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Times are tough when everyone is hurt, and tough times make for tough decisions.

The toughest of all is who to drop. So much of our content is geared toward adding players that rarely do we address the other side of the coin, for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is that Fantasy Baseball is a game without a prevailing format, and the standard for dropping a player varies greatly from format to format. I've always taken an above-all-do-no-harm approach to this job, and I could do great harm by broadly recommending to drop a player who I'd never dream of dropping in your particular format.

You see where I'm coming from?

Having said that, I'm going to attempt to have the drop conversation here, in part because I'm tired of being a coward but in larger part because we find ourselves in unusual circumstances right now. The number of integral players on the IL is unlike I've ever seen before, which makes for a high likelihood that you've used up your IL space already and are having to stash some of those injured players on your bench. Even if you're one of the lucky ones who's mostly still healthy, you've probably struggled to fit that latest starting pitcher pickup on your roster. Like injuries, there have been many more of those than usual.

The goal here is to give you some breathing room by inviting you to drop certain players who you may be reluctant to drop, judging by CBS roster rates. That's not to say that they're must-drop or without value, but it is to say ... well, tough times make for tough decisions.

Naturally, this discussion is geared toward shallower leagues, meaning those where fewer than 300 players are rostered. Go much deeper than that and basically anyone who's widely rostered is in fact must-roster, making the discussion over who to drop far less interesting (or difficult). The shallow-league context mostly eliminates Rotisserie leagues, making this more of a Head-to-Head conversation and especially Head-to-Head points, where clearer distinctions can be drawn. You'll notice that a major determinant for me is impact. A player who's merely useful isn't good enough for shallower leagues.

Notice also that all but two of the players featured here are rostered in more than 70 percent of leagues. Players rostered in less than that are pretty obviously expendable, I would say.

Catcher
ATL Atlanta • #12 • Age: 29
Rostered
85%
2023 Stats
AVG
.251
HR
21
OPS
.844
AB
370
BB
49
K
98
Travis d'Arnaud's success in Sean Murphy's absence more or less ensures a timeshare between the two when Murphy returns, which could allow Murphy to be a top-10 catcher still but probably not top five. By now, you may have already landed on a quality replacement in one-catcher leagues, in which case continuing to stash him hardly seems worth the bother.
ARI Arizona • #14 • Age: 24
Rostered
64%
2024 Stats
AVG
.241
HR
0
OPS
.662
AB
87
BB
12
K
12
Gabriel Moreno's 64 percent roster rate doesn't seem so high in a vacuum, but Bo Naylor (46 percent) and Mitch Garver (40 percent) have been dropped in far more leagues and would seem to have higher ceilings still. None of them is doing you much good right now anyway.
First base
CHC Chi. Cubs • #29 • Age: 26
Rostered
86%
2024 Stats
AVG
.254
HR
6
RBI
18
R
17
BB
10
K
44
I still think we'll like where Michael Busch's home run total winds up, but his strikeout-to-walk ratio takes him out of the running for Head-to-Head points leagues, particularly if he's going to be as streaky as he's been so far.
CIN Cincinnati • #33 • Age: 24
Rostered
81%
2024 Stats
AVG
.195
HR
2
OPS
.519
AB
113
BB
3
K
34
Here's another player whose poor plate discipline gives him little margin for error in points leagues, and the error has been continual for Christian Encarnacion-Strand so far. If he gets hot (and I suspect he will at some point), you'll have another shot in such leagues, but there are better uses of a bench spot right now.
Second base
STL St. Louis • #33 • Age: 27
Rostered
76%
2024 Stats
AVG
.216
HR
3
RBI
18
R
14
BB
11
K
20
I'm a little confused by the high roster rate for this one, if I'm being honest. I guess it's because Brendan Donovan bats leadoff, but there's little power or speed to speak of, which necessitates him being a Luis Arraez-caliber hitter. He is not.
MIN Minnesota • #47 • Age: 25
Rostered
72%
2024 Stats
AVG
.204
HR
7
RBI
14
R
16
BB
18
K
44
Though admittedly a difficult player to size up, Edouard Julien needs to have a significant home run total to overcome a 33.3 percent strikeout rate. He's been pretty fringy even while delivering on the home runs so far, and they're likely to slow down anyway given his opposite-field approach.
Third base
PIT Pittsburgh • #13 • Age: 27
Rostered
87%
2024 Stats
AVG
.248
HR
1
SB
0
RBI
11
R
15
AB
125
The great hope for Ke'Bryan Hayes was that he had finally learned to elevate the ball in the second half last year, but with his ground-ball rate now at a three-year high, he's back to his usual blah production.
SF San Francisco • #26 • Age: 31
Rostered
70%
2024 Stats
AVG
.209
HR
4
RBI
14
R
17
AB
139
K
41
Matt Chapman hasn't been a viable shallow-league option in three years, and it was always a long shot that going to San Francisco would change that. Why anyone would continue to cling to the possibility is beyond me.
Shortstop
SD San Diego • #3 • Age: 21
Rostered
87%
2024 Stats
AVG
.283
HR
2
SB
4
RBI
16
R
16
OPS
.714
Jackson Merrill has been one of the more useful rookie hitters so far and could theoretically find another gear midseason, but his power and speed contributions put him a little shy of three-outfielder-league use, particularly while he's batting in the lower third of the Padres lineup.
COL Colorado • #14 • Age: 22
Rostered
68%
AVG
.258
HR
3
RBI
12
R
13
SB
3
AB
132
Even while at home, Ezequiel Tovar isn't productive enough to warrant consideration in leagues with no extra middle infield spot to fill. He's one of the least rostered players in this article but still seems too rostered considering, with Vaughn Grissom being just one example of a middle infielder with more to offer.
Outfield
ARI Arizona • #12 • Age: 30
Rostered
97%
2024 Stats
AVG
.241
HR
5
RBI
22
R
19
OPS
.682
AB
133
This seems like a case of a good first week exaggerating a player's value, and it should be fairly obvious by now that Lourdes Gurriel isn't turning over a new leaf at age 30. He's a serviceable starter in three-outfielder leagues, but one you should always be looking to upgrade.
SD San Diego • #10 • Age: 31
Rostered
93%
2024 Stats
AVG
.341
HR
5
RBI
25
R
21
BB
18
K
21
There's no shame in turning to Jurickson Profar as a hot-hand play, but if a more permanent solution becomes available, you shouldn't hesitate to pull the plug on a player whose long career has amounted to a .242 batting average and .715 OPS.
CHW Chi. White Sox • #74 • Age: 27
Rostered
85%
AVG
.220
HR
4
RBI
11
R
10
OPS
.656
AB
82
Though I'm listing him among the outfielders, Eloy Jimenez is DH-only, which is a big part of what makes him dispensable in shallower leagues. Like Lourdes Gurriel, he might be serviceable enough there in the long run, but particularly in the White Sox lineup, there's no high-end outcome available to him.
NYY N.Y. Yankees • #27 • Age: 34
Rostered
84%
AVG
.226
HR
6
RBI
18
R
15
AB
115
K
42
We're now in Year 3 of Giancarlo Stanton continuing to hit the ball ridiculously hard but having little to show for it, save for the occasional home run. Any reason to think it'll change?
MIN Minnesota • #25 • Age: 30
Rostered
83%
2024 Stats
AVG
.250
HR
1
SB
2
AB
92
BB
3
K
32
Byron Buxton has shown no inclination to run, is striking out at a 32 percent rate, and is batting .220 since the start of 2022. Oh, and he's on the IL right now with knee inflammation, so what are we even doing here?
DET Detroit • #30 • Age: 26
Rostered
71%
2024 Stats
AVG
.260
HR
3
RBI
15
R
9
OPS
.774
AB
100
There was hope at one point that Kerry Carpenter might build off his interesting 2023, but the Tigers' decision to sit him against left-handers has put the kibosh on that. His power contributions could still be useful enough for five-outfielder leagues, but in three-outfielder leagues ... meh.
Starting pitcher
NYY N.Y. Yankees • Age: 33
Rostered
92%
2024 Stats
W-L
2-1
ERA
3.41
WHIP
1.43
INN
37
BB
20
K
35
Marcus Stroman fell short of 140 innings in both 2022 and 2023, putting together a not-terrible 3.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 during that time. He's a streamer with some name value, basically.
SF San Francisco • #45 • Age: 22
Rostered
89%
2024 Stats
W-L
2-1
ERA
3.79
WHIP
1.29
INN
38
BB
10
K
38
For all the strikeouts Kyle Harrison got in the minors, he doesn't seem to have a secondary offering suitable for the majors. Vanilla is the best we can hope for, possibly with some workload limitations along the way.
CLE Cleveland • #24 • Age: 26
Rostered
87%
2024 Stats
W-L
2-2
ERA
3.97
WHIP
1.44
INN
34
BB
21
K
30
You may be holding out hope for a rebound to 2022 numbers after an injury-plagued 2023, but neither the velocity nor the control has been at that level so far. And besides, those 2022 numbers seemed unsustainable anyway.
LAD L.A. Dodgers • #65 • Age: 35
Rostered
87%
2024 Stats
W-L
4-0
ERA
3.06
WHIP
1.55
INN
32.1
BB
24
K
18
James Paxton has more walks than strikeouts and a worse swinging-strike rate than Cal Quantrill, so Dodgers or not, this can only end badly.
SD San Diego • #34 • Age: 29
Rostered
86%
2024 Stats
W-L
3-3
ERA
4.29
WHIP
1.41
INN
42
BB
21
K
43
Our hopes for Michael King were built on a sample that's about as large as the one he has this year, during which he's been one of the most walk- and homer-prone pitchers in all of baseball.
MIL Milwaukee • #32 • Age: 29
Rostered
82%
2024 Stats
W-L
2-2
ERA
6.14
WHIP
1.34
INN
36.2
BB
10
K
39
Aaron Civale has a 6.14 ERA in seven starts with the Rays this year after having a 5.36 ERA in 10 starts with them last year, so it may be time to admit that they're not transforming him into an ace, as they have so many others. He'll still have some streamer appeal.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #72 • Age: 26
Rostered
79%
2024 Stats
W-L
3-0
ERA
1.66
WHIP
1.03
INN
38
BB
12
K
31
You may balk at the idea of dropping a pitcher with Javier Assad's ERA just as a matter of principle, but he's not at all a bat-misser, can sometimes struggle with walks, and has clearly benefited from some good home run luck so far. If you can't sell high, it's a good indication that he holds no value in your league.
ARI Arizona • #32 • Age: 25
Rostered
72%
2024 Stats
W-L
1-2
ERA
4.61
WHIP
1.20
INN
41
BB
6
K
42
It's true that Brandon Pfaadt found more success when he de-emphasized his fastball in the second half last year, but the more accurate way to put it is that he went from "bad" to "not bad." And "not bad" is not quite good enough for the kind of leagues we're talking about here.