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Reality Check: Reacting or overreacting?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You gave Justin Maxwell a look Monday morning, didn't you? Yeah, he won't be the only waiver fodder to get your attention this week.

Jhoulys Chacin with his strong 6 2/3 innings. Jackie Bradley with his three walks. Yonder Alonso with his home run. Collin Cowgill with his grand slam. They all had memorable Mondays.

And that only covers half a day's worth of action.

So many players, so few roster spots. In mixed leagues, that's the frustrating part about this time of year, and it's so frustrating that some people choose not to bother with the early-season headliners at all.

"A couple games can't replace months of research and evaluation," they say.

And it's true. They can't.

But what that line of thinking fails to account for is perception. Most longtime Fantasy owners think they have a good grasp of each player's potential. They think it's why they constructed their rosters the way they did.

But it's not. You know it's not. You may not have thought it through all the way, but you know perception drives the entire drafting process.

Let's say you really like Domonic Brown this year, as I do. Let's say you think he's going to outperform Jay Bruce this year. It's not the craziest prediction. If Brown meets the full extent of his potential, it's perfectly feasible, even. But you knew better than to draft him ahead of Bruce. Even knowing how you feel about Brown, you either opted to draft Bruce in the fourth or fifth round, like everybody else, or passed on him completely, hoping to get Brown 10 rounds later. In both scenarios, you drafted according to perceived value rather than potential value.

Most Viewed Players (as of 4/2)
Player Name Own %
1. Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins 51
2. Collin Cowgill, OF, Mets 17
3. Brandon Maurer, SP, Mariners 35
4. Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox 58
5. Phil Coke, RP, Tigers 22
6. Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Cubs 42
7. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 18
8. Gerardo Parra, OF, D-Backs 11
9. Ryan Ludwick, OF, Reds 50
10. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers 82

Maybe you don't like Brown this year. Maybe Anthony Rizzo is your guy. The illustration still works. Even believing Rizzo is going to hit .290 with 35 homers, you didn't take him over Billy Butler.

You know what kept you from doing that? Perception. At those critical moments in the draft, you ignored your personal assessment of a player for the sake of having it all.

What's more, you probably would have derided anyone who didn't. The practice of drafting according to the majority opinion rather than your own in an effort to maximize the talent on your roster is a strategy that normally goes unspoken because everybody knows to do it.

So why after the draft is there a complete surrender to potential value, ignoring the perceived value that halfway constructed your roster? Based on your own drafting habits, you could argue the latter is at least as important as the former. How you feel about a player matters only as much as how others feel about that player.

And to the nameless, faceless masses, nothing says more about a player than what he just did.

Don't believe me? Well, just look at the "most viewed" list on the CBSSports.com roster trends. The players at the top are the ones who -- like Maxwell, Chacin, Bradley, Alonso and Cowgill -- just did something. People are looking at them. They're looking and thinking.

And some of them are striking, whether because they're just the impatient sort or because they already know what I'm about to advise:

Don't be shy on the waiver wire this time of year.

I didn't say go crazy. You don't want to be afraid to make a move, but if you turn over half your roster before we reach the end of the first week, you might as well quit playing now. Most players were drafted where they were for a reason, and you can rest assured I'm sticking with Brown even if he starts 0 for 18.

But if you allow yourself some flexibility with the back of your bench -- those players who nearly went undrafted in your league, who everyone else passed on 20 times over -- what do you stand to lose?

Maybe you really like Lucas Duda or Carlos Quentin, and that's fine. But if they don't deliver right out of the gate, what do you owe them? And what do you suspect others will do with them if you make them available? They already passed on them the first 20 times.

If the purpose of a roster spot is to protect the players you don't want going to someone else, shouldn't you protect the ones attracting the most attention?

Now, I'm not saying every Casey Kotchman or Philip Humber who has a good day deserves a roster spot. Those players have already proven their mediocrity. But among the players with genuine upside, isn't it possible you targeted the wrong ones on Draft Day?

You don't always see it coming, you know. If you did, you would have beaten everyone to R.A. Dickey, Chris Sale, Edwin Encarnacion and Allen Craig last year, which would have won you your league and given you so much self-assurance that you wouldn't trouble yourself with the inane ramblings of a peasant like me.

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Winning changes a man, man.

If you have the spot to play with, take the chance. It's like getting a lottery ticket with one of the numbers already filled in. Sure, it probably won't do anything for you, but with that little bit of a head start, how can you turn it down?

And here's the glue that holds it all together: It might be your only chance at it. So many other people are watching and thinking that any of those early-season headliners could be just one good at-bat away from going to someone else. And if that player turns out to be the one that rises from obscurity to claim someone else the championship, you'll be upset, to say the least.

So of those players mentioned -- Maxwell, Chacin, Bradley, Alonso and Cowgill -- which would I be willing to pick up solely because of that one game? None, probably. I might pick up Alonso, but because I liked him as a sleeper even before that game. I might pick up Bradley, but because I recognize his upside as a top prospect. In other words, one game shouldn't be the reason you pick up a player, but it could be the impetus to do so. When the spotlight is on him, it's now or never.

Now, if Maxwell, Chacin and Cowgill keep it going for a week or two, I'll obviously have to take notice, particularly if Duda and Quentin are off to slow starts, but for now, I'm content letting them go to someone else. I'm just not convinced the upside is there.

Kind of pulled back the reins there, didn't I? Again, the point wasn't to have you rip apart your roster on opening day, but to remind you that tuning out anything and everything going on this week is potentially as destructive. Even if I'm not acting yet, rest assured I'm watching. And I'm thinking. And when that right guy does that one thing that I know the masses won't be able to overlook, I'm pouncing.

Because in one of my leagues last year, I did get Dickey, Sale, Encarnacion and Craig, and safe to say the rest of the league paid the price.

I owe that championship not to brains, mathematical formulas or even my so-called drafting prowess, which stuck me with players like Daniel Hudson and Ricky Romero. No, what won me the league was a willingness to gamble on what no one else would.

Call it luck, if you will, but the only thing more reckless than relying on luck is not giving it a chance. If you knew now how little you know about the season ahead, you wouldn't turn down that lottery ticket so quickly.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy may join team Thursday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy may rejoin the team as early as Thursday from his rehab assignment, manager Buck Showalter said per the Baltimore Sun.

Hardy, who is currently on the 15-day DL with a shoulder injury, is scheduled to play his third rehab game Wednesday. He went 2 for 4 at the plate in his first rehab start on Monday.


Orioles C Wieters (elbow) continues recovery in extended spring
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:40 pm ET) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters served as the designated hitter Wednesday during an extended spring training game. He is expected to catch six or seven innings on Thursday, according to MASNSports.com. No further next steps were revealed. 

Wieters is still rehabbing after he suffered a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Caleb Joseph will continue to be the primary catcher for manager Buck Showalter until Wieters is able to return.


Rays RP McGee shows positive results from latest rehab outing
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:30 pm ET) Rays manager Kevin Cash indicated Wednesday that pitcher Jake McGee had no setbacks following Tuesday's rehab appearance. Cash said McGee would throw again at Triple-A Durham on Friday, and will do so again at least once, if not twice more before he's ready to rejoin the team, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

 


Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner out Wednesday with neck injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:27 pm ET) Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner is out of the starting lineup Wednesday against the Blue Jays while dealing with a stiff neck, according to the New York Daily News.

Gardner suffered the injury on a head first slide in Tuesday's game. He had started the last five games in a row for New York and is hitting .309 with 13 RBI in 81 at-bats.


Cardinals' Jordan Walden has muscle strain, will rest 6-10 weeks
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:25 pm ET) Cardinals pitcher Jordan Walden has been diagnosed with a muscle strain in his shoulder, requiring six-to-10 weeks of rest, but he will not need to undergo surgery, MLB.com reports.

Walden was placed on the disabled list with a biceps injury but received a second opinion on his MRI this week. He won't resume his throwing program for at least six weeks, so it's quite possible he won't return before the All-Star break. Walden has allowed one earned run in 10 1/3 innings while striking out 12 batters in 12 appearances.


White Sox P Carlos Rodon expected to start Saturday vs. Reds
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:21 pm ET) White Sox pitching prospect Carlos Rodon is expected to make his first Major League start on Saturday against the Reds, according to the Chicago Tribune. The young left-hander was seen throwing in Chicago's bullpen on Wednesday, which could be a prelude to a start, per MLB.com.

Rodon made his MLB debut on April 21, and has appeared in just three games for the White Sox. He last pitched on Saturday, when he gave up six hits and no runs while striking out two and walking one in three innings against the Twins.

The White Sox will need a spot starter now that Jeff Samardzija has dropped his appeal and will begin serving a five-game suspension on Wednesday. The team has not confirmed if Rodon will indeed make the start on Friday.


Walt Weiss: Rockies' Blackmon has 'embraced the leadoff role'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:17 pm ET) Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Wednesday that center fielder Charlie Blackmon has "embraced the leadoff role and is really evolving, but he's put in the work to do that," MLB.com reports.

Blackmon, who studies video intensely, leads all NL leadoff hitters with five home runs.

"You see his goofy side once in a while, but there's a lot of intelligence behind that goofiness, and tremendous work ethic," Weiss said.

Blackmon has hit .316/.365/.579 with 14 RBI, 14 runs scored and two stolen bases in 95 at-bats coming into Wednesday's doubleheader.


Red Sox manager John Farrell showing faith in Allen Craig
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:16 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Allen Craig is proving in a short time he can be a quality reserve player for Boston, according to the Providence Journal.

Manager John Farrell likes what he's seen from Craig so far that he wants to continue to insert him in the lineup.

"He's taking quality at-bats," Farrell said. "I'm giving him a chance to run with it."

Craig is 3 for 9 at the plate this month with a home run and two RBI.


Padres getting positive feedback on OF Melvin Upton's recovery
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:15 pm ET) Padres outfielder Melvin Upton has been making good progress in his recovery from a left foot injury. He has been in the team's training facility in Peoria, Ariz. since April 10 rehabbing and has yet to appear in a game this season. But the team is receiving positive feedback so far.

"The reports we've been getting back are that he's able to run the bases and he's been able to swing the bat a little bit and get on the field," general manager A.J. Preller said Tuesday, according to MLB.com. "We will continue that here for the next week and re-evaluate it. That's kind of the next step."

The team did not provide a more specific timetable for return, though a minor-league rehab assignment could be on the horizon.

"I think that it's more about getting him healthy, getting him on the field and see where he's at," Preller said. "We will get a chance to see him in a rehab assignment and we'll be able to make a decision."


Indians tab lefty Bruce Chen for Saturday start
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:11 pm ET) Veteran Bruce Chen has earned a start Saturday against Minnesota for the Indians, the Northeast Ohio Media Group has reported. If he performs well, the fifth spot in the rotation will likely be his.

The 37-year-old Chen is starting in place of T.J. House, who is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. But House has been a mess on the mound all year, leaving the spot open.

The southpaw Chen has been lights-out in five outings with Triple-A Columbus. He has given up just 19 hits in 31 innings with three walks and 23 strikeouts. He boasts a 1.74 ERA.


 
 
 
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