Though normally in Fantasy Baseball, you'd start your best players every week regardless of matchups, in those weeks when you do need a fill-in, whether because of injuries or the total collapse of a trusted starter, Scott White is here to help. At each position, he'll reveal which players are "too obvious" for the upcoming week -- the ones you wouldn't consider sitting for anyone off the list -- and then suggest a start and a sit based on a variety of short-term factors.
All stats are updated through Thursday, April 3.
Matt Kemp made his season debut Friday, returning from offseason ankle surgery. The Dodgers were able to find a lineup spot for him right away with Yasiel Puig benched for disciplinary reasons, but going forward, they'll have to figure out a way to fit four outfielders into three spots. Puig is the safest bet for regular at-bats as the youngest, healthiest and (some might say) best of the bunch, but Kemp's two-homer game Sunday buys him the benefit of the doubt for now. I still wouldn't consider him "too obvious" in the outfield, but in most cases, you'll want to start him.
Emilio Bonifacio still doesn't have a position to call his own, but so far, the Cubs have managed to bat him leadoff every day, making him a worthy mixed-league addition for his speed and versatility. The Cubs don't have the most favorable matchups this week, going against some of the best the Pirates and Cardinals have to offer, so no need to rush him into your lineup (unless, of course, speed is a specific need for you).
The Tigers play five games in NL parks this week, which could have an adverse effect on Victor Martinez's playing time. Just something to keep in mind if you have a compelling alternative.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Anthony Rendon, 2B, WAS||74/49|
|2.||Brandon Moss, 1B, OAK||84/61|
|3.||Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL||86/66|
|4.||Brian Dozier, 2B, MIN||87/59|
|5.||Yan Gomes, C, CLE||84/64|
|6.||Angel Pagan, OF, SF||71/52|
|7.||Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS||62/42|
|8.||Alejandro De Aza, OF, CHW||62/43|
|9.||Norichika Aoki, OF, KC||74/47|
|10.||Dexter Fowler, OF, HOU||60/34|
Start: Yan Gomes, Indians
Though his breakthrough performance last year should have probably made him a hotter commodity on Draft Day, Gomes was a victim of the numbers at a surprisingly deep position. But that just makes him more available for a week such as this one, when the Indians are one of just five teams playing seven games, including five against left-handed pitchers. Gomes was at his best against lefties last year, hitting .327 with a .934 OPS.
Instead of: Evan Gattis, Jason Castro, Mike Zunino
Sit: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
Mesoraco is poised to return in Fantasy Week 2 (April 7-13) after missing the start of the season with a strained oblique and is one of this season's more notable breakout candidates as a former top prospect finally getting a chance to play every day. But he figures to be rusty after missing most of spring training with the injury and won't get any favors from the opposition. In six games, the Reds are scheduled to face Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, David Price, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore.
Instead of: Mike Zunino, Dioner Navarro
|1.||White Sox||@COL3, CLE4|
|2.||Astros||LAA1, @TOR3, @TEX3|
|4.||Blue Jays||HOU3, @BAL3|
Too obvious: Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman, Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer, Buster Posey, Allen Craig, Carlos Santana, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Trumbo, Matt Adams, Jose Abreu
Start: Brandon Belt, Giants
At 74 percent, Belt is started in too many leagues to qualify as one of my top 10 sleepers for this week (see table), but given the type of start he's had, 74 percent still isn't enough. True, after beginning the year on the road, he returns home this week, where he's had a harder time hitting home runs in the past, but the Giants' matchups are among the best of any team. In six games, the best pitcher they face is Bronson Arroyo. David Ortiz owners get a pass since he obviously has to occupy their utlity spot, but the rest can make room for what may be one of this season's biggest breakout players.
Instead of: Anthony Rizzo, Mike Napoli
Sit: Justin Smoak, Mariners
Speaking of breakout players, Smoak has the look of one himself, collecting four hits, including two homers, in his first four games. But unlike the Giants, the Mariners don't have especially favorable matchups this week, in part because they're one of two teams playing just five games. Plus, three of those games are against left-handed pitchers. Smoak had a .548 OPS against lefties last year compared to .839 against righties.
Instead of: Brandon Moss, Adam LaRoche
Start: Anthony Rendon, Nationals
For as much upside as Rendon offers -- enough to put him in the discussion for the first pick in the 2011 draft before an injury late in his college career -- he's lacking hype in Fantasy. Especially with the kind of start he's had, he should be a priority play in a week he's scheduled to face Henderson Alvarez, Justin Turner, Tom Koehler and Aaron Harang. Granted, it's a deep position, but knowing his upside, he appears poised to distinguish himself from some of the fringier types at second base.
Instead of: Brandon Phillips, Daniel Murphy, Dustin Ackley
Sit: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Gyorko has the upside to distinguish himself from the fringier second basemen as well, but unlike Anthony Rendon, he's gotten off on the wrong foot. His power potential is such that you may never want to risk benching him in a Rotisserie league, but his lack of plate discipline could make him frustratingly streaky, as he showed as a rookie. Plus, the Padres' matchups are among the toughest this week. They face pitchers like Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
Instead of: Chase Utley, Brian Dozier, Rendon
Start: Aramis Ramirez, Brewers
As a 36-year-old coming off a down year, Ramirez fell in Fantasy drafts, but a closer look at that down year reveals it was mostly the result of him playing through knee injuries (yes, multiple) through the first 4 1/2 months. Over the last 1 1/2, he hit .301 with seven homers and a .916 OPS, looking as studly as ever. By all accounts, he's healthy now and is off to a great start for the Brewers. At a weak position, you should take advantage while you can.
Instead of: Chase Headley, Todd Frazier
Sit: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
At 22 and beginning his first full big-league season, Arenado has legitimate breakout potential, but he's off to a slow start and doesn't have the best matchups for righting the ship this week, facing Jose Quintana, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson, among others. If you play in such a deep league that he's your only real choice at third base, no need to force anything, but for this week, he's the least advisable of the position's many unproven, high-upside types.
Instead of: Mike Moustakas, Will Middlebrooks
Start: Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
Ramirez's career-high 30 stolen bases last year seemed like an outlier for a middle infielder in his early 30s, but so far this season, he already has two. He has also performed well at the plate, taking advantage of the White Sox's favorable matchups to begin the year. Those favorable matchups continue this week, with pitchers like Jordan Lyles, Franklin Morales, Juan Nicasio, Carlos Carrasco and Zach McAllister on tap.
Instead of: Jimmy Rollins, Jhonny Peralta
Sit: Dee Gordon, Dodgers
Gordon has gotten off to an encouraging start, showing he might hit enough to take advantage of his blinding speed. But manager Don Mattingly hasn't settled on him as an everyday player yet, sitting him for the Dodgers' one game against a left-hander so far. They face only one lefty this week, but considering they play only five games, that could mean only four starts for Gordon. And two of them would be against Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez.
Instead of: Erick Aybar, Chris Owings
Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Braun, Adam Jones, Bryce Harper, Jose Bautista, Shin-Soo Choo, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Yasiel Puig, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Allen Craig, Mark Trumbo, Jason Heyward, Domonic Brown, Jayson Werth, Wil Myers, Starling Marte, Ben Zobrist, Martin Prado, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Beltran, Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Alfonso Soriano, Desmond Jennings, Nelson Cruz
Start: Angel Pagan, Giants
Like Coco Crisp, Pagan has been an overlooked Fantasy option over the years because of an extensive history, but he's healthy now and raking for the Giants, showing enough extra-base pop for his speed to matter even in Head-to-Head points leagues. He also has favorable matchups against the Diamondbacks and Rockies this week.
Instead of: Kole Calhoun, Brett Gardner, Dexter Fowler
Sit: Billy Hamilton, Reds
Hamilton is one player to consider sitting in favor of Dexter Fowler, at least in Head-to-Head points leagues. In Rotisserie leagues, where you most likely drafted him as your primary source of steals, you wouldn't want to take the chance of missing a boatload if he does suddenly turn things around, but the matchups suggest he won't. Against Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, David Price, Alex Cobb and Matt Moore, he could be overmatched again.
Instead of: Alejandro De Aza, Lucas Duda, Pagan