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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
Reds sign Brennan Boesch to minor league deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:09 pm ET) The Reds have signed outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. Boesch, 29, is a career .256/.309/.412 hitter over five seasons for the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.

He was in the minors for most of last season, hitting .332 with 25 homers for the Angels Triple-A affiliate. 


Royals acquire infielder Ryan Jackson from Dodgers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) The Royals have acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Dodgers for cash considerations. Jackson was out for most of last season with a wrist injury. 

Jackson hit .278 with 34 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, playing 122 games at shortstop and third base in 2013.


Report: Talks break down between Yanks, Phils about Rollins deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Yankees and Phillies reportedly discussed a deal for 35-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins before talks broke down, according to ESPN reporter Jayson Stark.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Rollins is "one of the best shortstops in baseball still" but wouldn't confirm Yankees interest in the veteran. Amaro also said Rollins is "somebody we want on our club and would be very hard to replace."

Rollins is due $11 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Rollins hit .243 with 55 RBI and stole 28 bases in 2014. 


Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


Rays designate Sean Rodriguez for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:04 pm ET) The Rays have designated 29-year-old Sean Rodriguez for assignment. 

Rodriguez hit .211 with 12 home runs last season. 


Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:05 pm ET) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


 
 
 
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