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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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Carlos Beltran lands on DL with concussion
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(3:19 pm ET) Royals outfielder Alex Gordon (wrist) and third baseman Mike Moustakas (illness) were both held out of the starting lineup Thursday vs. Detroit. It was the second straight game both players were unable to start.

Garin Cecchini expected to be OK after home-plate collision
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(2:50 pm ET) Red Sox prospect Garin Cecchini was removed from Wednesday's game for Triple-A Pawtucket after a home-plate collision, per WEEI.com. Cecchini suffered a shoulder injury on the play, but he felt fine after the game.

The Red Sox expect to know more about Cecchini's injury in the coming days, but the sense is that it's a minor ailment.


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(2:44 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday the plan is for outfielder Shane Victorino (back) to start his rehab assignment with two games at Class A Lowell before playing two games for Triple-A Pawtucket.

Victorino is restarting his rehab assignment Thursday after the previous one was cut short due to lower back soreness.


Coco Crisp sidelined with minor ankle injury
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(2:37 pm ET) Athletics manager Bob Melvin said outfielder Coco Crisp slightly twisted his ankle during Wednesday's game at San Francisco. He was held out of the starting lineup Thursday, but Melvin added Crisp was likely getting a day off regardless, per MLB.com.

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Joe Nathan finding his form
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:31 pm ET) Tigers closer Joe Nathan has pitching coach Jeff Jones and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer to thank for saving his season.

"They did some research and noticed my arm was two inches higher than it's ever been," Nathan said, per MLive.com. "And the only way I can do that is by pulling my head towards first base. That's the only way you're going to get your arm even higher, so I knew my head wasn't going towards the target, going towards the plate and everything was kind of out of whack.

"It was more with the alignment and keeping everything towards the target. It was making me have to work harder than I had to. They say drop the arm angle, but for me it was more keeping my head in position, which will naturally bring your arm out and away from your body, which lowers your arm angle a little bit."

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"At first, like anything, when you start to change something, it feels awkward," Nathan said. "I knew there was more zip behind (my pitches), I knew there was more whip in my arm and I was locating better. So I knew this was the way to go (since the adjustmant) and if I kept doing it it would get more and more comfortable. Now I'm starting to get a good feel for release point as far as breaking pitches and stuff like that."


 
 
 
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