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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
Brewers' Hector Gomez set to open season with team
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Brewers infielder Hector Gomez appears to be on track to break camp with the major-league team after a slew of roster moves Tuesday, and he credits pre-spring training work at a facility in the Dominican Republic operated by Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano for his spring success, MLB.com reports.

"[Cano] has a big complex, more than 25 players there every day," Gomez said Wednesday. "I said, 'Robby, I want to work.' He helped me. We would be on the field in the morning, then go to the gym, then back on the field in the afternoon. I was ready for this moment. I'm ready for Opening Day. I've watched on TV, and I want to be there. I want to feel that. I'm close."

Gomez has hit .240/.255/.320 in 50 at-bats this spring.


Red Sox C Christian Vazquez to undergo Tommy John surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:23 pm ET) The Red Sox announced Wednesday that catcher Christian Vazquez will undergo Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow Thursday, the Providence Journal reports.

Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation on Vazquez, who is without a timetable for return but will likely miss the entire 2015 season. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday.


Indians' Corey Kluber allows three runs in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:21 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber surrendered three earned runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking none in his team's 5-2 loss to the Giants.

Kluber was able to hold the Giants scoreless through three innings before he allowed one run in the fourth and two in the fifth. He closes the spring with a 3.86 ERA and 25:5 K:BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings. Kluber will square off with the Astros Monday on Opening Day.


Giants' Bumgarner tosses four one-run innings in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:17 pm ET) Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner allowed just one earned run on five hits in four innings while striking out four and walking none in his team's 5-2 win over the Indians Wednesday.

Bumgarner has given up plenty of runs this spring but closes the Cactus League season on a fine note. He posted a 4.91 ERA and 18:1 K:BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings this spring. Bumgarner's next start will come on Opening Day against the Diamondbacks Monday.


D-Backs' Archie Bradley throws six scoreless innings in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley threw six scoreless innings during Wednesday afternoon's 3-0 win over the Reds. 

Bradley struck out two batters and gave up three walks. He surrendered only one hit. Bradley faced 21 batters and threw 69 pitches. This game dropped Bradley's spring training ERA to 1.61. 


Giants 2B Joe Panik (ankle) returns Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) Giants second baseman Joe Panik returned to the lineup Wednesday, going 1 for 4 and scoring a run in his team's 5-2 win over the Indians.

Panik was scratched from Tuesday's game due to a minor ankle issue but was able to get back into the action just one day later. He has hit .222/.279/.444 with three home runs in 63 spring at-bats.


Giants' Bochy: Travis Ishikawa looking more likely to hit DL
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:11 pm ET) Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated Wednesday that it's looking more likely that first baseman Travis Ishikawa will open the season on the disabled list, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

An MRI on Ishikawa's back returned "fairly clean," per a report Tuesday, but it still appears the infielder will need to spend time on the disabled list as he recovers from the injury. He could wind up in extended spring training once he's healthy enough to see game action.


Orioles to start Chen Tuesday, Gonzalez Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) The Orioles will start pitcher Wei-Yin Chen Tuesday against the Rays for the team's second game of the season, while pitcher Miguel Gonzalez will take the mound Wednesday, CSNBaltimore.com reports.

Both Chen and Gonzalez were expected to join Opening Day starter Chris Tillman for the opening series against the Rays, and the team has settled on its probable pitchers for each game. Chen owns a 2.03 ERA and 6:1 K:BB ratio in 13 1/3 spring innings. Gonzalez has delivered a 5.40 ERA and 16:1 K:BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings.


Reds C Devin Mesoraco gets two at-bats in loss to Diamondbacks
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:06 pm ET) Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco got two at-bats in Wednesday's 3-0 loss against the Diamondbacks. 

Mesoraco returned to the diamond after experiencing a cramp in his left quadriceps last weekend. Mesoraco did not get a hit in either at-bat against Arizona as he struck out twice. This brought his spring average down to .200. 


Braves outfielder Joe Benson still pushing for roster spot
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:00 pm ET) Braves outfielder Joe Benson continues to impress the organization as they prepare to make the final roster adjustments before Opening Day.

Wednesday, Benson drew the start in center field and ripped a solo home run in his appearance.

"He barreled two balls off of Cole Hamels," manager Fredi Gonzalez said to MLB.com. "The center fielder made a terrific play on a ball that I thought beat him out in right-center field. He made a really, really nice swing on the home run."

Benson is hitting .250 with two RBI in 12 plate appearances this spring and Gonzalez wants to see him continue on this path for the next few days.

"[Benson] hasn't done anything not to be in the mix, really," Gonzalez said. "He's played some solid center field, and you trust him out there. He takes solid routes."


 
 
 
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