Week 3 Quick Grades (2021 Fantasy Baseball)
Greetings, friends, and welcome to another instance of the Fantasy Baseball Quick Grades series. We’re now more than two weeks into the season and finally have some actionable data to work with. We’ve dealt with some crazy weather and a couple of COVID-19 scares, but the season is moving along without any major hiccups. We’ve even seen TWO no-hitters already. Fingers crossed that things continue this way, with players and staff staying safe and healthy and the rest of us getting exciting baseball to watch.
I went over how the grades for this series are calculated in Week 1, and I’ll link to that breakdown every week rather than filling this space with a lengthy explanation every week. If you’re interested in knowing my process or just want to talk baseball, feel free to reach out on Twitter @mikeMaher. I reply to Tweets, and my DMs are open. Here’s a link to the Week 1 piece with the full Quick Grades breakdown:
The old cliche is that the baseball season is a marathon, but it’s really more like a series of shorter sprints. At the very least, it’s more like ~26 individual miles than a true marathon, especially for fantasy managers. I bring this up because we are still dealing with small sample sizes and shouldn’t overreact, but we also can’t wait too long to make decisions, lest we fall too far behind. We have now finished our first couple of miles, and it’s time to look at the data.
Let’s get to the grades.
Note: This table is three pages (see the button on the top right) and is sortable and searchable, so feel free to look around!
Week 3 Hitter Grades
The Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants are all playing seven games this week. And according to my numbers, the Red Sox, Angels, and Giants all have favorable matchups, while the Padres have one of the toughest matchups of the week. You can see the matchup grades above, and higher numbers are better. The Red Sox and Giants both have a 19.28 out of 25, while the Angels have a 20. The Padres, on the other hand, come in at 9.28. This is because the Padres are scheduled to face Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Trevor Bauer, and Dustin May in the same week.
If you have studs on the Padres like Fernando Tatis (who is miraculously back from that shoulder injury), Manny Machado, Trent Grisham, etc., you’re still starting them this week, especially with the seven-game slate. But you shouldn’t be targeting the Padres for any streamers. If you want to add someone like Jurickson Profar on waivers, just do so knowing that you should keep him on your bench this week. Instead, stream someone like Justin Upton, who hit a grand slam last night and is available in more than 80% of leagues.
As for the best matchup overall, the Detroit Tigers have the top grade for the week at 23.33. They face the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals this week.
Fades of the Week
As mentioned above, Padres hitters have one of the toughest schedules ahead of them. And in keeping with the theme of streamers, these teams all play just five games this week:
- Atlanta Braves
- Baltimore Orioles
- Colorado Rockies
- Toronto Blue Jays
Again, you can still play your studs, but don’t go digging in those lineups for streamers in weekly leagues because you’ll have an empty spot in your lineup twice this week.
After the Padres, the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the next toughest matchups, with the Dodgers coming in at fourth because of their four-game series with San Diego. All three of these teams play six games this week but have difficult matchups in at least three or four of them.
90+ – We have four players with grades of 90 or above this week: Shohei Ohtani, Akil Baddoo, Jazz Chisholm Jr., and Whit Merrifield. This is a combination of their incredible performances over the last two weeks and favorable matchups this week. As mentioned above, Baddoo’s Tigers have the best matchup for the week, while Ohtani’s Angels have a seven-game schedule. Chisholm didn’t have a great debut in 2020, but it’s worth noting that he made the jump from Double-A since we didn’t have a minor league season last year. He looks incredible right now, and that Zac Gallen trade doesn’t look so bad anymore.
Ronald Acuna – Acuna is one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, and the only reason he fell below 90 is that the Braves only play five games this week. If not for that, he would have easily cleared 90 and would have come in right behind Ohtani with a 92.70.
COVID/Injuries – One thing to keep in mind for these grades throughout the season is that they’re a combination of past and projected performance. Injuries happen, and you’ll see injured players on these lists from time to time. Always check their FantasyPros player pages for the latest news before adding them in your leagues or starting them in a given week. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Yordan Alvarez are all on the IL for COVID-related reasons, for example. Check for updates on those players this weekend before deciding if you should start them in Week 3.
Week 3 Pitcher Grades
Below, you’ll see a grid of probable starters, their matchups, and their grades. The grade is on a scale of 0-100, and here’s what those numbers mean.
These grades assume you are in 10 leagues of varying size and format, with a good mix of shallow, deeper, scoring, and roster/lineup sizes. The score for all of these players corresponds to how many leagues I would start a pitcher in if I had him in every league. So, a pitcher with a score of 100 means I would start him in all 10 leagues. A pitcher with a score of 50 means I would start him in five leagues. Zero, zero leagues. Got it? Great.
Note: The starters below are grouped alphabetically by team and schedule, and the table is two pages to keep the length manageable (you can click to see the second page on the top right).
Last week, we had a ton of two-start pitchers, with 47 of them projected at the beginning of the week. This week, we have a much lighter slate. For a full breakdown of the projected two-start starters for Week 3, be sure to check out Brendan Tuma’s two-start pitchers piece on that very topic.
As noted last week, I will regularly be giving a bump in value to two-start pitchers in this space because of the potential that brings in weekly leagues. But that doesn’t mean I am automatically starting all or even more two-start starters. But Danny Duffy would probably be a 40 or 50 for me this week if not for his two-start status, so I bumped him up to a 70. Jameson Taillon is a 50 when he would otherwise be a 20 or 30 because I would prefer to bench him in most leagues to see how he bounces back. But the two-start status gives him a bump.
Do I love starting Jesus Luzardo against the Twins given his recent struggles? No, I do not. I’m not even crazy about starting him against the Orioles in Camden Yards at the end of the week. But I do want the two starts, and I drafted him because I believe in the stuff. I didn’t draft Luzardo to stick him on the bench for a two-start week in April. If I go down with Luzardo, I’m going to go down shooting my shot.
Patrick Corbin – I’m not completely ready to drop Corbin yet, but I’m close. That most recent start was as bad as it gets, and it was hard to watch. I’m keeping him on my bench for now and hoping for improvement, but he’s one or two more bad outings from hitting the waiver wire. He gets a zero grade this week because I just can’t roll him out there after last week.
Stephen Strasburg – My Strasburg grade is dependent on how he looks on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. Does he bounce back? Was his poor performance last time out really related to a reaction to the vaccine? Is there something else there? If Strasburg looks fine on Sunday, I’m rolling him out everywhere. If he looks off or his velocity is still down, I’m probably benching him in leagues where I can.
Taijuan Walker – The postponements over the last few days could affect his two-start status, but Walker is currently my favorite streaming option for Week 3. He’s currently available in approximately 70% of leagues somehow, and he is currently projected to start against the Cubs and Nationals this week. He’s worth it for that Cubs start alone, because they have been absolutely dreadful to start the season:
I knew the #Cubs were off to a slow start, but I didn't realize just how bad their offensive numbers were:
???? wOBA: .262 (last)
???? AVG: .166 (last)
???? OBP: .267 (last)
???? WAR: -0.5 (last, & only team in negatives)
???? K%: 29.4% (last)
???? SLG: .307 (last)
???? OFF: -21.7 (last)
— mike Maher. (@mikeMaher) April 17, 2021
That’s it for this week. Again, if you have any questions, feedback, or requests, hit me up on Twitter!
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 Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy baseball season.
Mike Maher is an editor and featured writer at FantasyPros and BettingPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive, follow him on Twitter @MikeMaher, and visit his Philadelphia Eagles blog, The Birds Blitz.