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Setting the Trends: Houston, we have options

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Astros, Astros everywhere!

Houston seems to be the hot-spot for Fantasy treasure hunting this week, as owners have flocked to the Astros' outfield to shore up their teams, welcoming Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez to a combined 70 percent higher ownership level.

Most Added Players (as of 4/17)
Player % change
1. Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros 41
2. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 32
3. Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants 31
4. J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros 29
5. Barry Zito, SP, Giants 29
6. Danny Duffy, SP, Royals 28
7. Kyle Drabek, SP, Blue Jays 28
8. Omar Infante, 2B, Marlins 27
9. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 25
10. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 25

If you missed the Martinez train, it might already be too late to jump on board -- he's now owned in 91 percent of leagues. But Schafer, who offers a little more speed than his fellow outfield counterpart, is still available in just under half. And this is the beauty of Roster Trends: using data from other leagues to try and beat people in your own league. It's the circle of life, just like in The Lion King. But with far less subliminally sexual messaging.

On to the highlights!

Most Added Players (complete list)

Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros
Jump in ownership: 41 percent (from 13 percent to 54)
Reason for the jump: Possibly fulfilling his potential
Why you should join the crowd: Schafer had bushels of promise while coming up in the Atlanta farm system but fizzled in his time with the big club, partially thanks to hand and finger injuries, and partially just to what seemed to be unrealized potential. He was shipped to Houston as part of the Michael Bourn deal and is now playing every day in the Astros outfield. He already has five steals on the season.
Devil's advocate: Schafer's career minor league batting totals aren't that impressive -- he has a .260 average over 500-plus games. And while he's often regarded as a speedster, his ceiling is more along the lines of 35 stolen bases, as opposed to 55.

Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals
Jump in ownership: 32 percent (from 37 percent to 69)
Reason for the jump: He's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.75 WHIP so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Lynn, 24, a former first-round draft pick for St. Louis, has progressed nicely through the minors. He debuted with the Cardinals in 2011, posting a 3.12 ERA in 34 2/3 innings as mainly a reliever. He doesn't strike out a batter per inning, but he's close. Adding to his value is the fact that Chris Carpenter's return is still pretty unclear, meaning even if Lynn is the odd man out when Carpenter comes back, that day may still be a while away.
Devil's advocate: Lynn had a 1.33 WHIP in the minors and while that's not bad, it's not exactly a sign pointing to him as a future superstar. He's also going to be in a bit of a crunch when Chris Carpenter returns, sitting behind Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook in the rotation.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Bryan LaHair, OF, Cubs 49
2. Denard Span, OF, Twins 40
3. Brad Lidge, RP, Nationals 36
4. Eric Thames, OF, Blue Jays 35
5. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 29

J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros
Jump in ownership: 29 percent (from 62 percent to 91)
Reason for the jump: Martinez is batting .333 with three home runs and 10 RBI so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Martinez had a somewhat inauspicious debut, replacing Hunter Pence for the Astros in 2011, hitting six home runs in 208 at-bats, while batting .274. But he carried a .342 batting average in 1,118 minor league at-bats with a .958 OPS.
Devil's advocate: I'm not really sure there is a rock solid one. Granted, 91 percent ownership is pretty high for a player with just under 250 career at-bats, but as long as a team isn't angling to have Martinez as a Ryan Braun-type contributor and is more realistic about a ceiling of 25 home runs and a .300-.320 average, he's a smart add.

Santiago Casilla/Sergio Romo, RPs, Giants
Jump in ownership: Casilla: 31 percent (from one percent to 32); Romo: 22 percent (from 17 percent to 39)
Reason for the jump: Giants closer Brian Wilson is likely out for the year with an elbow injury
How you should join the crowd: Carefully. It isn't clear whether Romo or Casilla will be the closer in Wilson's absence just yet. And even if Romo gets the first save, there's a chance Casilla gets the second, and they rotate in a maddening dance to irrelevancy for both. However, in a worst-case scenario, picking one of these two up still gives you a capable, high-strikeout, low-ERA and WHIP middle reliever. Personally, I lean Romo and think that he'll get the most opportunities. But there's enough support for Casilla to at least consider the less-enjoyable possibilities.
Devil's advocate: Not many owners can afford to pick up both Romo and Casilla -- which would be the preferred route as the situation plays itself out -- so on top of the fear of choosing the wrong one, there is the chance that they have a committee, which essentially makes both pitchers "the wrong one." If it's a casual pickup, fine. But consider the downside carefully before using top waiver priority on a pitcher who may essentially turn out to be a 12-save maximum middle reliever.

One, but far from done
Players owned in 1% of leagues who will likely see an ownership increase in the near future
Player
1. Nick Johnson, 1B, Orioles
2. Darnell McDonald, OF, Red Sox
3. Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers
4. Xavier Nady, OF, Nationals
5. Adam Wilk, RP, Tigers

Random Roster Trend trivia

1. Johnny Damon is currently owned in 13 percent of leagues.
2. 19 year-old Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar (15 percent), currently playing in Double-A, is owned in more leagues than Juan Pierre (12 percent).
3. The injured Victor Martinez (who still may miss the entire season), despite news of a possibly quicker recovery, has been rostered in 30 percent of leagues. Marlins starter John Buck is owned in 29 percent.
4.Brett Lawrie, Rickie Weeks, Brian McCann, and Brandon Phillips are still not rostered in one percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
5. Yonder Alonso is currently the most-traded player and the 23rd most-dropped.
6. After Romo, Casillla, and Javier Lopez, the next Giants reliever owned is not Jeremy Affeldt; in fact, he's not even on the team. Heath Hembree, a hard-throwing closer for the Fresno Grizzlies, is now owned in four percent of leagues. He struck out 78 batters in 53 1/3 innings pitched last year in two levels of the minors.
7. The most activated player in Fantasy Baseball? Josh Willingham, who went from being active in 42 percent of leagues to 84 percent of leagues. The most deactivated player in Fantasy Baseball (who isn't injured)? Drew Stubbs, who went from being active in 69 percent of leagues to being active in 39.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Aramis Ramirez to continue career past 2014 season
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:49 pm ET) Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez, who appeared in his 2,000th MLB game Wednesday, said he has decided to continue his career past the 2014 season, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"I'm going to go for 2,500 (games) so let's see what happens," Ramirez said. "I'm only 36; I'll be OK. I'm playing past this year, for sure. I don't know how much longer but definitely more years. I'll see where I'm at after the season but I feel good right now. Health is the main thing. My body is telling me I can still play."

Ramirez has a mutual option for $14 million for next season. If Ramirez exercises the option and the Brewers decline, he gets a $4 million buyout.

"That, I don't think about," he said. "I don't really like to talk about contracts during the season. They haven't approached me about anything, either, so we'll see what happens.

"I like it here. It's the reason I came here. I have no regrets. I've had a great three years here. I've liked it. It's a good place to play baseball. A great stadium; we have a roof (so) I don't have to worry about the conditions. A good team. We just missed the playoffs my first year here. This year, we're in the pennant race. So, we have a good team and it was the right choice."


Yankees promote one righty, DFA another
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:48 pm ET) The Yankees have made moves with two right-handers. They have designated for assignment Bruce Billings while calling up Chris Leroux from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

The 30-year-old Leroux made two regrettable appearances with New York earlier this season, giving up five earned runs on seven hits in two innings pitched.


Groin issue lands Kelly Johnson on DL
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:44 pm ET) The Yankees have placed third baseman Kelly Johnson on the disabled list with a groin injury that forced him out of the Tuesday night game.

Johnson has proven mediocre this season, mostly in a platoon role against right-handers. He owns a stat line of .219/.304/.373.


Curtis Granderson out again Wednesday
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:38 pm ET) Mets right fielder Curtis Granderson is absent from the lineup for the second straight game Wednesday in Seattle. He missed the Tuesday night game with an illness.

Granderson has been in a mini-slide with no hits in his last nine at-bats. He owns a mediocre stat line of .235/.343/.411 on the year.


Chris Young in Wednesday lineup for Mets
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) A calf injury that had prevented Mets left fielder Chris Young from playing since Monday will not keep him out Wednesday in Seattle. He is back in the lineup.

The part-timer has three hits in his last eight at-bats with two runs and four RBI.


Three Marlins players slow to recover from injuries
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:22 pm ET) Three Marlins players continue to be slow to recover from their respective injuries, according to the Miami Herald.

Manager Mike Redmond said reliever Kevin Gregg is unlikely to come off the disabled list when he's eligible. He has been out since July 14 due to right elbow inflammation.

Redmond added second baseman Derek Dietrich (right wrist strain) and second baseman Rafael Furcal (groin) haven't resumed baseball activities.


Twins open to trading potential free agents
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:17 pm ET) The Twins are open to trading DH Kendrys Morales, who signed with the team in early June, and other potential free agents, according to FOX Sports. The list includes Josh Willingham, Kevin Correia and Kurt Suzuki.

Though, the Twins might try to keep Suzuki since few contenders have a need for a catcher.


Dayan Viciedo scratched from lineup due to hamstring injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:12 pm ET) White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo was scratched from the lineup Wednesday against the Royals due to tightness in his left hamstring. Viciedo is batting .200 with four home runs and nine RBI in 18 July games.

Nick Greenwood optioned as Kevin Siegrist comes off DL
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:08 pm ET) The Cardinals activated reliever Kevin Siegrist (forearm, shoulder) off the 15-day disabled list prior to Wednesday's game vs. Tampa Bay. Nick Greenwood was optioned to Triple-A Memphis to clear a roster spot.

Brad Ziegler (ribs) hopes to be available to pitch Wed.
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:05 pm ET) Diamondbacks reliever Brad Ziegler said he is still a little sore after taking a line drive off his ribs Tuesday against the Tigers. However, he was able to play catch Wednesday and hopes to be available to pitch, according to The Arizona Republic.

 
 
 
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