The editors would like me to write a fantasy drops column this year, and we’ll roll it out to you every couple of weeks. But let’s establish some ground rules first.
One size never fits all with this stuff. What might be right for you might not be right for some. Season to taste. Outside advice is worth considering, but it’s just a suggestion. At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Make the best decision you can.
In some leagues, you might be able to trade some of these drops. In other pools, that could be difficult or perhaps impossible. You know your league better than an outsider could.
OK, let’s get to it.
Drops to consider
Patrick Wisdom, IF, Cubs
It’s not ground-shaking news when a player such as Wisdom has a boom period in April and a slump in May. He’s a power-hitting, high-strikeout player, the very definition of a volatile roto asset. But the magnitude of Wisdom’s May swoon should be noted — he’s slashing .163/.293/.327 with just two homers and a whopping 29 strikeouts. Now that Christopher Morel has established himself, Wisdom is not guaranteed to start every day. In fact, Wisdom has started in only nine of 16 games for Chicago, and sometimes he slots as low as seventh or eighth in the lineup.
I don’t mind going for a pop-only player who hurts me in average, but I need something close to full-time playing time. Wisdom no longer offers that.
James Outman, OF, Dodgers
At first glance, Outman looks like one of the roto winners for 2023. He was cheap in March drafts, and thus far, he has returned nine homers, five steals and an acceptable .245/.333/.497 slash. And the Dodgers still have a destination offense, even if it’s not quite the thumpers we’ve seen in previous years.
Alas, Outman has hit the skids in May, with a .179/.273/.328 cratering. With that, the Dodgers don’t view him as an automatic starter — serial tinkerer Dave Roberts has rested Outman four times in the past two weeks. And the batted-ball data doesn’t validate Outman, either. Statcast says he should have a .214 average and a .388 slugging percentage, steep drops from his current numbers. Outman’s April was a dream, but there’s legitimate pumpkin risk here.
Taylor Ward, OF, Angels
This feels like an obvious call that perhaps most of you don’t need to read, but I note that Ward is still rostered in 61% of Yahoo leagues, so we’ll push him into the column.
Ward’s basic stats make the case for the cut — .226/.300/.322 slash, just four homers and one steal. But there’s another problem for Ward these days: Mickey Moniak. Ward and Moniak are essentially in a quasi-platoon, with Ward getting the shorter side of the time share. That’s an automatic pink slip if you’re trying to navigate a mixed league.
Ward isn’t doing himself any favors at the dish, rolling up 13 strikeouts against zero walks over the past 16 days. Perhaps the Angels will accept that he’s closer to a fourth outfielder than he is someone you can play on a daily basis.
Taj Bradley, Rays
I didn’t land any Bradley shares in the spring, and I’ll openly admit my FOMO about that. He’s a rated prospect, and his swing-and-miss stuff has flashed in the majors. No, a 4.44 ERA doesn’t pay the rent, but he has a 1.15 WHIP and 34 strikeouts against just four walks. Perhaps that ERA is a stone fluke and is destined to come down.
That all established, the Rays handle Bradley carefully. He has yet to work past 5 1/3 innings in any start, which is a dangerous game if you’re chasing wins. Miraculously, Bradley won his first three starts anyway, but that’s a tight window to hit. Tampa Bay routinely goes to the hook when Bradley hits the mid-80s in pitches; his high for the year is a modest 86. Later in the season, we’ll likely hear about a possible innings ceiling for Bradley.
The prudent move with any potential cut, especially if he has some roto respect around your league, is to consider a trade. Bradley’s pedigree and secondary stats could be attractive to one of your rivals. But if you’re in a shallower format, and Bradley looks like the most cuttable member of your bench, I’ll sign off on your picking up whichever player you deem necessary at the moment. In those shallower pools, often the waiver wire stands in as your trade partner.
Bradley is listed fourth in this column for a reason — he’s more of a “consider the downside” player than someone I’m pounding the cutting table over. Work those trade circles first.