Chasing the next big thing on waivers is a big part of what we do every week, and we almost always focus on big performances from recent games -- a 10-strikeout performance here, a two-steal game there -- or changing roles and opportunities. However, this early in the season, your preseason opinion of a player should still hold more weight than nearly anything we've seen so far.
It can be hard to remember that, of course, and in the constant roster churn to chase that next big thing, someone in your league might have made a big mistake, dropping a slow starter for someone who ends up being a flash in the pan. Sure, that slow starter may end up playing poorly all season long, but when you're talking players with a track record … well, there's a reason you liked Clint Frazier more than Tyler Naquin coming into the season.
You should be looking for ways to add the likes of Danny Duffy -- his velocity is back up significantly and he has 19 strikeouts to six walks in 18 innings -- and Nathan Eovaldi -- he's re-introduced his slider and is pitching very well right now -- of course. But it's also worth looking at adding some players who might have been dropped recently. Another team's lack of patience could be a big win for you.
Here are some players who have been dropped in 5% or more of CBS Fantasy leagues over the last week who you should consider snagging if you're in one of those leagues. And, if you have them, maybe you'll find some reasons to keep them around, especially if you've got an extra roster spot to play:
Cubs OF Ian Happ
Happ has been one of the bigger disappointments for me personally so far, with just one homer and no other extra-base hits in 15 games. The good news, for now, is that despite his struggles, the Cubs haven't looked to move him out of the leadoff spot yet, despite bounceback campaigns from Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Hopefully, they can see what I see in Happ: Someone who has just been very unlucky. Happ ranks in the 60th percentile or better in average exit velocity, max exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and expected wOBA. He has just a .438 average and .625 slugging percentage on batted balls hit over 95 mph, compared to .489/.978 for the league as a whole. If Happ has been dropped, he'd be a high priority for me -- and I wouldn't be ready to drop him yet.
Nine walks in 10 innings to start the season. I know, I know, same old Robbie Ray. Maybe spring was just a mirage -- it certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been fooled by Ray. However, it's worth remembering that his ramp up for the season was derailed by an elbow bruise suffered during an accident in his home, but he still has the added velocity he showed in the spring. That doesn't matter much if he can't throw strikes, obviously, but I'd like to give him a few more starts to see if he can right the ship before I write Ray off. For as bad as his 2020 was, you'd take his 4.34 ERA with 235 strikeouts from 2019, especially if he's out there on the wire.
White Sox 1B Andrew Vaughn
The start of Vaughn's career has not gone as hoped, and not just because he's hitting .179. The White Sox just haven't trusted him as an everyday player, which makes sense from a defensive standpoint but which isn't great for his development. He needs to heat up rather quickly to avoid being sent down with minor-league seasons starting up in May, but it'd be nice if they would give him some extended run, too. There's a chicken-and-egg component to that -- he'll play more if he hits more, I'm sure -- but it's still worth betting on the upside here.
Alright, this one might just be a Chris Towers special, as enthusiasm for Posey has understandably diminished as he has no extra-base hits since opening the season with homers in consecutive games. Those are also his only two RBI on the season. Same old punchless Posey? Maybe, but his batted-ball indicators do point to a legitimate improvement in his skill set -- higher average exit velocity, higher pull rate, namely. There aren't many catchers you can feel great about, and Posey isn't among the group that you can. But if he becomes available in one of my leagues, there's a pretty good chance I've got room for him in one of my two-catcher leagues.
Rockies OF Garrett Hampson
Hampson continues to be a confounding player, but I'm not sure there's much reason to be jumping ship if you've got him. He won't have much value in a points league, so I don't begrudge anyone who does part ways with him, but he's still a must-roster player in all category-based leagues. He's stuck in a slump -- no steals while hitting .194 in his last nine games -- but he's still mostly hitting at the top of the lineup for the Rockies, whose offense probably can't continue to struggle this much.
Gimenez's early-season playing time has been frustrating -- he's started just 10 of 15 games, and has hit ninth in seven of those starts -- and he's another player I wouldn't really be opposed to dropping in a shallower league. However, there are reasons to think he's going to force Cleveland's hand at some point. Gimenez sports a solid 44% hard-hit rate, including a somewhat surprising 110.2 mph max exit velocity -- in the 79th percentile among all hitters in 2021. He's shown surprising pop early on, and it may not be a fluke. I'm not penciling him in for 20 homers or anything, but he's earned a longer look, given that he also brings speed to the table.
It's certainly a lot easier to make the case for hanging on to DeJong (or adding him) after his two-homer game Monday, but there have actually been promising signs even without including the two homers. He's struggled with consistency with his swing -- a 33.3% strikeout rate is good proof of that -- but he's hitting the ball hard when he hits it in the air, ranking 36th out of 134 qualified hitters in average flyball/line drive exit velocity at 96.4 mph. DeJong has been patient at the plate and isn't chasing pitches out of the zone much, so if he can cut down on the strikeouts, he could re-emerge as a viable Fantasy option.
Castro has so far flopped after impressing toward the end of the 2020 season, with no homers and an ugly .213 average, so it makes sense that his roster percentage is dropping. And there's no obvious number you can point to that says he's gotten particularly unlucky -- his xwOBA is higher than his actual wOBA, for example, but at just .299, it's nothing to get excited about. But Castro continues to intrigue me because I think there could be big-time potential lying dormant just under the surface, which you can see a bit of in his 115.4 max exit velocity, which ranks in the 98th percentile this season. Add in decent speed and I think there could be 25-homer, 10-steal potential here, still. In a deeper league, I'd still like to stash him.
I may never be able to quit Keller, who has once again gotten off to an awful start to the season, allowing 11 earned runs in 11.1 innings, with an alarmingly high walk rate (14.0%). This one is more of a leap of faith than most of the other ones here, and given the high number of intriguing starters who have already emerged on waivers, Keller is not a priority at all. But, if I've got a roster to play with, I'd like to give him a few more starts to see if he can find it. There's still so much talent here.