It is difficult to be patient early in the fantasy season, but sometimes perspective is the best strategy with small sample sizes. There’s only so much that a week’s worth of games can tell us in fantasy baseball. The guys that you heavily invested in should still be the players that you count on to lead your team. However, there are always going to be players that come out of nowhere that were not drafted. Aaron Judge wasn’t owned in most leagues around this time last year and now he is a top 10 outfielder. His value obviously skyrocketed as the season went on. For every Judge, there’s countless others that just had a hot streak and were never heard from again in the fantasy world. Let’s check out some names that have been working their way up in value and those that have lost some value since your draft.

Risers

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Getty Images

Hunter Strickland

When Mark Melancon wasn’t ready to start the season, most of us speculated that Sam Dyson could get an opportunity and then in stepped Mark Melancon to get the first two saves of the seasons for the Giants. Strickland’s swinging strike rate is up to 12% and he looks like someone that could take the job and run with it for an extended time. His job security is in question because Melancon has a huge contract and long track record of success in the closer’s role. Unfortunately for Melancon owners, it looks like the forearm injury that he struggled with so much last year is not going to correct itself. There is a chance that Strickland isn’t challenged by Melancon at all this year. He is likely owned in every league at this point.

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Jae C. Hong/AP

Shohei Ohtani

There were whispers after a horrible start to spring training that Ohtani might be one of the biggest busts in years, but the results have been amazing since the regular season began. He had a 20% swinging strike rate and did not allow many hard hit balls. His fastball velocity averaged 97.8 MPH, and he did a great job with his pitch selection. At the plate, he’s hitting .429 with two home runs. If you called out Ohtani in your draft this offseason, you are pretty happy right now. Just keep in mind that there will likely be ups and downs at the plate and on the mound in his first season in the majors.

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John Minchillo/AP

Adam Eaton

There was no doubt that Adam Eaton could hit, the only question was his health. There’s no way to predict if he’ll stay healthy all season. He even tweaked his ankle this week and is likely to miss a few games, but he is hitting .429 and already has two home runs at the beginning of the season. He’s likely to score a ton of runs at the top of the Nationals lineup and will likely outperform whatever you paid for him in your draft. It’s a small sample size and it’s doubtful that he will have a hard hit rate of 63%, but the power is a positive sign that Eaton is back and ready to produce as a top-30 outfielder especially in points leagues.

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Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Jose Martinez

Martinez was one of my favorite targets going into the draft season, and he has not disappointed to this point. He’s hitting .364 to start the season and is playing every day for the Cardinals. If he gets the playing time, there’s not much here to suggest that he is not going to be a top-50 outfielder at minimum. He is also eligible at first base, which is helpful in daily leagues.   

Fallers

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Justin Berl/Getty Images

Billy Hamilton

If you play in a roto league, you likely drafted Hamilton thinking he was going to run away with the steal category for your fantasy team. You knew that he was going to hurt you in almost every other category, but that comes with the territory. It’s been much worse than you thought. He’s not hitting leadoff every day and he’s found himself in a four-man rotation for playing time in the Reds outfield. Hamilton is obviously the best defensive player of the four, so that guarantees him a little bit of a leash, but currently he’s hitting under .090 with zero stolen bases. There’s no way to trade him at this point as you would be selling at his lowest value and he’s not contributing anything to your stat lines. It’s best just to bench him for now and hope he picks it up soon.

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Kareem Elgazzar

Jose Peraza

If Billy Hamilton is going to be on this list, it is only fitting that the player that most fits his profile is also in the fallers section. Peraza is still only 23 years old, so he is not a finished product. However, a guy that was projected to at least have a plus-average tool is now struggling to show the potential to hit above .250. He doesn’t walk much at about a 4% rate and he’s swinging at 58% of pitches outside the zone. His BABIP is sitting at .091 right now. The Reds don’t have many options behind him, so he will have plenty of opportunities to correct himself. He won’t be this bad, but it’s hard to roster in any standard leagues.

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CHRIS O’MEARA / AP

Aaron Nola

New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has been the talk of the league after he called for a reliever out of the bullpen without anyone warming up against the Braves and had the bullpen fall apart after pulling Aaron Nola only 68 pitches into his first start. This really doesn’t have anything to do with Nola’s performance, even though his second start wasn’t all that efficient as he went five innings against the Mets on Wednesday. In 2017, Nola’s ERA climbed to 5.32 the third time through the order, which is concerning. Kapler’s rationale is all about limiting his opportunities to see hitters the third time. On paper, the logic makes sense. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with a 24-year-old ace that is still coming into his own, there is obviously an opportunity for him to improve on those numbers. I’m not going to be a Major League manager any time soon, but this is extremely frustrating for fantasy owners as Nola will be limited if he isn’t given a chance to face batters for a third time. It will be difficult for him to even qualify for quality starts. The only move is to hold as everyone else in your league is likely onto this as well. Just hope Nola can become more efficient with his pitches and Kapler realizes the kind of talent he has.

Featured image courtesy of AP Photo/Ben Margot

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