Entering the 2017 season, it was easy to point to Washington Nationals outfielder Adam Eaton as a fantasy sleeper after an offseason trade from the Chicago White Sox. But a solid start (.297, 13 RBI, 24 runs scored, three stolen bases, .854 OPS) was derailed by a torn left ACL.
At this point the Nationals are being very cautious with Eaton, with a report he’s not close to playing in a spring training game. His status for Opening Day has to be in doubt until further notice. But a few lost games in late-March or early-April should not diminish Eaton’s overall fantasy value for 2018, as long as he’s fully healthy when he does take the field.
Over his three seasons with the Chicago White Sox (2014-2016), Eaton posted a .290/.362/.422 slash-line with averages of 88 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, 50 RBI, 28 doubles, nine triples and 10 home runs per season. He hit 14 home runs with more than 50 RBI and over 90 runs scored in both 2015 and 2016.
Eaton is projected to hit leadoff for the Nationals, with Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman following him in the lineup. Murphy is considered unlikely for Opening Day right now, as he recovers from microfracture surgery on his right knee, but Washington will not struggle to score runs.
Assuming a 12-team league, Eaton’s current ADP puts him in the 13th round (via Fantasy Pros.com) and as the 41st outfielder off the board. That’s No. 4 outfielder territory, with above-average production in three categories (average, runs scored and steals) and solid production in two more (home runs, RBI).
Health will remain a concern for Eaton, and it will keep a ceiling on his average draft position as fantasy owners forget about him after almost a full season out. But when going for value late in a draft or auction, he’s an easy sleeper to target in mixed leagues.
Adam Eaton 2018 Projection: .290/.365/.425, 11 home runs, 52 RBI, 90 runs scored, 20 stolen bases