There’s an opportunity to take advantage of fantasy owners putting too much stock in a player struggling for 60 games in 2020. This happens every season, but at least throughout a course of 162 games, we can truly analyze if the player had a bad year or if it was the beginning of a trend.
As mentioned in the draft guide, we can’t pretend the stats didn’t happen, but we have to understand we’re living in unprecedented times and judging players off two months is not a great strategy.
Chicago Cubs Third Baseman Kris Bryant
This is a prime example of a player who is being completely forgotten about because he struggled in 2020. The former National League Most Valuable Player finished with .206 batting average and a putrid OPS of .644. To put that in perspective, Bryant has a career batting average of .280 and a career OPS of .889.
In 2019, Bryant finished with a batting average of .282 with 31 home runs, 77 RBIs and 108 runs scored in 543 at-bats. Bryant only accumulated 131 at-bats in 2020, but that was enough to make him slide in fantasy drafts. The third baseman is being drafted 16th at the position and 110 overall.
It shouldn’t go unnoticed, either, that Bryant is in a contract year and will be hoping to score a big contract next offseason. Give me Bryant all day long at this point in the draft and I’ll be happy to see the 29-year-old bounce back in a big way in 2021.
Chicago Cubs Shortstop Javier Baez
We’re running it back with two Cubs who are in prime position to bounce back. Like Bryant, Baez was a disaster in 2020, as he finished with a .203 batting average and just eight home runs. Also like Bryant, Baez is entering his final year before heading into free agency.
The shortstop hit 34 home runs in 2018 and 29 in 2019 and other than 2020, has not hit under .270 in a full season. At the age of 28, I refuse to believe Baez is not a good player anymore. However, the fantasy community believes he has slipped. He is currently being drafted as the 14th shortstop, according to FantasyPros.com. I have mentioned before that shortstop is a deep position, but the draft position for Baez is based on a poor 2020.
These two hitters are ones to target, as their skill set along with their draft day value is too good to pass up.
Atlanta Braves Starting Pitcher Charlie Morton
If Morton performed the way he did throughout the course of a full season, I may be more hesitant. At the age of 37, it’s a legit question of how much Morton has left in the tank. He finished 2020 with a 4.74 ERA and 1.40 WHIP.
However, Morton’s ability to generate strikeouts was a positive in 2020, as he averaged 9.9 per nine innings. Morton left the Tampa Bay Rays but still ended up in a great position with the Braves, as he should be able to earn enough wins to be fantasy relevant. The veteran performed well in the postseason outside of a bad start in the World Series. This gives me hope that he still has something in the tank and will be a viable option.
There is risk at Morton’s age along with switching leagues, but the right-hander is currently being drafted as the 35th starting pitcher, which should help negate some of that risk. If we’re not drafting the elite starters, we need to find proven pitchers who come at a value and I believe Morton is that guy.