season is finally upon us! Let all fantasy managers and stat geeks rejoice as today marks the first day of a beautiful adventure. Everyone’s fantasy team is tied for first, and for some, it may be the last time.
I apologize for that, but it’s the truth. Someone has to win after all, and now that you’ve drafted, it’ll be the moves you make throughout the season that will make all the difference. Well, have no fear. I will be here to help you along the way and assist with all the twists and turns, injuries and busts, bumps and bruises, and anything else thrown your way all season long.
I’ll be combing the waiver wire weekly to find the best available and undervalued players to help out specifically in any of the main 10 categories. I will be focusing on players who will contribute to a specific category and are currently owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.
With more than a handful of players who can ultimately fit into these parameters (especially at the beginning of the season), the selections will be open to debate. However, my main focus will be on players whose ownership will likely shoot up over the next few weeks and probably won’t be available by week’s end.
I’ll be putting out a similar piece every week so follow me as we venture through the season and make sure to check back often if you lack in one or two statistical categories.
These players are owned in less than half of all Yahoo leagues, and for some of them, it’s a crime. These guys’ good deeds on the field have continued to go unnoticed and deserve your attention now! If your draft ended with your roster deficient in any of the standard categories, then look no further than these ten players (one for every category) to help you kick off the 2021 season.
Bobby Dalbec (1B – BOS) – 48%
Mr. Dalbec was a force to be reckoned with this Spring. MLB put out a side-by-side video comparing Dalbec’s swing to Mike Trout’s, and they looked eerily similar. After smashing eight home runs in only 80 at-bats last season, the 6’4″, 227 lb first baseman crushed seven homers this Spring. He projects as an everyday player in the Sox lineup and should plant plenty of souvenirs atop the Green Monster.
Brian Anderson (3B/OF – MIA) – 42%
Anderson led the Marlins last season in RBIs with 38. He’ll bat in the middle of the order again, with players like Starling Marte (.340 OBP) and Jesus Aguilar (.352 OBP) hitting in front of him. He’s even capable of knocking out 20+ home runs. His batting average may hover around .260, but he should be owned in the majority of leagues.
Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM) – 28%
This one was a toss-up between Raimel Tapia (29%) and Nimmo, but considering the supporting cast and the track record, I went with Nimmo. The Mets leadoff hitter has cemented himself as one of the highest OBP players in the major leagues. With a career on-base percentage of .390 and the exceptional lineup behind him, Nimmo could score 100 runs if he stays healthy. He’ll contribute a few homers and steals as well and is well worth a roster spot.
Myles Straw (SS/OF – HOU) – 23%
This, too, was a toss-up. You can’t go wrong with either Jon Berti (37%) or Myles Straw, but I went with Straw because he’s likely to garner more playing time. Jazz Chisholm has made the Marlins Opening Day roster, and his presence clouds Berti’s starts. He has a bit more power than Straw, but if we’re talking strictly steals, the Astros center fielder is the one to own. 30 bags is well within reach for the speedy Straw.
Donovan Solano (2B/3B/SS – SF) – 28%
Donnie Barrels, they call him, and for a good reason. No one seems to hit-em-where-they-ain’t more than Donovan Solano. He has now hit over .325 in back-to-back seasons, and he’ll bat third again for the Giants in their opportunistic lineup. He won’t hit more than a handful of home runs, but he’ll contribute handily in batting average and RBIs.
Brad Keller (SP – KC) – 35%
Do you want wins? Look no further than Brad Keller. Not only does he pitch deep into games, but he rarely gives up more than three runs. With the Royals’ strong bullpen and an offense that should score plenty of runs, look for Keller to easily reach 12 to 14 wins this season. In only nine games last year, he earned a win in five of them.
Pete Fairbanks (RP – TB) – 39%
With Nick Anderson going down with a significant elbow injury, look for the Rays to turn to Fairbanks and Diego Castillo for the majority of save chances. Last season in the playoffs, when Anderson seemed to wear out, Fairbanks got the call in the ninth, with Castillo working in other high leverage situations. The Rays are always a frustrating group to try and predict, but Fairbanks seems the likeliest choice. Daniel Bard (49%) is a close runner-up, but I don’t like his chances at holding the job long term, and the Rockies aren’t going to win a lot of games.
Drew Smyly (SP – ATL) – 37%
If strikeouts are what you’re after, Drew Smyly is your guy. After finishing last season with a 3.42 ERA and 14.4 K/9, he wrapped up this Spring with a fine 3.29 ERA and 10.5 K/9. His move to Atlanta shouldn’t hurt him much, if at all because San Francisco played like a hitters park last year.
Taijuan Walker (SP – NYM) – 29%
Over Walker’s final eight starts of last season, he gave up a total of seven earned runs. He also threw 11 innings this spring, where he only allowed four runners to cross the plate (3.27 ERA), with two of those runs coming back in the second inning of his first start. His WHIP for the spring was also great at 0.91. Judging by his track record, he may not last the full season, but regardless, over these first few months, he should offer above-average numbers across the board.
Michael Pineda (SP – MIN) – 50%
Pineda didn’t have the best spring, so you may want to grab him and stash him at the moment. That said, he’s been consistently solid the past few years in terms of WHIP. He’s always shown great control (career 5.4 BB%), which has significantly kept his WHIP down. If he continues to punch out batters at a fairly decent clip, then expect Pineda to allow less than a hit per inning, leading to somewhere in the neighborhood of the low 1.2’s for WHIP.
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.