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Hunting for Dozier

Hunter Dozier

Hunter Dozier

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(Players rostered in under 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Note: Percentages are from the morning of Thursday, April 21

Hunter Dozier 1B/3B/OF, Royals (Yahoo: 13 percent rostered)

Dozier has mostly been a disaster the previous two seasons following his breakout 2019 campaign. He’s shown some early signs of a bounce-back in 2022, though. The 30-year-old is 7-for-19 with two home runs and a triple over his last five games, and even more encouraging has been his batted ball data. Dozier ranks in the 88th percentile in hard-hit rate and 93rd percentile in barrel rate, with an xSLG that sits at a robust .606. He’s eligible at multiple positions and is capable of providing a jolt of power if you’re in need of some in deeper formats.

Dylan Bundy SP, Twins (Yahoo: 23 percent rostered)

The Twins rolled the dice on Bundy on a one-year, $5 million deal over the offseason even as he was coming off a 2021 season which saw him post a 6.06 ERA for the Angels. The early returns are looking promising, as Bundy has given up just one run in his first two outings, yielding only six hits and one walk while fanning eight over 10 1/3 innings of work. Bundy’s fastball struggles to crack 90 mph these days, but his key thus far has been stealing first-pitch strikes and then getting batters to chase, as his chase rate in the 91st percentile can attest. There’s still volatility here in large part because of his past home run issues, but hopefully he can be closer to the 2020 version.

Patrick Wisdom 1B/3B/OF, Cubs (Yahoo: 44 percent rostered)

Wisdom showed last season in his out-of-nowhere rookie campaign that he can hit for plenty of power when he’s hot. Well, he’s starting to heat up, having gone deep in back-to-back games and picked up eight hits and seven RBI over his previous five contests. Wisdom swings and misses with the best of them (or worst of them?) with a 40.8 percent strikeout rate last year and a 37.5 percent rate so far this year. He tends to hit the ball hard when he does make contact, though, boasting a 50 percent hard-hit rate and barrel rate in the 96th percentile.

Miles Mikolas SP, Cardinals (Yahoo: 36 percent rostered)

Mikolas has had a terrible time with injuries the last couple seasons, but he had his first fully healthy offseason in a while and it’s starting to show in his results. After struggling against the Pirates in his first outing, he’s now yielded just one run with a 12/1 K/BB ratio over 11 2/3 frames in his last two trips to the hill. The right-hander also displayed his best velocity to date on Wednesday versus the Marlins, sitting comfortably in the 93-96 mph range. Mikolas typically isn’t going to miss a lot of bats, but he has excellent control and is backed by an elite Cardinals defense.

Josh Staumont RP, Royals (Yahoo: 29 percent rostered)

It was Scott Barlow picking up the save for the Royals on Wednesday after Staumont took care of business in the eighth. However, Staumont was used against the heart of the Twins’ batting order, and he was the one who converted each of the team’s previous two save opportunities. There’s still some lack of clarity with roles here, but Staumont might have the edge for save chances as Barlow deals with some velocity issues. Staumont has had no such velocity problems and has also done a good job of suppressing hard contact.

Ramon Laureano OF, Athletics (Yahoo: 27 percent rostered)

Laureano is still serving the remainder of his 80-game PED suspension, but he’ll be eligible to return on May 8 and all signs point to him being activated at that time. The outfielder is currently at extended spring training but is expected to begin playing minor league games soon to knock some rust off. Laureano only had 378 plate appearances last season due to the suspension and also injury, but during that time he popped 14 home runs and stole 12 bases. He should find his way into the top or middle of Oakland’s lineup and his power and speed ability make him stashable now, if available.

Josiah Gray SP, Nationals (Yahoo: 37 percent rostered)

One of the key pieces acquired from the Dodgers in the Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade, Gray has offered a bit of a mixed bag so far during his time in the majors. He’s had a terrible time with the home run ball (21 allowed in 85 innings) and also with throwing strikes (4.2 BB/9). However, Gray also boasts a 10.0 K/9 rate and, even more impressive, a 13.5 percent swinging strike rate. For reference, among qualifiers only eight pitchers had a higher rate than that last season. After the Mets knocked him around in his first outing, Gray has allowed a total of just one run while fanning 13 over 10 1/3 frames covering his last two starts.

Nicky Lopez 2B/SS, Royals (Yahoo: 17 percent rostered)

While completely bereft of power, Lopez proved to be a useful middle infield option in fantasy leagues last season by batting an even .300 while stealing 22 bases on 23 attempts. He’s yet to attempt a stolen base in his first 10 games this season, but Lopez is sporting a healthy .367/.406/.467 batting line. The infielder has also moved up to the No. 2 spot in the Royals’ batting order the last two games after spending the first eight contests hitting ninth. You’ll need to find your power somewhere else, but Lopez can be an asset in two categories and perhaps three if he remains in the two-hole.

Deeper Dandies:

(Players rostered in under 10 percent of Yahoo leagues)

Michael Pineda SP, Tigers (Yahoo: 6 percent rostered)

Because Pineda didn’t sign with the Tigers until mid-March and then dealt with some visa issues, he was sent to the minors for a while to fine-tune things. That’s been done, and he’s now slated to make his Tigers debut on Thursday against the Yankees. Pineda hasn’t reached 150 innings since 2016 due to injury and also a PED suspension, but he’s generally been pretty effective when on the mound. Over the past three seasons with the Twins, the big righty held a 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 253/56 K/BB ratio over 282 innings.

Zack Collins C, Blue Jays (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)

Plenty loved Alejandro Kirk coming into the season and others were in Danny Jansen’s corner, so naturally it’s been Collins who has emerged as the most valuable fantasy catcher with the Blue Jays thus far. Acquired from the White Sox just prior to Opening Day, Collins has gone 8-for-15 with two home runs and two doubles over his last four games. He even moved up to the fifth spot in the Jays’ batting order in his last start (and he homered for their lone run). Collins has been an overall disappointment thus far as a former top prospect, but he should see pretty regular playing time against righties while Jansen (oblique) is out, making him a viable second fantasy catcher.

James Kaprielian SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 6 percent rostered)

Like Pineda, Kaprielian is slated to make his season debut soon, although we don’t have an exact date for him yet. The right-hander is working his way back from a shoulder issue and has made a couple rehab starts, with his next outing perhaps coming with the big club. Kaprielian had a terrible time with injuries after being taken in the first round of the 2015 Draft, but he emerged as a viable rotation piece last year with the A’s, holding a 4.07 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 123/41 K/BB ratio over 119 1/3 innings. The 28-year-old won’t be backed by much run support from the A’s offense, but he should carve out some deep league value, anyway.

Weekend Warriors:

Drew Smyly SP, Cubs (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)

Smyly never quite found his footing last year with the Braves after showing promise during the abbreviated 2020 season with the Giants. He inked a one-year deal with the Cubs over the offseason and has gone out and tossed 9 2/3 scoreless innings in his first two starts. The left-hander’s velocity hasn’t returned to his Giants levels, but he’s altered his pitch mix and obviously it’s working so far. It’s certainly too early for me to place full trust in Smyly, but with a matchup with the Pirates on the docket this weekend, I can get on board with him as a streaming option.

Tyler Anderson SP, Dodgers (Yahoo: 3 percent rostered)

Andrew Heaney was looking like he might have stumbled upon the secret sauce with the Dodgers, but unfortunate he’s now down with a shoulder injury. Entering the rotation as his replacement will be Anderson, who is coming off a quality 2021 season which saw him post a 4.53 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 134/38 K/BB ratio over 167 innings for the Pirates and Mariners. He’s allowed two runs with an 8/0 K/BB ratio over two four-inning relief appearances and will start this weekend against the Padres. Anderson looks pretty unexciting on paper, but we’ve learned that if the Dodgers see something in a pitcher, we need to pay attention.

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Sheldon Neuse 2B/3B, Athletics (Yahoo: 1 percent rostered)

Kevin Smith was the A’s third baseman hyped as a potential sleeper coming into the season, but he’s been a flop to this point. Meanwhile, Neuse has started three of the last four games at the hot corner while also garnering another five starts between second base, first base and designated hitter. The 27-year-old is sporting a .324/.395/.412 batting line and has been in the No. 2 spot in the batting order for the last two contests. Neuse is a free-swinger who could get exposed eventually, but he’s been awfully productive in the minors, which includes a .939 OPS with 27 homers and 102 RBI in his last full season there in 2019.

Andrew Velazquez SS, Angels (Yahoo: 0 percent rostered)

Velazquez has assumed everyday shortstop duties for the Angels since David Fletcher (hip) went down and has provided a steady presence defensively. He hasn’t had much production with the bat, but a healthy 94.1 mph exit velocity points to some bad luck. The 27-year-old has a couple steals for the Angels and went 34-for-37 in stolen base attempts last year between the majors and minors. Fletcher is due back soon, but Velazquez could still provide a short-term burst of speed.


Chad Kuhl SP, Rockies (Yahoo: 2 percent rostered)

Kuhl caught on with the Rockies over the offseason and has gotten off to a fine start, tossing 10 1/3 innings of one-run ball in his first two outings. That includes six shutout frames against the Phillies at Coors Field on Monday before he had to leave with a minor hip flexor injury. It sounds like Kuhl should be fine for his next start, which is slated to come this weekend in Detroit against a Tigers offense which ranks 26th in baseball with a .610 OPS.

Keegan Thompson SP/RP, Cubs (Yahoo: 9 percent rostered)

Thompson wasn’t able to capture a spot in the Cubs’ rotation even after an excellent Cactus League showing, but he’s been dynamite in relief so far in tossing 9 2/3 scoreless frames with a 10/2 K/BB ratio. The 27-year-old also posted a 3.38 ERA while fanning 55 over 53 1/3 innings last season while splitting time between relieving and starting. Thompson is stretched out enough to slide into the rotation if the Cubs want to go that route. Even in relief, he could provide some solid ratios.