Fantasy owners in standard 12 team leagues are patiently awaiting the "official" start of the upcoming fantasy season. The only decisions facing owners during this waiting period is whether to make trades or to add/drop. Because most leagues are not full of owners looking to make trades before the season starts, I think the number one decision facing fantasy owners at this time is whether or not to add/drop.
The decision making process in regards to add/drop is pretty straightforward. The process involves a fantasy owner asking himself the question- “Are there any free agents available that are better or could have better fantasy seasons than any players who are currently on my team?”
Judging from a number of my leagues, I have compiled a list of 10 players who I feel have been unfairly ignored by many fantasy owners.
The following 10 players are likely available as free agents in many standard leagues. These players may not all pan out, but I believe they all warrant serious fantasy consideration.
The following 10 players could be free agents in your league and could have better fantasy seasons than the worst player or players currently on your fantasy team:
1. Scott Olsen- Olsen has always had great stuff but is frequently sidetracked by a lack of composure and mental toughness. Much of his deficiencies can be attributed to a lack of maturity. As he continues to live longer, there is reason to believe that Olsen’s maturity level could increase and that he can begin to realize some of his potential. A number one pitcher with this much ability warrants serious fantasy consideration.
2. Brian Bannister- Bannister is an easy player to ignore because he has average stuff, he doesn’t miss enough bats and he walks too many hitters. In addition, he pitches for the Royals. In spite of all of these apparent negatives, I’m a believer in Bannister. He pitches with poise, he seems comfortable pitching with runners on base and he has been a surprisingly effective pitcher since his call-up with the Mets in 06’. In addition, I think the Royals will be a better team than most people think. I believe Bannister will surprise people again and reward those fantasy owners who gave him a shot.
3. Dave Bush- Bush has good stuff and is a young 28 years old. If he can revert back to his 06’ form or even improve upon that, he could provide great value as a free agent pickup. Bush could benefit from being placed in a non-pressure role this season. He will be starting at the back end of the Brewer’s rotation and will likely receive generous run support from the Brewers’ offense. As compared to last season, little seems to be expected of Bush this season. This situation could lead to success for Bush in 08’.
4. Mike Mussina- Mussina has been virtually left for dead considering his disappointing 07’ season and his diminished velocity. I believe a borderline Hall of Fame pitcher like Mussina should be given the benefit of the doubt and should not be labeled “finished” after only one bad season. While it’s possible that he is “done”, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt.
5. Andrew Miller- Miller has good stuff and will be pitching in a relatively pressure-free environment this season. He will also benefit from the pitcher friendly confines of Marlin Stadium. Miller’s upside and situation make him an attractive free agent.
6. Stephen Drew- In 07’, Drew failed to live up to the expectations of those who drafted him relatively early. Considering that he has only one full season under his belt, it is far too early to give up on him. Drew shouldn’t be available as a free agent in too many leagues.
7. Bill Hall- Hall followed up his breakout 06’ campaign with a disappointing 07’season. Only 28 years old and hitting in a strong Brewers’ lineup, there is no reason to believe that Hall’s skills have disappeared. He is worth an addition in the hope that he can at least partly recapture his form from 06’.
8. Jose Guillen- Guillen had a productive 07’ season finishing with a line of: .290 BA, .353 OBP, 23 HR, 99 RBI and 84 R. He will be hitting in an improved Royals’ lineup and should at least approach his numbers from a season ago. Guillen should be a useful 4th or 5th outfielder in most fantasy formats.
9. Elijah Dukes- Dukes’ enormous talents did not surface in the form of positive statistics last season. There is reason to believe that much of his on the field failures can be attributed to his off the field controversies. The 23 year old had an eventful offseason that included a trade from the Rays to the Nationals and some counseling to improve his quality of life. Perhaps these changes will allow Dukes to realize his potential this season. If he begins the season playing at a high enough level, there is a chance that Willy Mo Pena might not have a spot in the starting lineup upon his return from the DL. Dukes warrants serious fantasy consideration.
10. Ryan Church- Aside from the majority of last season, the Nationals never allowed Church to be an everyday player. He finished up his 07’ season in Washington with 470 at bats and a final line of: .272 BA, .350 OBP, 15 HR, 70 RBI and 57 R. This offseason, he was traded to the Mets in the “Lastings Milledge Heist”. There is a good chance that Church will benefit from a change of scenery and will benefit from the piece of mind that a team’s support provides. He will also assume a prominent position in a potentially dangerous Mets’ lineup. Church is another player who shouldn’t be available in too many leagues.