2018 Outlook: October debridement and microfracture surgery to repair damage to articular cartilage in his right knee threatens the start to Murphy's season, as the Nationals have thus far offered only "optimism" that he'll be ready by Opening Day. Toss that onto a pile that includes second-half hip, neck and hamstring issues, as well as his 32 years of age, and Murphy is one of the riskier picks come draft day. Though the hitting approach he adopted in 2015 has made him a consistent candidate for at least a .300 batting average and 20 homers annually, he regressed significantly in terms of contact rate and struggled against left-handed pitchers in the second half of 2017, things that could signal the aging process as much as it might've resulted from his injuries. With full health, he'd be a top-50 pick, perhaps better in points-based leagues. Until we get a firmer read on his return date, however, he's a risky pick anywhere near that early and will require a backup plan.
2018 Outlook: The Phillies acquired Kendrick last winter in hopes of increasing his trade value and flipping him at the deadline, and he did not disappoint, putting up a .315/.368/.475 line in 334 plate appearances between Philadelphia and Washington. There are several red flags, however, starting with a .378 BABIP that landed way above the league average. That number should regress this year, taking Kendrick’s excellent batting average with it, though it may not fall all the way to the mean, as Kendrick’s career BABIP is an impressive .340. More worrisome for Kendrick is the fact that his strikeout and walk rates both trended in the wrong direction in 2017. He's also battled a number of lower-body injuries in recent seasons. After re-signing with Washington on a two-year deal, Kendrick will mainly work in a utility role, but should play regularly early on until Daniel Murphy (knee) returns from the disabled list.
2018 Outlook: Don't sleep on this guy. The Nationals resisted trading Difo all winter, primarily because they recognize his reputation for elite contact and well-above-average speed, things that could be awfully handy as you seek to fill the last few spots on your roster in deep-mixed or NL-only leagues. He'll serve as a utility infielder for the Nationals again, and he shouldn't hurt your batting average or on-base percentage while providing cheap stolen bases. Remember: Difo once stole 49 bases (on 58 attempts) in the low minors.