This week we're going deep, looking mainly for guys who are owned in fewer than 20 percent of leagues. Deep mixed leaguers and AL- and NL-only owners should be considering all six of the following options.
Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks -- Roberts is a multi-position, multiuse, low-risk, high-upside guy. In other words, a perfect guy to take a shot on while we can still call it the early season. He's off to a quick start this year, hitting .378/.455/.757 with four homers, 11 RBIs and a pair of steals. Manager Kirk Gibson said Roberts has earned himself some playing time, and that could happen at one of four positions. Melvin Mora isn't much of a roadblock at third base. Roberts is already outfield-eligible, and can also play short and second.
Danny Espinosa, Nationals -- The 24-year-old is tied for second in the National League with 15 RBIs. The rookie second baseman also has two homers, three doubles and two triples, and has bullied his way to the top of manager Jim Riggleman's lineup. Right now, he's aided by a .325 BABIP, and the only way he remains this successful is if he improves a line-drive rate that sits at 14.6 percent. Still, he's going to start every day and should have plenty of opportunity to score, hitting in front of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. There's also hope that he'll run more now that he's hitting leadoff regularly; he did swipe 25 bags between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
Jeff Francis, Royals -- Look, there's nothing fancy about Francis. He's not going to light up a radar gun. He's not going to strike out a ton of guys. And with the Royals offense supporting him, he's probably not going to rack up the wins. What Francis will do is keep the ball on the ground and out of the seats. His current xFIP sits at a cool 3.33 after posting a 3.79 last season. One thing to watch out for is his upcoming schedule, as his next two opponents are the Rangers in Texas (a team whose free-swinging ways he may not be able to take advantage of) and the upstart Indians. But he's a nice guy to have around for owners in daily leagues.
Tyson Ross, Athletics -- With Dallas Braden headed to the disabled list, Ross fills the gap in Oakland's rotation. He surprised everyone by making the team last year out of spring training and pitched respectably before being sent down. His two red flags are command and health. But his fastball and slider are plus pitches that make him a nice bet to pile up strikeouts as long as he can control his heater, evidenced by a 9.6 swinging strike percentage in 44.1 major league innings. He also has a ground-ball rate north of 50 percent in his short tenure with the A's. We know that he'll get at least two starts with Braden out, one against the Mariners and the other against the Rangers, a team that, unlike Francis, he can exploit with his power arsenal.
Ty Wigginton, Rockies -- Wigginton is another guy on the Schadenfreude Express, as the demotion of Ian Stewart to Triple-A opens the door for Wiggy to get more playing time at third base. He's not going to help much in rates, but when given the opportunity, he has proven himself a lock for 20 to 25 homers. In most leagues, he has eligibility at first, second and third, making him one of the most versatile fantasy players around. Second and third base remain shallow, and owners in deep leagues that employ middle and corner infield as positions should be all over Wigginton.
Garrett Jones, Pirates -- If you can put up with the vagaries of Clint Hurdle, Jones, a guy with eligibility at first and in the outfield, is worth a look. He has started five of the last six games, and is 7 for 15 with a pair of homers in that stretch. There's really no reason why he can't earn more playing time, considering he's splitting starts in right field with Matt Diaz, a guy who is sporting a .616 OPS this season. Jones is also good for about 10 steals as long as he gets the ABs. Once he distances himself from Diaz, something that almost certainly will happen, it's safe to expect about 20 homers from Jones. With dual-eligibility, he should be able to find a spot on a roster in daily transaction leagues.
Let me know what you think on Twitter, @MBeller.
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