Fantasy Baseball 2021: Best Sleepers to Pick Up for MLB Week 1

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

Fantasy Baseball 2021: Best Sleepers to Pick Up for MLB Week 1

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Don't believe all that holiday hype you hear in December.

    This is truly the most wonderful time of the year.

    Baseball is back, and with the arrival of the 2021 MLB season comes an opportunity to snag a championship (and, more importantly, bragging rights) in your fantasy baseball league.

    With your rosters already assembled, now is the time to start scanning the waiver wire for those sneaky-good pickups that can push your team to the top. We're here to help with a look at three worthwhile sleepers—available in 50-plus percent of Yahoo leagues, per FantasyPros—to target for Week 1.

Bobby Dalbec, 1B, Boston Red Sox (47 Percent Rostered)

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Those who didn't bail on fantasy baseball when the 2020 NFL season kicked off probably already had Bobby Dalbec on the radar. For those who did, here's a quick refresher.

    The 6'4" first baseman homered in his MLB debut—his first big league hit—and later clubbed homers in five straight games. By season's end, he had launched eight round-trippers in just 80 at-bats across 23 games. He also batted .263 with a .359 on-base percentage.

    This spring, it's been more of the same for the 25-year-old slugger. Entering Tuesday, he ranked third among all players with seven home runs, and this time he paired that power with a .304 average and .385 on-base percentage. His 16 RBI tied for third overall, and he tied for the league lead with 15 runs scored.

    He is slated to start out in the ninth slot, which isn't great for his run-producing potential, but he has the power to produce from anywhere in the lineup. Add him for Week 1, and you might be reaping the rewards all season.

Nick Senzel, OF, Cincinnati Reds (43 Percent Rostered)

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    A healthy Nick Senzel could be a fantasy juggernaut. We just can't say that for certain, because he's been so infrequently seen at full strength.

    Illness and injuries limited him to 127 games the past two seasons combined, but even in this shortened sample he has been able to showcase his power-speed upside. He already has 14 homers and 16 steals on the back of his baseball card. Prorated to a per-162-game average, that's 18 long balls and 20 thefts.

    While he has had to work around a groin strain this spring—injuries are by far his biggest concern—it hasn't derailed his production. In fact, the former top-five prospect has never looked better. Through Monday, he's hitting .333 with a .422 on-base percentage. Two of his four extra-base hits are home runs, and he has one stolen base under his belt.

    If your fantasy league's first week runs through April 11, Senzel will draw the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Arizona Diamondbacks. Other than the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, there should be a boatload of hittable pitchers for Senzel to exploit.

Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies (29 Percent Rostered)

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Yes, this might be the weakest Colorado Rockies lineup in recent memory—maybe the least threatening they've ever fielded.

    No, that doesn't mean you should discount the fantasy production of some of the players in it. Not when they play in the stat-boosting confines of Coors Field, at least.

    Raimel Tapia quietly broke out as a fantasy contributor in 2020, when he batted .321 (.369 on-base percentage) and swiped eight bags (on 10 attempts) in just 51 games. Given the league-wide squeeze on stolen bases, it's surprising he hasn't generated more fantasy interest. If his wheels get rolling out of the gate, that won't be the case for much longer.

    Tapia, who has eyes on a batting title, should lead off for a Rockies team slated to play its first seven games and 15 of its first 21 contests at Coors. That could get him off on the right track, which might mean this is the first and last opportunity to add a bargain contributor of runs and batting average, if not more.