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 24.
Adrian Beltre (quadriceps), Will Middlebrooks (calf) and Adam Eaton (hamstring) were all expected to return Friday. Beltre's and Middlebrooks' injuries had them on the DL while Eaton's was day-to-day. Provided Beltre goes all weekend without a hiccup, you'll obviously want to get him active, and Eaton had earned "too obvious" status before his injury as well. Middlebrooks needs to earn your trust before you activate him, though.
Yoenis Cespedes left Thursday's game with a strained hamstring and remained out of the lineup Friday. The Athletics are keeping his timetable vague, saying only that he'll miss a few games, which is the same way the White Sox approached Eaton's hamstring injury. Eaton ended up missing five games, so assuming he doesn't return over the weekend, Cespedes may be looking at only three or four games this week. Since the matchups are unfavorable anyway, you should probably play it safe in mixed leagues.
After missing the first 3 1/2 weeks with an oblique injury, Gordon Beckham returned to the lineup Thursday with assurance from manager Robin Ventura that he'll retain the starting second base job. That's bad news for Marcus Semien owners, who were hoping to see just how productive their early season waiver gem could be once he actually starting hitting for average. Semien should still get some time at third base with Conor Gillaspie battling a hand injury, but prepare for life without him in mixed leagues.
|1.||Billy Hamilton, OF, CIN||89/68|
|2.||Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL||89/73|
|3.||Josmil Pinto, C, MIN||28/18|
|4.||Khris Davis, OF, MIL||75/43|
|5.||Eric Young, OF, NYM||61/50|
|6.||Kyle Seager, 3B, SEA||85/52|
|7.||Yan Gomes, C, CLE||78/56|
|8.||Nick Swisher, 1B/OF, CLE||66/34|
|9.||Carl Crawford, OF, LAD||58/27|
|10.||Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN||79/63|
Start: Josmil Pinto, Twins
For as productive as he's been since claiming everyday at-bats with Oswaldo Arcia (wrist) and Josh Willingham (wrist) on the DL, Pinto sure hasn't gotten a lot of love in Fantasy. Yeah, he's hitting only .222, but it's not like the four home runs home runs are all he has to show for himself. He's on pace for 123 walks. Too good to be true? Of course, but his minor-league stats made him out to be a patient hitter, and he's been an OPS monster since arriving in the big leagues late last year. Favorable matchups at not, he's your best bet outside of the "too obvious" picks at the position.
Instead of: Yan Gomes, Jason Castro, Miguel Montero
Sit: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins
Saltalamacchia is the choice here for the second straight week because of difficult matchups for the Marlins. So far, Fantasy Week 4 (April 21-27) has gone as it should for him. He's 0 for 10 in his last for games. This week, he's not only facing the Braves and Dodgers starting rotations, which have been terrific to begin the year, but he's going against three lefties. A switch-hitter, Saltalamacchia hit .218 with a .628 OPS against lefties last year compared to .294 with an .873 OPS against righties.
Instead of: Pinto, Russell Martin, Travis d'Arnaud
Too obvious: Miguel Cabrera, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Abreu, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Matt Adams, Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli
Start: Justin Morneau, Rockies
Morneau was the "sit" at this position last week because of all the lefties on tap for the Rockies. So far, he's already gone 5 for 14 with a home run and two doubles for the week, making him 13 for 33 (.394) with four homers and 14 RBI over his last eight games. So much for all that. The Rockies are one of just four teams playing seven games this week -- including four at Coors Field, where everybody mashes -- and though two are against lefties, that's a moot point with Michael Cuddyer on the DL. Morneau will play, and judging by the matchups, he'll play well.
Instead of: Allen Craig, Chris Colabello, Adam LaRoche
Sit: Brandon Moss, Athletics
We know the drill with Moss by now. He almost always sits against lefties, and the three on tap this week -- Martin Perez, Robbie Ross and Jon Lester -- don't look to be exceptions. But just think of all the damage he'll do in those three games against Yu Darvish, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey! Yeah ... not really.
Instead of: Morneau, Colabello, Nick Swisher
Start: Dee Gordon, Dodgers
Gordon's point production has been down the last couple weeks, which has caused his start percentage to drop below 75. But recently, he's had to miss time because of a head injury (read: not a concussion) and manager Don Mattingly's stubborn refusal to play him against lefties. His head is fine now, though, and lo, no lefties on the schedule this week. Against Mike Pelfrey, Ricky Nolasco, Kevin Correia and Kevin Slowey to begin the week, Gordon should be able to make up for lost time.
Instead of: Daniel Murphy, Jed Lowrie, Jedd Gyorko
Sit: Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs
Bonifacio is coming off a week where he had good matchups and couldn't take advantage, so how would you expect this week against Alfredo Simon, Tony Cingrani, Homer Bailey, Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha to go? His batting average has fallen about 150 points since April 9 (granted, it was up at .500 then, but still, a lot more bad than good recently), so he clearly isn't a hot-hand play anymore. If you need steals, you might have to stick with him, but you should look into alternatives otherwise.
Instead of: Gordon, Murphy, Neil Walker
Start: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
With four home runs already, Arenado is showing signs of breaking out in his sophomore season, and his matchups this week should only help the cause. OK, so four games against the Mets starting rotation isn't exactly a cakewalk, but considering that series is at Coors Field, I'll give the Rockies lineup the edge. Meanwhile, Arenado's other three games are against the Diamondbacks' browbeaten trio of Wade Miley, Mike Bollsinger and Josh Collmenter. And just for good measure, he's riding a 14-game hitting streak during which he has hit .345 (20 for 58) with two home runs.
Instead of: Trevor Plouffe, Brett Lawrie, Mike Moustakas
Sit: Pablo Sandoval, Giants
Third base is a position of need and all, but right now, Sandoval is more of a problem than a solution. Most likely, he'll recover from this ghastly start at some point in the near future. Even in his "bad" years, he's not this bad. But he won't get a break this week with Tyson Ross, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Alex Wood on the schedule.
Instead of: Arenado, Kyle Seager, Todd Frazier
Start: Alcides Escobar, Royals
Important caveat: Not every "start" is meant for every league in every format across the board. The "instead of" picks should give you an idea just how deep I'm thinking. If they're all on the waiver wire in your league, Escobar should probably be too. But if they're not, he's certainly the hot hand of the group, batting .400 (16 for 40) with five doubles, a homer and two steals in his last 12 games. The home-away and lefty-righty splits, based on what he's done so far, work in his favor as well. The samples are absurdly small, but ... look, do you need a shortstop or not?
Instead of: Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Derek Jeter
Sit:Starlin Castro, Cubs
Again, just because Escobar is a "start" and Castro a "sit" doesn't mean you should start Escobar over Castro. Look to the "instead of" picks for context. In leagues shallow enough that you can justify sitting Castro, this week would be a good time. He hasn't done much of anything since his two-homer game April 8, batting .255 with a .584 OPS in 14 games, and the Cubs have the toughest matchups of any team this week, going against Alfredo Simon, Tony Cingrani, Homer Bailey, Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.
Instead of: Jed Lowrie, Everth Cabrera, Brad Miller
Too obvious: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Gomez, Matt Holliday, Adam Jones, Jay Bruce, Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, Hunter Pence, Alex Rios, Jayson Werth, Yasiel Puig, Ben Zobrist, Nelson Cruz, Melky Cabrera, Charlie Blackmon, Wil Myers, Starling Marte, Domonic Brown, Jason Heyward, Martin Prado, Matt Kemp, Alex Gordon, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Coco Crisp
Start: Billy Hamilton, Reds
In a week when six teams play only five games, the four that play seven are going to have that much more of an opportunity to contribute in Fantasy. And that's an especially big deal for speedsters, who steadily accumulate their points via small accomplishments over the course of the week. Granted, Hamilton has broken the mold so far, with most of his scoring limited to those two or three games when he was able to reach base and run wild, but even if his .355 (11 for 31) batting average over his last nine games isn't a sign of steadier times to come, he has more chances for a monster game than most players do this week.
Instead of: Shane Victorino, Michael Morse, Emilio Bonifacio
Sit: Christian Yelich, Marlins
You probably don't want to sit Christian Yelich with him riding a 17-game hitting streak in which he's hit .366 (26 for 71) with four doubles, a triple and four steals, but his splits from last year suggest you should this week. Not only are the Marlins at home, where he hit .256 with a .672 OPS compared to .319 and .862 on the road, but they're facing three left-handers, against whom he hit .165 with a .476 OPS compared to .362 and .941 against righties. Some of the pitchers on tap include Alex Wood, Aaron Harang, Ervin Santana, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Greinke.
Instead of: Hamilton, Michael Brantley, Khris Davis