Each week we’ll look at a handful of different players rostered in less than 15% of fantasy leagues who you should consider picking up. Many of these players will have the most value in deeper leagues where waiver wire options aren’t as plentiful. Still, they could also occasionally be useful additions in other, more standard-sized leagues depending on your options at their position. This week it’s Nick Gordon, Matt Carpenter, Dylan Moore, and Seth Lugo who are worth your time as potential additions in deep leagues.
All roster percentages mentioned in this column are via Yahoo fantasy leagues as of Sunday afternoon.
Nick Gordon – 1%
Gordon’s ability to hit pitches over the fence and steal bases gives him plenty of fantasy potential.
The 26-year-old has seen time at a variety of positions for the Twins this season, including left field, center field, shortstop, and second base. He’s hitting .273 with a .318 on-base percentage, four home runs, and three stolen bases in 197 plate appearances.
The versatility has helped the Twins, and it could certainly help fantasy managers, as Gordon looks set to continue seeing regular playing time across the diamond, especially with Trevor Larnach, Miguel Sanó, and Royce Lewis all on the injured list and Minnesota managing Byron Buxton’s workload.
Gordon has largely hit in the bottom third of a reasonably productive Twins lineup this season and while his 24.6% strikeout rate isn’t exactly ideal, there isn’t an overabundance of versatile players who can contribute home runs and stolen bases all the while making consistent, loud contact.
The former first-round pick ticks all those boxes, especially in Yahoo leagues where he’s eligible at second base, shortstop, and in the outfield.
Matt Carpenter – 9%
Entering play on Sunday, Carpenter had appeared in 25 games for the New York Yankees. In nine of those 25 appearances, he has appeared as a pinch hitter. Those nine pinch-hit appearances included a five-game stretch from June 24 through June 30 where Carpenter didn’t start for New York, so there are some playing time concerns on a loaded Yankees team.
Still, Carpenter has been so productive that it’s becoming hard for the Yankees, or fantasy managers for that matter, to leave him on the bench.
Since that five-game stretch, Carpenter has appeared in seven games, starting six of them. He’s also slugged three home runs in 27 plate appearances during that stretch, which is par for the course for the veteran’s season so far.
Overall, he’s connected on nine home runs in 73 plate appearances this season, batting .328 with a .431 on-base percentage and a 12.3% walk rate.
The veteran has also cut his ground ball rate considerably so far. It’s a small sample size to be sure, but at 21.4%, it would be Carpenter’s lowest ground ball rate in any of the last seven seasons prior to this year. An increased barrel rate is also fueling Carpenter’s early productivity and points to potential sustained success in the power department at the very least.
The former Cardinals stalwart has seen more plate appearances hitting sixth this season than any other spot in the batting order, but he’s drawn six starts either hitting third or leadoff for Aaron Boone’s team. If that continues in any capacity moving forward, Carpenter’s fantasy value will skyrocket hitting either in front of or after Aaron Judge.
Seth Lugo – 4%
Adam Ottavino and Drew Smith may have more high-leverage appearances than Lugo this season, but the 32-year-old is fast becoming the Mets reliever not named Edwin Díaz that fantasy managers will want on their rosters.
The right-hander is currently sporting a 3.58 ERA and a 3.62 FIP in 32.2 innings of work. He’s struck out 31 batters to just nine walks during those 32.2 innings. He’s on track to finish with a FIP south of 4.00 for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The only time his FIP wasn’t below 4.00 was in 2020 when he made seven starts and had a 6.15 ERA and a 5.05 in 26.1 innings as a starter.
Despite his 7.9% swinging strike percentage being on track to be the lowest of his career, Lugo has maintained his usual effectiveness in part by limiting contact at an elite rate. His 27.1% hard-hit rate currently sits in the 97th percentile league-wide.
Most crucially, Lugo seems to be trusted by Buck Showalter in save situations when Edwin Díaz isn’t available. The right-hander has logged three saves this season, the second-most behind Diaz on the team. Only two other relievers on New York’s roster have a save this season, and neither has more than one save.
Not purely just a saves stash, Lugo has 12 holds entering play Sunday. Only Drew Smith has more on the Mets roster. Just 16 relievers, including Smith, have more holds in the sport this season.
Dylan Moore – 3%
Don’t let Moore’s .187 average scare you off. He’s doing plenty more across the board, both from an underlying metric and fantasy-scoring standpoint to be relevant in most fantasy leagues, let alone deeper leagues.
The 29-year-old does have the aforementioned .187 average in 156 plate appearances, but he’s also sporting a 14.7% walk rate and a .344 on-base percentage to go along with five home runs and 10 stolen bases.
Like with Gordon, the home run and stolen base potential make Moore an ideal fantasy option. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also eligible at every position but pitcher, catcher, and first base in Yahoo leagues.
Moore is just one of nine players in the league to have both double-digit stolen bases and a double-digit barrel rate this season. You’ve probably heard of the other eight players, players who are probably rostered in your league – and most leagues for that matter.
*Percentage of rosters the player is on in Yahoo leagues as of Sunday afternoon.
With a fairly regular role in Seattle, Moore should continue to rack up stolen bases. He’s now reached double-digit steals in each of the last four seasons and has a real shot at topping his career-high of 21 as well. The 29-year-old also has a chance at finishing with his second-straight season with double-digit home runs.
Image adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)