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 list the players who are "too obvious" for the upcoming week, meaning 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 17.
Turns out this year's draft-and-stash prospect of choice -- George Springer -- didn't need to be stashed for long. He has already taken over as the Astros regular right fielder. A near 40-40 man in the minors last year, his potential is enormous, but like any player first breaking into the big leagues, he could find the going rough early. In five-outfielder leagues, you'll probably want to start him regardless, but if he doesn't show much over the weekend, you could justify sitting him in three-outfielder leagues.
On the verge of returning from a strained hamstring that has sidelined him since the first game of the season, Jose Reyes is tentatively "too obvious" at shortstop for this week, but you'll want to make sure his return goes without a hitch this weekend. Any minor setback would be reason to reserve him, especially since you already have a replacement in place.
If not for inclement weather at Double-A Portland this week, Shane Victorino would have begun a rehab assignment already. Now, he's aiming for Saturday with Triple-A Pawtucket. Seeing as he's missed the entire season so far, he'll probably need a few days there, putting his availability for the start of this week in doubt. You might want to give him a few days to shake off the rust anyway.
And with that, on to the position-by-position breakdown ...
|1.||Michael Morse, OF, SF||84/67|
|2.||Emilio Bonifacio, 2B/OF, CHC||86/61|
|3.||Devin Mesoraco, C, CIN||66/52|
|4.||Torii Hunter, OF, DET||82/61|
|5.||Eric Young, OF, NYM||47/38|
|6.||Mike Moustakas, 3B, KC||58/26|
|7.||Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, CLE||71/47|
|8.||Norichika Aoki, OF, KC||69/43|
|9.||Rajai Davis, OF, DET||45/36|
|10.||Corey Hart, OF, SEA||61/34|
Start: Devin Mesoraco, Reds
No cupcake matchups or revealing splits here. Mesoraco is just a good old-fashioned hot-hand play. I'm generally not one for chasing streaks, but if you have your choice of any catcher started in less than 80 percent leagues, how can you go against the guy batting .500 (11 for 22) with three home runs in his six games off the DL, especially when he's a popular breakout candidate as a first-year starter? You can't, of course, which is why I don't bother to try.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Jason Castro, Miguel Montero
Sit: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins
Like the rest of the Marlins lineup, Saltalamacchia had a good first week, but like the rest of the Marlins lineup, he's gotten a dose of reality since then, batting .240 (6 for 25) with just two extra-base hits in his last eight games. In two-catcher leagues, he's obviously still a defensible option, but in one-catcher leagues, you're barking up the wrong tree, especially with him facing Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee in a six-game week.
Instead of: Mike Zunino, Montero, Mesoraco
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Jose Abreu, Mark Trumbo, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Michael Cuddyer, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Brandon Belt
Start: Allen Craig, Cardinals
For the most part, Fantasy owners have stuck with the mainstays off to slow starts, but Craig is an exception, his starting percentage dropping to the point where I can't just stick him in the "too obvious" section and pretend like nothing has changed. For a player who's hit .312 over the last three seasons, the turnaround could be swift and intense, and he looks like he might be tiptoeing into it with a modest six-game hitting streak in which he's homered and doubled. Plus, in contrast from previous weeks, the Cardinals' matchups this week aren't such an impediment.
Instead of: Brandon Moss, Adam LaRoche, Nick Swisher
Sit: Justin Morneau, Rockies
If you're trolling the waiver wire for help at first base -- and woe to you in that unlikely event -- Morneau's .346 and .924 OPS will probably catch your attention. But don't be lured by his lofty percentages. The reason he's available is because his totals are lacking, and the reason they're lacking is because he doesn't play every day. Michael Cuddyer has already spelled him four times this year, most often against left-handers. The Rockies have three of those on tap this week. Plus, the matchups aren't so good to begin with against the Giants and Dodgers.
Instead of: Corey Hart, Ryan Howard, Swisher
Start: Daniel Murphy, Mets
After an underwhelming start to the season, Daniel Murphy has stepped up his production over his last seven games -- not only batting .333 (11 for 33), but also showing the same willingness to run that elevated him to must-start status last year. As has been true for most of his career, he was especially good against right-handed pitchers last year, batting .292 with a .790 OPS compared to .273 with a .616 OPS against lefties, and depending who the Cardinals choose to fill in for Joe Kelly Monday, he could face as many as seven this week.
Instead of: Brian Dozier, Neil Walker, Brandon Phillips
Sit: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Gyorko has been either a start or sit at second base every week so far, and through it all, he's bombed, hitting a ghastly .161 (9 for 56). He went all of last April without a home run and still managed to hit 23 in an injury-plagued season, so slow starts are nothing new to him. But that doesn't mean you have to suffer through this one. In a week he's facing Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse, Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan -- all righties, it's worth nothing -- he's unlikely to break through.
Instead of: Dee Gordon, Emilio Bonifacio, Murphy
Start: Mike Moustakas, Royals
I know. You're tired of seeing him. You're tired of hearing about him. You just want Moustakas to go away. But I have to recommend someone to start at third base, and in case you haven't noticed, it's slim pickings. For the second straight week, Moustakas has favorable matchups, facing struggling starters like Danny Salazar, Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Miguel Gonzalez. And because six of the seven pitchers on tap are righties, you don't have to worry about him losing at-bats to Danny Valencia. He has shown modest improvement with a homer, two doubles and just one strikeout over his last six games, so he could be on the verge of something.
Instead of: Todd Frazier, Nolan Arenado, Brett Lawrie
Sit: Trevor Plouffe, Twins
Plouffe was the third base replacement of choice last week, which was understandable given his hot start, but he's 2 for 15 (.133) in five games since. He's never been more than a .254 hitter in the majors, so he's due for continued correction and could face it in a week of especially tough matchups for the Twins. They're one of just a handful of teams playing six games, including three against front liners David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander.
Instead of: Pablo Sandoval, Kyle Seager, Moustakas
Start: Jed Lowrie, Athletics
For the second straight week, Lowrie gets the nod here because even though he's lived up to every expectation so far in Fantasy Week 3 (April 14-20), his starting percentage has barely budged at what is widely considered the weakest position in Fantasy. It's a little too high for him to qualify for the sleepers table above, but it's clear he's undervalued. The Athletics once again have terrific matchups against the Rangers and Astros rotations, so unless you have someone "too obvious" at the position, you need to start Lowrie, who's currently on pace for 173 walks and 115 runs.
Instead of: Brad Miller, Jimmy Rollins, J.J. Hardy
Sit: Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins
Hechavarria's hot start attracted some attention on the waiver wire since he's young and still relatively unknown, but he's mostly just a defensive whiz and has come back to earth at the plate, going 1 for 15 in his last four games. He's in line to face some bat-missers against the Braves and Mets this week. Other bottom-feeders like Asdrubal Cabrera and Derek Jeter have more favorable matchups and are showing sign of life, so at least in mixed leagues, you have alternatives at the position.
Instead of: Cabrera, Jeter, 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 Gome z, Matt Holliday, Jay Bruce, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Mark Trumbo, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Wil Myers, Jason Heyward, Allen Craig, Domonic Brown, Starling Marte, Ben Zobrist, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Eaton, Carlos Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, Nelson Cruz
Start: Michael Morse, Giants
Just when Fantasy owners were ready to buy into him with his hot start through two weeks, Morse went into hiding, batting .125 (2 for 16) in his last five games. If he really is back to full health, though, his slumps shouldn't last long, judging by his .296 batting average with the Nationals from 2010 to 2012. His favorable matchups this week include three games at Coors Field, where he's 20 for 40 in his career and two games against the unstable Carlos Carrasco and erratic Danny Salazar. Give him another shot, why don't you?
Instead of: Christian Yelich, Billy Hamilton, Brett Gardner
Sit: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
It was a fun ride while it lasted, but judging by his 1-for-10 performance over his last three games, Blackmon's storybook start is on its last few pages. It's amazing he's kept his batting average above .400 this long, so no need to push your luck. Not only do the Rockies have tough matchups against Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but three of their six games are against lefties. And as hot as Blackmon has been, manager Walt Weiss has still seen fit to sit him more often than not against them. You may be looking at only four starts this week from a player due to regress.
Instead of: Torii Hunter, Norichika Aoki, Eric Young