Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner!
There is nothing like it. Opening Day. A day that should be a national holiday.
Thankfully, it looks like we will be able to enjoy baseball in person again. Hopefully, stadiums are back to full capacity soon. There is nothing like going to a baseball game with great company, enjoying an overpriced beverage of ones choosing, and complaining about the strike zone.
Baseball being back also means it is time to start stressing over our Fantasy Baseball lineups. Most of us will probably play the main guys we drafted and probably are not as concerned with the waiver wire week one. However, there may still be some decisions at the bottom of the lineup that owners are thinking about.
It is the first week of the Fantasy Baseball season, and this hitting planner will be used to highlight hitting targets for this opening week and throughout the season. Sit back and enjoy!
2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 1 Hitting Planner
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Week 1 Offense to Target
Los Angeles Dodgers
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Call me Captain Obvious if you would like but the Dodgers offense will be really good. This is a case of me telling Fantasy Baseball owners to "Keep It Simple Stupid." The Dodgers return the majority of an offense that scored a league-high 349 runs in 2020. They also hit for a league-high 118 HRs while sporting a team OPS of .821.
Where do they start their 2021 season? In Colorado for a four-game set against the Rockies. The Rockies are projected to finish with the 2nd worst record according to Fangraphs. Fangraphs also projects three of their starters to have an ERA north of five. The series is being held at Coors Field.
A really good offense walks into Coors Field to face a team projected to finish 67-95 with three starters projected to finish with an ERA north of five.
If you took a chance on Gavin Lux in your drafts, he could show signs of a solid return on investment early. There is some chatter within the fantasy community that he will be a top-three 2B in 2021. Chris Taylor and Edwin Rios are also great platoon options when they get their opportunities.
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I found it surprising to see the Twins at 15th in team OPS (.743) in 2020. They did deal with some injuries in 2020 that held their offense back for the shortened season.
They start off with the Brewers to open the season, which may scare some fantasy owners away because Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff are projected for great seasons. However, next week the Twins will take on the Detroit Tigers and Seattle Mariners. Detroit was last in team ERA (5.63) and Seattle finished 24th (5.05). There is a great opportunity for this lineup to start strong to open the year.
Jorge Polanco is an interesting play due to middle infield being shallow for Fantasy Baseball purposes. He could provide solid value in all formats next week.
Miguel Sano is a polarizing figure for Fantasy Baseball. There are times he can carry a fantasy team and then there are times he makes fantasy owners question their decision to draft him. I think he starts the season strong.
How about Fantasy Baseball enigma Byron Buxton? Fantasy Baseball players have been dreaming off Buxton putting it all together and staying healthy because of the talent he possesses. Look for him to give everyone a taste of what he could be if he stays healthy for a full season.
Week 1 Offense to Avoid
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I stick with the low-hanging fruit and take the team that finished last in runs (219) and team OPS (.641). It is not getting any better as they will run out a AAAA lineup for most of the season. The Pirates have the second-lowest payroll in baseball of just over $43M according to Spotrac.
Outside of Ke'Bryan Hayes and maybe Colin Moran, there is not much to get excited about with this offense. Maybe Bryan Reynolds can provide decent numbers in decent leagues. Outside of that, it is mostly dart throws at best.
They also take on the Chicago Cubs 6 times in the first week of the Fantasy Baseball schedule. The Cubs were ranked 7th in team ERA last season, and even though they lost Yu Darvish, figure to be a solid staff in 2021. The other three games come against the Cincinnati Reds, who finished 6th in team ERA in 2020.
Maybe you missed on the top catchers and chose to punt the position to play matchups on a weekly basis. Well, if one did that, do not take a shot on Jacob Stallings from the Pirates. He has a career 85 wrc+ and is projected to hit at the bottom of the lineup. Probably not looking at much in the way of fantasy production.
Kevin Newman hit .645 in Spring Training this year! While that is an eye-popping number, Newman had a 54 wrc+ in 2020. In deep leagues, Newman could be an interesting sleeper with the great spring and the hope he can return to his 2019 self, but I would wait a few weeks before trusting him in my lineup.
Plus, the start to their season is scary. They start with three against the New York Mets, move on to three against the Atlanta Braves, and finish the first week of Fantasy Baseball with three at the Los Angeles Dodgers. Starting the season against three of the best teams in all of baseball will certainly make fantasy owners cautious.
Josh Bell and Kyle Schwarber were the two big offensive acquisitions for the Nationals this past offseason. They will honestly determine the season the Nationals have. If they hit, the Nats maybe can contend. If they struggle, the Nationals could be looking at a long season. Starting off against the starting pitching that the Mets, Braves, and Dodgers have does not scream hot start to me.
Victor Robles is interesting as well. He has struggled offensively in his career but does provide nice steal upside if he can find a way on pace. However, he struggles against tough pitching, meaning he might start slow. Starlin Castro may be an interesting 2B candidate this season because of the thin position. After the tough schedule to start, he might find himself on the waiver wire which could be a nice find for a fantasy owner in a few weeks.
2021 Fantasy Baseball Hitting Planner Sleeper Option
Willi Castro, SS, Detroit Tigers
Castro's current ADP is around 249 so he was either a late-round pick or a waiver wire pickup. Castro is a steal at this price. He has done nothing but rake over the last calendar year.
2020 stats: 36 Games, 140 PAs .349/.381/.550, six home runs, 21 runs, 24 RBI, and a 150 wrc+.
2021 Spring Training: 50 PAs .319/.360/.596, three home runs, three runs, 11 RBI, and a steal.
The Tigers will probably be bad in 2021, and that will limit Castro's ability to put up great counting stats. However, he could provide a lot of value for batting average and OBP leagues. If he continues to hit like this, he will not be cheap for much longer.
Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers