It would be nice to have this player, but only if you can confidently say you won't regret dropping that other player. That's been the unspoken caveat for every waiver wire recommendation all season long.
But we've reached the point in the season when it no longer applies: the end. One week to go. One more lineup to set. Such a scenario renders all caveats moot. The only rule is to win.
So do whatever it takes. Drop anybody who isn't of immediate use. Pick up anybody who is -- not just for you but your opponent, too. Once you've mapped out your own path to success, you should do what you can to block his.
Normally, you'd resist such short-sightedness. The season is too long to sell out tomorrow for today. But there is not tomorrow. There's only today. Make it count.
These six players remain highly available in CBS Sports leagues but could play a major role in determining who wins yours.
Michael King RP
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #34 • Age: 28
This Michael King pickup has been a long time coming. Considered by many to be the Yankees' top reliever the past two years, the right-hander began his transition to the starting rotation in late August, and it was going well enough. His performance was holding steady. He wasn't losing velocity the way so many relievers do when stretched over multiple innings. The only issue was that his outings were short, his transition progressing too gradually for him to be of much use in Fantasy. When the restrains finally came off in his last start Wednesday against the Blue Jays, the results were nothing short of astounding: seven innings, one run, no walks, 13 strikeouts. And wouldn't you know he lines up for two starts right away? With a 1.40 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 13.7 K/9 in his past five starts and two pitches (sweeper and changeup) capable of generating whiffs at better than a 40 percent rate, King is peaking at just the right time.
PHI Philadelphia • #61 • Age: 26
Cristopher Sanchez's seven-inning gem Sunday against the Mets marked the second time in three starts that he recorded 10 strikeouts, which shows that the first time (against the Braves, actually) wasn't a fluke. But just as important is the fact he lasted seven innings. There was talk after the first 10-strikeout effort that he would share his starts with Michael Lorenzen moving forward, which might limit him to four innings at a time, and indeed, he lasted only four innings in the one start in between the two 10-strikeout efforts. But he also wasn't pitching so well in that one, which is just as plausible of an explanation for his early removal. Sunday's outing would seem to confirm it, in fact. If there are no artificial limitations on his workload, why shouldn't we start Sanchez against the Mets again next time out? He's an elite strike-thrower and ground-ball generator who's showing newfound swing-and-miss ability with a wipeout changeup.
Reese Olson SP
DET Detroit • #45 • Age: 24
Normally, a rookie pitcher would see his performance slip and his outings shorten as the season draws to a close, but Reese Olson seems to have saved his best for last. After making it six innings in only three of his first 16 outings, he has now done so in four straight, allowing just two hits in each of his last three. While earlier in the year, he was mostly looking to overpower hitters with his slider -- a pitch that generates its share of whiffs, to be sure -- he's taken to throwing his changeup more lately and is having more success on balls in play as a result. Whether it's a tweak that can sustain him for the long haul remains to be seen, but we're not so interested in the long haul right now. We're interested in his matchups next week against the Royals and Guardians, which couldn't be more favorable and couldn't be coming at a better time.
Evan Carter LF
TEX Texas • #32 • Age: 21
My concern when the Rangers promoted Evan Carter in early September was that the skinny 21-year-old was still under-developed physically and wouldn't deliver the sort of power necessary to be an impact Fantasy player. All he's done since then is perform like the eighth-best outfielder in points leagues, with a point-per-game average comparable to Cody Bellinger's full-season stat line. Carter's home run Sunday was his fourth in just 54 plate appearances, and he has three steals to go along with them. To be fair, the exit velocity readings have been underwhelming, but when a prospect of his caliber makes an impact this immediate, it's best to take it seriously. If nothing else, his on-base skills have been exactly as advertised, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better outfield pickup for the final week of the season.
TB Tampa Bay • #1 • Age: 20
The Rays' promotion of 20-year-old phenom Junior Caminero this weekend seemed like it would be too little, too late for Fantasy Baseball purposes -- and it may still be. But there have been new developments on the playing-time front during that short time. Second baseman Brandon Lowe has a fractured knee cap, and third baseman Isaac Paredes has shifted over to take his spot. Third base is Caminero's primary position, and now it's unaccounted for. Of course, both of his starts so far have come at DH, but the point is that there's no longer such a lineup crunch. It doesn't change the fact that the Rays have only five games this week, but Caminero immediately turned heads with a 112 mph single for his first major-league hit Saturday. Not every player is capable of hitting the ball that hard. If you're in need of a replacement for an injured Nolan Arenado, Caminero makes for a fun one.
SD San Diego • #12 • Age: 25
If you play in a one-catcher league consisting of 12 teams or fewer, chances are you don't need help at that position right now. But in anything that requires you to go a little bit deeper, Luis Campusano could be a godsend. The 24-year-old took over as the Padres' primary option behind the plate once Gary Sanchez went down with a fractured wrist Sept. 6 and has hit .346 (18 for 52) with two home runs and an .882 OPS in that role, striking out at just a 9.1 percent clip. His offensive prowess was never in questions in the minor leagues, where he hit .300 with an .842 OPS across six seasons, but he stalled out at Triple-A because of concerns about his defense. Those concerns remain, but the Padres don't really have a choice anymore. Campusano is getting his opportunity and making the most of it.