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American League
Baltimore Orioles – Zach Britton (D. O'Day)
Boston Red Sox – Koji Uehara (E. Mujica, J. Tazawa)
Chicago White Sox – David Robertson (Z. Duke, Z. Putnam)
Cleveland Indians – Cody Allen (B. Shaw)
Detroit Tigers – Joakim Soria (J. Chamberlain); Joe Nathan injured, out for season (elbow)
Houston Astros – Luke Gregerson (C. Qualls, P. Neshek)
Kansas City Royals – Wade Davis (K. Herrera); Greg Holland injured (pectoral)
Los Angeles Angels – Huston Street (J. Smith)
Minnesota Twins – Glen Perkins (C. Fien)
New York Yankees – Andrew Miller (D. Betances)
Oakland Athletics – Tyler Clippard (D. Otero); Sean Doolittle injured (shoulder)
Seattle Mariners – Fernando Rodney (D. Farquhar, Y. Medina)
Tampa Bay Rays – Brad Boxberger (K. Jepsen); Jake McGee injured (elbow)
Texas Rangers – Neftali Feliz (K. Kela, R. Mendez)
Toronto Blue Jays – Brett Cecil (M. Castro, R. Osuna)

National League
Arizona Diamondbacks – Addison Reed (B. Ziegler)
Atlanta Braves –  Jason Grilli (J. Johnson)
Chicago Cubs – Hector Rondon (P. Strop, J. Motte)
Cincinnati Reds – Aroldis Chapman (J. Diaz)
Colorado Rockies –  John Axford (R. Betancourt); Adam Ottavino injured (triceps)
Los Angeles Dodgers – Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher (P. Rodriguez); Kenley Jansen (foot) and Joel Peralta (dead arm) injured
Miami Marlins – Steve Cishek (A.J. Ramos)
Milwaukee Brewers – Francisco Rodriguez (J. Broxton)
New York Mets – Jeurys Familia (C. Torres); Bobby Parnell injured (elbow)
Philadelphia Phillies – Jonathan Papelbon (K. Giles)
Pittsburgh Pirates – Mark Melancon (T. Watson)
St. Louis Cardinals – Trevor Rosenthal (J. Walden)
San Diego Padres – Craig Kimbrel (J. Benoit)
San Francisco Giants – Santiago Casilla (S. Romo)
Washington Nationals – Drew Storen (M. Thornton, A. Barrett)

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 28, 2015, 3:36 pm

In the not-too-distant past, John Axford was an upper-tier fantasy reliever, complete with the stellar K-rate and glittering fantasy ratios. He saved 46 games in 2011, striking out 86 batters in 73.2 innings, delivering an ERA of 1.95. Axford had closing-quality velocity (95-plus) and closing-quality facial hair — the complete package, basically.

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But in the more recent past, Axford has been a carnival ride of wildness, homers and blown saves. Too many fly-balls cleared the fence, too many pitches missed the zone. Axford signed a one-year deal with Colorado in the offseason, which at the time seemed like a terrifying combination of pitcher and park.

Things have gone unexpectedly well for Ax and the Rockies, however. He had a nearly flawless spring on the mound for Colorado, and he's tossed five scoreless frames so far in April, issuing two walks while fanning six. On Monday, Axford earned his third save of the season, working around a pair of singles in a 5-4 win at Arizona. He's throwing as hard as ever (95.3 mph), inducing nothin' but grounders and generally looking the part of a solid ninth-inning reliever.

Adam Ottavino is currently on the DL with triceps soreness, so Axford will close for the Rockies for the foreseeable future. Ax is available in over 60 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment, and the early results have been encouraging. We can't promise a perfectly smooth ride with Axford — when things go bad for him, they go fantastically bad — but he owns the ninth for now.

Steve Cishek was horrendous on Monday, failing to protect a one-run lead against the Mets. He entered in the ninth to face New York's 2-3-4 hitters, and it went down like this: double, walk, flyout, 420-foot no-doubt home run, double, stolen base, K, K.

So that's not great. Cishek's horrific outing lifted his season ERA to 11.37 and his WHIP to 1.58. He was coming off a streak of four straight clean innings, so we don't think he's at risk of losing his role just yet. But his velocity is down, he's blown two of three save chances, and setup man A.J. Ramos has been lights-out (0.73 ERA, 12.1 IP, 18 K). Ramos is the obvious add for speculators.

Before we exit the bullpens, we have one additional closer-related bullet for you...

Toronto appears to have flipped closers again, understandably:

Gibbons said that if there was a save situation tonight it would have gone to Cecil. #BlueJays

— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) April 28, 2015

Miguel Castro has allowed runs in four of his last five appearances, pitching himself out of the ninth, it seems. He's a hard-thrower, but only 20 years old and his secondary pitches often misfire. So Brett Cecil it is, for now.

The injury news has simply been brutal over the past 24 hours, beginning with the expected ruin of Adam Wainwright's season (torn Achilles), then continuing with elbow injuries to Brandon McCarthy (torn UCL) and Homer Bailey (sprain). A pair of productive shortstops have also been sidelined, as Jose Reyes hit the DL with a fractured rib and Jed Lowrie is headed for an MRI on his thumb.

If you find yourself adding a starting pitcher on Tuesday, the best of the widely available options are as follows: Brandon Morrow (22 percent owned), Jason Hammel (50, terrific on Monday), Jesse Chavez (17, taking over for Graveman), Hector Santiago (27), Dan Haren (19, does his best work before August) and Wei-Yin Chen (41).

If instead you need a shortstop, these are the names: Wilmer Flores (16 percent owned, add for pop), Odubel Herrera (29, add for speed), Asdrubal Cabrera (36), Chris Owings (11), Zack Cozart (41), Brock Holt (34, eligible everywhere). Let's just hope we won't have to wait long for Reyes or Jed.

Houston's Jake Marisnick is still raking at the bottom of the Houston batting order, just so you know. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Monday. He binged on Sunday, too: 2-for-4, 3 R, HR, 2 RBIs, 2 SB. Marisnick is only rostered in 38 percent of Yahoo leagues, and he offers plenty of power/speed potential. He's approved for adding in all formats.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 28, 2015, 3:23 pm

You've got a limited daily budget; we've got bargains for your consideration. Please read on. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing your selections.

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James Shields, SP, vs. Hou (McHugh), $8100 at FanDuel: I'm using both starting pitchers from this game in various lineups, but I have a few more shares of Shields. He's $400 cheaper than McHugh, for one thing, plus he's at home in a friendly park, facing a lineup that leads the majors in Ks (157). Shields has pitched reasonably well in each of his four starts this season (1.12 WHIP), including a date at Coors Field last week.

Andre Ethier, OF, vs. SF (Lincecum), $2600: Yasiel Puig has hit the DL due to ongoing hamstring issues, so Ethier now has a clear path to playing time. He's slashing .342/.435/.605 so far this year, and he has a nice enough history against Tim Lincecum (14-for-51, 3 doubles, 2 HRs, 5 BB).

Chris Owings, SS, vs. Col (Matzek), $2600: Owings had a brutally slow start to his season, but the recent results have been just fine. Over his last six games, he has a homer, three steals and three multi-hit performances. I'm happy to use him at home against a sketchy lefty.

Evan Longoria, surging (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)Evan Longoria, 3B, at NYY (Warren), $3200 : OK, this is where the Dime will begin to resemble a list of must-have players from 2009. But I swear, I'm just looking for value. Longoria is scorching hot, going 7-for-7 over the weekend, and Monday's opposing starter is not exactly a degree-of-difficulty matchup. Adam Warren enters the day with more walks (8) than Ks (6) on the year.

Ryan Braun, OF, at Cin (Marquis), $3100: Braun's year is off to a lousy start, but that helps explain the low price-tag. The matchups really don't get much friendlier than this. Bruan is 15-for-28 in his career against Marquis with five doubles, one homer, three walks and only four Ks. You might consider stacking a few low-cost Brewers here, perhaps rolling with Adam Lind ($3000) and Khris Davis ($2200).

Ryan Howard, 1B, at STL (Lackey), $2800: Yup, another vet with a rotten slash-line for the season (.193/.246/.404). But Howard has managed to homer in back-to-back games, driving in five runs, and he's had some nice moments against Lackey (3-for-10, 2 HRs). If you're building a lineup around the pitching talents of, say, David Price ($11K) or Corey Kluber ($9800), then you're going to need to find a few bargain bats.

Mitch Moreland, OF, vs. Sea (Walker), $2200: Here's a filthy-low price on a hitter who's slashing .310/.404/.476 for the season, coming off a three-hit game. Moreland is also facing a maddeningly wild right handed starter on Monday; Walker has issued 10 free passes in 12.2 innings so far this season. I'm starting both Nelson Cruz ($5K) and Adam Jones ($4K) in a few outfields on Monday, so I have a need for a dirt-cheap bat with upside.

Neil Walker, 2B, at CHC (Hammel), $3000: The Bucs' second baseman enters with a nine-game hitting streak, and he's been particularly dangerous over his last three: 7-for-12, 4 doubles, 4 RBIs, BB, K. Hammel hasn't been anything special to this point in the season (5.19 ERA), and he's given up plenty of loud outs. I'll be surprised if Walker doesn't extend his streak to an even 10 games.

Miguel Montero, C, vs. Pit (Worley), $2700: The Cubs have been running a three-man weave at catcher, so you'll want to triple-check Montero's starting status. But he homered in a 2-for-4 performance on Sunday, and I'd certainly like him here, in a matchup with a not-too-scary right-hander.

Adam Eaton, OF, at Bal (Jimenez), $2300: Eaton had a miserable start to his season, but he's delivered three multi-hit games in his last five while crossing the plate five times. If meaningless samples are your thing, then you'll want to know that he's 3-for-4 with a triple against Ubaldo. Eaton leads off for Chicago, so you're pretty much guaranteed five or more plate appearances.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 27, 2015, 3:23 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Monday's profile: Indiana running back Tevin Coleman.

College Highlights: The consensus All-American and Doak Walker finalist made tsunami-sized waves his junior year with the Hoosiers. He averaged 169.7 rushing yards per game – a mark higher than 70 of 125 FBS teams – en route to a school record 2,036 rushing yards, the third back in Big Ten history to cross the 2,000-yard threshold. He was the fourth-fastest player in D-1 history to reach the milestone, achieving it on 264 attempts. His absurd 7.54 yards per carry was the fifth-best mark last year. Incredibly, his average TD distance (15 scores) was 40.3 yards. 

Pluses: Aggressive, relentless north-south runner who isn't shy about contact. Pedal-to-metal accelerator (4.39 40-yard dash) who explodes through tight spaces and leaves second/third-tier defenders eating dust in the open-field, a true home-run hitter. Patience, vision and change-of-direction not outstanding but solid. Balanced with well-built frame (5-foot-11, 206 pounds). Versatile. He grabbed 54 passes over three seasons. Relatively low mileage left plenty of tread on the tires. Strong grip. Fumbled once every 65 carries. Commendable pass-blocking technique. Tough. Tough. Tough. 

Minuses: Coleman's upright style leaves him susceptible to lower body injuries. Durability could be a concern. Must lower shoulder when finishing runs as a preventative measure. Despite violent running ability, he goes down on first contact too often. Not a fall-forward runner. Leg drive in crowds must improve. Needs to scan and discover cut-back lanes better on stretch plays. Not especially creative. Can be too straight-line. Lack of power could force him to surrender touches near the goal-line. 

Pro Comp(s): DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, Chris Johnson 

Team Fits: Baltimore, Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota, Jacksonville, Detroit 

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 145-155 (RB44)/$3-$6

Fearless Forecast: There's no disputing Coleman's Indy car speed and long sprints to the end zone. The kid might be the most explosive back in this year's class. His experience on passing downs working as a receiver/blocker should benefit him greatly at the next level. Overall, the IU product has three-down potential, but because he isn't a pile-mover, he could cede touches inside the 10. Still, he's a talented, somewhat polished playmaker who could step into the right situation and rip off eye-popping runs. A likely Round 2 or Round 3 selection in the NFL Draft, he's a name to closely monitor. If given an opportunity immediately, it's no stretch to think he threatens Gurley/Gordon for most productive rookie RB. There's real high-end RB2 potential here in 12-team leagues. 

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Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 27, 2015, 1:47 pm

It sure looks like Chris Archer has taken the leap this season and is going to make his fantasy owners very happy. Of course his 0.84 ERA is going to regress, but there’s a lot of underlying stats to get excited about. He has a 37:6 K:BB ratio while allowing just 18 hits over 32.1 innings. His 25.8 BB-K% ranks top five among all starters, and among the top 10 in that stat, only Felix Hernandez has a higher GB/FB ratio than Archer’s 2.33. Archer’s 13.8 SwStr% is also top five in MLB. Limiting walks, getting a ton of swings and misses and inducing a bunch of groundballs is a pretty good recipe for success.

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His average velocity for both his fastball (95.2 mph) and slider (87.0) are career highs, and often a pitcher’s velocity is down in April. Archer’s slider has arguably been the single best pitch so far this year (seriously, check out how dirty it is). He’s somehow posted a sub-1.00 ERA despite facing an extremely difficult schedule, as he’s faced the Blue Jays (lead MLB in runs scored) twice, Boston (have scored fifth most runs), Baltimore (sixth most) and Miami (11th most). While the AL East remains the toughest division in which to pitch, at least he benefits from Tropicana Field, which has suppressed home runs by 15 percent over the past three years (only five other parks have done so more over that span). Archer is a legitimate threat to make a run at the Cy Young this season.

This magic card trick is pretty legit.

Here’s an unexpected guess on “Family Feud.” 

This “The Price Is Right” clip has so many things going on, from the amazing $499 bid to the guy’s over-the-top reaction after apparently forgetting what he bid 15 seconds earlier. This second clip reveals some people might not know what an iPhone costs

State of catchers: It’s been a brutal start for backstops to open 2015. Injuries have been a major culprit, already hitting Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco, Yan Gomes and Travis d’Arnaud, not to mention Matt Wieters’ slower than expected recovery. But performance has also been a problem, as Buster Posey is currently the No. 329 ranked player, while Evan Gattis is batting .156 with a 35.5 K%, and Brian McCann continues to get killed by shifts (he had the fifth-most at bats against the shift last season, which is crazy considering he had fewer than 500 ABs), and it’s tough to ask him to go the other way with Yankee Stadium’s short porch in RF so inviting. Moreover, Yadier Molina has a .345 OBP yet has scored two runs, while Russell Martin is batting .173 yet has somehow been the fourth most valuable catcher this year despite that. Congratulations if you own Stephen Vogt, who’s easily the No. 1 ranked catcher. Of course he’s unlikely to finish as such, but Vogt is batting third in Oakland’s lineup, hits left-handed and has been crushing righties (he sits against southpaws), so he’s actually setup for prolonged success this year.

Headlines of the Week: Agoraphobic Grandmother Conquers Her Fears Of Open Spaces To Leave Home For Third Time In 10 Years Only To Break Leg And Nose Falling Down Manhole...Omaha Killer Nikko Jenkins Tries To Carve ‘666’ Into Forehead, Accidentally Carves 9s...Brother And Sister Separated For Years Are Reunited After Matching With Each Other On Tinder...China Says Please Stop Hiring Funeral Strippers...Woman’s Brain Tumor Turns Out To Be ‘Evil Twin’ Complete With Bone, Hair And Teeth...Cardboard All Star? Homeless Man Survives NYC Streets With One Night Stands.

Quick Hits: The safe bet is Alex Guerrero isn’t going to keep this pace (114 homers over 500 at bats), but if you have any open bench spots, few players to stash right now offer as much upside. He’ll see some time in left field with Yasiel Puig going to the DL, and the kid can clearly rake. Guerrero is currently owned in fewer than 50% of Yahoo leagues (between him, Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Hector Olivera, the Dodgers look scary loaded for the future)...Mark Teixeira has a 1.044 OPS despite a .242 BA, thanks to a strong walk rate and the fact more than half of his 15 hits have been home runs (to go along with four doubles). He currently ranks second in MLB in homers (eight) and RBI (18)...This Alex Gordon catch was no joke...Bryce Harper homered Sunday, although he ended his streak of walking in 10 straight games...Casey McGehee “led” all of baseball while grounding into 31 double plays last season, and he somehow has hit into eight (over 14 games) already this year, which is more than Adam Dunn totaled over his final two years in the league (280 games). The most ever in a season is 36.

Police Blotter: LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan Argument Results In Aggravated Assault Charges For State College Man...Washington State Man Sees Amber Alert, Tells Police He’s Babysitting Abducted Child...Escaped Prisoner Turns Himself In After 39 Years For The Health Care...Naked Pedestrian Tries To Carjack Man Offering Him Clothes...Bra Bandit Hits Same Victoria’s Secret Store For Third Time...Truck Driver Pleads Guilty To Trading $50,000 Worth Of Lunch Meat For Crack...LAPD Looking For Graffiti Artist Who Tagged A Cop’s Horse.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Normally an 18-game slump would be meaningless when it comes to someone with Andrew McCutchen’s track record, even if it’s a particularly ugly one (.186/.315/.322), but given the mystery surrounding his leg injury (combined with some scary underlying stats such as an 8.7 LD% and a noticeable drop in base running), I’d be seeing if I could get something like 80 cents on the dollar right now...Despite playing half of their games in PETCO Park, the Padres have the highest OPS against left-handers this season (.922) by a wide margin (next best is .820). Meanwhile, the Brewers sport a hideous .498 OPS against southpaws...It’s hard to complain about Dee Gordon’s .390 batting average, but he’s not walking at all and has been caught on five of his last seven SB attempts. Still, stolen bases are so hard to come by, and he’s obviously got the green light. I’m going to regret avoiding him at draft tables in March...Here’s Drew Stubbs as the early candidate for worst slide of the season...Avisail Garcia is a corner outfielder playing in one of the best hitter’s parks in baseball, but his 4.17 GB/FB rate is the third-highest in MLB, so unless he changes that drastically, don’t expect many home runs (he’s at 2.38 during his brief career, which is discouraging)...After going 7-for-7 over the past two games, Evan Longoria raised his BA from .218 to .306, which is a good reminder how early it still is in the season...Brandon McCarthy is off to one of the crazier starts you’ll ever see, as he’s combined a terrific 29:4 K:BB ratio with nine homers allowed over 23.0 innings. Let’s hope his elbow injury isn’t serious.

Longread of the Week: The Contestant

Quick Hits Part Tres: Julio Teheran and Alex Wood entered the year as two of the brighter looking young pitchers in the game, but they’ve combined for a 30:22 K:BB ratio over 45.1 innings, with each posting a 1.50 WHIP. There’s plenty of time for a rebound, but both have seen their velocities drop every year they’ve been in the majors, including this one. Wood’s start is especially concerning, considering his ugly 2.0 K-BB% and 4.2 SwStr%...Those who had the “under” in the A’s/Astros game Friday suffered quite a brutal bad beat, as the score was 0-0 through nine innings. The game ended 5-4...Here’s Torii Hunter inexplicably trying to steal home with the bases loaded and two outs...Remember when Adam Eaton was a popular sleeper, if only he could stay healthy? The 26-year-old has already accrued 70 at-bats while hitting in a home park that’s increased run scoring by 10 percent over the past three seasons, with only Coors Field ranking higher over that span. Remarkably, Eaton has zero RBI on the year...With a 27:2 K:BB ratio combined with a 1.90 GB/FB rate and a 10.9 SwStr%, consider Michael Pineda easily a top-20 fantasy starter, at least until his next injury.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 27, 2015, 7:44 am

As we head into Week 4 of the fantasy baseball season, Brandon Funston, Scott Pianowski and Dalton Del Don offer their top-5 takes on those players bucking for employment in fantasy leagues. Each week, we'll take a trip around the diamond to uncover the best help that your FAAB dollars can buy. Let's get to it ...

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Top 5 corner infield pickups among the under 50% owned crowd
Brandon Funston
Scott Pianowski
Dalton Del Don
1. Adam LindHe's been a mainstay on this list all season - hasn't had back-to-back hitless games yet
1. Adam Lind - Team is taking on water, but he isn't the problem; another homer Sunday
1. Adam Lind - The counting stats havent been there, but he has a .901 OPS and bats cleanup

2.  David Freese - He's been a top 10 corner, thus far, in terms of HR and combined R/RBI
2. Yonder Alonso- I talk myself into this guy once a year, not far from buzzy prospect days; even K-BB rate

2. Jimmy Paredes - Who knows how long this ride will last, but he's definitely worth owning to find out
3. Yasmani TomasWith Lamb on the DL, should be plenty of ABs in the near term

3. Jimmy Paredes - This year's Steve Pearce? This has Wiggy written all over it

3. Yonder Alonso - Despite playing in Petco, looks like he can be a help in BA

4. Joe Mauer -  Like I said last week, no power, but you know that the BA contribution should be solid
4. Andrew Suusc - We don't have a catcher area so I'll sneak him in here; cheap, useful DFS option when he starts
4. Steve Pearce - I'm still a believer despite the slump to start the year

5. Yonder Alonso -  He's drawing BBs at career-best rate, and there's counting stat upside in this potent SDG lineup
5. David Freese - The guys in front of him will be on base constantly 5. David Freese - Already up to four homers and is batting 4th/5th in the lineup


Top 5 middle infield pickups among the under 50% owned crowd
Brandon Funston
Scott Pianowski
Dalton Del Don
1. Jed Lowrie -  He looks like he's dialed in, and we've seen some hot streaks carry him pretty far in the past
1. Chris Owings - He'll swing at anything but getting confident on the bases 

1. Jed Lowrie - Has a .934 OPS and is hitting 3rd/4th in an improving lineup

2. Roughned OdorLike rest of TEX, off to a tough start, but I tryust his immense skills will show through before long
2. Brock Holt - Best super-utility player in the majors, has starts at five different posts  
2. Roughned Odor - Off to a slow start but has 15/15 potential

3. Adeiny Hechavarria He's playing over his head, but you can't ignore what he's done - top 4 MI in Y! game, thus far 3. Jed Lowrie - Whenever healthy, a fantasy-relevant commodity; 2013 can happen again 3. DJ LeMahieu - In Coors Field I trust
4. Brad Miller On a nice roll in past 8 games (10-for-23)
4. Wilmer Flores - Pop is legit, lineup promotion could be coming

4. Chris Owings - Plays in a good hitter's park and has four steals over the past seven games
5. Brock Holt - Little power, but can hit for average and run a bit, plus his versatility is the ultimate fantasy roster Band-Aid 5. Tim Bechkam - Maybe there's a post-hype case here, not much blocking him

5. Odubel Herrera - Stolen bases are really hard to come by

Top 5 outfield pickups among the under 50% owned crowd
Brandon Funston
Scott Pianowski
Dalton Del Don
1. Denard Span - Likely the last call for Span - he's off the DL now, and hit .302 with 31 SBs and 94 runs in '14  1. Rajai Davis - Short side of platoon, but I'm not sold long-term on Anthony Gose (1 BB, 19 K) 1. Rusney Castillo - If you have roster space to stash him, he'll be worth the wait
2. Angel Pagan - Another of my High Five mainstays - a healhy Pagan will run and hit for average 2. Dexter Fowler - Is this the year his steal total (four already) matches his raw ability?
2. Coco Crisp - If you have a DL spot to stash him, he'll be worth the wait
3. Rajai Davis - Don't love that he's not a regular, but if speed is a need, you know he's going to push 40 steals 3. Jake Marisnick - Option for cheap steals, and No. 9 slot not as penal in AL 3. Justin Maxwell - There's potential for a real breakout here
4. Michael Saunders- Off the DL - Has nice pop/speed combo, and TOR top offense in MLB 4. Coco Crisp - Rehab progressing well, and he'll slot leadoff upon return 4. Carlos Beltran - Maybe he's done, but I'd give him a few more weeks before declaring so
5. Alex Guerrero - 12 RBI in 19 ABs is an insane line - is forcing LAD to find lineup room for his hot bat 5. Rusney Castillo - A slow-developing story, but Victorino is probably out of way

5. Alex Guerrero - There are few better ways to use an open bench spot
Top 5 pitcher pickups among the under 50% owned crowd
Brandon Funston
Scott Pianowski
Dalton Del Don
1. Carlos Rodon - Get him while you still can - once he hits his stride, it'll be sweet ride 1. Clay Buchholz - Come for the strikeouts, stay for the changeup and ground balls 1. Jimmy Nelson - Has a 19.1 K-BB% and a 12.2 SwStr%, so there's a ton of potential
2. Yimi Garcia- He was attractive enough for me to pick him up as a set-up man, but saves now look like part of the short-term mix 2. Jimmy Nelson - Why is he so far under 50 percent? All breakout arrows line up 
2. Drew Pomeranz - Has a 17:2 K:BB ratio over 17.0 innings with a 1.06 WHIP
3. Jimmy Nelson - As Salfino shows here, inducing a nice number of Ks and grounders 3. Chris Heston - Numbers jump out if you (reasonably) take Coors turn out of mix 

3. Yimi Garcia - He looks like the current favorite to close in L.A. until Kenley Jansen returns
4. Taijuan Walker - His last outing was solid - has all the tools to be a star 4. Brandon Morrow - I want a stake in every one of his Petco starts

4.Carlos Rodon - Patient owners will be rewarded in the second half of the season
5. Drew Pomeranz - ERA is up above 4.00, but the K:BB rate is stellar, as is the pitching environment of his home park 5. Yimi Garcia - Has set-up hero written all over him, might become preferred closer while Jansen isn't available

5. Ken Giles - When Jonathan Papelbon is traded, owners will be sprinting to add him
Top 5 song choices for when you came to bat if you were an MLB player
Brandon Funston
Scott Pianowski
Dalton Del Don
1. Volbeat: "A Warrior's Call" - "Breaking your record and breaking your bones, Born a warrior with a code, A champion feeding your face with a fist,
You will feel all his power"
1. Led Zeppelin: "The Immigrant Song - Announce your presence with a nod to the Hammer of the Gods
1. Metallica: "No Leaf Clover" - Love the opening with the symphony 
2. Alice in Chains: "Man in the Box" - Gotta represent my Seattle roots, and this has a  chill-inducing intro
2. Anything by the White Stripes - Well, except for the overplayed Seven Nation Army. Black Math would work well

2. TV on the Radio: "DLZ" - Because they are good at making music
3. Aerosmith: Lightning Strikes "It's dog eat dog when you're meetin' your rival, In the combat zone it's a means of survival, Gonna get last licks on a suicide blitz, On a cloak and dagger night ,When the lightning strikes"
3. Anything from Who's Next - Okay, maybe not My Wife; Pete Townshend's happy accident is a perfect rock record
3. Radiohead: "The National Anthem" - I spent far too much time trying to pick which song of theirs to use here
4. Black Sabbath: "Iron Man" -  The creepy intro definitely provides a nice intimidation factor
4. Guitar-driven Radiohead - The trippy Kid-A stuff wouldn't work, but most of The Bends, OKC and In Rainbows would

4. Broken Bells: "The Ghost Inside" - Has a catchy intro
5. ACDC: "Thunderstruck" -  Really, there's plenty of ACDC songs that would fit the bill 5. Herb Albert: "Spanish Flea" - Swanky and silly, puts you in a good place

5. It doesn't matter because Josh Reddick already won this game
Author: Brandon Funston
Posted: April 26, 2015, 7:02 pm

Drew Pomeranz, SP, vs. Hou (Wojciechowski), $5900 at FanDuel: He has a middling 4.26 ERA over the first three starts of the year, but that’s accompanied by a 17:2 K:BB ratio in 17.0 innings to go along with a 1.06 WHIP. There aren’t many obvious aces to use Sunday, and despite Oakland being the biggest favorites (-160) on the board, there are 24 pricier pitchers than Pomeranz, so he’ll allow you to load up on hitting.

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Mark Trumbo, 1B, vs. Pit (Liriano), $2800: He’s slugging .833 against lefties this year and will be hitting in a park that’s increased run scoring by 10 percent over the past three seasons, which is second only to Coors Field over that span.

Neil Walker, 2B, at Ari (Hellickson), $2900: The switch-hitter is much more effective against right-handers, and Jeremy Hellickson has been getting destroyed by LHB (.419/.472/.548). Walker is affordable despite batting cleanup, and we already talked about Chase Field being such a favorable hitting environment. Teammates Pedro Alvarez ($2800) and Gregory Polanco ($3300) are also fine targets.

Chris Young, OF, vs. NYM (Niese), $2900: He’s been out of his mind when facing southpaws this season, and while Yankee Stadium is known for its short porch in right field, it’s also boosted HR for RHB by 19 percent over the past three years.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SF (Lincecum), $3100: His bat has shown signs of life lately, including a homer Saturday. He once again faces a RHP in Coors Field, yet his price remains as low as ever.

Justin Maxwell, OF, at Col (Matzek), $2800: After homering for the second game in a row (and the third time in the past five contests), Maxwell’s price has been bumped $200, but let’s go back to the well, as he’s still a bargain facing a southpaw in Coors Field. (If Andrew Susac gets another start behind the dish, he’d also be a nice sleeper at $2200).

Joc Pederson, OF at SD (Morrow), $3000: Petco Park is obviously a tough place to hit, and it’s usually best to shy away from No. 8 hitters, but this is still a relative bargain for someone who’s posted a 1.001 OPS against RHP this season. Pederson’s walk rate might be inflated hitting in front of the pitcher, but those points count all the same in DFS.

Evan Longoria, 3B, vs. Tor (Buehrle), $3000: He was off to an extremely slow start but collected four hits Saturday and is batting .417/.533/.500 against LHP this season. There are 12 third basemen with a higher cost than Longoria.

Brandon Crawford, SS, at Col (Matzek), $2700: Maybe it’s a total fluke, but after posting an .879 OPS against southpaws last season, Crawford is hitting .308/.400/.615 against them this year, so there appears to be a reverse splits thing going on. He’s another affordable option in Coors Field.

Bryce Harper, OF, at Mia (Haren), $4100: Let’s go with one not so cheap option for Sunday, as Harper owns a .977 against RHP, and Dan Haren is an extreme fly ball pitcher who’s served up four homers over 35 ABs to left-handed batters this year. Harper has also walked in 10 straight games.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 26, 2015, 7:51 am

Adam Wainwright, SP, at Mil (Peralta), $9600 at FanDuel: His strikeouts are down, and it’s best to use pitchers in home starts, but Wainwright remains highly effective and gets a Brewers team that’s an MLB-worst 3-14 and missing Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy from their lineup. The Cardinals are -160 favorites, and Milwaukee has the lowest team OPS (.587) in all of baseball. Opposing starter Wily Peralta is off to a dreadful start (eight strikeouts over 19.0 innings) thanks in part to a noticeable drop in velocity.

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Justin Maxwell, OF, at Col (De La Rosa), $2600: His recent play has forced himself into the Giants’ everyday lineup, and Saturday he gets a lefty in Coors Field.

Dustin Pedroia, 2B, at Bal (Chen), $3000: He’s hitting atop one of the best lineups in baseball and has slashed .364/.462/1.000 against southpaws this season, yet Pedroia is a reasonable price, with nine other second basemen more expensive.

Mookie Betts, OF ($3100) and Xander Bogaerts, SS ($3000), at Bal (Chen): Like teammate Pedroia, both have also excelled against LHP and are available at extremely reasonable prices given their upside.

Justin Smoak, 1B, at TB (Ramirez), $2600: Tropicana Field is a tough place to hit, but the former top prospect is off to a career best start (.947 OPS), as the switch-hitting Smoak is being used strictly against RHP. He faces a pitcher making a spot start who’s been throwing batting practice this season, as Erasmo Ramirez has allowed six walks over 6.1 innings with a whopping .455 BAA. Dalton Pompey ($2800) is another sneaky play as a result.

Robinson Chirinos, C, at LAA (Wilson), $2400: This would be better at home, but Chirinos has belted eight homers over 101 at bats against left-handers dating back to last season.

Matt Joyce, OF, vs. Tex (Lewis), $2300: He doesn’t have a hit since April 15, but Joyce owns a career .258/.352/.456 line against right-handers and faces one Saturday who’s vulnerable to giving up the long ball. If you want to spend a little more, use teammate Kole Calhoun ($3400).

Jimmy Paredes, 2B, vs. Bos (Masterson), $2600: There’s no stopping him. Locked atop Baltimore’s lineup and facing a righty who’s typically shaky against LHB, the switch-hitting Paredes is still a major bargain at this price.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SF (Hudson), $3100: He’s off to a horrendous start (.197/.231/.328), so it’s safe to question whether he’s playing injured. But Gonzalez had two hits Friday and looked good at the plate, and this is a career .334/.395/.615 hitter at Coors Field, so he’s unlikely to remain at this cost much longer.

Matt Carpenter, 3B, at Mil (Peralta), $4100: After looking at bargains, let’s go with one pricier player for Saturday, as few (if any) players are hotter than Carpenter right now. He’s destroyed righties this season (1.270 OPS) and has owned Wily Peralta throughout his career (1.202 OPS over 24 ABs). He’ll also be hitting in Miller Park, which has increased home runs for LHB by 39 percent over the past three seasons, with only GAB boosting them more during that span. 

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 25, 2015, 7:54 am

Let's build responsible lineups today, you guys. Plenty of appealing pitching matchups on Friday's slate. We urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing selections, as always.

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Matt Adams, 1B, at Mil (Garza), $3200 at FanDuel: Milwaukee starter Matt Garza enters this game with a WHIP of 1.80, an ERA of 5.40, and as many walks as strikeouts on the year (9). So this seems like a decent day to stack a few Cards. Adams has absolutely worn out Garza in prior meetings: 7-for-12, 2 doubles, HR, 4 RBIs. At this price, he's among Friday's most appealing plays.

Gerrit Cole, SP, at Ari (Collmenter), $8700: Cole is clearly pitching well (2-0, 1.00 WHIP), he's piling up strikeouts (10.6 K/9), and he's facing a not-so-intimidating lineup. The Bucs are a big favorite here (-140), and it's only Josh Collmenter. I'm in.

Neil Walker, 2B, at Ari (Collmenter), $3100: Walker has enjoyed his limited experience facing Collmenter (4-for-8, HR), plus he's on a modest six-game hitting streak. He's a bargain here, in a hitter-friendly park.

Shane Greene, SP, vs. Cle (Salazar), $8700 : OK, so the opposing starter is a problem. Salazar was tremendous in his last turn, striking out 10 over 6.0 innings. But Greene's next poor outing with be his first of 2015. He's earned wins in each of his three starts, pitching efficiently (and thus deep into games), and run support shouldn't be an issue in Detroit. Collectively, Cleveland hitters are 2-for-17 against Greene, with one of the two hits belonging to Nick Swisher (DL).

Jhonny Peralta, SS, at Mil (Garza), $2800: Among the many Cardinals who've battered Garza over the years, we find Peralta (14-for-34, 2 doubles, HR). I'll be starting St. Louis' presumptive 3-4-5 hitters in more than one lineup on Friday.

Scott Kazmir, SP, vs. Hou (Keuchel), $9700: If you're thinking this seems a little pricey for Kazmir ... well, yeah, I hear you. He's Friday's fifth most expensive starter. But he's at home, he's been terrific in the early weeks (0.79 WHIP), and he's facing an Astros lineup that leads the majors in total team strikeouts (143). It's a nice spot for a hot pitcher.

Matt Holliday, OF, at Mil (Garza), $2500: Nope, I'm still not finished picking on Garza. Holliday is 11-for-28 lifetime against the right-hander, plus he's been raking to start the year (.383/.492/.404). If you want a bonus member of the Cards' lineup, take a long look at Jon Jay ($2300) on Friday — he's 9-for-16 versus Garza with three extra-base hits.

Brandon Belt, 1B, at Col (Butler), $3400: Because we should always be looking for bargain hitters at Coors Field. LHBs have tormented Butler thus far in his MLB career (.340/.444/.660 in 63 PAs), so no one should be surprised if Belt, Aoki ($3600) and others post useful stats in this one.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, vs. SF (Heston), $3500: Sure, I'll take a dirt-cheap Gonzalez, at home facing a soft-throwing right-hander. Yes, please. CarGo is off to a brutally slow start, sure, but he's had zero luck on balls-in-play (sub-.200 BABIP). Heston has been excellent to start the season, but he's getting his first taste of Coors Field.

Denard Span, OF, at Mia (Latos), $3000: If you want to load up on Nats on Friday, I get it. Washington gets to hack away at the 2015 version of Mat Latos, who enters the day with a record of 0-3 and a WHIP of 2.38. Span is leading off, and he's hit safely in every game since returning from injury.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:57 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Wednesday's profile: Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker.

College Highlights: Only played in seven games last fall due to a foot injury, but racked a dynamite 43 receptions for 855 yards and five touchdowns over his final six contests (142.5 yards per game). His 33 career scores, in 43 games, tied a school record. He logged 10 100-yard games over his four seasons with the Cardinals. A big play receiver, he finished collegiate play with 17.8 yards per catch. 

Pluses: Blessed with excellent size and a condor-like wingspan, Parker owns the physical gifts to wreck opposing defenses. Though he isn't winning strong-man competitions, he's quick off the line and shifts into top gear quickly (4.45 40-yard dash). Most importantly, his route running is very crafty. His polished footwork and sharp plants allow him to gain instant separation from defenders. His most impressive characteristics are when the ball is in the air. He possesses marvelous adjustment skills, body control, balance and leaping ability. No slouch after the catch, his vision and open-field wiggle make him difficult to corral. Has potential to develop into a nuclear downfield weapon. Displays above average toughness. 

Minuses: Because of his marginal strength, press coverage could prove problematic at the next level. He clearly has the frame to add more bulk, but he could struggle against tenacious DBs early on. Off-the-line footwork and creativity will be critical from him in Year 1. Lapses in concentration occur occasionally which could lead to unwanted misconnections. Though his routes are crisper than most, could show more improvement in the area overall. Wasn't an ironman at the collegiate level missing eight combined games from 2013-2014 due to shoulder and foot setbacks. 

Pro Comp(s): A.J. Green, Martavis Bryant, Michael Floyd, Mike Evans 

Team Fits: Minnesota, Cleveland, Miami, Chicago, Kansas City

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 110-130 (WR43)/$3-$6

Fearless Forecast: The scouting community is split on Parker. Some believe he's a sure-fire top-10 pick. Others, meanwhile, feel he's nothing more than a complementary option best slotted in a West Coast system. Still, his game tape, measurements and drill performance indicate he has the potential to electrify downfield out of the gate. Reuniting with former Louisville teammate Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota would ensure first-year success. Chicago is also another ideal locale. However, no matter where he lands, it's unlikely he'll outpace Amari Cooper or Kevin White fantasy-wise this fall. He'll show flashes, but assertive DBs are sure to frustrate him. Pending landing spot, expect Parker to finish in range of 40-50 receptions, 600-700 yards with 3-5 TDs in 2015. 

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Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:03 pm

Seventh heaven (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)On the right ballclub, Alex Guerrero could be a dynamite power bat, maybe an intriguing designated hitter. On the 2015 Dodgers, he’s reduced to pinch-hitting star and occasional fill-in. 

We could be stuck in SoCal gridlock for a while. 

Guerrero’s first year in Los Angeles was a washout, spent mostly in Triple-A and on the disabled list. That qualifies at a notable disappointment, given the Dodgers spent $28 million to land the highly-regarded Cuban hitter in advance of the 2014 season. When you pay up for someone into their age-27 season, you're expecting immediate returns. 

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Guerrero made the Dodgers coming out of spring training this year, in part because the team didn’t want to lose him. If Guerrero were optioned to the minors, he could have opted out of his contract. He’s not an easy player to trade, either, because of contract language (Guerrero can opt out of his deal after this year if he’s dealt). 

The Cuban righty has seen limited playing time through the opening 15 games, but he’s made the most of it. Guerrero has clocked four homers in just 19 at-bats, including two pinch-homers. His off-the-bench homer Wednesday was the only L.A. headline in a loss to Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. Guerrero picked up a spot start Thursday afternoon and came through with another homer, plus a crisp single. 

Nine hits, a 1.211 slugging percentage, it all leaps off the page. Everyone seems to be excited about Guerrero in L.A. – well, everyone except skipper Don Mattingly. You bring up Guerrero and Mattingly somehow forces the discussion to … Justin Turner?

Here's Alex Espinoza of MLB.com:

"I know the people are chanting for Alex right now," Mattingly said, "but there's other guys, too, that probably have swung the bat better. From the standpoint of ... J.T. hits .340 last year, leads the league in hitting, basically. Now, because he's not the flavor of the day, we start talking about someone else. That's where we can't get involved with what happened over a 10-day period."

Mattingly’s gruffness makes sense on some level – his Dodgers just got swept, in San Francisco of all places, and no manager likes the media telling him (or suggesting to him) how to fill out the lineup card. And it’s not like the Dodgers have an obvious place to slot Guerrero. 

Juan Uribe currently stands at third base. He’s a popular veteran (Mattingly sure loves his veterans) and coming off a .311 season. He’s also a plus defender at the corner. 

Guerrero played shortstop in Cuba, but he doesn’t project there any longer. He tried second base last year and never got comfortable. The Dodgers are set at those positions, anyway, with newcomers Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick

Perhaps Guerrero could see occasional time in left field, a position he’s hardly played. If nothing else, he could be a platoon option tied to lefty Carl Crawford. But anytime Guerrero gets a start in left field, it might become a race to get him off the field. 

I have a couple of Guerrero shares simply based on speculation, hoping he finds a spot, somewhere. The Dodgers offense isn’t so loaded that it can ignore this type of potential. Uribe is 36, after all. And maybe the club would consider Guerrero at second, short or the outfield if someone got hurt. 

If you have time to wait and see on a development pick (this is a deeper-league play, not a shallow grab), Guerrero is still unowned in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues. The Dodgers unfortunately face all right-handed pitching this weekend in San Diego, but Guerrero might be too sizzling to sit. I suspect he’ll get the call Monday when the Dodgers play Bumgarner and the Giants again. And anytime Guerrero picks up a spot start, I'll be strongly considering him for DFS play (where his price is next to nothing).

Japanese Ice • Say this for Masahiro Tanaka, he’s circled the wagons nicely after a rocky first start. He’s sitting with a 3.22 ERA and 0.94 WHIP despite all the red flags (velocity dip, rise in walks, torn UCL that he didn’t have surgery on). He’s shifted to a two-seam fastball, which explains some of the velocity dip – and also explains a rise in ground-ball rate. Then again, he’s obviously not going to hold a .211 BABIP all year, and his home-run clip (8.0 HR/FB) is considerably lower than last year. 

I don’t own Tanaka anywhere – the elbow issues scared me off, and the price seemed expectant anyway in March – but if I did, I’d be quietly looking to “move a pitcher.” Too much uncertainty with the elbow. If you see things differently, by all means state your case in the comments. 

• Clay Buchholz is another AL pitcher with three strong turns and one messy one. Unfortunately for Buchholz, his bad start turned into nine earned runs, and kept fantasy owners from trusting him the last couple of turns. But when you add it all up, we’re looking at 29 strikeouts against seven walks over 22.1 innings, and that’s a ratio you chase. His .371 hit rate should correct itself soon enough. 

If you don’t want to use Buchholz against Toronto next week, I see your point. But when he reaches the Rays in two weeks, I’ll be on board. 

• At least once a year I talk myself into Yonder Alonso, so let’s get this year’s entry out of the way. Alonso cracked eight hits in the Colorado series, giving him a .400/.485/.491 slash through 16 games. You love that he has more walks than strikeouts, and San Diego’s finally assembled a deep lineup around him. Alonso is still just 28, and he was a semi-touted prospect earlier in the decade

Maybe he could be the NL’s version of the Loney/Mauer first baseman, a good average, won’t hurt you in a deeper league. Alonso is unclaimed freight in 91 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 24, 2015, 2:02 pm

I’m not here to talk you into the big-name aces, I’m here to help find the undervalued assets that help you shape your roster. You know the drill, make sure you double-check lineup and weather before you commit. Let’s get to it. 

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Players to Buy 

Yangervis Solarte, 3B, at Colorado (Lyles), $2700: This will probably be a heavily-owned play, but sometimes the value is too great to look past. Solarte is on a 10-for-25 binge with two homers against right-handed pitching this year (1.204 OPS), he homered Wednesday, he's hitting cleanup for the series finale, and he’s against an ordinary pitcher (and in the best possible hitting park). If you want to go even cheaper with a San Diego bat, Cory Spangenberg is getting a rare start at second base, batting second, priced at $2200. Have some Friar fun with the midday slate. 

Jonny Gomes, OF, at New York (Colon), $2700: He’s a hack-first, ask-questions-later type of bat, and maybe that’s the approach to take against strike-pouring Bartolo Colon. Gomes owns this head-to-head matchup, 8-for-21 with three homers. 

Jake Odorizzi, SP, vs. Boston (Buchholz), $8300: Something about the catwalk agrees with him: Odorizzi’s career ERA is 2.88 in that building, with a 1.060 WHIP and a strikeout per inning. And it’s not like there’s a pitcher to fear on the other side; Clay Buchholz is a paper cup in a wind tunnel, no consistency. 

Caleb Joseph, 1B, at Toronto (Hutchison), $3100: The fill-in catcher has been a surprise in the early going, the No. 7 catcher in Yahoo leagues (.333, eight runs). Over the last three years, Rogers Centre has aided home runs by 25 percent and scoring by five percent. 

Cody Asche, 3B, vs. Miami (Phelps), $2500: Eleven of his 17 career homers have come at home, and he’s been particularly hot in Philly thus far in 2015 (.381/.435/.524). Asche normally slots fifth, but he's been pushed up to third for Thursday's getaway day. 

Martin Prado, 3B, vs. Philadelphia (McGowan), $2800: He’s now the No. 2 man in the order while Christian Yelich rehabs, and there’s nothing scary about opposing starter Dustin McGowan. A Miami stack would make sense if you want to pay up for Dee Gordon or Giancarlo Stanton; look for Prado to come along for the ride in the middle of that undertow, a neighborhood play. Hitting in Philly sounds good to me, too. 

Chris Denorfia, OF, at Pittsburgh (Locke), $2200: Meet the stand-in leadoff man while Dexter Fowler gets healthy. The price is a giveaway, and the lineup behind him is strong. Denorfia doesn’t offer a ton of power, but he likes the southpaws: .291 average, .358 OBP for his career. 

Zack Cozart, SS, at Milwaukee (Lohse), $2800: The Reds apparently buy into his hot start, as he's slotted second for Thursday's getaway day at Milwaukee. The draw is good, facing a fly-ball pitcher in Kyle Lohse. Maybe we can sneak out a cheap homer. 

Players to Fade 

Odubel Herrera, OF, vs. Miami (Phelps), $3000: You’re thinking about some cheap speed and that’s reasonable, except that stealers don’t get far against Phelps. Would-be thieves are just 13-for-23 against the cautious right-hander, covering 305 MLB innings. 

Masahiro Tanaka, SP, at Detroit, $8600: It’s another nippy day for baseball in The D, but you never know how a pitcher will react to that sort of environment – David Price looked like a deer in the headlights during Wednesday’s beatdown. Tanaka is the fourth-most expensive pitcher on the Thursday card, a ticket I can’t write when the formidable Tigers lineup is on the other side. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 23, 2015, 4:03 pm

Arizona second baseman Chris Owings entered the season with sleeper appeal, but his opening week was basically a fantasy tragedy: 0-for-3, DNP, 0-for-4, 0-for-4, 0-for-3, 1-for-1.

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With six games in the books for the Diamondbacks, Owings was hitting .067 with just one RBI, two runs scored, zero steals and six Ks. And then you dropped him in roto for DJ LeMahieu (or whoever), understandably.

But Arizona stuck with Owings, and the team's patience has been recently rewarded. He's 8-for-21 at the plate over the past week with four RBIs, four runs, two steals and three extra-base hits. Owings tripled and homered against the Rangers on Wednesday, scoring twice and driving in a pair. The home run wasn't some cheap wall-scraper down the line, either. Highlight here.

Owings demonstrated double-digit power/speed ability at multiple minor league stops, and he ranked among the PCL batting leaders back in 2013, hitting .330 at Reno as a 21-year-old. He swiped five bases in as many attempts for the D-backs this spring, and he's 2-for-2 in the regular season. Owings offers 2B/SS-eligibility, plus he plays his home games in a hitter-friendly park. There's a lot to like here.

Arizona is off on Thursday, then home for six games against the Bucs and Rockies. The following week, the team takes a trip to Coors Field. If you have a need for a middle-infielder, this seems like the right time to test-drive Owings. He's available in well over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues at the moment.

Tony Watson slams the door (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Mark Melancon received a vote of confidence from his manager on Wednesday, the beginning of the death rattle for a closer. Melancon's velocity is down a few ticks thus far, which helps explain the horrendous ratios (1.89 WHIP, 8.53 ERA). Tony Watson earned a two-inning save against the Cubs on Wednesday, with Melancon resting. Jared Hughes made a mess of things in the eighth (0.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, BB, WP), but Watson prevented total disaster. He's the guy you'll want to own, if you're speculating on future closers.

Miguel Castro earned a four-out save against the O's on Wednesday, although it wasn't exactly uneventful. He allowed a ground-rule double and a walk to open the ninth, but pulled out of the nosedive with a K and DP. Can't say I'm completely confident in the kid, despite the impressive early ratios.

No need to jump on Steve Geltz, you guys. He picked up a rogue save on Wednesday, but closer Brad Boxberger did some heavy lifting of his own, striking out Papi, Hanley and Napoli in the seventh inning of a tied game. Well played, Rays.

Chris Carter is a notorious binge/bust player who appears to be heating up, finally. He homered in a loss at Seattle on Wednesday — his first extra-base hit of the year — finishing 2-for-4 and raising his season slash to a still-terrible .122/.218/.184. Carter has reached base five times over the past two days, which of course is a nice sign. He was miserable last April as well, yet still finished with 37 bombs. When you drafted him, you had to know the lows would be very, very low.

We end with brutal injury news regarding Joe Nathan, who left a minor league rehab appearance after only 10 pitches on Wednesday...

Joe Nathan has a UCL and flexor pronator tear. He will undergo surgery. His season is over.

— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) April 23, 2015

Nathan gave us a bumpy ride last year, sure, but let's remember that his prime years were ridiculously great. He's the active leader in career saves, seventh on the all-time list, and a six-time all-star. He posted sub-2.00 ERAs in five different seasons and sub-1.00 WHIPs six times. He's clearly on the short-list of the best closers in the game's history.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 23, 2015, 3:07 pm

With this season's schedule released, fantasy football owners are already plotting which commodities have the friendliest/unfriendliest slates. Yes, no two years are ever the same, but much can be gleaned from the path of opponents. Our group of analysts, ever insightful and strongly opinionated, provide their gut reactions. Who should you target? Who should you avoid? What "expert" hyped player should you fade? Read our takes below: 

Brandon: "Past performance does not guarantee future returns." This is a mantra we preach over and over again when it comes to fantasy football SOS. But, that said, are we really going to ignore the juicy release of the 2015 NFL schedule? Of course not. So here's my first sleeper-ish offering for the upcoming season: Jonathan Stewart.

The Panthers back closed out last season averaging 96.7 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry in his final seven games (including two postseason contests). And look that '15 schedule - 11 of his 16 opponents finished among the 11 most generous defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to the RB position, and he'll face five of them in his final five games of the season. Sure, some of those teams will be better at stopping the run, but still ...

Andy:  I sincerely wish I could share your excitement over the release of the schedule, you guys. But I've got Bears problems over here. Metaphorically, the NFL drew me in close on Tuesday night, and then it kneed me in the groin. Stole my phone, my keys. Left me whimpering in the dark.

First, this piece of news leaked in the afternoon:

2015 NFL schedule: It'll be Bears at Packers on Thanksgiving night --> http://t.co/hAJH7wFvzR

— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 21, 2015

Green Bay gets Chicago as its homecoming game, basically. Terrific. When the full Bears' schedule was finally released, the opening weeks were like a roadmap of pain : GB, Ari, at Sea, Oak, at KC, at Det.

It reeks of 0-3, then 1-5. Brutal way to open a season. Schedule-release day is supposed to be a time when NFL fans convince themselves of their team's path to 10 or 12 wins. I'm really not sure I can see six on this schedule. I'd been trying to cook up some enthusiasm for the dawn of the John Fox era, but, well ... I got nothin'.

Scott: I generally consider SOS to be a fool's errand for fantasy, especially asking for an eight-month look ahead. Most of my fantasy theory is based on playing for today and the very immediate future; worry about qualifying for the playoffs, not the Week 16 matchup that's several months in the distance.

If you insist on some sort of SOS in August, I'll crank something out for you. But instead of using 2014 records of opponents, let's work off the 2015 Over/Unders that Vegas releases. That's a better representation of strength (even better would be to evaluate the rushing and passing defenses; we can take a stab at that in August, too). I also might assemble a SOS strictly for September, approaching the season in 3-4 week segments. Again, the idea is not to look too far into the distance. 

If you insist on the omniscient look ahead, I like what the Packers face in Weeks 14-16. The Dallas-Green Bay game in Week 14 will surely have a lofty over/under, and the Packers get a weather-protected game in Week 15, on the road against a Raiders team that will probably be hapless again. A road game at Arizona in Week 16 looks more tricky, but at least it's indoors on a quick surface - and don't forget the tap dance Seattle did in Arizona last year, Week 16. It's not like "start your Packers" qualifies as any sort of deep fantasy dive, but this still looks like a favorable draw. 

Dalton: It's crazy to think about defenses four months from now, let alone toward the end of 2015, but if I'm going to take a stab at looking toward the fantasy playoffs schedule, C.J. Anderson's stands out. Assuming he remains Denver's lead back, he should be plenty productive in that offense regardless of opponent, but a home game in Week 14 against a Raiders D that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing backs last season looks enticing. Week 16 features another home matchup against a Cincy front seven that ceded the sixth-most fantasy points to RBs. Anderson could easily be the No. 1 ranked RB during the first week of the fantasy playoffs, as it's usually safe to bet against Oakland's defense.

Brad: Newly canonized RB, C.J. Spiller, could experience a rebirth of sorts as a Saint. New Orleans, including its eight games in the Superdome, is scheduled to play 11 contests indoors (Possibly 12 if Houston decides to keep it cozy Nov. 29). Spiller's history under a roof is quite excitable. Over 11 career games, he's averaged 5.87 yards per carry. In an offense expected to be more conservative, it's possible he generates quality RB2 numbers in 12-team PPR leagues. Yes, even with Mark Ingram acting as primary ball carrier. 

Andy: Fantasy-wise, we're all anxious to see how Seattle uses Jimmy Graham, a guy who hasn't seen fewer than 125 targets in any of the past four seasons. Last year, Doug Baldwin led the Seahawks in targets with 98. If Graham doesn't see heavy usage in September, we may have to issue a sell order.

Brad: My man love for Teddy Bridgewater in 2015 is no secret. His plush arsenal of Mike Wallace/Charles Johnson/Kyle Rudolph and presumed departure of Adrian Peterson only stokes the fire. So does his end-of-season schedule. Minnesota is slated to face Arizona, Chicago and the New York Giants during the fantasy playoffs. All three ranked inside the top-seven in most fantasy points allowed to passers last year. Sure, defensive turnover is assumed, but Bridgewater, who posted three 22-plus fantasy point efforts in his last four rookie season games, is poised for a statistical leap. At an affordable cost, he must be pursued.  

Dalton: On the flip side of the fantasy playoffs schedule, Tre Mason's looks awfully tough. The Rams get a Lions defense in Week 14 that allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing RBs last year (although admittedly Detroit lost Ndamukong Suh during the offseason) and a Seahawks front seven in Week 16 that yielded the third-fewest points to enemy backs. If you're debating between Mason and another running back at your draft table, this could be used as a tie breaker.

Scott: The Patriots start off the season with a monumental break - Pittsburgh opening night, without Le’Veon Bell - but fantasy owners might not appreciate what the Pats face in December. New England’s fantasy playoff slate has two major road-blocks in place, J.J. Watt and Co. in Week 14 (at Houston) and the retooled Jets in Week 16 (don’t laugh, that defense is nasty and it usually plays New England well).

The friendliest New England matchups, on paper, appear to be in the first half of the season. Then again, Bill Belichick teams tend to improve as the season goes along, so maybe some of this is muted. At least we have 4-5 months to figure it all out. 

Brandon: At wide receiver, make sure to bump up Saints second-year wideout Brandin Cooks, who is likely to be discounted a bit for missing the final six games of '14 due to injury. His schedule, at least on paper, is Downy soft (can say that for pretty much any skill position player in the NFC South), and the team lost up-and-comer wideout Kenny Stills in the offseason. He'll play a major role in the Saints offense in '15.


Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 22, 2015, 5:00 pm

Another day, another MLB bargain hunt. Let's build a responsible lineup, together. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing selections.

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Mike Moustakas, 3B, vs. Min (Pelfrey), $3000 at FanDuel: As you may have already noticed, I never pass on an opportunity to abuse Big Pelf. Moose is off to a terrific start this season (.327/.413/.545, 3 HR), plus he's facing a sketchy right-hander against whom he's had success (3-for-6, HR, 4 RBIs, BB). I'm in.

Joe Mauer, 1B, at KC (Guthrie), $2900: Same game, different LHB. Mauer hasn't exactly surged to begin the season, but he's coming off a 2-for-4 performance and he has a decent history against Guthrie (9-for-25, 3 HR, 6 BB, K). If you're buying one of Wednesday's pricier starting pitchers (as you probably should), then you're going to need to go cheap somewhere.

Stephen Vogt, C, at LAA (Weaver), $3600: Jered Weaver, as you might have heard, has not pitched particularly well thus far. His fastball velocity has dipped to Moyer levels (83.3 mph) and his WHIP is 1.53. This should be a great spot for Vogt, a left-handed hitting backstop off to a roaring start (.349/.440/.744).

Alejandro De Aza, OF, at Tor (Sanchez), $2900: De Aza homered off Sanchez earlier this season, going 2-for-3 against the young right-hander. Sanchez has opened the year with back-to-back sloppy outings (8.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB); I'm expecting the O's to get to him again.

Jake Marisnick, OF, at Sea (Happ), $2600: Marisnick is simply raking for the Astros, slashing .361/.415/.556 with a homer and four steals. He was a recommended play on Tuesday, and he delivered a 2-for-2 line with a walk, one RBI and two runs-scored. J.A. Happ doesn't frighten you, does he? No, didn't think so.

Wil Myers, OF, at Col (Kendrick), $3800: Here's another repeat play, because the price is so friendly. Myers is hitting atop the Pads' order, he's coming off a pair of multi-hit games, and he's playing at Coors Field. For the season, he's batting .313/.343/.453 with 10 RBIs, plus he's crossed the plate 14 times. So much fantasy goodness here.

Archie Bradley, SP, vs. Tex (Gallardo), $7300: I'm actually rolling with David Price in nearly all lineups (vs. NYY), because he's such an overwhelming favorite against Adam Warren. Generally speaking, I don't like to mess around with non-elite starters. But if you're looking for a low-cost pitching option, please consider Bradley, a talented rookie drawing a home start against a not-so-great team. Bradley has been excellent in his first two MLB starts, tossing 12.2 innings and allowing just five hits while striking out 10. Walks have been a longtime problem for Archie, but his stuff is legit.

Kevin Plawecki, C, vs. Atl (Stults), $2500: So far, so good. The Mets' rookie backstop went 2-for-4 in his debut, scoring twice. Details here. I like his chances to do some damage against Stults, a low-K lefty. Plawecki hit .292/.368/.435 in his minor league career, entering the 2015 season ranked among baseball's better catching prospects.

Kris Bryant, 3B, at Pit (Worley), $3800: He's scorching hot at the moment (.444 AVG), and I fully expect him to swat his first major league homer on Wednesday, off of Vance Worley. (Opposite field shot, maybe 390-feet give or take.) Bryant feels like a bargain at anything less than $4000.

Seth Smith, OF, vs. Hou (Hernandez), $2400: Platoon hero Seth Smith carries a friendly price, and he's facing an inviting right-handed starter. I'll take it. Smith is 4-for-10 in his career against Roberto Hernandez, if you're into batter-vs.-pitcher history.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 22, 2015, 4:13 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Wednesday's profile: Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah.

College Highlights: The second-team All-America and Doak Walker finalist had a splendid run in his four years with the Cornhuskers. He's the only player in school history to rush for three-consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Over his collegiate career, he amassed 4,588 rushing yards, second only to Mike Rozier all-time at Nebraska. His 174.8 all-purpose yards per game was the fourth-highest in college football last year. He also found the end zone 22 times in 13 games. Over his 813 career carries, he netted a sensational 5.64 yards per carry. No dummy, the history major was academic All-Big Ten in 2013 and 2014. 

Pluses: Attempting to tackle Abdullah is trying to wrangle a ghost. His ankle-breaking cuts, balance, patience, vision and burst make him highly elusive. Gets downhill quickly and finishes runs strong. Chooses to attack aggressively. Instead of running side-to-side in an attempt to hit home runs he seeks out cutback lanes and creases to maximize the most of what defenses give him. Accomplished receiver who hauled in 73 passes in four seasons with the 'Huskers. Shifty in space. Great pad level strong 'power' indicator despite underwhelming size (5-foot-9, 205 pounds). Burrows in short-yardage. High character player with superb leadership qualities. Excelled in agility tests at the Combine leading all RBs in the three-cone, 20-yard/60-yard shuttles, broad jump and vertical jump. 

Minuses: Abdullah isn't a burner by any stretch. He clocked a 4.60 40-yard dash at the Combine, but did follow up with a 4.53 at Nebraska's pro day. His smallish build likely means he's destined for a tandem backfield. Pass pro is average at best. Must show competency in that area immediately if he wants to earn noteworthy touches in 2015. Plagued by occasional butter hands. Coughed it up an unacceptable 13 times in four years in Lincoln. 

Pro Comp(s): Justin Forsett, Andre Ellington, Giovani Bernard, Pierre Thomas, Ahmad Bradshaw

Team Fits: Baltimore, Arizona, Dallas, Minnesota, Jacksonville

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 125-135 (RB38)/$8-$12

Fearless Forecast: Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon have, understandably, received more pub than Abdullah, but the firefly is a fantastic talent who could prove instantly useful in PPR settings. His eagle eyes and cutting skills are perfect fits for a zone-blocking scheme. However, unless he blasts oncoming rushers in training camp, he could be nothing more than a role player initially. Still, there's enormous potential for him, pending landing spot. His work ethic and unique on-field contributions will be viewed appreciably in war rooms. If he shines in camp, it's no stretch to think he registers 40-plus catches for 900-1100 combined yards and a handful of scores this fall. Label him an upside bench back in 12-team leagues. 

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Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 22, 2015, 1:27 pm

The Mesa Years (Upper Deck)For a solid 20 years, the Pirates didn’t have to evaluate their bullpen situation with any great deal of urgency. The Bucs downshifted into non-contender mode after the 1992 season (not coincidentally, when Barry Bonds left town), and Pittsburgh didn’t see a single winning club from 1993 to 2012. When you’re not a threat for the playoffs, every situation takes on a little less gravity. Small brushfires don’t turn into ten-alarm calls.

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Ah, but the 2015 Pirates are different. The Men of Clint Hurdle are coming off two straight playoff appearances, and they’re expected to contend again this year. So when their closer goes off the rails, even in a smaller sample, it’s something we have to take seriously.

Mark Melancon, you’re on the hot seat.

The Pirates closer suffered his first blown save of the year in Tuesday’s 9-8 loss to the Cubs, giving up three hits, two walks and three runs over a messy ninth inning. It’s the second three-run hiccup for Melancon, who now sports an 8.53 ERA. Batters swung and missed at his pitches 13.7 percent of the time last year; in the short sample of 2015, that number has tumbled to 7.6 percent. 

It’s important to look at the genesis over the results, and that’s really the crux of the problem. Melancon’s velocity has fallen off a cliff thus far in 2015. His fastball is down almost five mph, and his cutter and curve have dropped a couple of ticks on the gun. The Pirates insist Melancon isn’t hurt, for what that means, but something seems wrong. 

Pittsburgh has one of the best pitching coaches in the business - take a bow, Ray Searage - so if there’s any team that can get this fixed in short order, it’s the Bucs. But what if Melancon’s velocity drop is tied to a physical issue? We need to do our full diligence here, take a look around the bullpen. 

Lefty Tony Watson has been a key bullpen deputy for the last few years, posting superb ratios. He collected 10 sneaky wins last year, a couple of leftover saves, along with a 1.63 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. He’s the type of reliever you can roster simply for the quality innings. He hasn’t been terrific through his first nine innings this year (4 R, 2 HR), but then you see nine strikeouts against zero walks and you feel better. 

Of course, you know a lot of teams really don’t want to close with a southpaw. 

Tall right-hander Jared Hughes is coming off a 1.96/1.09 season of his own, though it was a pitch-to-contact special (19 BB, 36 K) that makes you suspicious. On the plus side, the strikeouts have been there in 2015. Arquimedes Caminero has a fastball in the mid-to-high 90s, if you want to see the radar gun pop, but he hasn't been anything special to this point. 

If I had to speculate on a non-Melancon option here, Watson’s my play. The velocity drop makes me nervous. And while smarter teams tend to be patient with most of their early slumpers, if there’s one position where the rules don’t completely apply, it’s at closer. Whatever gets you through the ninth. 

• Just when we get excited for Jake Lamb, he goes out and wrecks the story with a foot injury. He’s on the DL, will miss a couple of weeks at minimum. This opens up the door for Cuban import Yasmani Tomas

No one trusts Tomas as a fielder, but the club thought his bat was worth $68.5 million. Tomas picked up a start Tuesday against Texas and went 2-for-3 with a run scored, working out of the No. 6 slot in the lineup. Might be worth a kick of the tires. He's still unowned in about 60 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

Walk this way (AP/Elaine Thompson)• For one night at least, Taijuan Walker found the answer to what ails him. If you spend a few hours with the Astros lineup, good things happen. Walker piled up 102 pitches before six innings were complete, but the line was fantasy friendly (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 8 K). He started off 17 of 25 batters with a strike, a huge key going forward. I’m not confident in Walker's upcoming turn at Texas, but dial him up on May 2, when he draws Houston again. Keep hacking, hackers. 

Of course the Astros got the last laugh, scoring five runs in the eighth inning and flipping the game, a 6-3 victory. It was a favorable night if you own Fernando Rodney - he fanned the side in the ninth (on just 15 pitches), in a get work inning, while Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar blew up in the eighth. Shoot that poison arrow through my heart. 

• I dialed up a few Timmy Lincecum shares in DFS for Tuesday night, so I enjoyed his win over LA as much as anyone. But it’s not an easy story to invest in long-term.

Lincecum has somehow posted a 2.00 ERA despite a two-mph dip in velocity, a modest strikeout rate (7/9) and an ordinary WHIP (1.22). Getting ground balls 60.4 percent of the time has helped, sure, but he’s also been lucky on the FB/HR rate, after three years of gopheritis. You obviously can’t use him at Coors Field this weekend, and a game against the Angels is no bargain, either. For now, Mitch Kramer's lookalike is just one for the streamer pool. Look out for O'Bannion, I hear he's on the warpath. 

For the struggling Giants offense, a six-run output was reason for celebration. San Francisco still ranks 28th in scoring, but maybe a weekend trip to Coors will perk up some of their hitters.

Buster Posey could be worth the outlay in the DFS world, especially when the Giants face a couple of left-handers. Posey is a .330/.391/.573 career batter when holding the platoon advantage. And if Posey needs a day off (or a start at first), Andrew Susac is a tremendous fill-in, a Fan Duel giveaway at $2200. On a lot of teams, he'd be a 20-homer catcher right away. 

• Better days are surely ahead, but Carlos Rodon wasn't ready for his closeup Tuesday against Cleveland. Check that - Rodon's outstanding moustache (straight out of the Sabotage video) made for a lovely picture, but he might have been a touch nervous (call it "amped up" if you prefer) in his big-league debut.

Rodon couldn't locate most of his pitches during the laboring 60-pitch relief appearance (2.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 1 K), and the Indians only swung and missed three times against him. A shift to the rotation certainly isn't imminent, no matter how mediocre the back end of Chicago's rotation may be. It's not going to happen overnight. 

• The Reds and Brewers played a keg-tapper, with Zack Cozart getting the best of it (5-3-3-3, two homers, one steal). He’s now clocked four homers in four games, and is up to .353. It’s tempting to simply dispatch the guy after his awful 2014 season, but Cozart was a .254-74-12-63 man two seasons ago, and he has the potential to be around 6-10 steals. How desperate did you say you were in the middle?

We should also mention, he's batted eighth in all but one game this season. Cozart is free to add in 83 percent of Yahoo leagues, if you're frisky for a pickup. 

More Fantasy coverage from Yahoo Sports:

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 22, 2015, 12:47 pm

George Springer generated plenty of fantasy buzz in '14 with 20 home runs in his 78-game MLB debut, but it's no secret that his contact issues make him a batting average liability. With just one home run through his first 13 games of '15, to go along with 18 strikeouts and a sub-Mendoza BA, what is your state of concern in regards to Springer - O/U .235 batting average and 25.5 home runs?

Brandon –   UNDER on the batting average, OVER on the home runs. Springer has whiffed at a 33.5% rate in his young MLB career, and you just don't find too many guys that have hit over .235 with a K rate above 30 percent - Mike Napoli and Chris Davis are among the recent exceptions, but the majority end up languishing near the Mendoza Line. As for the home runs, well, we've already seen that he can go on a hard-core binge in that department. I expect he'll ride a power wave or two en route to 26-28 homers.

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Scott – The only thing to be optimistic about is the early steals. With all those strikeouts, I can't see Springer hitting for a workable average. Call it UNDER on the BA, though I do think he'll hit 26-30 home runs. The Astros will live with his flaws, play him every day. 

Andy – I'll take the UNDER on both stats, but my rest-of-season projections would actually come in very close to these numbers. I think a reasonable forecast would be something like .232, with the possibility of a 20/20 season in terms of power and speed.

Another vaunted Cubs prospect, middle infielder Addison Russell, has joined the party in the Windy City. What should fantasy owners expect - project his roto line?

Dalton – I'll say Russell goes .240-55-12-50-5. He's a great real life prospect and possibly a great fantasy option down the road, but I wouldn't expect too much in 2015. 

Andy – I have to say, the timing of this call-up surprised me. I didn't expect Russell to be parked in Iowa until June, necessarily, because the Cubs are clearly playing to win this year. But I did think the organization would allow additional development time for a kid who's only played 14 games at Triple-A. Put me down for .257-54-8-56-8. Great prospect, no question, but the learning curve ahead is steep.

Scott – Call it .265-58-11-54-7. Basically this is a little like Starlin Castro 2.0, with a much higher down-the-road upside. I'm curious where Russell will slot in the lineup to begin with; I suspect it will be in the second half. 

Rank these middle infielders that are currently available in at least 25 percent of Yahoo leagues in order of projected ROS fantasy value - Jean Segura, Chase Utley, Devon Travis, Brett Lawrie, Marcus Semien and Addison Russell (for this exercise, let's assume he already arrived in Chicago)

Brandon – SEGURA (capable of stealing more bases than the others' combined HR+SB totals); Devon Travis (Given tenuous nature of Jose Reyes' health, Travis could end up logging plenty of at-bats in the leadoff spot for a top 5 MLB offense); Chase Utley (but, given his age, I'm concerned about his second-half slide in '14 now bleeding into his '15 start); Semien; Lawrie; Russell

Scott – Now that SEGURA is forced into a good lineup slot, he's very playable for fantasy. He gets my baton, no matter that everything else is a mess in Milwaukee right now. The rest: Utley, Travis, Russell, Semien, Lawrie (fix that eye black, man).  

Andy – SEGURA, Utley, Semien, Travis and Russell. I've made a clean break with Brett Lawrie, and you will not force me to consider him. No way. Nuh-uh. No, no, no.

Cubs rookie Kris Bryant got his big league call last week. Now that he has a few games under his belt in Chicago, what kind of power impact do you expect the young slugger to make - O/U .4999 Slugging% (and throw in a HR projection while you're at it)?

Scott – He'll slug OVER .500, I'd prop anything on that. This is someone who can hit opposite-field home runs without really catching the ball. Give him 27 homers for Year 1, with 35-40 not far away. I'll gulp the Kool-Aid. 

Andy – Well OVER. Bryant slugged .661 in the high minors last season, and he was at .679 over his first seven games at Iowa this year. My power projections for Bryant have consistently been in the 26-28 range, so that's where I'll stay.

Dalton – OVER. I see a slugging percentage around .515 to go along with 28 homers for the talented rookie. 

The South Side of Chicago also witnessed another much-anticipated prospect call-up when the White Sox promoted southpaw sensation Carlos Rodon this week, though they plan to use him in relief initially. What kind of innings and strikeout impact will the future ace have in his rookie campaign- O/U 119.2 IP and 119.9 strikeouts?

Brandon –   OVER/OVER. He may be starting out in the pen, but that won't last long with Hector Noesi and John Danks currently sitting at the back-end of the rotation for a team that feels it has a realistic shot at a deep postseason run. I think Rodon's going to be able fan hitters at (or very near) a K/IP rate, and even if he isn't moved into a rotation spot until early June, that would be enough time to log the innings needed here.

Andy – OVER x 2. No one should be scared off by his early season usage. This is pretty clearly about managing his innings. I fully expect him to be starting in May, because the back end of the White Sox rotation is simply abysmal.

Dalton – OVER and OVER. I expect Rodon to finish with around 120 strikeouts over 120.0 innings pitched.

Seattle offseason acquisition Nelson Cruz has been exactly what the team hoped he'd be, crushing eight home runs through his first dozen games as a Mariner. While it's probably unrealistic to think he can duplicate last season's total of 40 HRs considering the move to a tougher home park, can he at least finish with the second-highest HR mark of his career - O/U 33.5 HRs?

Brandon –  OVER. While no Mariner has come close to this mark in the past few seasons, we've seen players like Raul Ibanez and Russell Branyan top 30 home runs in a full season with Safeco as the home park, and the 34 HR mark has been crossed a half dozen times by a Seattle player in the past 15 years, and those guys did it before the fences were moved in. So, yes, Cruz can definitely get it done.

Andy – I would have taken the under just two weeks ago, but at this point he only needs another 26 homers to clear this mark. Gimme the OVER. And yes, I regret owning zero shares.

Dalton – OVER. I have zero shares of Cruz, as I actively avoided him in March. But I'm regretting it now, as he sure looks the same as he did last season. I now fully expect another 35-plus bombs from him. 

Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer ranks as a top 10 fantasy commodity (through April 19). After striking out 173 batters last season, and currently sitting on 21 punchouts in 19.2 IP, how high will Archer's K arrow fly this season - O/U 189.5 strikeouts?

Brandon – UNDER. I definitely think Archer is capable of getting this done - he wasn't all that far off this mark last season, and his K rate has risen steadily over the course of his young MLB career. But for this to happen, all would have to go smoothly in terms of health. And that's always a risky proposition for MLB starters.

Scott – OVER. Life is groovy under the catwalk, and we no longer have to worry about innings restrictions. 

Dalton – OVER. Of course this requires him staying healthy, which is no sure thing for any pitcher, let alone one who throws so many sliders. But if he can stay on the mound, Archer should beat this mark, possibly by a wide margin. He currently sports a 13.3 SwStr%. 

Which struggling veteran southpaw, similarly ranked in preseason ADP, do you expect to have the highest ROS fantasy value - Cole Hamels or Jon Lester?

BrandonHAMELS. Off to a 4-9 start, things are going as expected in Philly, and I expect a much-needed change of scenery to be coming Hamels' way (via a trade) at some point in the next few months. Hamels' K/BB rate, as well as fastball velocity, are right at his career averages, and he's been slow out of the gates the past couple years, so there's reasons to believe this is just a smal speedbump for Hamels.

Dalton – HAMELS. I'm worried about both, but it's Lester's drop in velocity that concerns me most. Although if both can turn it around, Lester's setup is much more favorable.

Scott – LESTER. His velocity dip isn't much different than Hamels', so I don't make my decision based on that. Lester's left-on base percentage is a stone fluke, though, and the K-rate is still decent. Now that he's mastered the glove-ball toss to first base, he can get over the yips. 

Dating back to last season, Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma has an ERA of more than 7.50 over his past 10 starts. Is this the beginning of the end for 'Kuma, or can he right the ship - O/U 3.749 rest-of-season ERA?

Brandon – OVER. He's a 34-year-old armed with an 88 mph fastball - he needs to be almost perfect these days to not get hit hard. And, with a 4.15 ERA in the second half of last season, along with five home runs allowed already this season, he's clearly finding perfection to be elusive. He may be able to rebound and get his rest-of-season ERA under 4.00, but 3.75 looks unattainable at this point.

Dalton – OVER. I don't think he's totally done, but I do expect an ERA around 4.00 from here on out, as his best days appear behind him. 

Scott – OVER. I worry about the age-34 season for someone who needs pinpoint control. We're talking about someone who sits in the high 80s with his heater. Keep in mind he stumbled down the stretch last year, and although we're early in 2015, every stat you'd care about (other than velocity) is moving in the wrong direction. 

Rank these middle relievers in terms of ROS fantasy value - Cody Martin (Atl), Yimi Garcia (LAD), Ken Giles (Phi), Jordan Walden (StL), Sergio Romo (SF), Joe Smith (LAA), Kelvin Herrera (KC)?

Scott – I hate to be all about the handshake, but GILES has the best chance to eventually be a ninth-inning man, and that does matter in the 5x5 world. The rest: Garcia (love that singing K/BB rate), Smith (Street always breaks for a few weeks), Romo, Herrera, Walden, Martin. 

Andy – Well, the player most likely to inherit a closing gig here is GILES, so I suppose I need to lean his way. After that, I'll take Garcia, Walden, Herrera, Romo, Smith and Martin.

Dalton – KEN GILES. He seems to have righted the ship of late, and there remains a very strong probability Jonathan Papelbon is traded at some point. 

Author: Brandon Funston
Posted: April 21, 2015, 4:30 pm

We've got action at Coors Field on Tuesday, with a pitching matchup that shouldn't scare anyone away (Morrow vs. Matzek). You know what to do. Additionally, a few of MLB's worst starters are on the bump. Plenty of matchups to exploit today, gamers. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing selections.

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Wil Myers, OF, at Col (Matzek), $3700 at FanDuel: Myers is off to a respectable start this season, plus he's coming off a three-run, 2-for-6 performance on Monday. Colorado starter Tyler Matzek has allowed a .300/.369/.454 slash to RHBs over 22 career big league appearances, so multiple Padres are in play on Tuesday. Even this dude...

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, at Col (Matzek), $2900: Gyorko has been getting himself on base in recent games, and he's 4-for-7 in his career against Matzek with a double and a pair of walks. At this price, I'm interested.

Derek Norris, C, at Col (Matzek), $3000: Norris is a disrespected fantasy commodity who finds himself in a nice situation, typically batting either second or fifth for San Diego. He doubled twice against the Rockies on Monday, crossing the plate three times in a 3-for-5 performance. Assuming he starts tonight, Norris should give us another five or six plate appearances at Coors.

Carlos Carrasco, SP, at CWS (Noesi), $9100: Carrasco's last outing did not go as planned, as he allowed a pair of first-inning singles and was removed after taking a liner to the face. Not good. But he avoided significant injury, and he returns to the mound to face the dreadful Hector Noesi (soon to be replaced by Carlos Rodon, hopefully). Despite the fact that Carrasco is on the road, it's tough not to like his chances to collect a W.

Adam Lind, 1B, vs. Cin (Marquis), $3300: Lind has been plenty productive in the opening weeks (.302/.400/.488), and, well ... just look at the matchup. JASON MARQUIS, you guys. I'm playing a few Milwaukee-heavy daily lineups on Tuesday, featuring Lind and Khris Davis ($2600).

Jake Marisnick, OF, at Sea (Walker), $2600 : Marisnick is dirt-cheap and hitting well at the moment (.324/.351/.529), plus he gets to face a struggling 22-year-old starter. The only issue with Marisnick is that he does his hitting at the bottom of Houston's order, although that's obviously less of a concern in the A.L. He offers pop, speed and an appealing price-tag.

Daniel Murphy, 2B, vs. Atl (Cahill), $3100: Oh, hey, look: Trevor Cahill is in action on Tuesday. Set the controls; fire at will. You'll want a few shares of the Mets' lineup, I'm thinking. Murphy hasn't exactly been locked in (.502 OPS), but we know he's much better than his current numbers. Facing Cahill, I'm giving Murphy a good shot at his first multi-hit game of the year.

Wilmer Flores, SS, vs. Atl (Cahill), $2700: Flores has homered in two of his last three games, going 4-for-11 with five RBIs during that stretch. And again: Cahill on the mound. Yes, please. Flores is a reverse-split guy, much better against RHPs than lefties, so don't get hung up on handedness.

Francisco Liriano, SP, vs. CHC (Wood), $8400: Liriano has really pitched well in his first two starts (0.77 WHIP), without a win for his efforts. He'll face a young Cubs lineup full of guys who've barely seen him (and others who can't touch him. Starlin Castro is 2-for-20 with six Ks against Liriano). Chicago is an ascending team, sure, but this is a degree-of-difficulty matchup.

Michael Bourn, OF, at CWS (Noesi), $2500: Bourn is 4-for-7 lifetime against Noesi with a homer and five RBIs. It feels as if they entire world is 4-for-7 against Noesi, honestly. Please try to have a few shares of Cleveland's batting order on Tuesday.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 21, 2015, 2:29 pm

Ah, Chicago. Come for the culture, the bars and the pizza, stay for the prospects.  

Addison Russell, come on down.

The news leaked out late Monday – the Cubs are going to promote Russell, another touted prospect, in advance of Tuesday’s game at Pittsburgh. It looks like Russell will settle in as the team’s new second baseman.

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Kris Bryant, Carlos Rodon, now Russell - it’s been a fun five days. 

The speedy promotion speaks to how highly the organization regards Russell. The 21-year-old infielder has been a shortstop for most of his pro career, but the Cubs still made the call after watching him play a week of second base at Triple-A Iowa. Russell also saw some keystone time in the Arizona Fall League, but it’s still a new position for him.

Fantasy owners want to talk about the offensive profile, of course, and there’s a lot to like. Russell posted a .301/.377/.520 slash line through his 244 Bush League games, with a mix of power (38 homers) and speed (44 bags in 53 attempts). He was off to a .318/.326/.477 start with Iowa this spring, through 11 games (five at second base, six at shortstop). 

Unlike Bryant, the Cubs are unlikely to give Russell a premium lineup spot right away. The 2-3-4 combination of Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo and Bryant seems chiseled in granite, and my guess is the club doesn’t want to take Dexter Fowler out of the leadoff spot, slow start to the side. Russell could easily wind up batting sixth, seventh or ninth – remember, the Cubs are one of those new-agy teams that use their pitchers in the eighth spot, even the ones who can’t hit. 

The normal rules apply with buzzy promotions – add first, ask questions (and seek possible trades) later. Russell is still available in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues as we go to press. He’s a Top 5 prospect on everyone’s clipboard. He’s capable of filling all five roto categories down the road. Maybe he’ll produce right away, maybe he won’t, but when we see theoretical upside on the table, we have to take a stab. 

• Given the current state of offense in the majors, we have to adjust our view of batting average. A hitter around .240-.250 might still be rostering if he can do other things, like knock a ball over the fence once in a while. It’s one reason why Evan Gattis still has plenty of believers (along with Gattis’s catcher tag). And it’s also a frame that supports the deeper-league case for Luis Valbuena

You remember Valbuena from his days with the Cubs. He snuck into some fantasy value last year, giving us a .249/.341/.435 slash with 16 homers over 149 games. Not bad pop for a middle infielder, and while the average was less than ideal, he became more playable in OBP formats. 

Valbuena was the star of Houston’s 7-5 victory over the Mariners on Tuesday, clobbering a pair of no-doubt homers. He’s still hitting a scant .244, but he’s found the seats five times and carries a couple of positions of eligibility (second, third). The Astros like to jump him around in the lineup, using him second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth over the opening couple of weeks. I’m not trying to sell Valbuena as a possible star, but at eight-percent owned, he’s underrated in Yahoo leagues. 

Semi-Ancient Mariner? (Getty)• Hisashi Iwakuma allowed one of the Valbuena homers, part of his third straight disappointing turn (6.61 ERA). Iwakuma's velocity has been fine through two weeks, but he's showing problems in every other area. Strikeouts are down, walks up. Ground balls are down, line drives are up. He's allowed five homers. He's getting the worst swinging-strike rate of his career.

Iwakuma is a smart pitcher and maybe he'll figure things out in short order. The fan in me would love to see it; he's been a blast to watch through his short time in America. But we also have to consider that he's 34, and someone who's normally been effective largely due to his pinpoint control. If he's forced to live over the plate more this season, for any reason, or if his pitches start to possess less bite, I think there's a possible collapse season. The first moment you get a legitimate selling window, you might want to consider it. 

• The Tigers are a team built to win now – right now, please. Owner Mike Illitch desperately wants to win a World Series in his living years, and he turns 86 in July. The clock is ticking. 

GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Brad Ausmus sense the gravity of the situation, and with that in mind, I think Joakim Soria is going to keep the closing gig in Detroit all year. Soria picked up his fifth save on Monday, a smooth 1-2-3 ninth against the Yankees. 

Soria has allowed just one run this year (6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K), while Joe Nathan has been hell on wheels since the beginning of 2014 (4.78 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, seven blown saves). It was reasonable for Ausmus to not anoint Soria as the long-term solution when Nathan went on the disabled list, but the skipper seems to be backing off that now. If I owned Nathan in any mixed league (fortunately I do not), I’d have zero problem cutting him for any shiny new toy.

• It looks like we’re going to be targeting the Milwaukee offense for a while. Carlos Gomez is already on the DL, Jonathan Lucroy is about to join him, and Ryan Braun doesn’t look healthy to me, Monday’s homer to the side. Anthony DeSclafani had a walk in the park for his third start. (And to think, he was part of the Mat Latos trade.)

I’m not going to dial up Jason Marquis for Tuesday, but there are some interesting options to consider in a week or so (Bailey, Leake, maybe Chicago’s Wood and Hammel). Please take dead aim, Stream Police.

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 21, 2015, 12:29 pm

You know the drill, we’re offering up ten Daily Fantasy reccos in this space every night. Be sure to double-check lineups and weather before you commit. Please enjoy your April 20 lineup responsibly.  

Players to Buy 

Jake Arrieta, SP, at Pittsburgh (Burnett), $9200 on Fan Duel: I was all over Arrieta in the preseason, so I certainly like him in this cushy landing spot. The Pirates are third in strikeout rate and 28th in walk rate, and 23rd in weighted runs created. A.J. Burnett is a capable opponent, but at least Arrieta misses one of the true Pittsburgh aces.

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Anthony DeSclafani, SP, at Milwaukee (Peralta), $6900: Let’s take a look at this Milwaukee offense. Carlos Gomez, DL. Ryan Braun, possibly broken. Jonathan Lucroy, two-week slump. What is there to be afraid of? AD has two quality starts under his belt this year, piling up 11 strikeouts against three walks. He’s a solid choice if you like your pitchers on a budget. 

Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, vs. Houston (Wojciechowski), $8300: He hasn’t been at optimal sharpness through two starts, but now he’s at home against the biggest group of hackers in the American League. Good work if you can get it. Meanwhile, his offensive teammates are taking dead aim at a bottom-rotation option. 

Derek Norris, C, at Colorado (De La Rosa), $2800: This bus is sure to be crowded on Monday, especially with a limited slate, but you can’t ignore the case. Norris is a stud against left-handed pitching (.301/.379/.492, 16 homers and 396 at-bats), and then there’s the Planet Coors factor. 

Yangveris Solarte, 3B, at Colorado (De La Rosa), $2800: Here’s one guy you’ll definitely need lineup confirmation on, as he’s a part-timer for the Padres. Nonetheless, he’s off to a tasty .357 start for 2015, hitting a line-drive 23 percent of the time. In some deeper mixed leagues, I picked up some Solarte shares, thinking he could be a simpler NL version of Brock Holt. Versatility, always fun. If you prefer a cheaper San Diego bat, see if Will Middlebrooks or Jeff Gyorko are in Monday’s lineup.

Lineup Stack, Seattle vs. Houston (Wojciechowski): I invite you to Asher Wojciechowski’s minor-league profile, see if anything excites you. What excites me is seeing Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager both under $4000 on the Monday card. 

Lineup Stack, Colorado vs. San Diego (Despaigne): I’ll openly admit I enjoy watching Odrisamer Despaigne work at sea level, with his funky motion and junk-ball offerings. He reminds me a little of El Duque, Orlando Hernandez. But I dare the crafty junkballer to get away with it at Coors Field. Seek out the Rockies lineup before game-time locks and get some of them in your lineup. Most of them are “pay up” plays, but you might get a good value on a catcher or Justin Morneau. And maybe it’s worth paying the freight for the Tulos and Cargos and Dickersons, anyway. 

Melky Cabrera, OF, vs. Cleveland (Bauer), $2700: It’s been a sluggish start for Chicago’s new outfielder, but he’s still parked in a strong slot and lineup (and just in front of Jose Abreu). Trevor Bauer was strong in his first White Sox start, but I suspect a rematch so soon could be an advantage to the hitters. 

Rajai Davis, OF, vs. New York (Sabathia), $3300: He needs lineup confirmation, of course, but the Tigers know Davis is a .304/.359/.449 career slasher against lefties. And it’s not just any lefty he’s facing, it’s in-the-limelight CC Sabathia. At a mere $3300, this is an easy plug and play. 

Player to Fade

Neil Walker, 2B, vs. Chicago (Arrieta), $3300: Why go up against the best pitcher on the card if you don’t have to? Walker doesn’t have a ton of experience against Arrieta, but it’s mostly a washout (1-for-12, four strikeouts). I’d be surprised if the Bucs scored more than three runs Monday night. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 20, 2015, 6:15 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Monday's profile: Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams.

College Highlights: The Mackey Award finalist and second team All-American arguably owns the most long-term upside of any tight end in this year's class. In 25 career games with Minnesota he grabbed 61 passes for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns, averaging an impressive 16.2 yards per catch. His eight receiving TDs as a sophomore were the most ever by a Golden Gopher tight end in a single season. Was Academic All-Big Ten in 2012. 

Pluses: Williams was a combine wonder setting the pace at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.78), shuttle run, broad jump and vertical jump. He is by no means a blazer, but accelerates to top speed quickly. Combine that with his 6-foot-4 length and wide catch radius and he's an imposing target to contain inside the red zone and on seam outs across the middle. Excelled after the catch, particularly on designed screens. When the ball is in his hands, he lowers pad level and drives through contact. In general, he's fluid, shifty, athletic and blessed with large, soft hands. His outward appearance and outstanding playmaking ability explain why many scouts believe he's a future All-Pro. The son of a coach, he has high football aptitude. 

Minuses: Despite weighing in at 250 pounds, Williams needs to add muscle and strength to decisively win one-on-one matchups at the next level. Though he showed improvement as a route runner from his freshman-to-sophomore years, he's still relatively unpolished. Without exceptional speed and wiggle off-the-line cleverness will be key to gain separation. Blocking remains a work in progress. Snap count will be limited until coaches trust his execution in the ground game. 

Pro Comp(s): Jason Witten, Heath Miller, Dwayne Allen

Team Fits: Cleveland, Buffalo, New Orleans, Baltimore, Atlanta

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 200+/$1-$3

Fearless Forecast: It won't be long before fantasy owners want to hang at The Maxx. Still, history is typically unkind to first-year tight ends. Highly publicized youngsters Jace Amaro and Eric Ebron, for example, barely moved the meter last year. Additionally, Antonio Gates, Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen were minimal contributors in their inaugural campaigns. Really only Rob Gronkowski, who made a splash in 2010 with 10 TDs, was the rare rookie tight end to accumulate TE1 numbers out the gate. Keep in mind no rookie tight end has surpassed 900 yards in a season and only two since 2000 (Gronk and Aaron Hernandez) have eclipsed five scores in a season. Williams owns tremendous ball skills, but his somewhat svelte build and questionable blocking elongates the learning curve. He's a highly recommended investment for dynasty owners, but expect his maiden NFL voyage to be filled with more more valleys than peaks. 

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Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 20, 2015, 1:49 pm

Alex Rodriguez looks fantastic while off to a .316/.447/.711 start, and while it’s easy to say he’s going to regress, not all small samples are created equal when it comes to importance. It was fair to question whether Rodriguez was done as an impact hitter after missing all of last season thanks to a suspension, and he’ll turn 40 in July, so his hot start has certainly helped disprove that. ARod clearly worked hard during his time off (cue the jokes), and it’s been remarkable to see him turn on fastballs so well after slugging .430 in 2012 and .423 in 2013. In fact, there’s an argument the time off helped him heal, and this may be the first time Rodriguez has been truly healthy in years.

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He’s already back hitting in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup, and a full-time DH role should help him stay healthy. Rodriguez currently sports a K% (35.7) that’s nearly twice his career mark to go along with a .438 BABIP, so there’s no question his hot start includes good fortune. But he’s also walking a ton (16.7 BB%) while hitting a bunch of line drives (25%) and fly balls (50%), and third base looks awfully thin right now in the fantasy landscape. Despite some glaring stats that all but ensure some regression, I’d hold Rodriguez as opposed to trying to “sell high. “ Plus, sometimes it’s more fun to root for the villain. 

This person was in a big hurry to get through a car wash

Here’s a 92-year-old crashing into nine cars while attempting to exit a parking lot

This guy in a high-speed chase with the cops picked the wrong soccer mom to mess with

Cole Hamels somehow has nine walks and has allowed a whopping seven homers over 18.0 innings (although still maintaining a 1.17 WHIP). His velocity isn’t down, and his SwStr% (11.7) remains more than healthy, but while we can chalk up all the long balls to some poor luck, I have no idea what to make of all the walks. It also doesn’t help him pitching for a Phillies offense that’s been the worst in baseball. Realistically, there’s little else Hamels owners can do other than hold him and hope for the best. 

Headlines of the Week: Woman Blames Coffee-Drinking Parrot For Car Crash...32-Year-Old Woman Wakes Up Thinking She’s 15...Meet The Man Who Lives With Two Girlfriends – And Is Looking For A Third...Redhead Banned From School For Being Too Ginger...Earth’s Last Male Northern White Rhino Gets Personal Armed Bodyguards...Woman Gets Accused Of Sleeping With Entire Wu Tang Clan On ‘Divorce Court.’ 

Jordan Zimmermann is another hurler off to a shaky start, and while one outing in which he gave up seven earned runs over 2.1 innings is almost entirely responsible for his ugly ERA (6.14), there are other causes for concern. Zimmermann’s velocity has been way down, as he’s averaged just 91.9 mph with his fastball after getting 93.8 last season and 93.9 the two years before that. The result has been an anemic 4.2 SwStr% that’s the third lowest among all pitchers, and while he’s never been a huge strikeout guy, his current 7:5 K:BB ratio over 14.2 innings is especially ugly. Zimmermann also has to deal with a poor Washington defense and a Nats offense that’s been worse than expected, although the latter will hopefully improve as the team gets healthier. Zimmermann has a long track record of success, and the one outing in which he was bombed came in Fenway against one of the better offenses in baseball. Most encouragingly, he showed increased velocity during his last start, even reaching 95+ mph a couple of times. This could be a window to buy.

This might be the best ping-pong shot of all time

Here’s someone brilliantly giving his order at Starbucks as Karl from “Sling Blade.” 

This solved ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ puzzle was legit

Enough of the negativity regarding pitchers, as Danny Salazar is back! He struck out 10 over six innings during his first start after being recalled from the minors, featuring much better velocity than last year when he was dealing with an injury, so hopefully the Indians are finished messing with him. Salazar faces the Tigers in Detroit during his next start, so don’t worry if there’s a small hiccup soon, but over 168.0 career innings in the majors, he has a 27.5 K%, which is better than Clayton Kershaw’s career mark (26.4%). Of course his floor is low, but Salazar also has the upside to be a top-20 fantasy starter from here on out.

Police Blotter: Police Impersonator Pulls Over Detectives...Tulsa Roommates Stab Each Other Over Debate Between iPhone & Android...Shooting Suspect Wants ‘To Chill This Weekend,’ Will Turn Himself In Next Week...Man Arrested For Drunk Driving While On A Horse...Caged Puppies On Van Roof Trigger 911 Calls, Driver Unaware It’s Wrong.

Quick Hits: While Pablo Sandoval and Victor Martinez each produced their first extra-base hit of the year Sunday, Ryan Braun is still searching for his. I’m worried about Braun, and I’d sell him for 75 cents on the dollar right now...Devon Travis has a .356-9-3-12 line over 13 games (really 12, as he left Sunday after getting hit by a pitch in his first AB, an injury that hopefully proves minor after X-rays revealed no fractures). He’ll move back down in the lineup once Jose Reyes returns, but it’s crazy Travis is owned in just 55% of Yahoo leagues, as he should approach 15 homers with 10 steals this year, easy...Ian Desmond entered Sunday with eight errors on the season, more than 17 other teams in baseball (the Braves somehow have just one all season). Desmond has also botched more than a couple of would-be double plays, as he’s cost DFS owners of Nationals starting pitchers a countless amount of money early on...This is one of the worst baserunning mistakes you’ll ever see...Rookie pitchers are always risky, let alone ones who throw in a home park that’s increased run scoring (by 10%) more than any other than Coors Field over the past three years, but even while beginning in relief, Carlos Rodon should be owned in all fantasy leagues. His upside is worth it.

Longread of the Week: The Murder That Has Obsessed Italy.

Quick Hits Part Deux: Clayton Kershaw’s homer allowed to Charlie Blackmon on Friday matched the total he yielded against left-handers all of last season...Curtis Granderson currently sports a .340 OBP to go along with a .146 SLG. That’s not normal...Well, that’s one way for Jon Lester to work through his yips when throwing to first base...It’s safe to say fantasy owners expected more from Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich so far. The latter has hit two fly balls and 24 groundballs this year, which isn’t exactly conducive for home runs...This Bryce Harper homer was no joke...In the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday with runners on first and third in a tied game with one out, Austin Jackson took second base, which removed any option of an inning-ending double play and meant the middle infielders moved from playing in back to normal depth, yet the scorer ruled this “fielder’s indifference,” robbing Jackson owners of what should’ve been his first steal of the season. What an injustice...Neftali Feliz was left in to throw 47 pitches in this same game, which doesn’t exactly seem smart given his arm history...Sure, there’s no way he keeps this pace, but I can already safely say I was dead wrong about fading Nelson Cruz this season. He looks fantastic and is basically a must start in DFS against lefties. Cruz is going to approach 40 bombs once again, and I wanted no part of him in March.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 20, 2015, 9:29 am

By now you should all know the drill. We examine daily prices for 10 players, looking for bargains and busts. Let's get to work...

Players to buy:

Stephen Strasburg, SP, vs. Phi (Buchanan), $9,800 at FanDuel: He’s off to a shaky start, but Strasburg posted a 2.56 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP with 140 strikeouts over 116.0 innings last year at home, where he’ll be pitching Sunday against a Phillies offense that’s been the worst in baseball in 2015. There’s always danger in dealing with Washington’s poor defense (namely Ian Desmond), but the Nats are the biggest favorites on the board by a wide margin (-230). There are plenty of bargains to be had on the hitting side, so feel free to pay up for your SP on Sunday, where there are a handful of aces available. 

Matt Harvey, SP, vs. Mia (Koehler), $10,500: He may not pitch deep into games while recovering from TJ surgery, but Harvey’s sporting a 2.25 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP with a 17:1 K:BB ratio over 12.0 innings. The Marlins have also been susceptible to being fanned early on. The Mets are -190 in a game with the lowest O/U total (6.5) on the day.

Rickie Weeks, 2B, vs. Tex (Detwiler), $2,500: He has a strong track record against Ross Detwiler and typically hits lefties well. Weeks has also usually been used atop Seattle’s order when he’s in the lineup.

Erick Aybar, SS, at Hou (Feldman), $2,900: He’s off to an extremely slow start but owns a career .452/.485/.677 line over 31 career at bats against Scott Feldman.

Pedro Alvarez, 1B, vs. Mil (Garza), $3,400: He’s 8-for-18 with a .722 slugging percentage over 18 at bats over his career versus Matt Garza.

Torii Hunter, OF, vs. Cle (House), $2,200: He’s dirt cheap but typically hits well against southpaws, whereas T.J. House has struggled badly against right-handed batters. Hunter is a sneaky cheap play for someone in a favorable matchup hitting high in the lineup.

Matt Adams, 1B, vs. Cin (Leake), $3,200: He has a 1.278 career OPS against Mike Leake, who is homer-prone versus left-handed batters and has a lifetime 13.6 HR/FB%. Adams also has a 100-point edge at home compared to on the road during his career.

Wil Myers, OF, at Chi (Lester), $3,400: He has the righty/lefty matchup on his side and is hitting in a park that’s increased HR for RHB by 10 percent over the past three seasons. Jon Lester hasn’t given up a home run this year, but thanks in part to diminished velocity, nearly half his balls in play have been line drives (48.6%), as he looks vulnerable.

Players to fade:

Joey Votto, 1B, at Stl (Wainwright), $4,500: He’s 4-for-30 in his career against Adam Wainwright, resulting in a .133/.212/.267 line. Votto’s price tag remains that of a top-four first baseman Sunday nevertheless.

Adam Jones, OF, at Bos (Porcello), $4,800: He’s 4-for-24 with zero extra-base hits and a 6:0 K:BB ratio in his career against Rick Porcello. Jones’ price tag remains that of a top-four outfielder Sunday nevertheless. 

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 19, 2015, 7:37 am

By now you should all know the drill. We examine daily prices for 10 players, looking for bargains and busts. Let's get to work...

Players to buy:

Freddie Freeman, 1B, at Tor (Dickey), $3,500 at FanDuel: He leads the league in hard-hit rate and owns a career .476/.522/.922 line against R.A. Dickey. Rogers Centre is a hitter’s park, and there are 15 first basemen with a higher price tag Saturday.

Jordan Zimmermann, SP, vs. Phi (Harang), $9,900: He’s coming off a clunker in which he was pounded for seven earned runs over 2.1 innings. But that was in Fenway, and Zimmermann is typically dominant at home and is facing a Phillies offense that’s scored the fewest runs per game (2.18) this season. The Nats are -190 favorites in a game with a low O/U (7), so Zimmermann should be worth this price.

Matt Adams, 1B, vs. Cin (Bailey), $3,300: He’s 6-for-10 with two walks and no strikeouts in his career against Homer Bailey, who will be making his season debut returning from an elbow injury. Not only should Bailey be rusty, but St. Louis is filled with players with a strong history against him (Matt Carpenter (1.280 OPS), Yadier Molina (1.020 OPS), Kolten Wong (1.417 OPS)), so feel free to stack the Cardinals.

Chris Carter, OF, vs. LAA (Wilson), $2,600: He’s off to an extremely ugly start, which is why he can be had so cheap. But Carter hit 10 homers over 135 at-bats against lefties last season, and the low contact slugger is facing a southpaw who’s currently sporting a low 10.7 K%.

Logan Morrison, 1B, vs. Tex (Lewis), $2,200: He’s dirt cheap facing a pitcher who’s extremely fly ball heavy and prone to serving up homers. Colby Lewis has shown diminished velocity (he’s averaged a career-low 87.8 mph on his fastball) and has been especially vulnerable to left-handers throughout his career.

Brad Miller, SS, vs. Tex (Miller), $2,200: See Logan Morrison above.

Devon Travis: 2B, vs. Atl (Wood), $2,800: The rookie is suddenly off to a .375-9-3-12 start over 11 games and is now batting leadoff with Jose Reyes banged up. Travis will be facing a southpaw Saturday, so he looks like a bargain.

Jacob deGrom, SP, vs. Mia (Latos), $9,400: If you want to go a littler cheaper than Zimmermann (or prefer to play the later slate), deGrom is another fine option. His 1.30 WHIP suggests he’s been lucky so far, and there’s no question he’s faced an easy schedule early on, but his 11.0 SwStr% also suggests he’s elite. The O/U total (6.5) for this game is the lowest on the board Saturday, and opposing starter Mat Latos has allowed 16 base runners over 4.2 innings this season.

Players to fade:

Todd Frazier, 3B, at Stl (Martinez), $3,600: Carlos Martinez is always tough on righties, but Frazier has struggled especially, producing just one hit while striking out five times over nine career at bats.

David Ortiz, 1B, vs. Bal (Tillman), $3,700: It’s possible matchup numbers should be ignored entirely, as some suggest, but I wouldn’t pay this price for Ortiz, who’s 3-for-27 in his career against Chris Tillman.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 18, 2015, 8:12 am

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Friday's profile: West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White.

College Highlights: Exploded onto the national scene during his senior season. White stormed out of the gates last fall, tallying seven consecutive 100-yard games, a West Virginia first. He also established a new single-game catch mark grabbing 16 passes against Texas in November. In his swan song with the Mountaineers he totaled 109 receptions for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. That massive output is why he was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award, the top honor for a collegiate wide receiver. 

Pluses: White is a triple whammy. He has the size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds), speed (4.35 40-yard) and mean streak needed to be a highly productive receiver at the next level. Very competitive and physical target who aggressively goes after the ball. "Mountain" strong – he set the pace among WRs with 23 bench presses at the Combine – he can break press coverage with relative ease and is hard to drag down after the catch. His quick-twitch cuts and plants allow him to gain separation from defenders. Can really climb the ladder. 

Minuses: Answered the bell when asked to run more complex routes in 2014, but his overall route tree continues to be a work in progress. Isn't especially elusive in the open-field, relying more on power than wiggle to break tackles. Due to a limited track record at a high collegiate level, many tab him a one-year wonder, a product of an explosive spread offense. 

Pro Comp(s): DeAndre Hopkins, Terrell Owens, Larry Fitzgerald

Team Fits: Oakland, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota, Cleveland

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 60-70 (WR30)/$11-$16

Fearless Forecast: By no means is White a finished product. He must absorb his NFL employer's playbook quickly and make rapid advancements in the route-running department if he wants to make an instant impact. However, because of his exceptional performance at the combine and on-field contributions with the Mountaineers last fall, he has the necessary tools to develop into a fantasy live wire. If Amari Cooper winds up in Oakland, as most Draftniks project, White could blow into the Windy City with gale force. In a deep WR class, he very well could be the cream of the crop. Don't be surprised if he exceeds 70 catches, 1100 yards and six touchdowns this season. 

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise 

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 17, 2015, 1:47 pm

Happy Kris Bryant Day, friends. Please enjoy it responsibly. Below, you'll find the usual daily recommendations. As always, we urge you to view the weather reports and double-check lineups before finalizing selections.

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Corey Kluber, SP, at Min (Pelfrey), $10,700 at FanDuel: Friday's slate features a few notable pitching mismatches, including Scherzer-vs.-O'Sullivan and Kershaw-vs.-Kendrick. Kluber is a bit cheaper than the other blue-chip options, and he's facing a guy with a 1.48 career WHIP.

And while we're picking on Pelf...

Brandon Moss, 1B, at Min (Pelfrey), $3500: Sure, he's off to a slow start this season, but the degree-of-difficulty will be dialed down against Pelfrey. Moss is 5-for-10 in his career against the giant righty, and the price is right.

Lucas Duda, 1B, vs. Mia (Phelps), $4100: Duda is binging at the moment, coming off three straight multi-hit games, with six extra-base hits included. He's facing a not-so-intimidating right-hander in this one (David Phelps), so I'm not expecting him to cool off just yet.

Joc Pederson, OF, vs. Col (Kendrick), $3500: I'm pretty much always looking eat at the Kyle Kendrick buffet of runs and hits, whether he's pitching at altitude or not. Pederson has been reaching base at an outstanding clip (.444 OBP), and his power/speed potential is well-documented. If Andre Ethier sneaks into Friday's lineup (he's just $2600 at FD), I'll be interested in him, too.

Jed Lowrie, SS, vs. LAA (Weaver), $3400: Lowrie is hitting well, slashing .286/.394/.643 for Houston and batting third most nights. He's facing a struggling Jered Weaver (8.71 ERA), a guy who's somehow averaging only 83.3 mph on his fastball. I'm rolling with Jed in all lineups.

Kevin Kiermaier, OF, vs. NYY (Warren), $2900 : If you're deploying one of the pricier aces in action on Friday, then you're going to need to find some bargains somewhere. Kiermaier is raking lately, hitting .344 with a pair of home runs in his 32 at-bats. Adam Warren shouldn't frighten you away from the Rays' low-cost LHBs.

Matt Joyce, OF, at Hou (Hernandez), $3200: With an unthreatening right-hander on the mound, Joyce should find himself batting fourth, positioned to drive in Trout and Pujols. You know what to do.

Wil Myers, OF, at CHC (Hammel), $3100: Myers has four multi-hit efforts in his last five starts, raising his season average to .293. He's also leading off for the Pads, which works for our purposes.

Derek Norris, C, at CHC (Hammel), $2400: Honestly, I've got nothin' against Jason Hammel. He's fine — not stellar, but fine. Norris just happens to be a dirt-cheap catcher who bats second for his team, and the man can hit a little (.270 at the moment). Again, if you're dropping $11K or more on your starting pitcher on Friday, you're going to need to sketch in the rest of your daily lineup with a few quality, low-cost options.

Alejandro De Aza, OF, at Bos (Kelly), $3100: De Aza has been leading off for the O's, and he's hitting .314 with an OPS of .905. Joe Kelly was terrific in his first start of the season for Boston, but he remains Joe Kelly. At this price, I'm plenty interested in Alejandro.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 17, 2015, 1:10 pm

Put the finishing touches on your get-out-of-work excuse. Double-check the status of your baseball subscriptions. 

Friday is Kris Bryant Day, and you'll want to savor every minute of it.

The Cubs will promote the much-touted Bryant in advance of their matinee home game against San Diego. First pitch is set for 1:20 pm CT; first Bryant at-bat should come before the top of the hour. 

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Who had April 17 in the Bryant Promotion Pool? Only everyone. It was well-speculated that Chicago had this target in mind, the perfect intersection of service-time reduction tied to a speedy promotion to the majors. Baseball's consensus top prospect had nothing else to prove in the bush leagues, it was just a matter of protecting one more season of potential club control. 

Bryant was named Minor League Player of the Year last fall, after an absurd .325/.438/.661 tour through 138 games (43 homers, 15 steals). And if MLB named a Spring Training MVP, surely it would have been Bryant (.425, nine homers). Just to give everyone one extra layer of confidence, the 23-year-old hit .321 with three homers in seven Triple-A games earlier this month. 

I don't have any Bryant shares in my leagues, regretfully. Although Bryant's Yahoo ADP of 99 sounds rather reasonable for a prospect with this much immediate power potential, he was more expensive in all of my pools. In my final two drafts, he went 51st and 77th, respectively. Bryant fetched $16 at the Tout Wars mixed league auction.

That all established, if I did own Bryant, I would at least take one quick survey of my other competitors, complete my due diligence. That's standard operating procedure when any hyped prospect gets to the big leagues – see if there's a ridiculous trade offer waiting for you, before the kid even gets his cleats muddy. It never hurts to take the temperature of the room. Baseball is hard. For every star prospect that demolishes everything from the start, a bunch of others will struggle – and many, obviously, will never make it. 

Ah, you didn't come here for cold water. Let's get back to the excitement. When will Bryant hit his first home run? Can the Padres hold him down for a full weekend? Is it safe to walk on Waveland Avenue? What will Tommy LaSorda think of Bryant's performance? 

This blog post wouldn't be complete without a Bryant seasonal projection, so here's something for you: .279-76-27-83-7. Share your crystal ball in the comments.

PS: We'd be remiss if we didn't check in with Andy Behrens on this one; he's our man on the ground in Chicago. Here's his Bryant take, composed and submitted independent of mine:

I know we're supposed to come up with a single set of numbers that expresses our expectations for Bryant, but that's obviously not how it really works with prospects. There's a range of possible outcomes here. He could hit .295 (unlikely) or he could hit .259 (also unlikely). The reason we all like Bryant is that he has uncommon power, and the next negative report on his work habits will be the first. It wouldn't be shocking if he hit 30 homers as a rookie; he hasn't yet struggled at any pro level. As prospects go, I think Bryant's floor is relatively high. Here's my best guess at his rest-of-season line: .276-79-26-84-9. - AB 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 17, 2015, 12:02 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Friday's profile: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper.

College Highlights: The SEC Offensive Player of the Year, Heisman finalist and Biletnikoff Award winner set the pace nationally in receptions (124) and finished second in yards (1,727) and touchdown receptions (16) last year. A touchdown scoring machine, he found the end zone 31 times in 40 career games. In 2012, as a freshman, broke numerous receiving records owned previously by Julio Jones. In three years with 'Bama he recorded 13 100-yard and nine multi-TD efforts. 

Pluses: Despite only adequate size, Cooper is a gritty, tough and highly productive receiver. He excels on post routes downfield and executes undauntedly over the middle on crosses and slants. His rapid acceleration to top speed (4.42 40-yard dash) is excellent. His quick sticks, planting ability and physicality at the line of scrimmage allows him to gain separation from defenders, a coveted skill at the next level. Versatile target. He saw action in the slot and outside at Alabama, thriving in all areas. Showcased sticky fingers at the NFL Combine plucking everything in sight. Tireless worker. Typically grabs the spotlight on big stages. 

Minuses: Listed at 6-foot-1, 211-pounds Cooper is by no means a giant. Due to a lack of size, he must shield his body from defenders to win one-on-one battles. Concentration lapses are an issue. He dropped 13 passes in 26 games from 2013-2014. Scouts often point to absent polish noting Cooper occasionally fails to finsh or freelances on routes, problems, that if not rectified, could land him in the doghouse. 

Pro Comp(s): Roddy White, Sammy Watkins

Team Fits: Oakland, Chicago, St. Louis, Minnesota

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 65-75 (WR32)/$10-$15 

Fearless Forecast: Cooper has the baseline skills needed to contribute meaningful numbers from the get go. His ability to generate space, considerable speed and awareness are major strengths. Some have mistakenly compared him to Odell Beckham, but, in the right situation, he could venture into WR3 territory in 12-team leagues as early as this season. Learning from and working opposite of a proven, deep-rooted receiver (e.g. Alshon Jeffery) would greatly enhance his chances to be instantly productive. Landing spot, obviously, is critical. Ceiling: 70-1000-7. Floor: 50-650-4. 

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise 

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 16, 2015, 8:45 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall.  Wednesday's profile: Georgia running back Todd Gurley.

College Highlights: In his spectacular three-year career with the Bulldogs Gurley recorded 18 100-yard performances, including a 200-yard smashing of Tennessee in 2014. His 4,322 all-purpose yards and 44 career TDs ranked just behind legend Herschel Walker in school history. His absurd 6.44 yards per carry established a new Georgia record besting Charley Trippi's mark (6.42) from the 1942 and 1945 seasons. Gurley is an accomplished hurdler, competing for Team USA in Europe during the spring and summer of 2011. In other words, he's slightly more athletic than your dad. 

Pluses: Gurley runs with the anger of an incensed bull. His outstanding leg drive, downhill lean and overall size (6-foot-1, 222-pounds) allows him to plow through first-level contact. He's decisive, forceful and extremely difficult to corral at an angle. His 61.9 yards after contact percentage in 2014 was one of college football's best. A similar output at the next level would place him alongside bulldozers Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy in the category. He possesses a long open-field stride which gives him the extra gear needed to break away from defenders. Overlooked, he's also an adept receiver with reliable hands and excellent ball-tracking skills. He should handle a three-down workload with relative ease. Dependable ball-handler. He only coughed up the rock three times on 510 career carries. 

Minuses: The injury imp often feasted on Gurley's flesh at the collegiate level. An ankle setback sidelined him three games in 2013 and he shredded his ACL last fall. His upright, violent running style does leave him susceptible to future lower-body ailments. Many scouts question his vision implying he's more of a contact-first, dodge-second runner. His lateral agility is only average. Being patient behind the line will be key in maximizing production. Despite a bulky frame, he needs to show improvement in pass protection. 

Pro Comp(s): Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch 

Team Fits: Atlanta, Arizona, Carolina, Dallas 

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 60-70 (RB22), $18-$23

Fearless Forecast: In a loaded RB class, Gurley is 1A, Melvin Gordon 1B. Though different in style, both runners are exceptionally talented and likely stars at the pro level. Health is the primary concern for the Georgia product. It's entirely possible if his knee doesn't check out cleanly come draft time, he could tumble out of Round 1. Last check, in early April, his rehab was progressing well as he participated in backpedal and some cutting drills without repercussion. Still, his impact may not be felt immediately. It's possible he'll be brought along slowly, making him more of a draft and stash option in 12-team leagues. However, when operating at full strength, he's a Pro Bowl caliber player with significant RB1 upside. Landing spot is everything, but if a team invests a first-round pick in his services, he'll undoubtedly shoulder a substantial workload at some point in 2015. Monitor his rehab closely. 

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise 

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 16, 2015, 8:45 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall.  Monday's profile: Florida St. quarterback Jameis Winston.

College Highlights: In 27 games with the 'Noles, Winston dazzled statistically. His 163.3 career passing efficiency ranks No. 4 in college football history. His 295.0 passing yards and 2.4 passing touchdowns per game are the highest ever among ACC QBs. He also holds FSU single-season records for completions (305), touchdown passes (40), yards per attempt (10.6) and 300-yard games (7). Last year he led the nation in fourth-quarter comebacks with four. When the heat is on, he's Chris Pratt cool. He's also the youngest player ever to win the Heisman.

Pluses: At 6-foot-4, 231-pounds, the former Heisman winner is quite the specimen, all unflattering gut pics aside. He can withstand harsh physical punishment, owns a strong arm, has above average pocket awareness and plays unfazed. His marked competitiveness, huddle command and general leadership qualities are top notch. He also thrives under pressure. In the fourth quarter last season with Florida St. he posted a stupendous 164.03 passer rating. He starts off rocky, but typically morphs into a shutdown closer late. His familiarity and production in a pro-styled system should assist him in his transition. 

Minuses: Winston was a prototype Jekyll/Hyde at times as a Seminole. His first halves were often Cutler-like packed with turnovers and second-guessing. His passes in the 11-20 yard range were also horrendous. Last season, he completed just 56.8 percent and tossed 11 picks within that distance. If he telegraphs throws at the next level, a cascade of boos and possible pine time are sure to follow. Mobility is average at best (4.97 40-yard dash). And, as his well-publicized off-the-field transgressions suggest, he's not exactly been a model citizen. Who wants some crab legs?!

Pro Comp(s): Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Jay Cutler

Team Fits: Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Cleveland

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 150-170 (QB20), $3-$5

Fearless Forecast: In certain areas, Winston possesses attributes indicative of a future star. However, his questionable decision-making, notorious slow starts, suspect intermediate accuracy and off-the-field transgressions raise doubts. Is he mature enough to handle fortune and possible fame? With that said, if the Buccaneers invest in his services at No. 1, he'll have every opportunity to prove his mettle right away. Dirk Koetter, Tampa's offensive coordinator, did wonders in Atlanta with a young Matt Ryan. Given the OC's track-record and Redwood trees on the roster – Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Winston would step into a favorable situation. If he's under center in Tampa Week 1, pencil him in for roughly 3,700 combined yards, 18-22 TDs and 20-24 INTs. In other words, he's a QB2 flier in 12-team and deeper leagues. Think Derek Carr with more picks. 

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise 

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 16, 2015, 8:43 pm

Below, you'll find today's ten-pack of solid options. As always, please make sure to hit the weather reports and check the lineups before finalizing your selections.

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Adam Lind, 1B, vs. STL (Lackey), $3700 at FanDuel: Lind has gone 15-for-28 in his career against Lackey, with six doubles, six RBIs and only two Ks. That's ownership, friends. Start him with confidence. With glee. With gusto. With verve.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, at Tor (Sanchez), $3000: Jays starter Aaron Sanchez was something less than dominant in his first start this season (please note the 2.70 WHIP), so he shouldn't scare you away from any Rays. Cabrera bats third for Tampa Bay, he plays a premium position and Thursday's schedule is light.

David DeJesus, OF, at Tor (Sanchez), $2800: Again, it's only a six-game slate. DeJesus is a top-of-the-order hitter at a bargain price, a good bet to reach base and cross the plate. He's a career .287/.364/.445 batter against RHPs, and he's certainly hitting well to open the year.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, at NYM (Gee), $3200: OK, so Ozuna has not exactly raced outta the gate in 2015. But on Thursday he's facing an ordinary starter against whom he's 5-for-10 in his short career (with zero punchouts). It's not the worst setup. There's at least a small chance Ozuna clears the fence.

Lorenzo Cain, OF, at Min (Milone), $3600: Cain's season is off to a terrific start (.387/.474/.581), and the soft-tossing left-handed Milone should be a favorable matchup. While he's not the cheapest option in the OF pool, Cain is a solid play here, batting third for KC.

Alcides Escobar, SS, at Min (Milone), $3400: Escobar is leading off for the Royals, he's currently batting .412, and he has at least one hit in every game thus far (including five in his last two). I'm in. Again, Milone shouldn't scare you off.

Jason Vargas, SP, at Min (Milone), $7900: OK, this is my final Royal for the day, I promise. If you're looking for a less-expensive pitching alternative to Bumgarner (see below), consider Vargas. He's facing a light-hitting, two-win team, and I'm obviously bullish on KC's chances to offer run support against Milone.

Ben Revere, OF, at Was (Fister), $2800: Revere has had a messy start to his season, true (.139 AVG), but he's 9-for-28 in his career against Fister, with only two Ks. Also, he's a dirt-cheap OF on a day that offers limited options.

Matt Duffy, SS, vs. Ari (Bradley), $2400: I felt it was important to discuss Duffy, if only to bring to your attention his family's disturbingly large cat. Just ... wow. That's really a lotta damn cat, Duffy family. Maybe consider limiting Jabba's Skeeter's rations.

Duffy is currently batting .292/.357/.458, he homered on Wednesday, and the dude hit .332 in the Eastern League last year. He can play a little. He's facing Archie Bradley on Thursday, a promising young pitcher with control concerns. It's tough to beat this price.

Madison Bumgarner, SP, vs. Ari (Bradley), $10,500: Duh. You shouldn't need an expert for this pick, really. Bumgarner and the Giants are strong favorites against the D-backs (-190). It's a significant price, but this feels like such a safe, blue-chip play.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 16, 2015, 2:49 pm

When the Rays acquired Steven Souza back in December, in that complicated three-team, zillion-player deal with the Padres and Nationals, the 25-year-old outfielder immediately became a buzzy fantasy sleeper. He was coming off a tremendous season at Triple-A (.350/.432/.590), and he'd landed in a spot that offered guaranteed playing time.

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And then the spring stats rolled in. Souza slashed just .130/.203/.259 over 58 spring plate appearances, striking out 17 times and delivering only three extra-base hits. Not great. He was relatively quiet in the first week of the real season, too, going 2-for-16 over Tampa Bay's first six games.

But a trip to the Rogers Centre in Toronto seems to have fixed Souza's issues, whatever they were. He's 6-for-13 in the series, he's homered in back-to-back games — check the moonshot from Tuesday — and he's lifted his season slash to a respectable .276/.382/.517.

Here's hoping you were patient with Souza, because it's easy to see the 20/20 potential. He went 18/26 last season at Syracuse in just 96 games. It's hard to imagine Souza hitting for average considering the high K-rate (13 in 34 PAs), but he can still assist in multiple categories. Assuming good health, put me down for 80-25-85-20-.264. Wish I owned an additional share or two.

Brandon Morrow's season is off to a pretty fair start in San Diego, and he delivered a useful no-decision on Wednesday: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K. After two turns, Morrow's ERA is 1.29 and he's up to 12 Ks in 14.0 IP. It's tough not to like the team/league context, as well as the home park. Health will always be a worry with Morrow, but the stuff is legit. He should draw two starts next week, but both have a high degree of difficulty (at Col, LAD).

Trevor Bauer, good again. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak) Trevor Bauer took another quality turn, earning a win over the White Sox while striking out eight batters in 6.0 innings. You'll recall that he gave us six no-hit frames in his season debut last week versus Houston. With two starts in the books, Bauer is now 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 19 Ks in 12.0 innings. Walks are an issue (9), but he'll continue to deliver punch-outs. Bauer will draw the Sox again next week.

Michael Morse homered for the first time this season, in Miami's 6-2 win at Atlanta. Morse seems oddly under-owned (39 percent), considering his favorable lineup position and well-established power. Add as needed, if you're in search of pop.

Speaking of widely available power: O's second baseman Jonathan Schoop (11 percent) hit his third homer of the season on Wednesday, a solo shot in a win over the Yanks. Schoop is hardly a perfect fantasy commodity — he doesn't steal, doesn't walk, hits at the bottom of the order — but he offers 20-homer potential at a middle-infield spot. He clearly has some value in mixers with MI slots.

Adam Ottavino earned his second save in as many days, striking out two in another perfect inning. He's a major early season victory for save-chasers. For those looking for a deep dive into Ottavino's arsenal, click this terrific piece by Eno Sarris, over at FanGraphs.

My only regret in dropping Taijuan Walker this morning is that I could only do it once. He's been lousy, after a stellar spring. The future is bright; the present, less so. Hopefully he'll be allowed to face Houston's K-prone lineup next week.

Friendly reminder: Thursday might just be Kris Bryant eve, as baseball's top prospect should be clear of the pesky service-time hurdle in time for the weekend series against the Pads. The Cubs have a pile of broken third basemen on their hands at the moment, so they can certainly use the power boost. If you own Bryant in a PCL-only league, I'd advise you to sell. He's off to a .333/.379/.625 start at Iowa.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 16, 2015, 2:20 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Wednesday's profile: Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon. 

College Highlights: Gordon smashed both school and national records during his three full seasons in Madison. He set the FBS record for career rushing average with a ridiculous 7.79 yards per carry. His 4,915 rushing yards ranks No. 3 all-time at Wisconsin and No. 6 on Big Ten career list. His 49 total touchdowns is the ninth-best mark in Big Ten history. The Doak Walker winner was the fastest player in Wisconsin history to reach 1,000 career rushing yards (104 attempts). Finally, he logged 22 career 100-yard games, including 19 of 140-plus yards and seven of 200-plus yards. Simply put, he was a machine. 

Pluses: Gordon is a gazelle in every sense of the word. He's a long-strider who glides effortlessly with the ball in his hand. Possesses terrific acceleration and separating speed (4.52 40-yard) evident in his 40 runs of 15-plus yards last season. His sudden hesitations, spin move and stutter step are downright deadly, leaving defenders hugging air. Very creative, patient runner who's deceptively powerful. Impressive pad level and leg drive in a crowd. He's far from a complete pass catcher, but made considerable strides in that department down the stretch in 2014. 

Minuses: Too often tried to hit the home run. Desire to bounce runs outside must be reduced. Closing speed of NFL linebackers, defensive ends and DBs a major step up. Execution on interior runs needs to improve. He registered zero or negative yards on nearly 20 percent of his carries in 2014. Definitely more finesse than power. Average receiver and pass blocker. Will need to show competency in those areas during training camp to secure a three-down workload. Suffered from a nasty case of fumblitis last fall, coughing up the rock six times in his final five games. Imperative he protects the ball in the open-field. If not, and he could receive a quick hook from an impatient coaching staff. 

Pro Comp(s): Jamaal Charles, Arian Foster 

Team Fits: Atlanta, Arizona, Carolina, Dallas, San Diego

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 55-65 (RB19)/$20-$25

Fearless Forecast: Unlike Michael Bennett, Ron Dayne, Brian Calhoun and Montee Ball before him, Gordon is a flashy, dynamic rusher who is sure to overcome Wisconsin's RB-bust reputation. He certainly isn't without flaws and will need to show improvement in certain areas to net 18-22 touches per game, but his game-breaking wheels and open-field elusiveness will likely gift him ample opportunities. Come midseason, he'll be a borderline RB1 no matter the landing spot, provided his fumble problems are in the past. Todd Gurley may have the more productive career, but given the Georgia product's possible physical limitations, Gordon is the safer 2015 pick. If he earns a substantial workload, a final line around 1300 combined yards with 6-8 TDs is entirely reachable. Invest with confidence. 

Want to bull rush Brad? Follow him on Twitter @YahooNoise 

Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 15, 2015, 5:28 pm

You should know the rules by now. We suggest, you consider, then we sit back and watch. Let's get to the DFS shopping list.  

Players to Buy 

Drew Pomeranz, SP, at Houston (McHugh), $6800: The Astros lineup has better shape against opposing lefties, not that it mattered earlier this week against Scott Kazmir. I'm going to keep aggressively streaming against this Houston crew until it fights back a little bit; only the Twins have scored fewer runs than Houston's 17, and only the Pirates are striking out more often. Good work if you can get it. 

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Jerry Sands, OF, vs. Chicago (Danks), $2200 on Fan Duel: Sands has bounced from LA to Tampa to Cleveland through an undistinguished career, but we know he can hit lefties (.310/.355/.530). He's slotted fifth in the Cleveland lineup for Wednesday, enjoying a day game against the underwhelming John Danks. Save some cash, load up on bats elsewhere. 

Lineup Stack: Miami, at Atlanta (Stults): After a wipeout opening series, the Marlins have woken up a bit, scoring 25 runs over five games. If you want to pay up for Dee Gordon or Giancarlo Stanton against journeyman lefty Eric Stults, I'l sign off. And if you prefer a cheaper option, Ichiro Suzuki ($2200) is slotted second, temporarily replacing the injured Christian Yelich. I'm not a fan of looking too deep down in the order, but perhaps this is the day we'll hear from a couple of righties, Michael Morse and Marcell Ozuna

Ian Desmond, SS, at Boston (Miley), $3800: Miracle of miracles, Desmond has been elevated in the lineup (slotted second for Wednesday's matinee). He also enjoys the platoon advantage against lefty Wade Miley, and Desmond's horrible fielding won't hurt you a bit in DFS. On the flip side, note Michael Taylor is slotted ninth - that kills his low-price buzz. 

Rajai Davis, OF, at Pittsburgh (Liriano), $3300: We'll presume Davis will get the call against the opposing lefty; the Tigers know how dangerous he is in these instances (career OPS of .805). Francisco Liriano isn't always easy to hit, but he's somewhat cavalier when it comes to holding runners. If Davis gets on base, he's probably taking off. 

Brandon Morrow, SP, vs. Arizona (C. Anderson), $6600: Although Morrow rarely had pretty ratios during his American League career, he did post a couple of snappy strikeout years with the Blue Jays. For the most part, it was injuries and geography that did Morrow in. For the moment, he's healthy and working in the best pitcher park known to mankind. He was terrific in his Friday debut, too (seven scoreless, seven strikeouts). 

Rickie Weeks, 2B, at Los Angeles (B. Anderson), $2600: We assume Weeks will be leading off again with the southpaw Brett Anderson going, and Weeks has come through in two of his last three appearances (two hits Tuesday, a homer on the weekend). If you're fine to pay up for a Mariners bat, the smoking-hot Nelson Cruz is an obvious option, reasonably priced at $4300. 

Kansas City Lefties, at Minnesota (Gibson): Left-handed bats have a .291 average and .359 OBP against Kyle Gibson for his career. If you want to keep rolling with Mike Moustakas, I won't try to stop you. Eric Hosmer is off to a tidy start, too. The one buzzkill here is Alex Gordon, still buried in the order and damn silent through the opening week and change. 

Players to Fade 

Collin McHugh, SP, vs. Oakland (Pomeranz), $8300: He was a bargain special for much of last year, but you have to cut a check for McHugh this time around – only four pitchers are more expensive on the Wednesday card. Oakland's offense is tops in runs scored this month, and only the Royals are harder to strike out. 

Gio Gonzalez, SP, at Boston (Miley), $9300: I don't mind paying up for a big price pitcher (Gonzo is No. 1 on the Wednesday board) when the circumstances are favorable, or even neutral. A lefty at Fenway Park, in a day game no less? Let's wait for safer landing spots. And don't shy away from any Boston bats, either, be it the pricy guys or the value plays (surprise starter Allen Craig comes to mind)..

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 15, 2015, 3:33 pm

Youth has finally been served in the Colorado bullpen. Rockies manager Walt Weiss made it official Tuesday: Adam Ottavino is the new closer. Number zero in your program, number one in your hearts. 

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Ottavino's line from 2015 validates the promotion. He's only allowed two baserunners over 5.1 innings, piling up 10 strikeouts. His first conversion opportunity came Tuesday night at San Francisco and it was a daisy, three strikeouts on 15 pitches. Everyone shake hands, go attack the spread. 

Ottavino is 29 years old, which makes him a pup in the Colorado bullpen. Opening-day closer LaTroy Hawkins is 42, and Rafael Betancourt is closing in on 40. Betancourt was called upon to work the eighth inning Tuesday – a day after a surprising save of his own – which further underscores the new pecking order. 

You might worry about the new closer when Colorado returns home, but surprisingly, Ottavino has handled Coors Field reasonable well since joining the Rockies three years ago: 3.39 ERA, 1.24 WHIP over 127.1 innings. That's pitching with no fear. He's averaged a strikeout per Mile High inning. 

His long-team sustainability might come down to the platoon splits. Ottavino has owned right-handed batters through his career (.233/.293/.364), but the numbers spike against the sweet-swinging lefties (.319/.396/.469). Not every opponent will have the lineup shape or bench depth to make Ottavino pay for this bias, but it's something that bears watching. 

If you're in a casual-save chasing pool, you still have some time to get in. Ottavino is owned in a modest 28 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

That's your first item for business on this fantasy Wednesday. Refresh liberally; we'll have more bullets shortly. 

• For three years, Fernando Rodney has been the ultimate no-respect closer. Despite 133 saves and strong ratios, he's often been treated as reliever non grata by the fantasy public. Memories of the erratic Detroit experience apparently die hard.. 

But just when Rodney drags us in, maybe he'll push us away again. He's suffered two meltdowns in the last three Seattle games, the latest one in Tuesday's 6-5 loss at Chavez Ravine. 

On one hand, the Tuesday night giveaway doesn't look that bad. The three hits Rodney allowed were singles, none of them scorched (the game-winning hit came on a broken bat). A five-pitch walk to Adrian Gonzalez can be partially discounted, given how sizzling Gonzalez has been this year. Rodney's early velocity readouts are similar to last year. 

Then again, we get worried when the seasonal pitching ledger shows four walks against just one strikeout. And Rodney isn't fooling anyone with his stuff this season, posting a minuscule 4.5 percent swinging-strike rate through his initial four appearances. We're also talking about a 38-year-old pitcher; the circus leaves town for everyone eventually (the old Salfino line). 

Obviously we're just a week and a half into the season, you don't want to get silly with reactions. That said, if there's one position teams are tempted to be trigger-happy with changes, it's the closer spot. Seattle has a strong bullpen working in front of Rodney; I can't blame anyone who makes a speculative play on Danny Farquhar or Yoervis Medina

• Shane Greene was an afterthought in many drafts this spring, hopping off the board in less than five percent of Yahoo Leagues. Two starts later, he's over the 50-percent ownership level. Sixteen scoreless innings will do that to an ownership profile. The latest bagel parade came Tuesday at Pittsburgh

Greene's sneaky success story in New York last year was based on a bunch of ground balls (50 percent), a strong strikeout rate (over one per inning) and a reasonable walk rate (3.3/9). Thus far in Detroit, it's been a slightly different frame: the ground balls are still there, but Greene's strikeouts and walks have tumbled significantly (eight whiffs, one free pass). 

Ah yes, the old Doug Fister route to success

Greene's lot in life was trickier last year, as he had to deal with the short right-field porch in Yankee Stadium and some spotty defense up the middle. A shift to the AL Central is a wonderful thing, where most of the parks are reasonable and the lineups non-threatening. Having Jose Iglesias at shortstop doesn't hurt, either. If I were shuffling starting pitchers right now, Greene would sneak into double digits. 

• Steven Souza didn't do much in the opening week, but his bat has come alive in the Toronto series. He reached base twice in Monday's opener, then put on his own special Tuesday (titanic homer, steal, bunt single, game-winning run).

The Rays have used Souza in the No. 2 slot for every game but one, which tells you how they feel about him. I still expect a fantasy-useful season here.

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 15, 2015, 1:06 pm

Going, going, Gonzo! (Getty)

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez clubbed five home runs in the season's opening series. He hasn't reached 30 home runs since he hit 31 in '10 - Can he top his '10 mark - total A-Gon HRs O/U 31.5?

Brandon –  UNDER, but, oh, so close. A-Gon has only topped this number twice in his career, even finishing with 27 bombs last season despite hitting eight home runs in April. So we've already seen hot starts from him fall short of this number. I think he gets to the 30-HR mark, and I think he finishes as a top 30 fantasy player, but my money is on him falling a HR or two shy of this O/U target.

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Scott – UNDER for me. I'm going to trust the flow of the last four years and not get too jazzed about one terrific week (no matter how gorgeous that swing and follow through looks). As well as Gonzalez is swinging, he was also jumping on some obvious mistakes, too. 

Andy – OVER, please. We're only asking him to hit 25 homers over the next five and a half months. It's not as if the man has ever struggled to reach the seats. He hit 27 bombs last year, his career high is 40 and he rarely ever misses a game. This is easy money.

Reds racer Billy Hamilton is off to a fast start, stealing seven bases and scoring seven runs in the first week of the season. Project the speedster's final Batting Average/Runs Scored/Stolen Bases line?

Scott – I'm assuming Monday's finger injury is not a long-term concern for Hams. I'm not convinced there's been growth here, other than in the base-stealing craft (expect a better percentage). Call it .255/82/65, with an OBP under .300.

Andy – Let's not pretend that Hamilton is anything other than a one-category asset. You certainly didn't draft him for batting average. I like him as a burner, but let's not get carried away. Put me down for .259, 88 and 88.

Dalton – .250-80-75. It's obviously been a tiny sample, but his early improvement in BB% has been encouraging. The BA remains a major concern, but there's potential for him to swipe 100 bags one of these years. 

Following last season's disappointing rookie campaign in which he hit just .240, Boston's Xander Bogaerts sits among the early '15 hit leaders - Final batting average for Boagaerts O/U .2799?

Brandon –  OVER. Though he's just 22 years old, he's already logged well over 600 MLB at bats, including 27 quality at bats (eight hits) in the Boston's '13 World Series postseason run. His prospect analysis always talked up how the game seems to come natural to him. He went through some growing pains last season, for sure, but I expected him to be a quick learner and made sure I bought plenty of Bogaerts shares in the spring. I'll peg him for a .284 final batting average line.

Andy – UNDER, but not by a ton. I liked Xander well enough to invest in a key A.L.-only league. Let's just please remember that he's still only 22 years old. It's impressive enough that he managed to tread water last season.

Dalton – UNDER. But I still really like him. I expect Bogaerts to approach 15 homers and 10 steals with good counting stats hitting in that Boston lineup, even if it's in the lower half of it.

Evan Gattis, Mike Napoli, Chris Carter have opened the season a combined 4-for-70 (.057) - Pick a struggling slugger for ROS fantasy value

Dalton – NAPOLI. I'm tempted to say Gattis even after such an ugly start since he's catcher eligible, but that K% is pretty astounding, and Napoli's in just such a better setup. 

Andy – Easy call for me. I'll take NAPOLI, a guy who's been plenty productive over multiple big league campaigns. He does his hitting in a terrific lineup, and it's tough not to love his on-base skills. Despite the 2-for-24 open to his season, he's still drawn five walks and crossed the plate five times. Please be patient.

Scott – You want to buy into the Houston air-conditioning offense, that's all you. Give me NAPOLI, for the lineup float, for the post-surgery upside, etc. His first week absence is partially excused, as he didn't play in the entire series at Philly (no DH, so Papi moves to 1B, at least some of the time). Gattis? I could see him DFAed at some point over the next 12 months. He's good at one thing (pop), doesn't have a position, can't be trusted to make regular contact. 

Through Monday, Ian Kinsler has a league-leading 18 combined Runs+RBI. He combined for 192 R/RBI last season. Can he reach 190-plus again in '15 - O/U 189.5 R+RBI?

Brandon –  OVER. If he stays healthy, I think he can cross the 200 line in combined Runs and RBI. Detroit's lineup may have more juice directly behind him (Miggy, both Martinez's and Cespedes) than any other MLB team can boast. And as far as the health goes, he's averaged 152.3 games played over the past four seasons.

Andy – This number seems kind of ridiculous for a 32-year-old second baseman with Kinsler's injury history. (Granted, he's been relatively healthy in recent seasons.) I like the player and the lineup, of course, but the UNDER seems like a safe bet.

Dalton – UNDER, The Detroit lineup looks lethal, and Kinsler has been durable the past few years after a checkered injury past, But that's an awfully high projection for anyone to reach, let alone a second baseman who's about to turn 33. 

Which young corner bat has the most fantasy staying power this season - Mark Canha or Jake Lamb?

Brandon – LAMB. I'll give the D-Back the slight edge here. His home is a much better hitting environment than Canha's. He also plays a position (3B) with a higher premium than Canha. And Lamb is backed by a better prospect pedigree (Canha was cast aside by both Miami and Colorado before landing in Oakland).

Scott – Oakland's pretty good at finding late-blooming offensive players, a card they seem to play every year or so. I wish I had a share of CANHA, but I guess this blog post counts for one. On the board! 

Andy – Slight edge to CANHA, who I think is better positioned to avoid an 0-fer or two. I'd shop both of these players, however, if I owned 'em in a mixer.

After a dominating spring, touted M's young gun Taijuan Walker was shelled for nine runs in his first start of the season, dropping his career ERA to 4.15 - Will he wind up above or below that mark in '15 - final Walker ERA O/U 4.149?

Brandon – UNDER. He owned a 2.87 ERA mark in 53 IP with the M's prior to his implosion. The nine-spot that Oakland hung on him is going to take a while to chip away at, but if he throws 140 more innings at a 3.67 ERA clip, he'll slide just under this number (I did the math). And I think that's definitely doable given his talent and the tough hitting environment of his home park.

Scott – He should be well UNDER that number. Trust the pedigree, trust the stuff, trust the build, and yes, Virginia, put some trust in the spring numbers, too. Go get Walker at a discount, if you can. Everyone has a messy turn now and again; as Gene McCaffrey would put it, "they all get hit." I won't get concerned unless it happens again this week. 

Dalton – OVER. To be clear, I would definitely hang on to Walker. But he could be in the high 3s in ERA from here on out and still finish well above that 4.15 mark thanks to the hole in which he's dug. 

Rank these less than 75%-owned relivers in terms of expected ROS saves - Miguel Castro, Jake McGee, Sean Doolittle, Adam Ottavino, Joakim Soria, Andrew Miller, Bobby Parnell?

Brandon1) Soria 2) Miller 3) McGee 4) Doolittle 5) Ottavino 6) Castro 7) Parnell

Dalton – 1) Miller 2) Soria 3) McGee 4) Ottavino 5) Doolittle 6) Castro 7) Parnell

Scott – Because I don't trust Dellin Betances's control or command (those are two different things) right now, I expect MILLER to run away with the Yankees closer role. He's the full package, power and finesse, the ability to get lefties and righties out. I wish I had him on all of my teams. He'll dominate in the ratios, too. Miller, Soria, McGee, Castro, Doolittle, Parnell, Ottavino. 

Rank these buzzy young starters in terms of expected ROS value - James Paxton, Drew Pomeranz, Trevor Bauer, Shane Greene, Archie Bradley, Jimmy Nelson?

Brandon – 1) Pomeranz 2) Bauer 3) Paxton 4) Greene 5) Nelson 6) Bradley

Dalton – 1) Bauer 2) Pomeranz 3) Nelson 4) Greene 5) Bradley 6) Paxton

Scott – As much as I love Nelson (I've been promoting him for 48-72 hours, nonstop), GREENE and POMERANZ have already given us a credible body of work in The Show. That counts for something. Greene basically is Doug Fister 2.0, and Pomeranz loves the expansive Oakland ballpark (and the defense behind him). Pomeranz, Greene, Bauer, Paxton, Nelson, Bradley. 

After a strong first half in '14, Oakland southpaw Scott Kazmir ran out of gas in the second half, with his K/9 rate falling from 8.3 to 6.9. Kazmir has raced out of the gate again in '15, fanning 18 in his first 13 IP. Can he reach 175 strikeouts for just the second time in his career - O/U 174.5 K?

Scott – OVER. The Astros give away strikeouts to everyone, and the Angels might be Top 10 in empty hacks, too. It's a nifty place to do your business, that AL West. 

Andy – UNDER. He couldn't reach this total last season, when he pitched 190-plus innings. Are we sure he's gonna toss 200-plus this year? I definitely think Kazmir is on the fantasy radar, but I'm not going to get too bullish with my rest-of-season expectations.

Dalton – OVER. I have him pegged for 175 Ks, so this one doesn't come with a ton of confidence. But he should be plenty valuable in all formats as long as he's healthy. 

Author: Brandon Funston
Posted: April 14, 2015, 6:55 pm

Below, you'll find ten strong plays for the Tuesday slate. Be sure to give the Jays, Fish, O's and M's plenty of attention, if you're stacking. Also, as always, please check the weather reports and hawk the lineups before finalizing your selections. Now let's do the do...

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Bryce Harper, OF, at Bos (Masterson), $4100 at FanDuel: Justin Masterson's history of struggles against left-handed hitters is of course well-known and thoroughly documented. LHBs have slashed .287/.366/.426 against him in his career, and .320/.408/.502 last season. So yeah, I'm betting on Bryce today.

Everth Cabrera, SS, vs. NYY (Sabathia), $2400: Even in his best seasons, Sabathia often struggled early in April. I'm thinking the O's can do some damage against the 2015 version of CC. Cabrera is a perfect 4-for-4 against Sabathia in his career, for what it's worth (not much). True, Everth is a bottom-of-the-order hitter, but that's somewhat less terrifying in the A.L. If you find yourself in need of a true bargain bin starter, give him a look.

Steve Pearce, 1B, vs. NYY (Sabathia), $3900: Did I mention that Sabathia averaged 88.4 mph on his fastball in his first start? Well, he did. Pearce can do bad things to 88 mph fastballs, I'm thinking.

Michael Cuddyer, OF, vs. Phi (Buchanan), $3000: Phillies starter David Buchanan is a pitch-to-contact right-hander who was rocked last week (3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 4 BB. He's a reverse-split guy, too. RHBs have hit .301/.346/.491 against Buchanan to this point in his career. I'm deploying multiple Mets against him.

Shane Greene, SP, at Pit (Burnett), $7900: Generally speaking, I'll start only aces in daily, looking for my bargains among the bats. But I'm particularly bullish on Greene after his impressive season debut (8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 Ks, 85 pitches). Detroit's lineup should offer respectable run support facing A.J. Burnett, and it's nice to get Greene against a National League opponent.

Jose Reyes, SS, vs. TB (Andriese), $3900: This could be any Jays starter, really. Toronto's lineup is open for business on Tuesday, with meh right-hander Matt Andriese on the hill for the Rays. I like the brand-name Blue Jays, and I like the prices on guys like Pillar ($2700) and Travis ($2500) as well.

Mike Zunino, C, at LAD (Huff), $2500: David Huff is getting a spot-start for the Dodgers, so I'm gonna go ahead and roll out a few Mariners. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd actually drill down deep enough to reach Zunino, but I rarely buy a luxury catcher in these games. Also, this certainly feels like a game where Zunino could leave the yard. He's been much better against lefties than righties in his brief career (but lousy against almost everyone). Anyway, the real point is this: Seattle hitters are in play today.

Christian Yelich, OF, at Atl (Cahill), $3600: Trevor Cahill shouldn't scare anyone away from the Marlins on Tuesday. Left-handed hitters slashed a ridiculous .346/.411/.519 against Cahill last season, so I don't feel bad doubling-down on Fish in this one. Gimme Yelich and gimme this guy...

[UPDATE: Welp, Yelich was scratched due to a back malfunction of unknown severity. Take evasive action, you guys. Ichiro draws the start in place of Yelich. He's dirt cheap. Also, Cleveland's Jerry Sands is only $2200 at FanDuel, and he's batting fifth. It's the outfield; you've got options.]

Dee Gordon, 2B, at Atl (Cahill), $4000: Yeah, sure, Dee is a bit pricey. But he's 6-for-15 with three walks and just one K in his career against Cahill. He's also red-hot at the moment (.345/.387/.483, 4 SB). It's tough for me to imagine Atlanta keeping him off-base in this one.

Ender Inciarte, OF, at SD (Despaigne), $2800: Here's a low-dollar outfield flier, for those who've blown the budget elsewhere. No need to fear the matchup, certainly. Inciarte has three mutli-hit games in his last four, and he'll be facing a right-hander who gives up plenty of contact.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 14, 2015, 4:31 pm

Although Mookie Betts homered in Boston’s season opener a week ago, he didn’t do a lot in his first five games of the season. When the Red Sox touched down to Fenway Park in advance of Monday’s home opener, Betts was sitting on a .191/.241/.346 slash, with a modest two runs and two RBIs. He didn’t have a stolen base to his name.  

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Alas, it took just an hour for Betts Mania to grip The Hub. The Red Sox have one of the best young players in baseball, and it’s hard to keep both cleats on the ground at times when it comes to evaluating him. 

Betts opened Monday’s game by making a terrifc catch in the first inning, taking away a home run from Bryce Harper. In the bottom of the inning, Betts drew a walk, then turned in his own version of the double-steal (a conventional swipe of second, then an aggressive advancement to third, foiling a disorganized defense that was in shift-mode.) 

To cap things off, Betts clocked a baseball over the Green Monster in the second inning, a three-run blast. No hustle required here. Have a trot around the bases, kid. Have a day, Mookie. 

Not everyone is thrilled about the Betts undertow, to be fair. Consider this cold water thrown at Betts by Michael Salfino, our friend, Yahoo contributor, resident New Jersey curmudgeon. 

Mookie Betts is Boston's baseball Flutie. They are all losing it.

— Michael Salfino (@MichaelSalfino) April 14, 2015

(I wonder what Mike was like the year Tom Seaver popped. Maybe Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling remember.) 

On my clipbord, the aggressive Betts optimism is well-justified. The kid posted a ridiculous year in the minors last summer (.346/.431/.529 between two levels, with 11 homers and 33 steals over 99 games), and he was a dynamo for the Red Sox in September. Boston had Betts lead off for the final 21 games of the year, with this result: .305/.387/.439, 15 runs, one homer, three steals. A special player, an exciting player, a versatile player. 

Although Betts finished the 2015 draft season with a Yahoo ADP of 73, the price was considerably higher in the latter stages of the run. I went into a couple of late drafts and auctions with a “get Betts, just for fun” angle and still wound up empty – that’s how trendy he became. But I’m starting to think everyone who aggressively chased this stock in March will make their money back, if not a profit.

Betts has clearly marked center field as his own for the Red Sox, and he’s the triggerman for what’s probably the best lineup in baseball. Any playing time concerns from a month or two ago are gone now. He’s qualified at two Yahoo positions (second, outfield), he’s young and healthy, he gets props for his work ethic, he’s a quick study, he's capable of producing in all five categories, he's in a hitter-friendly ballpark and division. What’s not to like? 

I finally decided to force my way into the Betts story on Monday – I know buying high isn’t for everyone, but I wanted a share. On a fantasy club that is loaded with pitching, I decided to deal Stephen Strasburg for Betts, straight up.

If that specific swap sounds familiar to you, it might be because Dave Cameron of Fangraphs theoretically suggested the deal to the Red Sox and Nationals during the preseason. Of course Cameron was talking about real-life issues with his proposal; Betts becomes more valuable in the context of MLB because he makes just about nothing (relatively speaking) at this stage of his career (menwhile, Strasburg already has a rich contract). A cost-controlled star in the making is a wonderful thing.

You can say I overpaid all you want – I recognize I probably did, too – but how many 2B-eligible players would you take over Betts right now? Robinson Cano and Jose Altuve, fine. Anthony Rendon? He’s hurt. Ian Kinsler, Dee Gordon? I see a conversation. Dustin Pedroia? No way. Brian Dozier? Arguments in both directions.

Help us recalibrate Betts, state your case in the comments. (And while I haven’t heard from Salfino yet, I’m assuming he’ll take Daniel Murphy over Betts. Those Mets fans are adorable.)

Come back, Goose (Topps)• When it comes to the saves chase, some basic rules never go away. Any team can support some sort of closer if he’s used in the push-button role, that’s true. The baton is almost everything in saves handicapping; the last man to covert has an edge over the rest of the crew. It’s the one area where roles probably trump skills. 

That all established, does anyone really want to go down the rabbit hole in Colorado? I’d like to avoid it. 

Well-traveled LaTroy Hawkins, 42, suffered two blown saves in the opening week and the Rockies did the logical thing Monday – they put Hawkins on time-out. Now it’s a cast of thousands chasing for the gig. 

The first name to look at is Rafael Betancourt, another aging right-hander (he turns 40 later this month). Betancourt didn’t even pitch last year – Tommy John surgery – but he’s been crisp in four April innings (no baserunners, six strikeouts). Monday’s handshake at San Francisco was a walk in the park. 

Right-hander Adam Ottavino is an interesting contender, a 29-year-old righty who struck out 70 batters (against just 16 walks) in 65 innings last year. That said, Ottavino only has one career save (sometimes teams care about that sort of thing) and his career splits are ugly against left-handed batters (.870 OPS). 

Amiable Canadian reliever John Axford could enter the mix later on, but right now he’s dealing with a personal tragedy (his young son was recently bitten by a rattlesnake). We’re thinking of you, Axman. You’re always going to have a friend in this column. Hang in there. 

If I had to make a Colorado add and all that mattered were the handshakes, I’d go for Betancourt. Possession of the gig and all that, you know the drill. Ottavino’s raw skills are the most intriguing, though he needs a plan to beat the platoon split. I would not roster Hawkins on a bet. Axford is the wild card here. 

Place your bets, gamers. Let us know where your chips are at. 

• Monday was a fun and eventful day for Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles pitcher. His beloved Liverpool football club scored a 2-0 victory over Newcastle in the morning, a much-needed EPL victory, and his Dodgers notched an extra-inning win over the Mariners in the evening. McCarthy worked seven credible innings in the latter victory, though he was not involved in the decision.

McCarthy made history in the midst of his stint, doing something that baseball has never seen before. He piled up 10 strikeouts against zero walks  a helluva night for anyone – but also allowed four home runs. It’s the first time anyone’s yielded four homers, walked zero batters, and whiffed double-digit men in the same start. On this evening, McCarthy truly walked alone. 

Fantasy owners have some interesting choices to make as they consider McCarthy’s first two starts. He’s sitting on a 6.75 ERA, mostly because he’s allowed six homers in 12 innings. But look at the K/BB ratio – he’s fanned 19 batters, walked just one. It’s just about impossible for anyone to have a mediocre ERA if they keep the strikeouts and walks in a good place. 

In sophisticated leagues, I doubt you can score a cheap McCarthy trade this week. People know what to look for. But perhaps in more-casual leagues, it’s time to make a trade inquiry. Someone might be overreacting to the bloated ERA or the homer parade.

I still expect McCarthy to post an ERA in the mid-to-low 3s, as projected before the year. His upcoming schedule is favorable, at least on paper: Colorado, at San Diego, Arizona. Good work if you can get it, three big parks, three Vin Scully calls. A damn good pitcher, if you can get him. Have a free kick at the tires.

Speed Round: My preseason optimism for A.J. Pollock is getting tested these days, as the Diamondbacks are juggling multiple outfielders, including surging Ender Inciarte. The latter is no talent match for Pollock, but Arizona seems to have a thing for those scrappy overachiever types. Try to be patient if you own Pollock, there's still a notable upside . . . So much for the expected Jon Lester/Billy Hamilton party; Hamilton has a minor finger injury and was a Monday scratch. He's listed as day-to-day . . . The Astros did what they do best – strike out a bunch of times – in a blowout loss to Scott Kazmir and the A's. Only the Pirates are striking out more often through the opening week. Stream liberally against the Houston offense, please . . . Brett Gardner was plunked for the second time this year and is considered day-to-day. Monday's pitch caught him on the right wrist . . . Although David Freese has a modest six hits thus far, three of them have gone for home runs. He's batted fourth or fifth in every 2015 start, a good place to do business. He turns 32 at the end of the month; perhaps there's a comeback season in the works. Freese is just nine-percent owned in Yahoo leagues . . . Much of my Monday Twitter activity was tied to Jimmy Nelson promotion. All the elements are here for a sneaky breakout: reasonable pedigree, some MLB experience, a cool crowd after last year's mediocre debut. Nelson was tremendous in his 2015 opener (7-2-0-0-2-9), and although his tag is on the rise, he's stll free to grab in 77 percent of Yahoo leagues. He'll draw the Pirates on Friday..

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 14, 2015, 1:10 pm

Kris Bryant was the top amateur player in baseball in 2013, then he won the Arizona Fall League MVP the same year. He was the consensus minor league player of the year in 2014, and he was, without question, the most dominant hitter in the Cactus League this spring.

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Thus, no one should be surprised to see him doing stuff like this at Triple-A...

That's an opposite-field missile right there.

Bryant homered in back-to-back games over the weekend for the Iowa Cubs, driving in six runs along the way. We're five games into the season, and he's 8-for-21 with three extra-base hits and one steal (and two errors at third base). The service-time hurdle will be cleared on Friday, so there's a chance we'll see Bryant at Wrigley by the weekend.

If that happens ... well, we assume you know what to do. Prepare to activate.

Addison Russell, Bryant's Iowa teammate, has been raking as well, carrying his excellent spring performance (.317/.349/.488) into the regular season. Russell is currently 7-for-22 with five runs scored, one homer and zero strikeouts. Whenever the Bryant Watch ends, Russell Watch begins. The shortstop seems more likely to be a mid/late-summer add for Chicago, however, assuming he isn't a trade chip.

And while we're talking about baseball's elite prospects...

Byron Buxton just had a 4-for-6 day at Double-A, with a double and triple included. Buxton presumably isn't as close to the bigs as Bryant, as he played only 31 games last season due to injury. If you intend to stash-and-hold with Buxton, it could be quite a wait before he reaches Minnesota. But he has plenty of speed and respectable pop, and he's a career .299/.387/.486 hitter in the minors. Buxton absolutely destroyed the Midwest League at age 19, slashing .341/.431/.559 with 32 steals and 33 XBHs in 270 at-bats. He's not blocked by anyone intimidating in the majors, obviously.

White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon struck out nine batters over five frames for Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday, mixing his high-90s fastball with an evil slider and change. Check the tape. Rodon won't be stewing in the minors terribly long, in all likelihood; the Sox expect to compete this year, and he'd be a significant upgrade over the arms at the back of their rotation.

A's first base prospect Matt Olson went 3-for-5 on Monday, swatting his second homer of the season for Double-A Midland. At a time when power is down, Olson offers an uncommon blend of pop and on-base ability. He cleared the fence 37 times last season at Single-A, drawing 117 walks and scoring 111 runs. So far this year, he has as many walks as Ks (4). Nice long-term option for dynasty gamers.

Andrew Heaney was excellent in his first start at Triple-A Salt Lake, striking out eight over 7.0 innings, issuing no walks and allowing just two hits. Heaney had a mostly miserable spring for the Angels, but he closed with 5.1 no-hit innings against the Dodgers' varsity roster on April 3.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 14, 2015, 12:09 pm

Poked, prodded, pricked -- pro prospects have been thoroughly examined by franchises leading up to this month's NFL Draft. However, fantasy owners are just now dissecting their Year 1 potential. Over the next several weeks, we'll attempt to channel our inner Mayock determining whether Rookie X will be fantasy flame or lame material this fall. Monday's profile: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota.

College Highlights: Mariota is the most accomplished QB in Oregon football history posting video game-like numbers in his three years in Eugene. He's only the sixth passer in FBS history to pass for over 9,000 yards (10,796) and rush for over 2,000 yards (2,237) in a career. Rushed for at least 70 yards in 12 of 41 career contests. In 2014, he set the pace nationally in passing efficiency (181.7) and yards per attempt (10.0). He also compiled at least three total touchdowns in 13 of 15 games. Oregon's first ever Heisman Trophy winner. 

Pluses: Versatility is the name of the game for Mariota. His blazing straight-line speed (4.52 40-yard), ability to break contain, sharp on-the-move throws and quick release makes him difficult for defenders to lasso. Fantastic arm strength. Can squeeze the pill into tight windows and, at times, has shown adequate touch on loft tosses. Possesses size (6-foot-4, 222-pounds) and athleticism to execute efficiently, particularly as a runner, inside the red zone. Highly intelligent. He tossed two picks or more only three times in 41 career starts. Mild-mannered attitude and general leadership qualities often described as Russell Wilson-like. 

Minuses: The Ducks' unique offense could make his transition rocky. Their spread style, shotgun offense is predicated on simple reads. He'll need to show competency working from under center. His overall pocket awareness is sketchy. Instead of stepping up in the pocket, he tends to sprint outside the tackle boxes. Must shield his body from violent contact in order to prevent RG3-type fate. Accuracy eluded him often, especially on short-to-intermediate throws. Fumble prone. He put the ball on the turf 27 times in 41 games. 

Pro Comp(s): Colin Kaepernick 

Team Fits: Tampa Bay, Tennessee, New York Jets, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia 

Projected ADP/Auction Value ($200 cap): 160-180 (QB22)/$4-$7

Fearless Forecast: Compared to Jameis Winston, Mariota has measurable Year 1 fantasy potential largely due to his rushing ability. While draftniks are all over the place on where he'll end up, in the right environment (e.g. Philly) he could be a poor man's Cam Newton. His large frame, quickness and fearless demeanor offer considerable encouragement. If he winds up starting Week 1 and can avoid significant injury over 16 games, anticipate a final rookie-year line around 4,000 combined yards (3,400 pass, 600 rush) with 20-24 total touchdowns and 13-17 interceptions. Unquestionably, he's worth a late-round stab in 12-team leagues. 

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Author: Brad Evans
Posted: April 13, 2015, 4:55 pm

It’s brave new world at Yahoo, as we’re offering Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content in addition to our standard season-long pieces. The goal is to help you for the long haul; we’ll have our share of hits and misses along the way, dealing with the inevitable variance.    

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In this space, we’ll be offering 10 total value plays for the upcoming slate, some to buy and some to fade. It’s a new season and a new series (beginner's guide for the DFS rookies); we welcome your feedback, and your own player recommendations in the comments. 

The prices listed are from FanDuel. As always, make sure you double-check announced lineups and late-breaking news (including weather, especially tricky in April) before you commit to your starting choices. Buena suerte. 

Here's my ten cents on a Monday, sorting through a bunch of glorious daytime baseball.  

Players to Buy 

Jake deGrom, SP, vs. Philadelphia (Harang), $8900: When I’m on the Dime desk, I’m not going to try to talk you into the crazy-high tier of pitchers, the 11K and 12K guys. Sure, I’ll try to find bats that help you support a pitcher, but I won’t try to coerce you into overlords like that. You know they’re good. 

But when the price dips down to where deGrom is, that’s when I’ll queue up pretty persuasion. The Phillies lineup is filled with holes, and deGrom’s best career work has come in Citi Field (1.70 ERA, 0.99 WHIP). 

Alex Rodriguez, 3B, at Baltimore (Chen), $3000: Although I’ve been in A-Rod’s corner for most of the spring, I only have him on one season-long roster. Thus, I’ll have to get my Rodriguez angles employed in DFS formats, especially while his price is so dirt cheap. Rodriguez usually gets a bump in the lineup against southpaws – he’s slotted second and third against them this year – and the park is right. Wei-Yin Chen faces a 72-point OPS spike when he’s at the platoon deficit. 

Mike Moustakas, 3B, at Minnesota (May), $2900: Maybe it’s time to say “if you can’t beat him, join him” with Ned Yost. Yes, it’s absurd that Moustakas is batting second in the Royals lineup (while Alex Gordon wastes away in the No. 6 slot), but he’s looked terrific for a week. Everything’s coming up Royals right now. The price is a giveaway.

And you might remember Minnesota pitcher Trevor May from last year, when he posted a 7.88 ERA and 1.77 WHIP over 10 appearances. He can’t be that bad again, but it’s still a plus draw for his opponents until proven otherwise. 

Curtis Granderson, OF, vs. Philadelphia (Harang), $2900: It’s been a while since I’ve been interested in Granderson, but he’s slotted leadoff against a flyball-prone pitcher. Maybe he has a chance to reach the seats, and we at least can project five at-bats. It’s easier to hit during the daytime, too – all of Grandy’s slashes rise nicely while the sun is shining. 

Billy Hamilton, OF, at Chicago (Lester), $4200: You obviously can’t steal first base and Hamilton’s bat is always going to be a concern. But if Hamilton can somehow get on base, he’s just about a sure thing to run – Jon Lester is petrified to throw to first base, hasn’t done it since 2013. The Cardinals ran wild on him during the opener. 

You know the downside, Hamilton could take an 0-for-5 collar against anyone. But from a stolen-base standpoint, this is the most perfect draw of the season. Splits don't come into play: Hamilton and Lester both are very close to neutral, no matter the handedness of opponent. 

(Monday Update, 3:25 pm ET: And now we boo the Reds: they're not starting Hamilton on Monday, per beat writer John Fay. Sounds like the Reds thing to do.) 

Cardinals vs. Milwaukee (Garza), Stack of the Day: Matt Garza’s strikeout rate has dipped for three straight years, and he didn’t look all that snappy in his 2015 opener. Although Garza has been fine against lefties for his career, I still worry about what he might do against a team loaded with them (like St. Louis). It’s over a modest sample of at-bats, but two specific Cardinals – Matt Adams and Jon Jay – are a combined 15-for-22 against Garza. Stack them like pancakes. 

Players to Fade

Jake Odorizzi, SP, at Toronto (Dickey), $8200: We’re still in the first furlong of Odorizzi’s career, so maybe the splits don’t mean a lot to you yet. Nonetheless, let’s note he has a 2.89 career ERA at home (most of it under the Tampa catwalk) and a 5.68 number on the road. Just about every scoring index you’ll care about gets a boost at the Rogers Centre. Don't get cute in the YYZ, these guys can hurt you. 

Xander Bogaerts, SS, vs. Washington (Zimmermann), $3600: Everything about his breakout story, I’m on board with. Love him as a seasonal play. But bad batting slots are death in DFS, and Bogie is still held down in the Boston lineup (he’ll bat eighth in the home opener). And it’s not like the price is a giveaway at 3.6K, or the matchup is cake against Jordan Zimmermann

Ian Desmond, SS, vs. Boston (Porcello), $3900: If Matt Williams ran a co-ed softball team, he’d bat Desmond 13th. What a joke this is. Hey skip, your team is struggling to score runs. 

Anthony Gose, OF, at Pittsburgh (Cole), $3100: The price is fine with Gose, but why mess a nasty matchup (Gerrit Cole) when you don’t have to? I understand why you want to ride shotgun with the sizzling Detroit lineup, but keep in mind this is an NL-park game – the pitchers will hit, Victor Martinez won’t. I view Gose as a sell-high in standard leagues; he’s not going to play every day, and we can’t be sure he can actually sustain a reasonable slash at the big-league level. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 13, 2015, 3:58 pm

I owned Billy Hamilton in every league I was in last year, but after experiencing a .200/.254/.257 second half (and being caught a surprising 23 times on SB attempts on the year), he ended up on zero of my teams this season. So it’s been especially annoying to watch him swipe seven bags (without being caught) over the first six games, even adding a homer Sunday to boot. He’s struck out in seven of his last 19 at bats, so I’m not ready to call him a star exactly, but Hamilton could easily prove to be one of the most fun players to own.

Take Friday’s sequence for example, when he reached on a walk, stole second, got to third on a ball in the dirt and then scored on this short sac fly hit to one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. Among his rapid SB start, one happened during a pitchout, and he’s basically 9-for-9 when you factor in this balk. He’s also doing things like this on defense. This is a 24-year-old who very well could get better who attempted 79 steals last year despite a .292 OBP. The upside remains immense.

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I’m regretting coming away with no shares of Xander Bogaerts. He disappointed last year, but this is a SS who posted a .297/.388/.477 line over 444 at-bats across Double and Triple-A as a 20-year-old the season prior. He’s already matched last year’s SB total with two over six games so far with an encouraging 3:3 K:BB ratio. Bogaerts is slated to hit low in Boston’s lineup, but it’s one that’s likely to score the most runs in baseball, and no park other than Coors Field has boosted BA more other than Fenway over the past three seasons. It’s crazy to come to any conclusions after one week, but I’ll say I’d prefer Bogaerts ROS over shortstops such as Alexei Ramirez, Elvis Andrus and maybe even Starlin Castro.

Here’s a Jeopardy answer that might land someone in jail

This twin turbo crash is no joke

This news reporter will let nothing, including a live report, stop him from ordering a fish sandwich in the morning

Jered Weaver’s average fastball velocity has declined in four straight years, and while it’s one thing to defy the odds by posting a 3.59 ERA with an 86.3 mph mark last season, he’s been all the way down to 82.6 mph over his first two starts in 2015. That’s the lowest in baseball other than R.A. Dickey (the former has thrown the pitch 54.4% of the time, while the knuckleballer has thrown it 16.0%). This is a problem, especially since Weaver is an extreme fly ball pitcher. It’s just two starts and often pitchers have lower velocities in early April, but the trend here is beyond worrisome. There’s a real chance Weaver is done.

Headlines of the Week: Bride Walks Out Of Wedding After Groom Fails Her Math Test...Someone Took A Dump So Disgusting They Had To Cancel This Long-Haul Flight Due To Health Hazards...Boy Wakes From Coma Addicted To Cheese And Swearing...Scientists Invent Hangover-Free Booze, Deserve All The Awards...Groom Knocks Bride Out At Mom’s Request...Chess Grandmaster Thrown Out Of Tournament And Facing 15 Year Ban After Being Caught Cheating On His Smartphone In The Toilet...And here’s the early favorite for Headline of the Year

Prince Fielder is batting .379 while walking as many times as he’s struck out, although just two of his 11 hits have gone for extra bases (both doubles). It’s obviously a small sample, but this is someone coming off neck fusion surgery who had just three XBH over 44 ABs in spring training as well. Then again, I recently questioned Miguel Cabrera (also coming off offseason surgery) about having eight of his first nine hits this year being singles only to see him go yard twice the very next day.

This might be the world’s worst driver. Amazing. 

This woman was mildly excited about her arm wrestling match

Here’s riveting footage of a completely incompetent knife thrower risking his assistant’s life on live television. 

Jimmy Nelson was dominant during his season debut, and while it’s just one start, and he disappointed after getting called up to Milwaukee last season (when he posted a 4.93 ERA and 1.46 WHIP), he does have some intriguing minor league numbers (he had a 1.46 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with a 114:32 K:BB ratio over 111.0 innings in the extremely hitter-friendly PCL last year), and he’s produced a 9.8 SwStr% throughout his brief major league career. He’s definitely worth adding and is on the radar as a possible major breakout candidate.

This pop-a-shot player is no joke

Dr. Phil with no dialogue is amazing

Here’s Miss Finland bluffing a pro poker player like a boss

I was extremely high on Trevor Bauer entering the year, but I’m not exactly sure whether to be encouraged or discouraged after his first start. On one hand, he has yet to allow a hit this season and struck out 11 batters over six innings, but he wasn’t able to go any further because it required 111 pitches, and after he seemingly improved his control problems while walking just one batter over 27.2 innings in spring training, he issued five free passes to Houston. Moreover, the Astros finished with the second most strikeouts in MLB last year and have the third most in 2015. Still, Bauer didn’t allow one line drive during this outing, as 60% of the balls in play were pop ups. And he produced a 14.4 SwStr%, so it’s not crazy to get excited about his 2015 prospects.

Police Blotter: Man Arrested For Ninth DUI While Wearing Shirt That Proclaims ‘I Do Dumb Things’...Man Confesses To Killing, Brings Body To Lawyer’s Office...Teen Burglars Mistook Remains For Cocaine...Akron Police Seek Serial Pooper...Student Dies In Drinking Competition After Swallowing 25 Shots Of Vodka In 60 Seconds...Woman Busted After Marrying 10 Husbands Without Divorcing Any Of Them... Bank Robbery Suspect Arrived in Taxi Drunk...Accused Bank Robber Says Virgin Mary Told Him To Eat His Feces. And He Did. In Court.

Quick Hits: The Nationals entered the season as Vegas’ highest over/under win team, yet they’ve scored the fewest runs in all of baseball through one week. Things will get better with Jayson Werth and eventually Anthony Rendon returning, but they are going to be in a ton of low scoring games all season...I liked Shane Victorino as a sleeper, but after ditching switch hitting, he’s sitting far too often to be anything other than AL-only worthy...Since he opened the year on the DL, Josh Reddick is owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues. He’s two years removed from a 85-32-85-11 campaign and even in a down year, hit .280/.330/.510 with 12 homers in just 264 ABs against right-handers last season, so pick him up, especially if you’re in a daily transaction format...Fernando Rodney, Cody Allen and Steve Cishek have combined to allow 13 earned runs over six innings with a 4:8 K:BB ratio to open 2015...Speaking of closing situations, Adam Ottavino should be owned in 100 percent of fantasy leagues (as should Joel Peralta)...And how is Miguel Castro still owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues?

Songs of the Week: Of Monsters and Men: “Crystals,” The National: “Sunshine On My Back" and Sufjan Stevens: “The Only Thing."

Quick Hits Part Deux: Considering Andrew McCutchen’s recent injury revelation, it might not be the worst idea to trade him after Sunday’s big game. I’d prefer Clayton Kershaw, Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Abreu moving forward...I highly doubt he’ll stay healthy, but while playing, there’s little reason Adam Lind can’t hold similar value to Freddie Freeman...Kyle Lohse has posted a 6:0 K:BB ratio over 9.2 innings to open the year. That’s been accompanied by 12 earned runs unfortunately...Howie Kendrick somehow has just two RBI and one run scored despite batting .292 while hitting cleanup in a strong Dodgers lineup (the player hitting in front of him currently sports a solid 2.058 OPS). Now is the time to try to trade for Kendrick...This George Springer catch with the bases loaded in extra innings was pretty legit...Colby Rasmus has hit 51 homers over 973 ABs against right-handed pitchers since 2012 and should get regular playing time while calling a home park similar to the one he used to play in Toronto (when it comes to LHB HR). He’s just 28 years old, so don’t forget about the former top prospect in daily formats/leagues when a RHP is on the hill.

Longreads of the Week: The Strange & Curious Tale Of The Last True Hermit and The Tragic Extent Of Monique And Milton Bradley’s Violent Relationship.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 13, 2015, 1:18 pm

By now you should all know the Daily Dime drill. We examine daily prices for 10 players, looking for bargains and busts. Let's get to work...

Eight to play

Max Scherzer, SP, at Phi (Sean O’Sullivan), $11,000 at FanDuel: I’ll continue to recommend going with aces (despite Clayton Kershaw’s effort Saturday), and Washington is by far the biggest favorite among Sunday’s slate at -200. One hesitation is the Nationals have scored the fewest runs in MLB so far, but the Phillies don’t exactly have a potent offense either, and the opposing starter owns a career 5.91 ERA with a 2.0 K-BB%. That’s not good.

Henderson Alvarez, SP, vs. T.B. (Nathan Karns), $7,300: If you prefer to spend less on your SP, look no further than Alvarez, who’s the 19th most expensive pitcher Sunday despite the Marlins being (around) the third-most favored team. Henderson won’t get you many strikeouts, but he did post a 2.65 ERA last season and faces a shaky Tampa Bay offense without a DH. The Rays will be starting a pitcher who’s allowed nine homers over 29.2 career innings.

Adam LaRoche, 1B, vs. Min (Phil Hughes), $3,000: Let’s go back to the well here, as LaRoche was one of the few picks I got right Saturday. He remains cheap (same price as Allan Dykstra and less than Ryan Howard) and is a fly ball hitter facing a righty who’s an extreme fly ball pitcher in a park that’s increased home runs by 20 percent over the past three seasons.

Colby Rasmus, OF, at Tex (Colby Lewis), $2,900: Using the same logic as above, I like betting on an extreme fly ball hitter against an extreme fly ball pitcher while in a park that’s conducive to homers, especially for LHB. In a battle of Colbys, the pitcher has allowed 76 home runs over his past 481.2 innings.

Jay Bruce, OF, vs. Stl (Carlos Martinez), $3,400: He’s coming off the worst season of his career and isn’t exactly off to a big start in 2015. Still, Bruce averaged 32 homers and 102 RBI from 2011-2013 and just turned 28 years old. He’s facing a starter Sunday who’s struggled mightily throughout his career against lefties and in a park that’s increased homers for LHB by an MLB-high 52 percent over the past three seasons.

Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, at Ari (Josh Collmenter), $5,200: He’s obviously not cheap. In fact, Gonzalez is the most expensive first baseman. But he might just be worth it as he’s 6-for-10 over his career versus Collmenter (with a 1.636 OPS) and will be hitting in a park that’s increased run scoring more than any in MLB other than Coors Field over the past three years.

Chris Coghlan, OF, at Col (Jordan Lyles), $3,500: He quietly had a 123 wRC+ last year, which was top-45 among hitters. He’s never been retired by Sunday’s starter in his career and is hitting in Coors Field, so don’t overlook him. 

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, at NYY (Masahiro Tanaka), $3,000: He’s not valued as a top-12 third baseman despite hitting in arguably baseball’s best lineup while facing what appears to be a broken pitcher in a park that’s one of the easiest to homer in from the left-handed side.

A pair to fear

Masahiro Tanaka, SP, vs. Bos (Clay Buchholz), $8,800: He’s the fifth-most expensive pitcher despite dealing with a damaged elbow that’s resulted in decreased velocity and a major decrease in fastball usage (he threw his FB 40.6% of the time in 2014 compared to 32.9% during his first start this year). He’s also facing a strong Boston lineup in a hitter’s park. The line essentially calls it a pick ‘em (NYY is -107), which suggests he’s clearly overpriced.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, vs LAD (Zack Greinke), $5,100: He has a .235/.350/.353 line in his career versus Greinke, which should at least give some pause considering his price, especially at a position so deep.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 12, 2015, 7:05 am

By now you should all know the Daily Dime drill. We examine daily prices for 10 players, looking for bargains and busts. Let's get to work...

Eight to play

Clayton Kershaw, SP, at Ari (Bradley), $11,900 at FanDuel: Even in a hitter’s park, Kershaw is worth the cost here. He’s the best pitcher in the game, and Vegas pegs the Dodgers as big favorites (-210). To put this in perspective, the second-highest priced SP for Saturday is David Price, and the Tigers are actually underdogs! Kershaw has a 10.0 K/9 rate with a 2.45 ERA over 21 career starts versus the Diamondbacks.

Jeff Samardzija, SP, vs. Min (Pelfrey), $9,700: If you want to go a cheaper route with pitching, look toward Samardzija, who’s somehow not one of the five most expensive SPs despite the White Sox being the second most favored team (-180) by far. U.S. Cellular Field is no doubt a tough park to pitch in, but he faces a Twins team that totaled an MLB-low one run over three games before breaking out Friday.

Lucas Duda, 1B, at Atl (Teheran), $3,500: He hit 28 homers over 403 at-bats against right-handers last season and owns a career .706 slugging percentage against Julio Teheran (yes SSS to be sure). But he’ll be hitting in the middle of the Mets’ lineup, and the price looks right

Howie Kendrick, 2B, at Ari (Bradley), $3,300: He’s recorded the fourth-most FPPG among second basemen early on while hitting cleanup in a pretty loaded Dodgers lineup yet is still at a reasonable price. He’ll be batting in a park Saturday that’s increased run scoring more so than any other than Coors Field over the past three years.

Adam LaRcohe, 1B, vs. Min (Pelfrey), $3,100: LaRoche hit 21 homers in 357 ABs against right-handed pitchers last year despite playing in a home park that decreased HR for LHB by 20 percent over the past three years. He’ll be batting in a place Saturday that’s increased HR for LHB by 13 percent over that span, facing a RHP who allowed five long balls over 23.2 innings last season.

Colby Rasmus, OF, at Tex, (Gallardo), $2,700: He has a career .313/.476/.563 line against Yovani Gallardo, the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has boosted HR for LHB by 10 percent over the last three years and Rasmus has a 0.77 GB/FB ratio throughout his career. Jed Lowrie makes for a solid SS option (at $2,700) for similar reasons. 

Miguel Montero, C, at Col (Kendrick), $3,100: He’s been one of the bigger catcher busts so far, hitless while getting just four at bats. But Montero owns a career .462/.563/.769 line against Kyle Kendrick and will be hitting in Coors Field, a park that’s increased run scoring by 45 percent over the past three years (the next highest is 10 percent).

Jon Jay, OF, at Cin (Cueto), $2,600: He's super cheap and has a .480/.536/.880 career line against Johnny Cueto. I know that should mean nothing, but 12 hits over 25 ABs is something I'm naive enough not to ignore. 

A pair to fear

Todd Frazier, 3B, vs. STL (Wacha), $3,900: Only two third basemen are listed with higher prices (assuming you aren't crazy enough to use Anthony Rendon), but he’s hit .154/.214/.154 against Michael Wacha throughout his career (just 13 ABs). Nine of Wacha’s career 11 HRs allowed have actually come against RHB, but the safe bet is to fade Frazier.

Freddie Freeman, 1B, vs. NYM (Gee), $3,800: He has a .241/.267/.414 career line over 29 at bats versus Dillon Gee. The Braves are one of five teams to open with a 4-0 record, but the safest bet remains they finish with the fewest runs scored in all of baseball.

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Author: Dalton Del Don
Posted: April 11, 2015, 7:59 am

By now you should all know the Daily Dime drill. We examine daily prices for ten players, looking for bargains and busts. Let's get to work...

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Eight to play

Dexter Fowler, OF, at Col (Matzek), $3100 at FanDuel: Fowler is a career .299/.391/.433 hitter against left-handed pitching, and Rockies starter Tyler Matzek shouldn't scare anyone away. Matzek has been dominant against LHBs, but righty hitters have hammered him (.306/.374/.474 in 386 PAs). I'm using a multi-Cub formation in multiple lineups on Friday, featuring Fowler and Jorge Soler ($3700).

Taijuan Walker, SP, at Oak (Pomeranz), $7400: After a brilliant spring (27.0 IP, 2 ER, 26 Ks), Walker takes his first turn of the regular season in a friendly road park. The A's have hit well enough to open the year, but they don't field the game's most intimidating lineup. Walker is just the ninth-most expensive pitcher on Friday's slate, but he's a serious talent.

Wilson Ramos, C, at Phi (Williams), $3100: With Jerome Williams on the hill on Friday, it feels like a decent time to roster a batch of Nats. Ramos sat against Matt Harvey on Thursday afternoon, so he should be good to go in this one. It's always nice to find a catcher who does his hitting in the middle of the lineup.

Drew Stubbs, OF, vs. Chc (Wood), $3100: Cubs starter Travis Wood can't really be trusted at sea level, so he definitely can't be trusted at altitude. I'm assuming Stubbs will draw the start in this one; he's 5-for-12 in his career against the lefty Wood. (Not a meaningful sample, still a nice talking point.)

Joe Mauer, 1B, at CWS (Noesi), $3200: OK, so the Twins are off to a hilariously poor start, having scored only a single run over three games. But when Hector Noesi takes the hill, I'm always going to roster someone who gets to face him. That's just one of my guiding principles.

Jose Reyes, SS, at Bal (Norris), $3700: Fun fact about Reyes' history against O's starter Bud Norris: In 30 career plate appearances against the righty, Reyes has never struck out. Not once. He's 10-for-28 against Bud, for what it's worth.

C.J. Cron, 1B, vs. KC (Vargas), $2500: Cron is hitless in six at-bats to start the season, sure, but his history against the left-handed Vargas is tremendous, if limited (2-for-5, 2 HR, 2 BB). And yup, that's another way-too-small sample. If you need an extra-cheap option to sketch in a lineup, consider Cron, assuming he plays.

Pablo Sandoval, 3B, at NYY (Eovaldi), $3000: Panda has absolutely owned Eovaldi (8-for-11, 4 XBHs), and I'm expecting plenty of stats on both sides in this one. Sandoval is a heart-of-the-order hitter in a terrific lineup, and the price is right.

A pair to fear

Chase Utley, 2B, vs. Was (Gonzalez), $3400: This could be any Phillies regular, really, with the possible exception of Darin Ruf ($2400), if he plays. Philadelphia is facing Friday's most expensive pitcher, Gio Gonzalez ($9400); Utley has had almost no success against the Washington lefty (3-for-17, all singles).

Wilmer Flores, SS, at Atl (Stults), $2500: It seems as if a soft-tossing lefty should be a decent matchup for Flores, but he's done nearly all his damage against RHPs to this point in his career. When facing southpaws, Flores is just 13-for-91 with no homers and 24 Ks (0-for-2 vs. Stults). Stay away.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 10, 2015, 2:11 pm

Brett Cecil blew a save opportunity in a loss to the Yankees on Wednesday, delivering a messy stat line along the way: 0.1 IP, H, BB, K, WP.

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On Thursday, Toronto's closer became an ex-closer:

Cecil has been at least temporarily removed from #BlueJays closer's role. Castro becomes an option in 9th.

— Gregor Chisholm (@gregorMLB) April 9, 2015

Apparently John Gibbons maintains a zero-tolerance policy regarding the blowing of saves, which of course is his prerogative. Seems harsh, but our role here is merely to react to various moves, not judge them. Cecil was dinged this spring (shoulder) and his velocity has dipped, so the flip isn't completely out of nowhere.

The advice here is simple enough: Go add Miguel Castro. Everything else can wait. Go. Do it.

Done? Great.

Castro currently owns the ninth for the Jays. He's a hard-throwing 20-year-old coming off an excellent spring, and he was terrific in the low minors last year (2.69 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.7 K/9). He definitely has the traditional closing arsenal, with the 96-98 mph heat included. He earned an easy save on Thursday night in New York, tossing a 1-2-3 inning (Drew-Gregorius-Ellsbury) while protecting a three-run lead. After reaching the backstop with an errant slider, Castro was pretty much all fastballs.

Cecil actually set up Castro on Thursday, striking out two in a relatively quiet eighth. (Chris Young drew a two-out walk, then advanced on a wild pitch.) It sure seems weird that Toronto doesn't trust Cecil in ninth-inning save situations, yet he's approved to face an opponent's 4-5-6 hitters with a slim lead in the eighth. But, again, we're not here to judge. For the moment, Cecil is out of our fantasy plans, except in deep formats where you need to hold next-men-up.

It feels like we've been hyping and un-hyping and re-hyping Trevor Bauer for the better part of a decade, but he's actually still only 24 years old. On Thursday afternoon, Bauer spun 6.0 no-hit innings against the Astros, piling up 11 Ks. Highlights here.

Not a bad call, Pianowski.

Trevor Bauer, missing bats. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)Terry Francona understandably lifted Bauer after the sixth with the no-hitter still in play, because the kid was headed for an obscene pitch-count. He issued five walks on Thursday, throwing just 65 strikes on 111 pitches. It may not have been the most efficient six innings you'll ever see, but it was impressive nonetheless.

If I had shares of Bauer, I'd probably try to cash-in right now, taking his strong outing (and excellent spring) to the trade market. I wouldn't simply give him away, mind you — this is clearly a talented young starter, figuring things out. But this time of year, we have plenty of fantasy managers with us who routinely overreact to huge single-game performances. Those folks generally aren't paying attention later in the season. If you can extract an ace-level price for Bauer today, do it.

A big part of the story for Trevor on Thursday, we should note, was the K-prone opposing lineup. Houston hitters fanned 16 times, raising the team total to 36 through just three games. This is what you get with Gattis, Carter, Springer and Co. If you're streaming in the days ahead, the Astros are scheduled to face Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo and Colby Lewis over the weekend.

Please note the productive line delivered by Detroit lead-off man Anthony Gose: 3-for-5, 3 R, double, SB. He earned his at-bats with a strong spring, and he's off to a respectable start in April. (True, he's making noise against guys like Ricky Nolasco and Kyle Gibson, but there are no degree-of-difficulty points in fantasy.)

Nobody seems to own Mitch Moreland in Yahoo leagues, but he's got plenty of power and he'll be an almost-everyday presence in the Rangers lineup. Moreland homered off spring hero Kendall Graveman on Wednesday, finishing with three RBIs. He has an unobstructed path to playing time this season, which should lead to 25-or-so home runs.

Matt Harvey made most Nats look silly on Thursday, including lead-off hitter Michael Taylor. But Taylor still managed to finish his afternoon with two hits in five plate appearances, driving in two runs. The kid is now 4-for-13, playing reasonably well in relief of Denard Span (abdomen). Taylor should prove useful as a short-term play. He slashed .304/.390/.526 in the high minors last year, clearing the fence 23 times and swiping 37 bags.

Author: Andy Behrens
Posted: April 10, 2015, 12:56 pm

It’s brave new world at Yahoo, as we’re offering Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content in addition to our standard season-long pieces. The goal is to help you for the long haul; we’ll have our share of hits and misses along the way, dealing with the inevitable variance.    

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In this space, we’ll be offering 10 total value plays for the upcoming slate, some to buy and some to fade. Generally speaking, we’re not going to try to talk you into superstars or away from fringe players – the idea is to pore through the lineups and locate the overlays and overpays. It’s a new season and a new series (beginner's guide for the DFS rookies); we welcome your feedback, and your own player recommendations in the comments. 

The prices listed are from FanDuel. As always, make sure you double-check announced lineups and late-breaking news (including weather, especially tricky in April) before you commit to your starting choices. Buena suerte. 

Here's my ten cents on a Thursday. 

Players to Buy

Trevor Bauer, SP, at Houston. $7,400: We’ve been talking about Bauer’s post-hype case most of the spring, but let’s have some DFS fun with it, too. He took a notable step forward last year, then posted that silly 26-strikeout, one-walk log for spring training. Yeah, some homers get hit in the Arizona air, that’s part of the game. And look at this daisy of a matchup Thursday – the Astros are the AL’s easiest strikeout bunch, and the game comes in weather-controlled Houston, no threat of a washout. Throw the dice with me.  

Sam Fuld, OF, vs. Texas, $2,800: He’s cheap, he’s batting leadoff, he’s in the platoon advantage, and he’s in an environment that should be weather-safe. Plus, who doesn’t love rooting for a Sammy? Malone, Adams, Dekker, Fuld  get some mileage out of the name, too. It's the little things. 

Stephen Vogt, 1B, vs. Texas, $2,700: It’s a shame he doesn’t carry the catcher tag in this particular version of the game, but we’ll still consider him at first. Most of the Fuld case applies to Vogt as well (park, opponent, platoon edge, and a cushy No. 2 spot in the lineup). Nick Martinez is the Texas starter, by the way, he of the 4.55 ERA and 1.46 WHIP last year. Lefties posted a .279/.360/.472 slash against him. Let’s take some cuts. 

Jose Ramirez, SS, at Houston, $2,500: Ramirez was a sneaky 10-for-11 on steals for the Tribe last year, over a modest 68 games  with more confidence and presumably more leash this year, there’s plenty of upside for more. He’s batting second Thursday at Houston, up against a rookie pitcher (Asher Wojciechowski) making his major-league debut. Nothing to shy away from here. 

Carlos Santana, 1B, at Houston, $3,400: The Indians are throwing a bunch of lefty swingers at the rookie Wojo, seven out of nine (Santana and Ramirez are switch-hitters). It could be a fun time to stack away, indoors against an unproven kid who had a 4.74 ERA and 1.447 WHIP in the PCL last season. 

Kendall Graveman, SP, vs. Texas, $5,000: If you feel like a cheap pitching play for your GPP upside stab, Graveman could be your huckleberry. He posted a 0.36 ERA over 25.1 spring innings, with 17 strikeouts against seven walks. He did a tour of America the previous summer, stopping with four different minor-league clubs and compiling a 1.83 ERA over 27 starts. Oakland knew what it was doing when it pushed Graveman into the Josh Donaldson deal. Kick the Graveman tires in standard formats, too. 

Players to Fade 

Joe Panik, 2B, at San Diego, $2,500: He’ll probably return to his No. 2 slot Thursday and he has that pretty career average, but I don’t like riding with middle infielders who offer no category juice. Panik’s 75 games into his MLB career, and all he’s posted one piddly home run and nary a stolen base attempt. Even at this next-to-nothing cost, I’m not tempted. And the Padres held back one of the better starters of the Thursday card, the criminally-underrated Ian Kennedy

CC Sabathia, SP, vs. Toronto, $7,600: It was a helluva run for Sabathia, but he and I broke off ties for good prior to the 2014 season  be it for seasonal or daily. The Jays have too much right-handed power for Sabathia to contend with, and it’s not like he’s coming at a giveaway price. 

Edinson Volquez, SP, vs. Chicago, $8,300: Good luck with the episodic control, good luck with the lefties in the Pale Hose lineup, good luck with the weather. I doubt many people will be temped at this price, but even if the check were blank, I'd skip past Volquez. 

Elvis Andrus, SS, at Oakland, $3,400: He’s been dropped to seventh in the order, and he’s also dealing with a right-handed pitcher (not a huge drop for his record, but it does cost Andrus 39 OPS points). He's been overrated in seasonal roto for years, too – why not take Jimmy Rollins at a cheaper price? 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 9, 2015, 5:00 pm

At most of the positions we consider in this roto racket, you want to play the long game to some degree, trust in the big banks of numbers, be patient. 

But if there’s one position where aggressiveness is paramount, it’s at closer. We have to be quick to the jump with the save chasers because we know teams are hasty in that area, too. Momentum has value when it comes to the ninth inning. Possession of the gig is a real thing. The baton matters. More than any other position, you have to consider roles at least as strongly as skills. 

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The ninth inning is the soul of Closing Time, and most of this edition will be focused on the often-maddening pursuit of saves. Get your facial hair where you need it to be and let’s attack the handshake. 

• Although Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller throw from different sides of the mound, they’ve been similar commodities for most of their careers. Both came into professional baseball as starting prospects, and quickly acquired juice in the prospect community. Both dealt with regular control problems, hastening a switch to relief work. Both pitchers finally put it all together in 2014, dominating in a non-closing role (Betances in The Bronx, Miller in Boston and Baltimore). 

Both are imposing figures on the mound – Betances checks in at 6-foot-8, 260 pounds, while Miller is 6-7, 210. And neither guy had any problems with platoon splits last year, blowing away hitters from both sides of the plate. 

When it came to pricing these guys in March, the fantasy public preferred the righty. Betances was seen by many as the logical guy to close, pushing his ADP inside the Top 100. Miller was there to be had outside the 200th pick. 

Perhaps that was a gross error. Yankees manger Joe Girardi refused to endorse a single closer during spring training, and it was Miller, not Betances, who pitched well at Fort Lauderdale. When the Yanks headed north to start the real games, a closer-by-committee appeared alive and well. 

It was interesting to watch Girardi manage Wednesday’s high-leverage innings against Toronto. Betances was summoned for the top of the eighth, with New York trailing by a run. He labored throughout, walking two batters, missing the zone on 17 of 32 pitches, and allowing a hit and a run. Not the collapse of the century – and it came against the meat of the Toronto order – but he never looked sharp or comfortable. 

The Yankees wound up rallying for the lead in the bottom of the eighth, setting up Miller for a one-run save opportunity. The lefty came through with a low-stress conversion, needing just ten pitches (eight strikes) to navigate the weakest part of the Toronto order. Queue up Frank Sinatra, send everyone home. 

If I had to pick one New York reliever to own right now, I’d select Miller without any hesitation. Part of that is my confidence that he’s a more consistent pitcher than Betances anyway, and part of this speaks to my concern about how Betances has looked over the past month or so. I grant you both pitchers, at their best, could handle any role Girardi wants to give them. They don’t have to be treated as platoon specialists. They have profiles that will work in any high-leverage situation. 

All that said, let’s return to the themes at the open. Momentum matters with closing gigs. Most managers are fine to go closer-by-committee for a period of time, but not as a permanent strategy. While Miller selflessly claims he doesn’t care when the Yankees use him – it’s refreshing to hear that from someone who has every right to want a closing position – what if he’s the pitcher Girardi trusts the most? Would that turn Miller into a super-reliever who simply came into games at the most critical point, or would Miller be steered more towards the outs at the end of games? 

I haven’t forgotten Betances’s 135 strikeouts from last year, or the silly ratios. I’m certainly not kicking him to the curb. I just have to accept that he’s behind Miller right now when it comes to fantasy value, and it’s not always easy to get the baton back.

Place your New York bets in the comments. 

• Do Joe Nathan owners have a right to complain about his DL stint, or are they being saved from themselves? The same question can be asked of the Tigers. Nathan is 40, after all, and he was rather awful last year (4.81 ERA, 1.53 WHIP), though he still cobbled together 35 saves in 42 chances. Keep in mind that conversion statistic is often misleading, as it doesn’t count other blowups that technically don't go down as blown saves. 

While Nathan rehabs his right elbow flexor strain, Joakim Soria steps in as closer. I think there's a reasonable chance Soria pitches well enough to keep the job for most of the year. The Tigers want you to believe Nathan has the job when he comes back, but what are they going to say? Teams have no incentive to create a controversy while one player is out of commission. If Soria is up to the challenge, it presents a major decision for the club, assuming Nathan comes back anytime soon (and that’s another assumption I’m not willing to make). 

If you could get anything for Nathan today, I'd be very tempted to take it. If you can trade for Soria on the presumption that he's just a placeholder, I like the upside of that move.

• Somehow LaTroy Hawkins was able to collect 23 saves for the Rockies last year, despite a mediocre strikeout rate (32 in 54.1 innings) and a ton of MLB mileage (he broke in with the Twins in 1995, turned 42 around Christmas). It’s hard to trust him for the fresh season, although he started the year as Colorado’s baton holder. 

Hawkins picked up a blown save (and a vulture win) in Wednesday’s game at Milwaukee, allowing four singles and two runs in the ninth. That’s what happens when you can’t throw the ball by anyone consistently  you have to live with the batted-ball gods, for good or for bad. Fortunately for the Rockies, Adam Ottavino worked a clean eighth and John Axford navigated a tidy tenth. Despite the Hawkins mess, Colorado completed the three-game sweep. 

Axford was solid in the spring, Ottavino electric, and Hawkins all over the place. I’m not sure who the Rockies would go to if and when Hawkins loses the post, but I do think that day is coming. The raw stuff points to Ottavino, the “proven closer tag” to Axford (don’t laugh, some teams care about that  and the Rockies are known for their screwball decisions).

Ottavino is six-percent owned in Yahoo, while Axford trades at two percent. If you feel like speculating, they're probably out there, waiting for you. 

• There's not much actionable when a universally-owned player goes on a monster tear, but let's at least give Adrian Gonzalez the last word in this edition. Perhaps you were sleeping when Gonzalez clocked three home runs Wednesday night; he's now 10-for-13 on the year, with an absurd five homers. If you landed the sweet-swinging lefty in the March draft season, take your Cadillac trot around the bases. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 9, 2015, 1:49 pm

Jason Heyward is looking to breath new life into his MLB career in St. Louis.  (Getty)

Jason Heyward was the star of MLB's '15 opener, collecting three hits and a SB for his new team,  the Cardinals - can Heyward revive his career in St. Louis -  O/U 39.5 combined HR+SB?

Brandon –  OVER. He went 27/21 in '12 as a (mostly) 22-year-old, and he's in St. Louis now, the NL's official rehabilitation center for post-hypers. At 25, with his talent, there should be plenty of great years ahead for Heyward, starting with '15. I'll say he finishes with 23 home runs and 18 stolen bases.

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Scott – OVER. You love that No. 2 batting slot in a deep St. Louis lineup, and anytime the Cardinals make a bet on a player, I want to backline the action. 

Dalton – OVER. I went on record predicting Heyward would have 10 more homers/steals than Justin Upton this season, so I fully expect him to have a combo of 40-plus. The Cards plan to have an extremely aggressive approach on the base paths, and I'm buying into the organization's change in his swing. 

J.D. Martinez hit the first MLB regular-season home run of '15. He hit 23 long balls for the Tigers in 123 games in '14 after washing out in Houston. Now a steady fixture in the middle of Detroit's lineup, how many home runs will he deliver this season - O/U 25.5 HRs?

Brandon –  UNDER. His HR/FB rate spiked last season when he finished with 23 home runs in 480 at-bats. And since he's not an extreme fly ball hitter, I would expect that his HR/FB rate will regress a bit back to his career average. Let's call it 24 home runs - close, but no cigar.

Scott – OVER. We have a tangible reason for the 2014 breakthrough, the mechanical overhaul, and Martinez has a delicious spot in the Detroit order, the No. 5 position. I love how Monday's blast was an opposite-field clout; if you want validation for a power hitter, look at the times he leaves the yard without pulling the ball. 

Dalton – UNDER. I actually believe in Martinez's breakout last season, but it's tough to predict 26-plus homers for most hitters, let alone a 27-year-old who's yet to do so during his career. I expect him to be a very good hitter this year but to fall just short of this number.

Following much concern about his health this spring, Masahiro Tanaka took a loss in the Yankees' opener, allowing five runs in just 4.0 IP.  Will Tanaka be able to log more innings than his rookie campaign (136.1) and will his final ERA be O/U 3.399?

Brandon –  UNDER/OVER. Who wants to draft a pitcher with a slight UCL tear? And when that pitcher gets knocked around in the opener, doing so while obviously trying to avoid using his fastball, it doesn't do much to quell the dire thoughts that have surrounded him since late last season.

Dalton – UNDER and OVER. I entered the year very skeptical of Tanaka and his health situation. I don't want to overrate one start that came against a good offense, but his lack of FB velocity/usage didn't exactly help ease those concerns. I'm afraid Tommy John is inevitable (although to be totally fair, he produced a 14.6 SwStr%, so it's not crazy he can be effective with diminished velocity if he somehow avoids the knife). 

Scott – UNDER and OVER is the only play here. Like many pundits, I wanted no part of Tanaka in the spring. He's pitching through an UCL tear and didn't want to work in the zone during Monday's opener. The baseball fan in me is certainly rooting for the story, but it's a smoke-fire situation. 

Boston pitcher Clay Buchholz pitched seven shutout innings (with nine strikeouts) in Monday's opener. He's been all over the map the past couple years, sporting a 1.74 ERA in '13 and a 5.34 mark last season. Where will he land in '15  - O/U 3.499 ERA?

Brandon –  OVER. He's actually been under this number in three of the past five seasons, but his FIP has been over in four of those seasons. Fenway is a tough place to keep the ERA down, and among his AL East competitors, the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees project to be top 10 offenses - the environment is working against him.

Scott – OVER. If only the Phillies played in the AL East. If only Fenway Park offered a little cushion; some foul territory would be nice. I did add Buchholz in one mixer, but it's on a team where I'm in grave need of starting pitching – maybe the lineup will push him to some cheap wins. But I've been burned on this case many times in the past. The Buchholz Boogie usually results in a blowup. 

Dalton – OVER. With his inconsistency while pitching in a park that's increased run scoring the second most of any in the American League over the past three years, this seems the safest bet. That said, Buchholz could easily win 15-plus games with Boston's offense on his side even if I'm right about this "over." There's some really nice fantasy potential here. 

Last season in Texas, Alex Rios combined for just 21 HR+SB, his lowest tally since his rookie season in '04.  Now with Kansas City, Rios opened the year with a home run and a steal. Will Rios be able to resuscitate his once-potent power/speed game in KC - O/U 35.5 combined HR+SB?

Brandon –  OVER. He's only one season removed from stealing 42 bases and he's now playing for the team that led MLB in steals (and steal attempts) in '14. If he steals 25 bases, he only needs to add 11 home runs, a mark he eclipsed for eight straight seasons before last year. Age doesn't diminish talent at a uniform rate. I think Rios has a bounce-back season left in him.

Scott – UNDER, because I don't want to fully bet on the power, and Rios is at an age (34) where it's dangerous to chase the speed. Or maybe I'm just working through some of my Ned Yost angst (Mike Moustakas hitting second? Stop trolling us, #boomyosted). 

Dalton – UNDER. Rios was a top-20 player in three of the previous four seasons before last year, when he somehow hit four homers over 492 at-bats despite playing in one of the better hitting parks in baseball. He recently hurt his thumb, an injury he says will affect him all season, and he now plays in a park that suppresses HR by RHB (although KC encourages SBs). I'm expecting way under here.

Atlanta traded star closer Craig Kimbrel just before its '15 opener and handed the closing reins to Jason Grilli, who saved 33 games for the Pirates in '13. Can Grilli, who picked up a save in Atlanta's first game, approach the success he enjoyed with Pittsburgh in '13 - O/U 27.5 saves?

Brandon –  OVER. Grilli was a pretty lights-out reliever from '11-'13 before going off the rails a bit last season. With his upper 90s fastball on display in his first save opportunity for Atlanta, I'd be williing to write last season off as a bad experience. I think Grilli will hold down the ninth for Atlanta for as long as they decide to keep him. And I wouldn't rule out the possibility that a trade deadline suitor looks to use him as a closer, as well. There were 20 closers with at least 20 saves by the All-Star break last season, so he has a good chance to get close to this number even before the likelihood of a trade.

Scott – UNDER. Mixed feelings on this one. Getting three outs in the ninth isn't that hard, and Grilli marked his territory nicely with the first conversion. But I still expect the Braves to win 75 games or fewer (no matter how good they've looked through two games), and if Grilli gets off to a strong push, it probably makes him a July trade candidate (which would probably cost him the closer baton). Might be a good time to shop Grilli to a save-needy opponent, lock in early profits. 

Dalton – OVER. Atlanta should be among the lowest scoring teams in MLB, but Grilli looks locked into this role and plenty capable of capitalizing on it. I'd rank him as a top-22ish closer from here on out. His velocity was strong during his save against the Marlins (when he sent down the team's 3-4-5 hitters in succession).

Author: Brandon Funston
Posted: April 8, 2015, 7:02 pm

It’s a brave new world at Yahoo, as we’re offering Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content in addition to our standard season-long pieces. The goal is to help you for the long haul; we’ll have our share of hits and misses along the way, dealing with the inevitable variance.   

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]

In this space, we’ll be offering five value plays and five overpriced options for the upcoming slate. Generally speaking, we’re not going to try to talk you into superstars or away from fringe players – the idea is to pore through the lineups and locate the overlays and overpays. It’s a new season and a new series (beginner's guide for the DFS rookies); we welcome your feedback, and your own player recommendations in the comments. 

The prices listed are from FanDuel. As always, make sure you double-check announced lineups and late-breaking news before you commit to your starting choices. Buena suerte. 

Here's my ten cents on a Wednesday. 

Five to Buy 

-- Jose Abreu, 1B, at Kansas City, $4,600: He’s a fun play most of the time, but the numbers really go up against opposing southpaws: .353/.437/.662 for his career. Anything about Danny Duffy scare you? I didn’t think so. 

-- Jacob deGrom, SP, at Washington, $9,000: He’s drawing the Nats at the right time, no doubt on that. Denard Span isn’t walking through that door. Jayson Werth isn’t walking through that door. Anthony Rendon isn’t walking through that door. Maybe Matt Williams will bat Ian Desmond sixth again. 

-- Mookie Betts, OF, at Philadelphia, $3500: I didn’t get any standard shares of him, so I’ll have to get my Ya-Yas out on Betts in other ways. After watching the Red Sox basically go pinata on Cole Hamels opening day, I’d like to take another shot here, up against journeyman Aaron Harang

-- Ben Zobrist, 2B, vs. Texas, $3,300: You get the best of his game when a lefty is on the mound – Zobrist’s average jumps 31 points and his slugging rises 26 points. And it’s not like the Rangers are throwing Clayton Kershaw here, it’s Ross Detwiler. Zobrist also seems locked and loaded in Oakland’s No. 3 slot, the fun place to be for production. 

-- Michael Bourn, OF, at Houston, $2,700: He’s been dead to roto players for a while, but when Scott Feldman is on the mound, get your rabbits ready. There were 35 bases stolen against Feldman last year, tops in the majors. If you’re on the fence with any aggressive Cleveland hitter, the presence of Feldman should push you over the top. 

-- Bonus: David Peralta, OF, vs. San Francisco, $2,600: He came through for us Tuesday and we’ll play the same card again – go ahead and use the righty-killer against a nondescript opponent (in this case, Chris Heston). You’ll want to fish out the Snakes lineup before committing  the A.J. Pollock scratch Tuesday came out of nowhere  but I can’t imagine why Peralta would sit after his monster game. 

Five to Fade 

-- Shin-Soo Choo, OF, at Oakland, $2,900: Isn’t it strange to see Choo in the middle of the lineup? His OBP skills deserve the first or second spot, at least against right-handed pitching. He’s never been much of a force against lefties (.242/.337/.342), so don’t dial him up against Scott Kazmir

-- Mark Teixeira, 1B, vs. Toronto, $3,300: I’m issuing a “dump the stock” advisory for anyone tied to Teixeira. If he has a strong 2-3 games, you head to the trade market and make it clear you want to move “a bat” or “a corner.” You mention Teixeira’s name, they might see through you. I hear he’s in better shape and overhauling his diet, but I don’t see him adjusting to the shift  the one thing he really needs to do. And for what it’s worth, he has lousy career success against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (3-for-16, .551 OPS). While we’re on the subject of Dickey, note that baserunners don’t do much against him (11 bags over 68 starts the last two years); it’s not the best spot for the New York rabbits, if you were considering some of them. 

-- Brandon Phillips, 2B, vs. Pittsburgh, $3,000: You might be temped to trust a name you know at such a low number, but he’s batting seventh and up against Gerrit Cole (everyone’s favorite Cy Young mini-sleeper). No thank you. 

-- Brandon Crawford, SS, at Arizona, $2,700: I certainly understand wanting to take advantage of Jeremy Hellickson on the other side  along with a favorable hitter’s park  but Crawford slotted seventh in the first two games. If the Giants keep him sixth or lower even with Brandon Belt injured, I'm moving along. If Crawford gets promoted to the second spot, we can talk. 

-- Manny Machado, 3B, at Tampa, $3,100: The waiting is the hardest part. He had a quiet spring (.611 OPS), he doesn’t have a hit through two games, he’s never had a hit against Jake Odorizzi through seven at-bats, he’s coming off a disappointing 2014. I grant you the spring stats and the 2015/Odorizzi numbers are all working against tiny samples, so if you want to throw that stuff out (or even laugh at it), you’re certainly entitled. But let’s also keep the park in mind (it’s a pitcher-friendly world under the catwalk) and note that Machado was dropped to the sixth spot in Tuesday’s lineup. I’d like to see something from him before I buy in, no matter how wonderful his pedigree is.

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 8, 2015, 6:35 pm

Everyone off to a strong start in 2015 fantasy baseball, take a step forward.  

Not so fast, Mat Latos owner. 

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If there’s a reason to be optimistic about Latos these days, I’ve completely missed it. It might sound like we’re piling on after Tuesday’s blowup against Atlanta (seven runs, didn’t get out of the first inning), but there have been black clouds for Latos for a solid year now. 

His 3.25 ERA last year in Cincinnati masked all sorts of under-the-surface problems. Latos lost two mph from his fastball, his strikeout rate tumbled to 6.5/9 (especially penal in a capped world), and he dealt with knee and elbow problems, costing him about half the season. 

The December trade to Miami sounded like a favorable reboot for Latos, but did the Marlins land a healthy pitcher? Latos had stem cells inserted into his elbow in November, and he wasn’t fooling anyone all spring (7.04 ERA, 6 BB, 9 K over 15.1 innings). And remember who roughed him up Tuesday – the Braves, one of the softest lineups in the league. Even if Latos were to show up on my mixed league waiver wires later in the week, I wouldn’t be temped to make the addition. 

• For all the money Arizona dropped on Yasmany Tomas, it doesn’t look like he’ll be playing third base for them anytime soon. Tomas is currently in the minors, expected to try a handful of positions, while the overlooked Jake Lamb has settled in at third base for the parent club. 

Lamb has a homer and a double through two games, parlaying those two hits into seven timely RBIs. His 37-game trial in Arizona was a little messy last year (he struck out 27.8 percent of the time, batted just .230), but the Triple-A numbers were zesty over two levels (.327/.407/.566, 15 homers in 392 at-bats). Lamb, 24, wasn’t exactly a buzzy prospect in the preseason, but he did sneak onto a couple of Top 80 lists.

The lefty swinger is still unowned in about 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. Arizona is a fun place to take your hacks. 

• Steve Pearce was one of our favorite Wiggys last year, posting a stunning breakout in his age-30 season. The Regression Police priced him suspiciously during the spring, but maybe Pearce is legit after all. He’s off to a 3-for-7 start this year, with a walk and a couple of homers. He also covers two positions (1B, OF) in the Yahoo game. 

If you want a piece of the Baltimore offense but it’s too late for Peace, maybe Alejandro De Aza or post-hype Travis Snider can help you. They’re both available in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. 

De Aza is settling into the leadoff spot for the O’s and scored three runs over the first two days. He offers a little pop and speed. It feels like Snider has been around forever – he was a first-round pick in 2006 and fast-tracked to the majors – but he’s still just 27. He’s reached base seven times in two games, batting in the middle of the lineup both times.

• C.J. Wilson posted eight pretty bagels in a smooth 2-0 victory at Seattle, but it’s going to take more for him to find my roster. We’re trained to be suspicious of batted-ball specials (two strikeouts), though Wilson did record 13 infield outs and he’s always had a ground-ball profile.

I didn’t like all the things moving in the wrong direction for Wilson last year: strikeouts down, walks up, velocity at a five-year low. You can stream Wilson if you like on the weekend (the Royals come calling on Sunday) but I’ll sit this one out.

Seattle lefty James Paxton took Tuesday’s loss (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K), but he’s the more interesting fantasy option here (eight years younger, still throwing in the mid-90s). It’s going to be a while before he’s asked to work in a challenging park – Paxton draws Chavez Ravine and two home starts over the next two weeks. He’s still floating around the wire in medium and shallower mixed leagues.

• I’ll admit to having a thing for batters who slot third in their lineups, and that’s where you’ll find Angel Pagan in San Francisco. The Giants lineup isn’t a wrecking crew by any means, but the slot before Buster Posey sounds like a good place to be.

Pagan is off to a snappy 8-3-4-2 line through two games, and we’re talking about a career .284 hitter who offers a little pop and plus wheels. Even in his age-33 season, Pagan should be owned in more than 21 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 8, 2015, 12:57 pm

It’s a brave new world at Yahoo, as we’re offering Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content in addition to our standard season-long pieces. The goal is to help you for the long haul; we’ll have our share of hits and misses along the way, dealing with the inevitable variance.  

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]

In this space, we’ll be offering five value plays and five overpriced options for the upcoming slate. Generally speaking, we’re not going to try to talk you into superstars or away from fringe players – the idea is to pore through the lineups and locate the overlays and overpays. It’s a new season and a new series (beginner's guide for the DFS rookies); we welcome your feedback, and your own player recommendations in the comments. 

The prices listed are from FanDuel. As always, make sure you double-check announced lineups and late-breaking news before you commit to your starting choices. Buena suerte. 

Here's my ten cents on a Tuesday. 

Five to Buy

-- Jesse Hahn, SP, vs. Texas, $7,600: Didn’t you fall in love with him last summer in San Diego? Big curveball, ground-ball bias, roomy park. The American League is obviously a bigger challenge, but Oakland supports Hahn with a friendly yard and solid defense. The Rangers offense looked rather exploitable on opening night, managing just one hit against Sonny Gray Real Estate. Tuesday, it’s The Wrath of Hahn. 

-- Adam Lind, 1B, vs. Colorado, $2,800: While I didn’t have delusions about this year’s Brew Crew, I’ve always liked the lineup, especially the top half of it. Ryan Braun might not be around for Tuesday’s revenge match, but Lind looks appealing at home, holding the platoon advantage against unthreatening Jordan Lyles. It’s also reassuring to know the Brewers have a roof over their heads, so weather can’t wash us out. 

-- David Peralta, OF, vs. San Francisco, $2,700: At the time of writing, it’s a modest leap of faith that Peralta will even be starting Tuesday night, but he’s a platoon weapon who deserves to get a call (and a good batting position) against ordinary Giants right-handed Ryan Vogelsong. Peralta slashed .312/.348/.506 against northpaws last year, with eight homers in 253 at-bats. A handy play on the cheap, assuming you can get lineup verification in time. This angle also runs shotgun with the highest over-under of the card. 

-- Justin Ruggiano, OF, vs. Los Angeles, $2,700: It was a snappy debut for lefty Seth Smith, but the Mariners always viewed him as a platoon partner for Ruggiano; a roster flip is likely against C.J. Wilson on Tuesday night. Ruggiano has a career .508 slugging percentage against lefty pitching, with some category juice in the mix. 

-- Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, vs. Baltimore, $2,800: Shortstop looked like a minefield during draft season and it’s still looking that way now, especially on a partial slate. Cabrera wouldn’t bat third on an expected contender, but that’s where the Rays have him, for better or for worse. He’ll enjoy right-handed at-bats Tuesday against Wei-Yin Chen; Cabrera’s average and slugging get a modest jump when he’s on that side of the box.

Five to Fade

-- Zack Greinke, SP, vs. San Diego, $10,000: Obviously Greinke is terrific and he’s working at home, but it’s always my predisposition to fade any pitcher who’s towering over the field  and Greinke’s salary is $1,200 clear of the next option. If you can find another pitcher you like, you’ve bought yourself a ton of flexibility for the rest of your lineup. There’s also rain the LA forecast  does Steve Martin know about this?  and while a postponement seems like a longshot, you have to worry about Greinke’s turn being shortened, or at least his routine being messed with. Many will probably cut the check, but with so many solid options on the mound, I’m fine to look elsewhere. 

-- Dee Gordon, 2B, vs. Atlanta, $3,700: The rabbits don’t run often, or successfully, against Atlanta left-hander Alex Wood  wound-be thieves are just 10-for-17 against him over 249.1 major-league innings. Any Gordon purchase is tied to his running potential, for course, and Wood’s presence also steers me away from a Christian Yelich play. 

-- Anthony Rizzo, 1B, vs. St. Louis, $4,400: Some raw weather is expected for Chicago (rain is also a possibility), and for all the fables spun about how scoring-friendly Wrigley Field can be, no one wants to hit there when it’s wet and cold. Much like the pitcher pool, first base is a deep DFS position  you should be able to find numerous shopping options that fit a thrifty budget. If and when the Rizzo price comes down, we can talk. I won’t be using him Tuesday. 

-- Howie Kendrick, 2B, vs. San Diego, $3,200: While Tyson Ross’s platoon numbers were surprisingly neutral last year, I think that speaks mostly to his improvement against left-handed batters. As for Kendrick, his career OPS drops 50 points against right-handed pitching. We’ll wait for a better spot. 

-- Kolten Wong, 2B, at Chicago, $3,200: He was part of the stolen base giveaway opening night, but until the Cardinals give Wong a better batting slot to work with, he’s DFS-invisible to me. I don’t want anyone hitting seventh or lower (especially in an NL lineup) holding back my daily roster. It's not you, Kolten; it's your manager. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 7, 2015, 6:41 pm

He’s been at the top of his profession, the king of New York. And he’s been kicked to the depths of hell, forced to leave the enterprise he used to headline. He’s had chaos in his personal life, battled demons, been removed from the corner office. And now he’s back for what looks like a final chance to make good; a final chance to write a happy ending, fade into the Manhattan sunset.  

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But enough about Don Draper, let’s talk a little about Alex Rodriguez

If you just want the baseball tag and don’t want to sort through my pop culture mumbo jumbo, here’s the crux of it: I think Rodriguez is going to have a better season than generally expected, perhaps much better than expected. And I say all this without personal stake: I’ve never been an A-Rod fan or Yankees fan (heck, I grew up in the 01824), and I don’t have a single Rodriguez share on my 10 standard fantasy teams. I have no investment in the story, but I'm rooting for it. 

After consuming a slow-burn Mad Men premiere on Sunday and then a long, meandering opening day from baseball on Monday, I can’t get over the obvious parallels between Draper and Rodriguez. I don’t know how it’s escaped me for so long. It’s been right under our noses. 

“There may be nothing sadder than a lonely man with a lot of money.”  Are they talking about Draper or Rodriguez?

Draper is still of value to SC&P because he can offer brilliant marketing concepts. He’s still a professional adman, needed on a thinner roster. Rodriguez is still of value to the Yankees because he can grind out at-bats. He’s still a professional hitter, needed on a big-market club searching for answers. 

“As much as he might dream of being a lone wolf, [he] desperately needs other people.” Who’s the subject there, A-Rod or Double D? 

Rodriguez needed a good camp and came through, posting a .267/.377/.489 line with three homers over 45 at-bats. Don’t focus on the average here – note how he was getting on base, hitting with some pop. This isn’t the glorious Yankees lineup of the late 1990s and 2000s. New York needs offense anywhere it can find it. If A-Rod could give them even 450 or 500 quality at-bats as the primary DH, it’s a major boost. 

Rodrgiuez’s opening day was a slow burn, too – he reached base twice (walk, single) on three trips to the plate. The walk was the culmination of a smart, nuanced at-bat that went to a full count; the single, a clean stroke to right field.

Rodriguez was slotted seventh in the lineup, but that could change quickly. The rest of the club combined for just two hits and two walks against Drew Hutchison and two relievers. The New York crowd warmly received Rodriguez all afternoon, something that might matter going forward. 

Another fascinating enigma (SI Vault)Reggie Jackson, A-Rod’s precursor by three decades, needed to be loved and accepted. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens hardly seemed to care what anyone thought, and it’s possible they created (or at least encouraged) animosity at times because it fueled them. Bonds didn’t give a rip what you thought, but Bobby Bonilla did. We’ll never know if Derek Jeter felt the need to be loved; he was never in doubt of losing it. Talk about playing with the ultimate emotional backboard. 

Normally we won’t give you too much talk about someone who’s over 50 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, but A-Rod’s 61-percent number looks low to me. He’s owned in fewer leagues than Pedro Alvarez, Torii Hunter, Rusney Castillo and Wilin Rosario; I’d prefer Rodriguez over any of those guys if we’re simply thinking about a utility spot. Mark Texieria is owned in fewer leagues than Rodriguez, though I suspect you could work out a deal with those guys as principles and come away with Rodriguez. Maybe you could swap someone like Brandon Moss (no relation to Elisabeth) and get A-Rod back, with a throw-in. Every league is different. 

The perception game is an estimation game, an inexact science. At some point in this roto racket, it comes down to trusting your gut. I see a productive year coming from A-Rod. Make of that what you will. 

• Like A-Rod, Dustin Pedroia isn’t for everybody. I don’t think too many non-Boston fans particularly care for him. My West Coast can’t stand him, says he “reeks of effort.” 

I walked away from Pedroia this spring, as a ranking, anyway. I’d seen too many collisions and too many empty batting averages. I wondered if his body was breaking down, something not uncommon for middle infielders in the 30-something years. 

You never want to get silly with opening-day takeaways, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t watch Pedroia’s two-homer game at Philly and wonder if I played this one wrong. The Red Sox lineup could be rather absurd. Mookie Betts, everyone’s darling, hit an opening-day homer. Hanley Ramirez clocked two, one a grand slam. And Boston wasn’t picking on some overmatched starter, it was doing damage against undisputed ace Cole Hamels. And everything happened in an NL park, with Mike Napoli on the bench. 

My friend Joe Sheehan predicted the Red Sox would outscore every other team by 90 runs this year, and I don’t think that’s off base (before you accuse Joe of having any agenda, remember he’s a lifetime Yankees fan). Pedroia could be a major piece of things if he can stay healthy. He wrecked his thumb last April, and a thumb injury in 2012’s opener messed up that season. There’s a difference between injury-prone and accident-prone; how would you categorize Pedroia? Did you get a piece of this offense? Are you as bullish as I am? 

Clay Buchholz is a tricky call on the heels of his gem Monday (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K). His regular work comes against AL offenses (not the hapless Phillies), and Fenway Park is a run-scoring float (meanwhile, Philly's yard has been run-neutral for three years, a shocker given the way it aids home runs). Buchholz draws the Yankees (road) and Orioles (home) for his next two turns, assignments that make me nervous. I haven't added him in any of my standard mixers. 

• Jenrry Mejia was Monday’s closer flameout, suffering an elbow injury and passing off a rogue save chance to Buddy Carlyle. Mejia is headed for an MRI. Jeurys Familia is the short-term pickup for the save chasers, but Mets-auditor Mike Salfino considers rehabbing Bobby Parnell the better long-term option. Place your bets. Please watch the ninth inning responsibily. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 7, 2015, 2:27 pm

It was the best of times and the worst of times for me in Tout Wars last year - my auction was a joke (big four of Fielder, Votto, Darvish and Choo; all of them had their worst season ever) and my pickups were angelic (aggressive moves on Blackmon, Doolittle, Fiers, Britton). Add it up and you can imagine the result: seventh out of 15th, not horrible but nowhere near contention.  

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To be blunt, it’s not acceptable, either. I expect to contend in any league I participate in, and when you don’t, it’s humbling. Onto the next challenge. Let's get it right this year. 

The Tout Wars mixer went down a couple of weeks ago, a blast of a time with the West Coast scout in tow. The drinking salon Saturday night at Foley's was a definite highlight, as was the extravagant dinner at City Crab. One of the best weekends of the year. 

-- Corners: Miguel Cabrera 39, Matt Carpenter 16, Brett Lawrie 3: I’d like to buy the entire table a drink for letting me have Miguel Freaking Cabrera for 39 bucks (meanwhile, Anthony Rizzo went for $40 and Carlos Gomez $39). To be fair, some were worried about Cabrera in mid-March; I don’t think anyone is worried now. I overpaid for Carpenter but it’s an OBP league; as for Lawrie, I can’t see how he’s not worth that number so long as he plays two-thirds of the year. I’ve already fielded some trade offers for him, which is interesting. 

-- Middles: Martin Prado 1, Alexei Ramirez 12, Alcides Escobar 6: Prado is one of my pocket picks, a versatile player who will cover positions and occupy a middle-lineup spot with a solid offense. I would have gone higher, glad I didn’t have to. Ramirez might look pricy at 12, but hey, shortstop is nuclear waste this year. I needed some speed at the time I bought Escobar, and at least he’s hitting leadoff. 

-- Outfield: Michael Cuddyer 4, Avisail Garcia 8, Brett Gardner 14, Alex Gordon 15, Matt Holliday 20: I sat on my hands for a while after some earlier purchases, recognizing that I’d have to go down in class for the outfielders. Cuddyer will miss Coors of course, but his road games won’t be as penal. Gordon is one of those versatile hitters who doesn’t seem to cost a lot as he faded into the Ibanez All-Star portion of his career. Garcia’s upside has always excited me. 

-- Catcher: Buster Posey 27, Alex Avila 2: With 15 teams and 30 starting catchers required, I wasn’t going to punt this area. Avila is the only bluff player I was caught on - I pushed a ton of bids I really had no interest in securing (one owner in particular had a tell that was easy to exploit), just for fun, but in this case, I missed that the opening team had zero leverage. Avila is the only starting hitter I wish I didn’t have, but so it goes in a deep mixer. 

-- Bench: James Loney, Logan Morrison, Didi Gregorius, Trevor Plouffe, Jordan Schafer: All of these guys came in the reserve rounds, when the auction shifts into a draft. Loney basically is Joe Mauer without the markup. Schafer will run liberally for Paul Molitor, something that has its place in a league this deep. 

-- Pitching Staff: Aroldis Chapman 23, Jon Lester 20, Jake Arrieta 16, Julio Teheran 16, Joaquin Benoit 10, Jesse Hahn 2, Shane Greene 2, Chris Tillman 2, Ervin Santana 1, Tim Hudson (reserves): Once again the point is illustrated, the opinions on pitchers tend to diverge as the prices get lower. I was thrilled to land Hahn, Greene, Tillman and Santana for a collective seven, and even with Santana blowing his season through suspension (I’m not waiting three months, he was a weekend cut), I have a lot of room for profit. 

My Chapman and Arrieta stances were well documented in the Wallet Section. Benoit, what can you say? As Eddie Felson once put it, the balls roll funny for everybody, kid. I put in an aggressive (maybe silly) $40 bid on Jason Grilli for Sunday night and was actually two dollars short. I admire your moxie, Cory Schwartz. 

The Rotowire software projected me for third out of 15, and the owner’s poll (which included about half the league) also has me third. Those things don’t mean a lot, but I’d rather be projected to be competitive than near the bottom. Now it’s onto the season, the pickups, the flow of the year, the attempt to figure out the fresh year before everyone else..

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 6, 2015, 5:02 pm

It’s a brave new world at Yahoo, as we’re offering Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) content in addition to our standard season-long pieces. The goal is to help you for the long haul; we’ll have our share of hits and misses along the way, dealing with the inevitable variance. 

[Yahoo Sports Fantasy Baseball: Sign up and join a league today!]

In this space, we’ll be offering up what we see as five value plays and overpriced options for the upcoming slate. Generally speaking, we’re not going to try to talk you into superstars or away from fringe players - the idea is to pore through the lineups and locate the overlays and overpays. It’s a new season and a new series (beginner's guide for the DFS rookies); we welcome your feedback and your own player recommendations in the comments. 

The prices listed are from FanDuel.  

Five to Buy 

Corey Kluber, SP, at Houston, $10,400: To pay up or not to pay up, that’s the regular conundrum in daily fantasy baseball with respect to starting pitching. But let’s recognize that opening day is a challenge unlike no other, since most teams are throwing their best pitcher (not everyone, hello Mets), which changes the calculus a bit. On many slates you’d expect Kluber to be the top ticket, but on this card, he’s the No. 7 starter on the pricing board. And then you see the hacking Astros on the other side, last year’s runaway leader with respect to strikeouts. Kluber met these guys once last year and piled up 14 Ks; look for another strong start from him at Houston on Monday. 

Brett Gardner, OF, vs. Toronto, $3,300: Gardner has been close to neutral when it comes to home/road splits for his career, so the shape of Yankee Stadium isn’t helping as much as you’d like to see for a left-handed hitter with some pop. But he’s up against a right-handed starter (Drew Hutchison) who’s struggled to hold base-runners; would-be thieves went 22-for-25 against Hutchison last year. The Russell Martin acquisition will help the Jays, but many times the bags are stolen on the pitcher, not the catcher. The over/under in The Bronx is set at 8, one of the higher numbers on an ace-filled opening day. 

Henderson Alvarez, SP, vs. Atlanta, $7,400: He’s always known how to take advantage of Marlins Park, with things getting rather absurd last year (1.60 ERA, 1.011 WHIP). You’re not likely to get a bunch of strikeouts with Alvarez, but then you see that lousy Atlanta lineup on the other side (only Freddie Freeman worries you) and you write the ticket, anyway. I also love Alvarez as a head-to-head play for those in traditional fantasy leagues; he’s on a bunch of my rosters. 

John Jaso, C, vs. Baltimore, $3,100: Look at those cute Rays, using a catcher in the DH spot and batting him leadoff. Well, it was much cuter when Joe Maddon was doing it. Nonetheless, we have to respect the batting slot, and while I’m a fan of Chris Tillman (so is my West Coast scout), he’s not quite up to the ace level that you see on the remainder of this slate. 

Craig Gentry, OF, vs. Texas, $2,600: This play isn’t for everyone, as the A’s have a late home game and we’re not sure what they’re lineup will look like. That said, Gentry projects as the leadoff man, and Yovani Gallardo is not an imposing name on the other side. Gentry is worth greater consideration in formats where you can alter your lineup as the day moves along. 

Five to Fade

Madison Bumgarner, SP, at Arizona, $10,500: Here’s where we remind you the focus is on value, not name-brand juice. In any standard format, you’re using Bumgarner and happy to do so. Alas, in a daily format, it’s not the idea spot - he’s in a hitter-friendly ballpark, and the Snakes have some interesting right-handed bats who can hurt you (Pollock, Goldschmidt, Trumbo). There will be plenty of Bumgarner in our lives this year, but this is one time I’m not cutting the check. 

Jose Bautista, OF, at New York, $4,800: While a sample of nine at-bats might not mean too much, I still will mention that Bautista is just 1-for-9 against Masahiro Tanaka, with four strikeouts. Joey Bats is usually a fun play, but not when he’s against a nasty righty who he’s relatively unfamiliar with. 

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, vs. Minnesota, $3,900: It annoys me to see Cespedes priced over J.D. Martinez everywhere, even in the DFS world. Cespedes is batting sixth, amigos. Get better batting slots for your money. It’s also a raw day in The D, and Phil Hughes is no easy mark. 

Travis d’Arnaud, C, at Washington, $2,900: Okay, you weren’t going to dial him up against Max Scherzer anyway, but let this stand as a bookmarked case against d’Arnaud until the Mets move him out of the No. 8 slot in their lineup. Until Terry Collins fully buys into the bat here, I’m not particularly interested. (Update: turns out the Mets will use d'Arnaud in the No. 7 position, which doesn't really change anything for our purposes.) 

Scooter Gennett, 2B, vs. Colorado, $3,000: Again, batting slot is everything. Normally you see Kyle Kendrick on the other side and you want to pounce, especially with an affordable middle-infielder enjoying the platoon advantage. But in the DFS world, I don’t want anyone batting seventh (Gennett) or eighth (Jean Segura), especially in an NL lineup. 

Bonus Fade: Ian Desmond, SS, vs. New York, $4,100: Although the Nats are without three major lineup pieces (Span, Werth, Rendon), Desmond still has this lousy batting slot for the opener. You're killing us, Matt Williams. Obviously Desmond is an excellent player and could still fill the box score nicely, but I'm not swimming against the tide of the slot and paying No. 2 shortstop money for someone in this position. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 6, 2015, 12:46 pm

The Padres were among the busiest teams in the offseason, so it makes perfect sense San Diego swung a major trade hours before the first pitch of the 2015 season to land Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. from the Atlanta Braves.

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San Diego sent outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin along with two minor leaguers and the 41st pick in the upcoming draft to get the deal done.

The immediate fantasy impact comes in the bullpens for both clubs. Kimbrel obviously becomes the closer in San Diego, which should boost his stock on a better team and being in a friendlier park. Joaquin Benoit, who was set to close, takes a hit to his value.

While trading one of the game's best closers in the middle of a rebuild makes sense for Atlanta, sorting out the bullpen is a bit of a wait-and-see situation. Jason Grilli appears to be the first in line to take over the ninth inning but Jim Johnson could also be part of the mix.

I'm guessing Jason Grilli before Jim Johnson in Atlanta, but I don't run their lousy team. I'm also in Benoit mourning.

— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) April 5, 2015

Jason Grilli’s camp: 8-6-2-2-0-11. Small sample, but that’s as good as you could hope for.

— scott pianowski (@scott_pianowski) April 5, 2015

Baseball is back. Act accordingly, gamers.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 6, 2015, 12:14 am

Sometimes there’s a disconnect in the fantasy world on what “post-hype sleeper” really means. When I come across “Bryce Harper, post-hype sleeper,” I want to go Keith Moon on my laptop. 

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Here’s a post-hype sleeper for those grounded in reality: Trevor Bauer, Cleveland starting pitcher. 

Not too long ago, Bauer was a pretty big deal. The Diamondbacks selected him with the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. Bauer was a consensus Top 12 prospect entering 2012, and he stuck in the Top 25 the following year. 

Bauer sipped on some coffee in 2012 and 2013, making eight MLB starts that didn’t go anywhere (5.67 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 29 walks against 28 strikeouts). He was traded in the middle of all that, part of the three-team, multi-player swap between the Indians, Reds and Diamondbacks in December, 2012. 

Bauer didn’t leap into fantasy relevance last year, his age 23 season, but at least he established himself as a bona fide major leaguer. He made 26 starts with the Tribe, posting a 4.18 ERA and 1.38 WHIP (he also made seven dominant minor-league starts). While those aren’t ownable numbers for anyone’s mixer, at least we saw the seeds of improvement. He also trimmed the strikeout/walk ratio to an acceptable area, posting 2.38 whiffs for every free pass. 

Bauer’s performance this spring also gives us something to think about. He’s posted a silly 26 strikeouts against just one walk over 27.2 innings, and that’s the type of thing that screams “possible breakout.” Alas, when batters have connected on Bauer, they’ve done damage. He’s allowed 35 hits and seven homers, leading to a 4.55 ERA. 

I’m willing to give Bauer a pass on the homers – heck, all of Arizona is one big hitter’s park during Cactus League play. If you’re throwing this many strikes and missing that many bats, you’re doing something right. Obviously there’s a major pedigree at play. When theoretical upside shows itself, you have to consider the argument. 

I didn’t have Bauer in my previous rank of the Top 80 pitchers, but I’ve added him this weekend. And if you’re more of a short-town ownership type, note Bauer is scheduled to pitch Thursday at Houston, where the air conditioning is always on. The Astros were the AL’s runaway leader in strikeouts last year. 

If you’re in a mood to kick some tires, you’ll find Bauer available in over 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. Start your engines. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 5, 2015, 6:35 pm

More rankings: Top 250 | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | C | OF | SP | RP

[Baseball 2015 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

1B Rankings
Yahoo! Sports
Del Don
All Experts
1. Miguel Cabrera (DET) 2 2 1 1 view
2. Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) 1 1 2 3 view
3. Jose Dariel Abreu (CWS) 3 3 3 2 view
4. Jose Bautista (TOR) 5 4 5 4 view
5. Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) 4 6 4 5 view
6. Anthony Rizzo (CHC) 6 5 6 6 view
7. Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) 9 8 7 9 view
8. Buster Posey (SF) 7 9 9 12 view
9. Freddie Freeman (ATL) 12 11 8 7 view
10. Albert Pujols (LAA) 8 7 16 8 view
11. Prince Fielder (TEX) 10 13 13 10 view
12. David Ortiz (BOS) 14 10 10 13 view
13. Joey Votto (CIN) 11 14 14 11 view
14. Todd Frazier (CIN) 15 12 11 14 view
15. Victor Martinez (DET) 13 16 15 16 view
16. Carlos Santana (CLE) 16 15 17 18 view
17. Chris Davis (BAL) 18 26 12 15 view
18. Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) 17 21 18 20 view
19. Chris Carter (HOU) 27 18 19 17 view
20. Mark Trumbo (ARI) 19 24 23 19 view
21. Brandon Belt (SF) 22 19 24 22 view
22. Adam LaRoche (CWS) 24 23 21 23 view
23. Matt Adams (STL) 20 17 26 30 view
24. Brandon Moss (CLE) 28 22 27 21 view
25. Eric Hosmer (KC) 23 27 25 24 view
26. Lucas Duda (NYM) 32 20 20 28 view
27. Justin Morneau (COL) 26 30 22 25 view
28. Brian McCann (NYY) 21 32 28 27 view
29. Mike Napoli (BOS) 25 25 30 31 view
30. Steve Pearce (BAL) 29 38 31 29 view
31. Michael Cuddyer (NYM) 30 33 29 36 view
32. Billy Butler (OAK) 35 29 32 34 view
33. Adam Lind (MIL) 36 31 33 32 view
34. Joe Mauer (MIN) 33 28 35 38 view
35. Pedro Alvarez (PIT) 31 38 26 view
36. Chase Headley (NYY) 34 36 36 35 view
37. Michael Morse (MIA) 38 35 37 37 view
38. Mark Teixeira (NYY) 40 37 39 33 view
39. Kendrys Morales (KC) 34 view
39. Yasmani Grandal (LAD) 34 view
41. Kennys Vargas (MIN) 37 39 view
42. C.J. Cron (LAA) 39 40 view
43. Stephen Vogt (OAK) 39 view
44. Ryan Howard (PHI) 40 view

FantasyPros aggregates and analyzes fantasy baseball rankings and projections from 100+ sites.

Author: Yahoo Sports Staff
Posted: April 3, 2015, 6:15 pm

We’re usually trying to target smart owners when we compose things at Roto Arcade. Anyone playing in a fantasy league loaded with donators hardly needs any advice. Just show up, pay attention, collect entry fees, clear off some mantle space. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. 

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But even in smarter leagues, the better owners are going to have blind spots. Good fantasy players are still prone to mistakes, and today we’ll go over some regular ones. 

Here are Five Mistakes Even Good Fantasy Owners Make. 

Thumb their noses up at projected standings 

In the middle of every Yahoo fantasy draft this spring is a set of projected standings. It’s a fun place to stop and look around, embrace the projected winner, sympathize with the projected cellar dweller. 

I know plenty of strong players who dismiss the exercise. Some claim they’d rather be projected last than first. “The worst you guys say I’ll do, the better I do” is a common rallying cry.  

Look, fantasy baseball is always going to be a crazy, difficult-to-predict game. No one disputes this. But I put some value in the projected standings for one simple reason: they give me an idea of my team’s strengths and weaknesses (from someone else’s opinions, at that), and they also give me an idea of where other teams might be strong and weak. 

I don’t need standings validation from the collective projections, though it doesn’t bother me when they say something nice about my team. Mostly, I want to see if I’m in categorical balance, get an idea of how the foundation looks. It’s a piece of independent evaluation. I’ll put a modest amount of stock into it. 

Refuse to be flexible on draft day 

When a golfer walks onto the course, he’s not locked into a club selection for the ninth hole. A poker player can’t tell you ahead of time, “I’m going to raise a lot in the third hour.” A tennis player wouldn’t commit to a third-set strategy before a single serve was struck. 

You need to see which way the wind is blowing, how the table is flowing, what shots are working and what shots aren’t in sync, what your opponents are up to. 

Fantasy baseball is the same way. 

With rare exceptions, I consider it a gross error to walk into an auction with rigid price structures or roster-construction ideas in mind. Your cheat sheet should be a rough guide, a set of suggections, nothing more. A fantasy player has a theoretical worth before the game starts, but a fantasy draft is a dynamic thing, constantly changing, ebbing, flowing. If you’re not willing to adjust to the tide changes, you’re completely missing the point. 

Yes, you want to walk into the war room with the plan. But make sure that plan is written in pencil, and don’t shy away from the eraser. The best draft-day quarterbacks are ready to audible as needed. Be ready to take what the room is giving you. Be ready to change course if strange draft-day context demands it. 

Too reluctant to enter the free agent pool 

Every so often I’ll write about a funky, counterintuitive logic paradox known as the Monty Hall Problem. It’s a fun way to warp your mind for 30-60 minutes. Although it doesn’t seem to make initial sense, the contestant on Let’s Make A Deal benefits from making a midgame switch after one losing scenario has been revealed. 

What does this have to do with fake baseball? Simple. When we gather more information about something, we’re better informed to make new choices. Today’s picks should be more informed than last month’s picks. 

When it comes to fantasy baseball acquires, I turn it into a version of the Monty Hall Problem. I want the bottom chunk of my roster to be fluid most of the time, remembering that an in-season choice based on real-game information probably supersedes what I thought I knew a month ago. Don’t fall in love with the 25th man on your roster, a player who had theoretical upside on March 1. The player who’s actually showing you in-play upside is often a better choice.

The goal in a mixed league is to figure out the season before your opponents do. Sure, you’ll want to be patient with your big-name players, even when they get off to poor starts, but I implore you to be aggressive with the fringe players on your club. Get to the free stuff before the other guys do. 

Forget it’s a game about numbers more than anything else 

Look, I’m all for scouting, all for skill-based analysis. It’s a proven path to playing this game at an optimum level. But to truly master the fantasy racket, you have to recognize when skills-chasing isn’t the primary thing to look at. There's a gap between real-life value and fantasy value, and you need to recognize and appraise that gap. 

In some cases, there’s a very low barrier for roto relevance. The most valuable fantasy pitcher in most bullpens is the man who’s recording the saves - and often times that’s not the most talented real-life pitcher. Heck, when it comes to the saves chase, you can argue it’s more important to look roles over skills, not the other way around. Also remember that we're not just handicapping the players; we also need to watch the detectives, constantly evaluate and reevaluate the decision-makers. Teams don't always do the logical thing or use the best payer. 

There are some stolen-base collectors in the big leagues who don’t offer much of anything else. Hey, if you need bags, that’s fine. Not everyone needs to look like Paul Bunyan. Never forget the fundamental rule to all this: we’re just in it for the numbers. 

Won’t walk in the other owner’s shoes 

Fantasy trading is a game about relationships, about understanding the other team’s ranks, wants and needs. It’s not good enough to simply offer a proposal that seems equitable in a vacuum. If the other owner already has seven good outfielders, what good is it to offer him another one? 

If I’m going to start assembling a trade, I look for owners who seem to be notably overstaffed or understaffed at a specific position. You’re looking for motivation, and in a perfect world, you’re trying to get to a win-win. And in general, struggling fantasy teams are usually more willing to shake things up than a team near the top of the standings (though that isn't always the case).

Some fantasy players go into double-secret probation mode when constructing a deal, but it doesn’t have to work that way. Let’s say you need a starting pitcher and one of your buddies has eight good ones. Rather than guess who he favors and who he doesn’t, cut to the chase and ask him for a ranking list, 1-through-8. Soon you'll have a road map on how to proceed, and heck, you might even have an exploitable angle if you happen to think he’s misjudging his talent. 

It is, after all, a game of differing opinions. 

Bring on the real games. Let’s get this party started. If you're a commenting type, please share the common mistakes that you have observed over the years. 

Author: Scott Pianowski
Posted: April 3, 2015, 2:20 pm

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