Waiver Wire: Todd Helton and Chris Johnson

Let’s face it, the waiver wire is looking pretty bleak these days.  Obviously if you’re in a real shallow league of eight to ten teams, there are always guys worthy of picking up even for just a week or so.  But the deeper your league gets the worse it looks out there and as writers trying to suggest a worthwhile pick-up, it can often be difficult.  So now that I threw that caveat out there, here are two guys that probably aren’t bad enough that they could contribute as a possible fill-in for you while your guy maybe nurses a sore hamstring or is mired in some sort of multi-week slump.

Todd Helton, COL  |1B|  Ownership:  ESPN – 13.9%  Yahoo – 12.0%

Is this the end of the road for our hero?  Has Helton contributed all that he can contribute now or is that .248 BABIP going to turn around soon and push that putrid, un-Helton-like .240 average back up to respectability.  You never want to be the one left holding the bag at the end, but in this case, Helton isn’t a guy you rely on as either your primary first baseman or even your primary corner infielder so that concern has been lessened.  But if you drafted a guy like Justin Morneau or even Ike Davis, Helton might just have enough left in the tank to help you out.

It really comes down to how much you believe he can turn things around, and based on a quick look at his June numbers, it already appears that we are seeing some signs of life.  His swing percentages and contact rates all seem to jibe with the numbers he’s put up in the past.  There’s a bit of fluctuation over the years, but for the most part, very comparable.  His BB/K has been below 1.00 for the last two years but this year is the highest it’s been in two and a half seasons, and his LD% looks good as well.  And even while his GB% is a few ticks higher than it has been the last two seasons, it still measures up.  So if he’s been dealing with a little bit of bad luck to open the year, perhaps things are changing.  He’s batting .292 for the month of June right now and his BABIP has climbed up to .286.  If he can just maintain, then he makes for a solid bench player in tough times of need.  He won’t be your fantasy savior, but you’ll learn to appreciate him in the end.

Chris Johnson, HOU  |3B|  Ownership:  ESPN – 22.5%  Yahoo – 29.0%

A little more than a month ago, our own Dan Wade recommended using Johnson as a potential fill-in/injury replacement.  You know, someone that had some decent numbers but certainly not the be-all, end-all of waiver pick-ups.  At the tail end of the piece, he wrote:

“I like Johnson as a decent 3B injury replacement or platoon option at 3B, but I’d be wary of tossing him into the starting lineup and just forgetting about him. For the present, he’ll give owners a good average, a few RBI, and the potential for home runs; I’m just not sure all three of those things will be true eight weeks from now, let alone if they’ll be true in September.”

Well, here we are approximately five weeks later, so it’s worthy of a check-in, especially if you’re hurting at third or the corner infield spot.  When Dan brought his name up, Johnson was coming off of a decent first month of the season, batting .279 with no home runs and 10 RBI, and was just starting to heat up in May.  He managed to continue his push throughout the month and finished with a batting line of .303-5-17.  Not a bad call, Mr. Wade.  Certainly that was a month worthy of a waiver claim.

Johnson hasn’t quite begun the month of June with the same vigor, batting just .242 over a nine game stretch.  However, aside from a spike in fly balls and strikeouts, it should also be noted that he was playing through some sort of flu-like illness that certainly had an adverse effect on his work at the plate.  He’s better now and while he may not return to those exact numbers we appreciated in May, he’s still more than capable of putting up something in between April’s and May’s totals which , if you are just looking for a temporary fix at the corner, is still worthy of your time.


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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com

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Chris Johnson or Todd Frazier in an NL-only, while waiting for Bonifacio to heal? Thanks.