A short-term memory is crucial in fantasy sports, as it allows owners to roster players at a better draft-day value. It’s human nature to avoid a player who was a disappointment the year before. But if you can identify these players and take advantage, it will help in the long run.
Here are your 2019 bounce-back candidates:
Seattle Mariners Outfielder Domingo Santana
The Mariners outfielder is a player I’m targeting late in all my drafts as he currently has an average draft position of 245. Santana could also be considered for our undervalued list that will be revealed at later date. However, he is in a prime bounce-back position in 2019 because he will actually find himself with consistent playing time. The 26-year-old exploded on the scene in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers by hitting .278 with 30 home runs and 85 RBIs.
Unfortunately, the Brewers acquired Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain prior to the 2018 season which caused Santana’s role to drastically change. After playing 151 games in 2017, Santana only played 85 last season. As a result, the outfielder finished with only five home runs.
The good news for Santana and fantasy owners is he was traded to the Mariners during the offseason and should find himself in the lineup most nights. If Santana can come close to the playing time he received in 2017, it should not be a surprise if he approached 30 home runs again. To find a player like that in Round 20 is awesome value. He’s someone we need to target in drafts.
Atlanta Braves Third Baseman Josh Donaldson
Loyal readers know I favor veteran players as their proven track record makes them easy to trust. However, there are times they have a down season or struggle with injuries, which can make fantasy owners hesitant in investing in them again.
We nailed Andrew McCutchen in 2017, but whiffed on Miguel Cabrera last season. Continuing with this theme, I’m targeting the veteran Donaldson in 2019. After three straight seasons finishing with more than 30 home runs, the 33-year-old managed to hit just eight last year due to missing most of the season with an injury.
Donaldson is now on the Braves and completely healthy. I don’t think we will get to his prime seasons with home run totals in the mid-30s, but he should still approach 30 in 2019. Donaldson is currently being drafted as the No. 12 third baseman, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he cracks the top eight at the position by the end of the year.
Chicago Cubs Starting Pitcher Yu Darvish
Pitchers who have dealt with injuries are always risky, but when the draft day investment isn’t expensive, it can be worth it to take on the uncertainty.
Heading into the 2018 season, Darvish was considered one of the elite fantasy starting pitchers as he could rack up the strikeouts at an elite level. However, in his first season with the Cubs, injuries limited Darvish to just eight starts. The positive for Darvish was that he was still striking out 11 hitters per nine innings, which is right in line with his career average.
Fantasy owners have forgotten about Darvish this draft season as he is currently being taken as the No. 37 starting pitcher. This draft day investment negates some of the risk that will come with Darvish. I still believe he will be the pitcher who will accumulate strikeouts at an elite rate, and if he is completely healthy, he can easily finish with 170 innings pitched and bounce back in a big way for fantasy owners in 2019.