Priority fantasy baseball pickups to fix your early-season problems

Andy Behrens
·6-min read

If you have fantasy problems, we've got solutions. Whether you need speed, power, pitching or a little bit of everything, we're here for you. All options discussed below are available in a majority of Yahoo leagues.

Let's begin with a leadoff man who's been raking since opening day ...

Cedric Mullins, OF, Baltimore Orioles (22% rostered)

Mullins has been scorching-hot to open the season, going 9-for-13 in the Boston series with a 5-for-5 performance included. He's hit safely in each of his first six games and he launched this bomb against Jameson Taillon on Wednesday:

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

Over the past three seasons, Mullins had slashed just .225/.290/.342 at the big league level, doing little to earn the trust of fantasy managers. But he's scrapped the idea of switch-hitting in favor of a lefty-only approach and the early returns are clearly promising. Mullins swiped 30-plus bags in two different minor league seasons and he's had double-digit power at every stop. He's leading off for the O's at the moment.

If you're looking for runs and steals, this is your guy.

Jonathan India, 2B/3B, Cincinnati Reds (44%)

It brings us no pleasure to report that India remains severely under-rostered, despite being hyped and re-hyped. Like Mullins, he's hit safely in every game thus far. India has already driven in 10 runs for the Reds, going 10-for-21 over his first six games. He picked up second base eligibility this week when he made his fifth start at the position on Tuesday. India has hit 17 home runs and stole 17 bases over 165 career minor league games, displaying on-base skills along the way. After a stellar spring for Cincy (.313/.441/.604), he forced his way into the team's early-season plans. His positional flexibility is a nice bonus, though his bat should play at any spot in a fantasy lineup.

Michael A. Taylor, OF, Kansas City Royals (40%)

Taylor's flaws are well-established and obviously shouldn't be ignored. He's 30 years old and he hit just .237/.291/.395 over seven years in Washington. He's not much of a walker and there's a fair amount of swing-and-miss in his game. We're not necessarily talking about a high-floor player here.

But we should also note that Taylor has both a 19-homer season and a 24-steal season on his MLB resume, so there's power/speed upside here. He's been an everyday player for KC thus far, opening with a 7-for-16 binge, including a pair of homers — and just for the record, the bombs have not been cheap:

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

We know he's gonna cool off (perhaps soon), but he's still capable of going 20/20 this year, assuming good health.

Justin Upton, OF, Los Angeles Angels (13%)

Upton outproduced pretty much everyone throughout the spring, slashing .357/.400/.738 with four home runs, four doubles, and a pair of steals. He's only two seasons removed from a 30-homer campaign and the man is hitting fifth or sixth in a potent Angels' lineup. It may feel as if Upton is ancient, but that's simply because he arrived in the bigs at 19. He's still only 33 years old, so there's no reason to think he's cooked. Upton got out to a brutal start in 2020 (which should be forgivable), but he was quietly terrific in the season's final month, hitting .284/.368/.567 with five homers in September. If you're shopping for a power boost, give him a look.

Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Detroit Tigers (9%)

If it's beginning to seem as if we're trying to wreck your team batting average in this feature ... well, OK, that's a fair criticism. Schoop is just 3-for-20 as of this writing and he's only a .258-hitter for his career. But he offers significant pop at a tricky position, having hit eight homers last year and 20-plus in each of the previous four seasons. Schoop did his best work back in 2017, producing a 92-32-105-.293 campaign for Baltimore. He's picking up starts at first base this year, so he'll have multi-position eligibility very soon.

Drew Smyly, SP, Atlanta Braves (43%)

Smyly should be a very easy sell: He's a National League starter supported by an outstanding lineup who's struck out 50 batters over his last 32.1 innings. Over the past two seasons, he's actually gained a couple ticks in velocity. If there's another guy in your free agent pool who can make Juan Soto look like this ...

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

... then by all means, go add him, too.

Smyly's first appearance this year was plenty good, as he whiffed eight Nats over 6.0 innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and two earned runs. He'll produce plenty of similar stat lines throughout the year. He's more than a streamer.

Carlos Rodon, SP, Chicago White Sox (44%)

Whatever you felt you needed to see from Rodon in his first outing of 2021, he gave it to you. In fact, he exceeded any reasonable expectation, striking out nine and allowing just two hits and no runs over 5.0 frames. He touched 98 on the radar gun and his slider was vicious:

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.

He's also mixing in a curve to complement the fastball-slider-change arsenal. When a pitcher with tremendous raw stuff finds a new pitch, you should always care. Add him ahead of Sunday's start against the Royals.

Nick Wittgren, RP, Cleveland Indians (23%)

These next two adds are perfectly straightforward, as we're simply chasing saves. Wittgren shut the door on the Royals with a K-less inning on Wednesday while James Karinchak pitched the seventh. It's not as if Wittgren is an overpowering late-game flamethrower, but he's good enough to hold the closing gig for Cleveland. Add wherever you need relief assistance.

Ian Kennedy, RP, Texas Rangers (27%)

Kennedy is just a year removed from a 30-save season, he's coming off a terrific spring (6.2 IP, 0 H, 8 Ks) and he earned saves in back-to-back games this week. Sure, he's pitching for a team that's not likely to pile up wins, but he's a closer with job certainty. There aren't too many of those available.