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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 .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Giants' Sabean: No plans to talk to Max Scherzer
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:40 pm ET) Giants general manager Brian Sabean said that the Giants have not talked to free-agent pitcher Max Scherzer and have no plans to do so, the Mercury News reports.

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(6:32 pm ET) Free-agent catcher Nick Hundley has a two-year offer on the table from an unidentified team, making him unlikely to return to the Orioles, masnsports.com reports.

The Orioles declined a $5-million option on Hundley for the 2015 season but had interest in bringing him back into the fold at a lesser salary. He hit .243/.273/.358 with six home runs and 22 RBI in 218 at-bats between Baltimore and San Diego in 2014.


Report: Phillies could join Asdrubal Cabrera market
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(6:29 pm ET) The Phillies could become involved in the market for free-agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, ESPN.com reports.

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Rangers release Ben Rowen
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) The Rangers have released relief pitcher Ben Rowen . Rowen, who was designated for assignment earlier in the week, posted a 4.15 ERA in 8 2/3 innings with the Rangers in 2014 as well as a 3.45 ERA and 31:9 K:BB ratio in 47 innings with Triple-A Round Rock.

Nationals sign Mark Minicozzi to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) The Nationals have signed infielder Mark Minicozzi to a minor-league deal.

Minicozzi, 31, hit .298/.400/.470 with 12 home runs and 62 RBI in 315 at-bats with Triple-A San Jose in 2014. He has yet to appear in a regular-season game in the majors.


Indians sign pitcher Scott Downs to minor-league contract
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:07 pm ET) The Indians announced they signed pitcher Scott Downs to a minor-league contract Saturday.

Downs also received a non-roster invite to MLB camp.


Red Sox, Padres complete Hanigan-for-Middlebrooks trade
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) The Red Sox and Padres completed a trade Friday, with catcher Ryan Hanigan heading to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, the Red Sox announced.

Hanigan, 34, is signed for two more seasons with a team option for 2017. He hit .218/.318/.324 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 225 at-bats in 2014.

Middlebrooks, 26, is eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2015 season. He hit .191/.256/.265 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 215 at-bats in 2014.


Giants get Class A hurlers for Marlins 3B McGehee
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) The Giants are trading minor league right-handers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo for Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee.

Both pitched at a Class A level last season and averaged more than a strikeout per inning.


Dodgers dump RHP Brian Wilson
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) Three days after designating reliever Brian Wilson for assignment, the Dodgers have released him.

Wilson struggled in 2014 after a strong stint upon his arrival with Los Angeles in 2013. He finished the year with a 4.66 ERA and 29 walks in 48 1/3 innings.


Report: LHP Craig Breslow staying with Red Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/19/2014) Left-hander reliever Craig Breslow is set to sign a one-year deal with the Red Sox for $2 million, per WEEI.com.

Breslow pitched for Boston the last two years, but collapsed in 2014 after compiling a 1.81 ERA the previous year. He finished with a 5.93 ERA and 73 hits in 54 1/3 innings.


 
 
 
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