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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
Athletics set spring debuts for Sonny Grazy, Scott Kazmir
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4:23 pm ET) After holding Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir out for the first week of spring games, the Athletics have scheduled the spring debuts of the two pitchers, MLB.com reports.

Gray, who threw a simulated game Thursday, will face the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, while Kazmir, who threw Wednesday, is set to square off with the Mariners next Thursday. Gray remains the favorite to open the season on the mound for the Athletics.


White Sox expect Chris Sale back not long after opening day
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(4:15 pm ET) White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (foot) is not expected to be ready by opening day, but the team sees him returning not long after the regular-season opener, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reports.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said earlier this week that Sale had "a slim chance" to be ready for the opener. The ace suffered an avuncular fracture in his right foot in late February, delaying the start of his camp.


Nationals scratch IF Yunel Escobar from Thursday's game
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:13 pm ET) Yunel Escobar will not make his Nationals spring training debut as he's been sratched from Thursday's lineup, according to The Washington Post

General soreness is the reason why Escobar will not play. 

Escobar has been seeing a lot of work at second base recently and is being given the day off. 


Red Sox OF Rusney Castillo's oblique injury improving
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(4:10 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said outfielder Rusney Castillo's oblique strain is "much better," according to The Boston Globe

The Red Sox are still expected to take a cautious approach with Castillo. 

His injury isn't considered serious though he's expected to miss about a week of spring training. Castillo is competing for the center fielder job. 


Mets' Matt Harvey to pitch for first time in 18 months on Friday
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:54 pm ET) Mets pitcher Matt Harvey will make his return from Tommy John surgery on Friday after enduring over 18 months of rehab. 

Harvey last pitched in a game on Aug. 24, 2013 against the Tigers. Coincidentally, the Tigers will be Friday's spring training opponent for the Mets. 

That said, Harvey isn't looking at his Friday outing as anything more than a tune-up appearance. 

''It's March 6, so we can't put too much emphasis on the day other than it being 18-plus months since I've done something like that,'' Harvey said, via the Associated Press. ''It's still a preparation game and still have a lot of time to keep moving forward.''


Rangers P Yu Darvish (triceps) pulled from start against Royals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:39 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish left Thursday's game against the Royals due to right triceps tightness, according to MLB.com. 

The injury is not believed to be serious and Darvish will be re-evaluated on Friday. 

Darvis said he felt tightness in his arm before the game, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He added it's nothing to worry about, though. 


Mets sign P Matt Harvey and 27 other pre-arbitration players
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:27 pm ET) The Mets signed 28 pre-arbitration players on Thursday, according to the NJ.com. 

Included in this group are pitchers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom. Other pitchers signed include Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, Vic Black, Rafael Montero, Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez, Hansel Robles, Steven Matz, Jack Leathersich, Cory Mazzoni, Akeel Morris, Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin.

Also signed were catcher Anthony Recker, center fielder Juan Lagares, outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, catcher Travis d'Arnaud, infielder Wilmer Flores, utility player Eric Campbell, outfielder Matt den Dekker, second baseman Dilson Herrera, shortstop Wilfredo Tovar and outfielder Cesar Puello.


Indians OF Carlos Moncrief continues to swing hot bat in 'B' game
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:17 pm ET) Indians outfielder Carlos Moncrief, who went 4 for 4 on Wednesday, continued to swing a hot bat on Thursday. Moncrief, originally drafted as a pitcher out of Chipola College in 2008, walked, singled, doubled and homered in his four trips to the plate in a "B" game against the Reds.

"I've been waiting for spring training to come," Moncrief said, per the Northeast Media Group. "It's not like it snuck up on me. Inside, I was burning and waiting for it to come, so just to be able to express that on the field and it comes out, that's what feels good to me."


Indians' Corey Kluber (illness) throws side session on Thursday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(3:12 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, who had his start on Saturday pushed back due to flu-like symptoms, threw a side session and appears fully recovered, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group. The Indians have not announced when Kluber will make his Cactus League debut.

Yankees' Carlos Beltran hopes to be factor again in right field
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3:04 pm ET) After an injury-filled 2014 season, Carlos Beltran is looking to be back in right field for the Yankees. 

A right elbow injury forced Beltran to spend most of his games as a designated hitter. In September, he had surgery to remove a bone spur and three chips. Now that his elbow has healed, Beltran is ready to play both offense and defense in 2015. 

"I just want to be productive," Beltran said, per MLB.com. "When I play baseball, I just want to put myself in a position where I can impact the team in a positive way, defensively or offensively. I understand that as a hitter, I'm going to have my month where I'm hitting .230. That's not going to go away. It's always been like that."

In 2014, Beltran posted a .233 batting average with 15 home runs and 49 RBI, with the elbow injury playing a large reason why. 


 
 
 
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