This article is part of our The Daily Duel series.
This column will focus on players that are good values in FanDuel's salary cap contests. Typically, I'll try to cover a player or two at each position every week throughout the season. Remember, a value here could be a minimum-priced player ($2,200) or a higher-priced option that is still undervalued based on expected production.
This week, I'm going to add a new section called "Newbies". I used this section last year to outline players called up over the last week. The purpose of this section is to let you know their price and give you my opinion on their fantasy prospects.
Yasmani Grandal, $3,100 – If you haven't taken a look lately at Grandal, you're missing out on one of the hottest catchers in the league. He's currently riding a five-game hitting streak in which he has three home runs. The Padres seem to finally be ready to give him regular work, and the consistent daily at-bats appear to be agreeing with him. While it hasn't been a huge sample size quite yet, the pitcher-friendly confines of Petco Park haven't affected Grandal as evidenced by his OPS splits.
Brandon Belt, $3,300 – With Belt mired in a 2-for-29 slump, manager Bruce Bochy decided that giving Belt the day off from the starting lineup would be a good idea. Belt later entered a game that had over 20 runs scored, and he finished 1-for-2 with a walk and stolen base. He followed that up Tuesday with a 2-for-2 performance with, again, a walk and stolen base. Wednesday, he played a piece in all of the Giants' three runs against Gerrit Cole, hitting a solo home run and a two-run double. He's already up to eight home runs, and the three stolen bases are an added bonus most first basemen don't have in their skill set.
Chase Utley, $3,500 – While it's not a stretch for me to suggest Utley, especially given his price, I think he's a great value here. I've talked in past articles about how thin the second base position is and that some of the better players aren't performing as many hoped they would to this point. Enter Utley, who is hitting .327 with a .384 OBP this season. Even more impressive is that Utley only gone hitless in three games this season and has only failed to reach base in two games. He isn't going to run like he used to given his age but there's still a lot of upside from a guy who won't give you a -1 in the box score too often.
Pablo Sandoval, $2,800 – For the price, you'd think it would be tough to ignore Sandoval, given that guys like Nolan Arenado and Evan Longoria are 50 percent more in cost. However, Sandoval has been a huge disappointment so far, batting .167 with only six RBI for the season. A close look at his numbers shows why the notorious "bad ball" hitter has struggled this season. His strikeout rate has spiked, and it's due to a seven percent drop of contact both inside and out of the strike zone. Sandoval is too talented of a hitter to keep slumping. Look to use him once he turns things around at the plate.
Starlin Castro, $3,300 – In many ways, Castro reminds me of Rick Porcello, a top prospect in each of their respective organizations who got called up at an early age and hasn't quite reached their peak yet. Castro appears to be ready to take another step in the power department this season, hitting four home runs already after managing only 10 last season. He's a great tournament play and is useful once Troy Tulowitzki ($5,900!) cools down.
Drew Stubbs, $3,200 – With all of the buzz Charlie Blackmon has received (and rightfully so), Stubbs is flying a little under the radar right now. Fantasy owners seem to forget he's only 29 and still possess the speed/power combo that saw him have at least 14 home runs and 30 steals over a three-year span a few years back. Stubbs has heated up this week, benefitting from the friendly confines of Coors Field and hitting in arguably the best offensive lineup in baseball.
Caleb Joseph, $3,000 – The good news for the Orioles is that Matt Wieters will not require surgery right now, meaning Wieters should return at some point this season. Enter Steve Clevenger and Joseph, who should split time at catcher while Wieters is out. Joseph has some pop in his bat, and while he hit 22 home runs last season, he did it as a 27 year old at Double-A. The price isn't great here. I was hoping he'd come in a bit cheaper, but there is a little upside.
Danny Santana, $3,000 – The Twins have gotten so thin that they had to call-up Santana to provide some middle infield depth. He could get a few starts over the next week, but at this point, he only has upside because of his speed. I wouldn't recommend using him now, but there is some potential a few years down the road.
Manny Machado, $3,400 – Machado made his long-awaited season debut last Thursday and has been a regular in the Orioles lineup since coming back. He is yet to record an extra-base hit but has returned to hitting in the two-spot of the lineup. It should be a matter of time before he gets his big-league timing at the plate, and he should score a ton of runs with Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz and eventually Chris Davis hitting behind him.
James Jones, $3,200 – The demotion of Abraham Almonte has led to the promotion of Jones, and Jones should see regular playing time. He's shown both a little pop and good speed in the minors. Jones will likely be on the better half of a platoon with Stefan Romero as a lefty and has hit in the two-hole in front of Robinson Cano thus far. I wouldn't consider him a great prospect, but he's going to get a chance to play more days than not for time being.